Spotlight Series: Spröcketbier
Stone Brewing

Spotlight Series: SpröcketbierSpotlight Series: Spröcketbier
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3.79 | pDev: 11.08%
Stone Brewing
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Spotlight Series: SpröcketbierSpotlight Series: Spröcketbier
Notes: A black rye Kölsch-style ale, brewed by Stone Quality Assurance Supervisor Rick Blankemeier and Production Warehouse Lead Robbie Chandler.
Reviews: 127 | Ratings: 684 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohnnyK:
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JohnnyK from North Carolina

1.5/5  rDev -60.4%

Apr 24, 2014
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Jugs_McGhee from Louisiana

3.33/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Black rye Kolsch." Okay...reviewed as a Kolsch. Expectations are low given the description and brewery.

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass with appealing label design (Stone's marketing is fantastic, as always) and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at an H-E-B in Austin, TX, and served cold into a Cantillon gueuze glass (it's the closest glassware to a stange I have).

5.4% ABV per the label. Bottled 03/28/14. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 2.5 fingers wide. Completely wrong for the style, but outside style conventions it's quite appealing: the creamy full rich tan colour head boasts a smooth, even consistency and a shiny soft complexion. Looks supple. Retention is excellent - ~10+ minutes. Light inconsistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

BODY: Awful for the style. It's more of a schwarzbier appearance - a weak cola-black colour which is dull rather than shiny and sleek. Couldn't be less traditional.

Overall, I like the head but not the body. This is terrible for a kolsch, but when you consider they're pushing conventions it's not bad. Unique for a kolsch in all the wrong ways.

AROMA: Dry rye, rye bread, and a trace of rye's signature subtle spice. Bland schwarz malts. Pumpernickel. Faint herbal notes - maybe a hint of evergreen? Bland muted coffee. A muted hint of burnt malt. Maybe a kiss of caramel? I'm stretching here because the aroma is quite light and insipid, evoking little unless you really search.

Seems like an above average schwarzbier aroma. It's awful if you're judging it by kolsch standards - it doesn't seem refreshing or light at all. I detect no hop character - which is a surprising (but welcome) absence given the brewery responsible. Style conventions aside, the faint coffee is nice. Maybe there's a dab of cream in there too? Maybe even marshmallow? Or maybe the aroma is so tame, light, and bland that it's a blank slate upon which I can project my hopes.

No overt alcohol or off-notes are detectable. I'd call the aroma innocuous.

TASTE: Hm. I actually do find some kolsch character in there - the crisp helles malt backbone, the effortless drinkability, the minimal hop character - and much to my shock, the "dark" elements are well-integrated with notable subtlety. That said, it still comes off muted and tame. It's quite a reticent flavour profile for the style. I do like the extreme subtlety of the caramel, burnt schwarz malts, coffee, cream, and hazelnut. But must it be so unevocative and neutral? Traditional Kolschbiere could be called plain, but they're forward and open; this flavour profile feels closed-off and noncommital to its constituent notes.

Still, the balance is surprising; I'm having trouble believing Stone (at least Stone's main brewers) brewed this. Ah - then I check the label and realize that (like almost all Stone beers I actually like) - they didn't brew this, at least not alone. It was a homebrewer's recipe; no wonder. Maybe they should replace the regular brewmasters with the two cats responsible for this.

In any case, it's a nice unique take on a Kolsch, and while I do find it muted and a bit bland, I'm impressed by how well it brings dark ingredients into a traditionally light beer style without any obvious conflict. Could this homebrewer make a black IPA, please?

Depth of flavour couldn't be more shallow. Brief flavour duration. Light flavour intensity.

It's a cohesive well put together beer, but doesn't quite feel like a gestalt whole.

TEXTURE: Slightly creamy, which plays well against the slight dryness and coarseness brought about by the burnt character. It's refreshing in spite of an early second act drag on the palate. Aptly soft. Light to medium-bodied, with apt thickness. Has a fuller heavier presence on the palate than a Kolsch should, but I suppose it's forgivable.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or harsh. I do find it a bit rough and scratchy, which does hold the drinkability back.

Overall presence on the palate is decent. This texture does a fine job at complementing the taste, but doesn't elevate the beer.

OVERALL: A unique schwarzbier-esque approach to a Kolsch. While it's not a success per se, it's far better executed than I would have guessed (especially given Stone's involvement). I'd like to see the homebrewer(s) behind this branch out and put out their own brews. Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from world-class. Worth trying if you're curious, but don't expect a good Kolsch. Just a nice hybridized experimental beer that drinks easy while delivering the dark flavours of bigger brews. I tip my hat to the brewer responsible; nice effort. I'll polish off the bomber with ease.


Oct 17, 2014
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CalgaryFMC from Canada (AB)

4.04/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a pilsner glass. Pitch black brew with a velvety root beer colored head, fluffy, creamy, and resilient.

Aroma recalls cacao power, pumpernickel bread, and musty root cellar with a subtle fruitiness that recalls citrus soda bottle caps. Very reminiscent of a schwarzbier with added fruity esters a la the kolsch style. Loving the aroma although others may deem it unassuming and mellow.

The palate again recalls a schwarzbier/ale hybrid with rather a lot going on if one cares to plumb the depths. The dry chocolate and earthy root flavors from the nose are initially present in abundance along with subtle cherry and lemon-lime notes. Mid-way though a licorice candy and molasses element shows up and later one notices a sweet hazelnut and milk chocolate vibe that assumes the helm as the initial dry bitter elements recede. Pumpernickel and leafy greens linger throughout. A toffee-like sweetness lurks way in the background if one cares to look. Rye spice gathers steam over the course of multiple sips. A slight red berry waif peeks though.

As to mouthfeel, this is obviously heavier than your average kolsch but still retains considerable drinkability. Once more the schwarzbier comparisons are in order. Moderate to high carbonation with some welcome hop resin prickliness. Faint wood char in the dry bread-like finish. Obviously this beer is supposed to be bastardized, cutting across multiple style domains. Faulting it for not tasting like a classic kolsch seems pedantic and persnickety. In my view this is a more than worthwhile exercise in tasting gymnastics.

Jan 17, 2015
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MattXT from Virginia

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Jul 14, 2014
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Nitty703 from Virginia

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Jul 29, 2014
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carrier77 from Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Jun 09, 2014
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KolbMarley from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

Jul 17, 2014
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PEIhop from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +5.5%

Apr 28, 2014
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smb71481 from Vermont

4/5  rDev +5.5%

Jul 15, 2014
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bschinelli from Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Jun 24, 2014
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John_Squires from New York

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

May 24, 2014
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rawfish from California

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Jul 06, 2014
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RiceOwls27 from Texas

3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Apr 06, 2020
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jgunther71 from Illinois

4/5  rDev +5.5%

May 03, 2014
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bluehende from Delaware

3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I like my rye beers a bit hoppier than this one was. Since it was retired I am also not sure how old it was. Not bad, but nothing special.

Jul 18, 2015
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Bnjmnlws from New York

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

May 11, 2014
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Todd from California

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

May 08, 2014
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mattkoon from South Carolina

3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

i wasnt sure what to expect from this one. seemed like a bunch of styles mixed together. but the out come is pretty good. the smel has a bit of smoke, with some nuttiness. the color is pretty close to opaque black- you can see a slight copper color held up the light. the taste is nutty- not nearly as strong as you would expect from the color. slightly bitter but surprisingly drinkable.

May 04, 2014
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Pleasure from New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

Jul 23, 2014
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Jason from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Apr 24, 2014
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Ralphs66 from New York

3.64/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Apr 01, 2015
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Patches826 from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Sep 15, 2014
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fuzzbalz from Georgia

4/5  rDev +5.5%

Jul 21, 2014
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CreightonSM from New York

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

May 28, 2014
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Bsetz from Missouri

4/5  rDev +5.5%

Apr 24, 2014
Spotlight Series: Spröcketbier from Stone Brewing
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 684 ratings