Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

very good
105 Ratings
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Rail Dog Smoked Black LagerRail Dog Smoked Black Lager

Brewed by:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Ohio, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.70%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by hustlesworth on 06-19-2013

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 105
Photo of chinchill
3.38/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.

This black lager can be characterized as a balanced cross between a rauchbier andf a Schwarzbier
Pours a very dark brown, looking black and opaque int the glass. Red-brown highlights at the edges under light. The tan head has fair retention. Limited spotty lacing is left behind.

Aroma & Flavor: The smoke is light in the nose but significantly more pronounced in tasting, lingering on in the aftertaste with some expresso. Char is light and this avoids overly burnt flavors. A touch of sourness. Dark roasted grains are, of course, dominant.

Feel: medium-bodied; semi-dry finish; medium carbonation.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.74/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Summer release? Damn no wonder I couldn't find it anywhere. I picked up a bottle of this for 1.99 from Vintage Estate.

A - Ok as expected for almost a year old I get little head just a ring that settles to nothing, No sediment which is nice and the beer itself Is a thick dark brown. Syrup like.
S - Mild notes of liquid smoke. Touch of char roast and some chocolate malts. Some sweeter malts but they are faint.
T - I do taste the peat and smoked malts both are faint with a touch of coffee and chocolate malts.
M - Still drinks rather well medium to heavy in body. Slick.

Overall it held up quite well for 9+ months but I would love to try it fresh. Fresh it may have more smoke and carbonation.

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Photo of metter98
3.77/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is close to being jet black in color—when held up to a bright light traces of dark brown are perceptible near the edges of the glass. It poured with a thin tan head that quickly died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of dark malts are present in the nose along with some hints of roasted malts and smoked malts.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell, except that there are also some hints of chocolate malts. Slight bits of bitterness are also perceptible. The taste becomes a little more complex as the beer warms up.
M: It feels just about medium-bodied and a little thin on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and the subtleness of the roasted and smoked malts would probably make this a good introductory beer for someone new to the style.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I poured this one slightly slower than normal. I got a finger of mocha colored head over a nearly black body. Head retention is very nice, and lace clings like a sheet to the glass.

This one smells smoky and malty up front. I believe I also get medium roast coffee and a hint of chocolate.

The taste is lighter than the nose by a little. It is still smoky with toasted malt up front. I get a bit of coffee, more or less overpowering a dirty, gardeny hop flavor.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, and creamier than expected in a lager. It coats the tongue right down the middle.

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Photo of thecheapies
3.81/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Brown-black beer with a lovely looking beige head. Laces nicely.

Nose is interesting. Roasty malt, some Germanic Schwarzbier mustiness, but mostly, a hearty dry smoke. Not an overwhelming smoke, in intensity, but it is the primary aroma.

Earthy bitterness, mild smokiness, bitter oats, bittersweet chocolate, and all with some late lagery crispness. Impressive layers of flavor. Very easy to enjoy, although I wish there was more carbonation.

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Photo of avalon07
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%

A: Poured from a bottle to a pilsner glass. Had a dark brown color with a thick texture. There was a two inch, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of roasted malt and a smoky quality.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, and the smokiness. This is, in general, a well balanced flavor. It's not overly malty as some German style beers are and the smoky quality is kept in check.

M: A decent amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: While not exactly a groundbreaking beer, Rail Dog is easy to drink and focused.

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Photo of 57md
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown with a finger of off-white head. The head dissipated quite quickly. The nose has good roasted malt notes, but no smoke is discernible. The body of this offering is quite hearty. The roasted malts really come through in the flavor profile, but once again, the promised smoke is not present. The finish is nicely bitter.

This is a conundrum as the offering itself is a very good schwarzbier, but there is no hint of the advertised smoke.

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Photo of utopiajane
3.95/5  rDev -2.5%

Pours a perfect pitch black. No light escapes, no edges and no hues. One finger of mocha colored foam, that falls well and leaves some wet lace to slide down the glass as you drink. The nose is a bit of sweet chocolate, roasted malts, a touch of char and smoke. There is a faint whiff of the "meaty scent" like you get in all smoked beers but it is perfectly under control and very faint. This has a creamy soft body with plenty of malt that has been blackened. Brought to it's driest to it's richest without bitterness. it's crisp malt. The chocolate is light on the palate but just keeps up it's appearance. The smoke is a bit of char and a faint bit of cherry wood. Lovely beer. My only complaint is that it drinks a bit thin and could use a couple more bubbles from carbonation. Finishes just dry and with only a slight bitter which is lovely next to that light smoke.

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Photo of barczar
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque deep brown with a frothy tan head that lingers.

Smoke and deeply toasted, nutty malt form the initial aroma, with notes of chocolate and tar adding complexity.

The flavor follows suit, with chocolate and nutty, toasted malt serving as a base that's accented by smoke, tar, and a tangy, metallic, slightly sour character.

Body is fairly thin, with carbonation on the high side and slight alcohol warmth.

The sour character, lightness of body, and high carbonation lead me to believe that this beer may be infected. I like the subtlety of the smoke character, and the malt is wonderful, so I'm ignoring the flaw in my score.

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Photo of Bung
3.99/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Nearly opaque black-brown pour. Layer of cream colored head.

Aroma, roasted malt, peat and a nuttiness. Some dark chocolate and herbal notes.

Taste, Solid, roast malt, peat, dark chocolate. Coffee and a very faint herbal anise bitterness.

Very drinkable, heavy side of light body. A correct amount of carbonation to keep it pretty easy to drink, could be a bit sticky without it.

Really well done. Doesn't have those funny lager-y flavors that some of these tend to get. Could easily fit into the bottom of the top ten for the style.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nearly cola colored dark roasted malt color with light beige tan head, fine speckled lacing. Aroma has smoked malt complexity a touch of campfire, nice dark roasted malts (hints of iced coffee/caramelized sugars) and just barely a hint of anise crosses the senses. Flavors meld nicely balancing the caramelized sugars/dessert qualities that I smell are more of the black patent dark roast, iced dark coffee nuttiness, and cherry wood smoked qualities (no clue which wood they actually smoked the malt with). I like the bitter/dry finish it provides here. Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied smokey dark lager, slightly burnt acrid finish. All of the flavor components come together I'm a fan.

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Photo of nicholas2121
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager Brewed by Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. This brew has an ABV of 6.70% The brew pours out a dark brown color with a nice light brown head. Rail Dog has the look of root beer. The smell is smoky with grain and malts. There is a mild sweetness at the end of the smell. The taste is bold and smokey. You pick up on grains and a hit of hops at the end. There is a lot going on in this brew. Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager has a nice balance to it, there is nothing overpowering in this brew. The mouthfeel is rich and fulling. You pickup on the smokiness in this brew, but it has a clean smooth finish. Overall I'm giving Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager a solid 4 out 5. I would buy this brew again.

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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into lager glass; no bottle dating, but is a recent release. Pours very dark reddish brown color with a 1 finger dense tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, smoke, light char, coffee, dark bread, toast, light raisin, and roasted/yeast earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of smoke and roasted malt notes; with good strength. Taste of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, smoke, raisin, light char, toast, dark bread, toffee, and roasted/yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, smoke, light char, dark bread, toffee, and earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of roasted malt and yeast flavors; with good robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a moderately creamy, smooth, and lightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice smoked schwarzbier. All around good balance, complexity, and robustness of flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%

12oz bottle poured into a Shaker Pint Glass. No date.

Appearance: Black to cola brown at the edges with some ruby red highlights. Very small thin tan ring at the edge. No foam or lacing.

Smell: Smoky, ashy, hint of cocoa powder.

Taste: Chocolate with a smoky coffee accent to it. Has a bitter finish that is again smoky and like very dark roast espresso.

Mouthfeel: Thick. Approaching creamy. Light carbonation.

Overall / drinkability: This beer goes very well with beef, which was a beef and noodle casserole for dinner. Even by itself this beer is quite good and can be a bit of a dessert as well. As for drinkability though, I find one is enough per evening. I am not sure I could have another as I'm sated after this one beer.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Deep black in color, with a nice two-inch collar of tamn foam.
Aroma-Dark, smoked malts
Taste-Dark toasted malt, smoked malt, bakers chocolate, roasty. Very well-balanced and smooth. An excellent match for BBQ, smoked meats, or a hunk of aged Gouda.

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Photo of Brenden
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This black lager is very much what I anticipate in a good Schwarzbier, a very dark brown with red-brown highlights. On top rests a tan head nearly a finger high, a little sparse but fairly solid considering. Retention is pretty good, as is the mostly spotty lacing this beer leaves behind it.
This is a well-balanced, fully structured beer with all the elements one would hope for, working together as they should, and with the strength they ought to show. The smoke is a primary characteristic in the malts, which provide a firm basis for this beer, while a light note of earth and flora from hops is enough to add balance and depth. Char is light and avoids astringency.
Excellent workmanship is further displayed in the flavor, in similar fashion to the aroma. Smoke is primary, the malts make a strong foundation, and I'm not surprised to find that "apple smoked grain" is added to the grains roasted in the oven, as there's a soft, even, sweet apple flesh note all the way through, and in good proportion. Roast, of course, is extremely evident, and it gives light supporting notes of dark cocoa, nuts, and coffee.
It's a medium-bodied dark beer, as it should be. It's got a nice mingling on the palate of both crispness and smoothness. Smoke lingers gently into an evenly semi-dry finish that's clean and, like aroma and flavor, avoids astringency.

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Photo of BB1313
4.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours black with a small khaki head which fades quickly and leaves decent lacing. The aromas are very nice. Lots of chocolate malts with some subtle hints of smoke. It has porter/stout-like aromas. The flavors are crisp and refreshing. Lots of milk chocolates and caramel. Tobacco and toffee is in the mix as well. The smoke is definitely there, but it's subtle in the flavors as well. Very robust and hearty flavors. Mouthfeel is thick for a lager. Feels like it's on the heavier side of medium-bodied. Moderate carbonation. Very smooth. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Really nice stuff.

Great stuff. This brew is well crafted and well executed. Really nice. Recommended.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.19/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, no bottle date, poured into a nonic pint.

A- Pours black with an inch of tan head, nice retention and lacing.

S- Milk chocolate, coffee beans, a bit of fruitiness and smoke.

T- The flavor reminds me a bit of porters like Edmund Fitzgerald but with a bit more smoke. Lots of milk chocolate, iced coffee flavor, also a bit of toffee and fruit, roasty bitterness is minimal.

M- Medium-bodied, smooth, soft, feel.

O- A very nice beer, highly drinkable stuff, everything here is smooth and nicely rounded, a good six-pack option.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.21/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 Fl. Oz. bottle
Served in a beer flute

A - It is a dark beer with ruby highlights. It is a little darker than a bock. It had very little beige head that was gone in a second.

S - I definitely get some smoke. I also smell some dark chocolate. I wasn't expecting that out of this beer. The smoke smell is like a campfire with maybe some pork and s'mores cooking on it. It is more smoke than food smelling.

T - The taste starts out with a smokey taste. Then I get that dark chocolate taste. I thought I was imagining it in the smell. The two flavors seem to share equal time on my palate.

M - Moderate with medium to low carbonation.

O - I tried one of there the other day, but didn't remember it being so good. I love the interplay of the smoke and dark chocolate. Thirsty Dog is stepping up their game. I am glad to see it. I enjoy their beer.

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Photo of tillmac62
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pitch black pour with a normal head, lacing and retention. Rich nose of roast and dark chocolate over a touch of smoke. As it warms, the smokiness becomes a bit more pronounced, but still subtle. Light body with a slightly smooth texture which is spot on since this is a lager. Above average carbonation with a nice effervescence throughout. The flavor profile is simply outstanding - complex, balanced and intense. It begins with a slightly sweet roast character that flows into a roast bitterness with chocolate underneath. In the middle, a light sweet bitter chocolate predominates in an effervescent rush. In the somewhat dry finish, smoked malts take command and leave you with a campfire like smokiness that lingers.

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Photo of jp32
4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very black, darker than a lot of stouts I have seen. There is a minimal khaki colored head around the edges of my glass.

The small is slightly roasted, but very faint and very smooth. Sometimes it seems as if it has no smell at all. Other times it has a small, faint, roasted smell.

It's difficult to pick up on the smoked characteristic here. There is a little bit of it in the finish/aftertaste, but it's hard for me to pull it out anywhere else in the beer. The flavor is subtle. It has a roasted malt backbone, but I don't get a smoke flavor, and the search for one distracts me from what is otherwise a pretty darn good tasting brew.

Mouthfeel is spot-on for the style and the carbonation is perfect.

For a schwarzbier, this is probably a 5/5. Amazing for it's style. Very nice. However, because I was expecting something more "smoked", it loses a few.

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Photo of oberon
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into my Monchshof Schwarzbier glass a deep dark chocolate brown with a billowing deep beige head that spits and spews as it settles into a frothy mass,just a great pour.Dark roast and chocolate dominate the nose with light smoke unerneath,very appetizing.Wow chocolate flavors abound with big roast to keep the sweetness in check,the smoke is in the finish and lingers,I get a little brown sugar but it stays dry enough to make it very appetizing.The creamy feel is great for a lager,damn this is a top notch black lager,kudos Thirsty Dog on this one.

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Photo of lilmissbeer
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A solid offering from a great local brewery, this is probably my favorite from Thirsty Dog and has also been the hardest to find in stores. Very drinkable, pairs with food without overwhelming it, and hides the alcohol well. Recommended!

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Photo of hustlesworth
4.44/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A- totally black with a shred of mahogany at the bottom of the glass. Nice khaki colored head drops thick rings of lace.

S- chocolatey and roasted with coffee and burnt caramel. Praline and toffee in there too with light applewood smoke and hazelnut, whiskey barrel, pipe tobacco.

T- cocoa and vanilla with a deep roasted flavor and some dark fruits. Coffee comes out near the end with barely perceptible smoke along with brown sugar, roasted nuts, and cucumber (very oddly, but it works). Earthy herbal hops can be sensed in the long roasted finish with soil, stone and damp wood.

MF- full and thickly juicy with well behaved carbonation. Coating roasted feeling on the cheeks with some residual burnt type sweetness and the tiniest pleasant flicker of alcohol warmth.

D- pretty good version of a kinda higher octane schwarzbier. Not smoky enough to go all Rauchbier on em, but enough to impart some character.

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Photo of Caveworm
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager - Thirsty Dog Brewing Company. Poured from the bottle into a glass, this brew's got a one finger thick hazelnut brown head, solid lacing, and a black opaque body.

Smells like well-done roasted malts and mildly smoked food elements. Nothing offensive or overpowering

I taste basically the same components as the aroma. Very smooth on the tongue.

This brew's mouthfeel is smooth and clean.

Overall a 4.5 is given to Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager - Thirsty Dog Brewing . This company keeps getting better and better with their array of brews. I will buy this again.

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Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
4.05 out of 5 based on 105 ratings.
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