Schwarz | Heater Allen Brewing

very good
21 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
Heater Allen Brewing
Oregon, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
1.013 BG, 4.6%, 30 IBU, 28 SRM

Added by msubulldog25 on 12-13-2007

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 50
Photo of jlindros
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%

Thanks to familynight (Reddit) for this interesting beer. Haven't had anything from this brewery before, and I do enjoy a good schwarz.

Pours a darker fizzy slight creamy smaller head covering, super dark molasses cola brown colored that is essentially pitch black other than the thin bottom, mild lacing, and even some legs surprisingly. 4.25

Nose is pretty nice, dark malts, caramel, toffee, a little nutty, bit of sweetness and candy like, with touch of black malt and faint coffee roast, eventually even gets chocolatey and cocoa dust, as well as a bit of grainy toasty malts. It has a mild lagered softness. Seems more like a baltic porter than schwarzbier. 4

Taste brings more juicy malts mostly dark, with more black malt and mild coffee roast like, little char but not acrid, into faint cocoa dust and a little dark chocolate, and it even gets a bit creamy. then mild grainy malt note, with more caramel and toffee sweetness but not as sweet as the nose lead it to be, with a soft fluffy but slight crisp lager note but not too crisp. Touches of a grassy hop note on the far back end, mixed with a bit of a bitter roast brings a little bitterness but not a lot. Finish is a bit more bitter as it dries quite a bit and brings a bit more grassy hop and more roasty malts, little sticky and fluffy not really crisp, little char and little cocoa. 3.75

Mouth is fluffy and creamy med bod, nice fluffy carb, slightly crisp. 4

Overall not bad, nice malts, light hops with a nice bitter finish, wish it was a bit more crisp but was decently fluffy, nice dark malts, but esp that aspect brings more of a baltic porter character. 3.75

 1,637 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very dark mahogany brown with nice foam in the tall Pilsner glass. Pleasant sudsy mouthfeel brings to mind the German way with carbonation.

Slightly sweet and fairly malty. Light body and yet quite mouth-filling. Faint sourish touch with a distinct charred barley taste. This really taste black. Overall, though, it's warmly malty but tangy and full of nicely roasted flavors.

This is one of the better Schwarzbiers in my experience. Great drinkability and makes an often dull style come alive. From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Bine & Vine in San Diego.

 557 characters

Photo of anarchia
4.01/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Black but not opaque, ruby in front of a light. Lots of lacing. Medium-sized head, slightly off-white. Smells like biscuits, very bready, with some caramel and toffee. Thick feel in the mouth, really coats the tongue. Sweet caramel and bubbly carbonation are the first thing I notice, both of which are quickly overpowered by smoke, leather, and espresso. A top-shelf black lager.

 380 characters

Photo of Hoptometrist
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from the bottle into a pilsner glass

A- Poured a very dark brown with big soapy and bubbly khaki head that left dense splashy lace.

S- Big aroma of lightly smoked and toasted malt, roasted coffee, caramel, and bready notes. Some light bittersweet chocolate.

T- Big roasted coffee, espresso, caramel sweetness, roasted and smoked malt, lots of breadiness, and some clean fruity notes. Some licorice notes came out the more I drank it. Very rich and robust tasting beer.

M- Smooth, prickly carbonation, dry, and very easy to drink.

O- This is one of if not thee most flavorful black lagers I have ever had. A very big roasty presence in the flavor and aroma, but also nice notes of smoke, sweetness, and light fruity notes. This is a real winner and I look forward to trying more beers from Heater Allen. Craft drinkers that think lagers are boring, do yourself a favor and give this one a shot and your mind will be changed.

 937 characters

Photo of Murrhey
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a standard pressure-cap bomber into a conic pint glass in high elevation Kalispell, Mont. Reviewed live. No best-by date.

A- One-finger light brown colored head with rapidly eroding retention. Very dark ruby color, very little light comes through.

S- Roasted malts, coffee grounds, chocolate and toffee.

T- Slightly burnt, mostly roasted malts. Rich chocolate and coffee flavors with a healthy malt body. Some crisp sweetness as well as a slight hop bite.

M- Medium bodied, with a thin finish.

O- Smell and taste are both nice. Feel and look are meh. I like Heater Allen quite a bit, but I don't like this style of beer much.

 644 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4


Bomber into a Moonlight pint glass. Thanks!

A: Medium dark brown with ruby highlights when held to light. The pour yields three fingers of persistent beige froth. Lacing is everywhere.

S: Light roasted malt presence with a little nuttiness and a touch of caramel. Very clean with an evident noble hop presence and an almost coffee-like complexity.

T: Roasted grains with notes of bitter and lightly sweet chocolate. The roastiness gives a subtle impression of coffee. Upper low level of bitterness throughout. The beer finishes dry, grainy, and clean with lingering chocolate, roast, and bitterness.

M: Upper light body with high carbonation. The mouthfeel is smooth.

Overall: A well done Schwarzbier. Very enjoyable.

 733 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
4.26/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After a week on Nyquil, Dayquil and Tylenol, it's nice to get some beer in. Bottle from Belmont Station.

In my Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass, this beer sits an extremely dark brown/almost black with dark reddish brown highlights, and is capped with a remarkably short-lived beige head that leaves little lacing. The nose is excellent. A near-perfect blend of roast, grain, acidity and sweetness (fruity and grainy), this is wonderful stuff. Just a wee bit of char, and a mild hoppiness are present.

The palate is a reflection of the balance of the nose. Opening moderately roasty with a touch of grainy acidity with minimal char and no acridity, these flavors segue into a mild dark (very dark) caramel sweetness. This sweetness is tempered by the roast, bringing to mind dark fruits (plum skins?). Drying on the finish with a lingering roast, the mouthfeel on this beer is nonpareil. Light and supple, creamy but with a firming acidity (from the grains and the carbonation), the smoothness on the palate shows exceptional finesse, especially when the ABV is considered. Marvelous stuff, highly recommended.

 1,109 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have to say, I'm pretty sure I picked this out of the cooler at Belmont Station in Oregon because of the label. Especially with the other two beers from the brewery next to it, it's particularly compelling and striking.

Pours a clear, quite bright black-brown hue, with a frothy, insubstantial, but believable head of scungy white. Decent body and carbonation. Looks fair enough.

Nose is pleasantly balanced between crisp dark malts and a golden freshness of slightly herbal hops. It has a wholemeal, wheaten character to it, cut with a pleasant brightness. Not bad.

Taste is light but also pleasant. Crisp grain comes through with a light feel and a lingering greenness around the back. Slight bitterness makes it feel like a hoppier than usual dark lager, and the feel is pleasantly light and biting.

Very decent schwarzbier. It has a pleasant crispness and lightness to it, while maintaining some grips on its genesis as a dark beer. It's not particularly big or complex, but it serves its purpose well.

 1,012 characters

Photo of vkv822
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into tulip snifter.

Pours black with a thin, bubbly tan head.

Lightly smoky, roasty malts blended with some espresso notes.

Espresso, cocoa and an almost sweet smokiness.

Light to medium body, soft carbonation.

A pleasant schwarzbier, just enough smokiness to add some complexity without becomming overwhelming.

 328 characters

Photo of jdense
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The BeerMongers PDX 1.13.11.

Dark, more black than dark brown, opaque body, light brown head, medium dissipation with silightly above average lacing. A bit of light roast in the nose balanced by floral hops. Taste features light roast which got more assertive as the beer warmed, some nuttiness and floral hops in the end, minimal bitterness. Mouthfeel is light side of medium, about right for style, dry finish. Nice, drinkable, sessionable, worth a try.

 466 characters

Photo of ottovon
4.07/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours out an opaque black with a thin tan head.

S: I get lots of chocolate and some roasted malt. there is coffee and a little smoke as well. dark fruits, raisins, and molasses.

T: chocolate, almost like a tootsie roll I get molasses and roasted malt. there is a small amount of smoke and raisins.

M: thin body with low carbonation.

O: a really good beer. I would definitely buy this again.

 401 characters

Photo of Phelps
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber shared by Ottovon, into a snifter. Heater Allen’s a little brewery in Oregon that does German lagers and ONLY German lagers — a dying art these days.

The color’s a mostly opaque cherry wood, though some amber highlights are visible. Very short-lived head of light khaki becomes a thin ring and leaves skinny rings of lace.

The nose: smoky pork and dark chocolate, met with lots of sourdough and coffee.

Clean, unadulterated flavor: bitter dark chocolate, sourdough, light roast coffee. Smoky pork and molasses are also there. Subtle sweetness. Very clean finish.

Medium-light body with very gentle carbonation and a subtle fizziness. The finish is just dry enough to keep you going back for another sip.

As another taster kept exclaiming, this is one “poundable” brew. The perfect amount of roastiness and a good blend of flavors makes this one of the better schwarzbiers I’ve had, in or out of Germany.

 946 characters

Photo of Reidrover
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle from Roth’s Sunnyside Market, S.Salem. $4.29 black beer, with an excellent tan head, that seems so thick and creamy. Malty chocolate milk aromas, with a subtle hazlenut back ground. Taste is of mild esspresso coffee, semi-sweet chocolate and gooey caramel. Nice. Ok on the palate..has low carbonation, which i liked. Overall a very nice easy going beer.

 369 characters

Photo of chumba526
3.55/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appears black with a thin brown head.

Smells sweet and full of smoky malts.

It tastes of caramel sweetness, smoky malts. It is a little reminiscent of dark chocolate or coffee.

The carbonation is moderately low.
The sweetness and the smokiness are balanced nicely so the drinkability is quite high.

Overall a well made beer and a nice tasting beer but not my favorite from Heater Allan. It is better than most Schwarz biers but is nothing truly amazing. Worth trying though.

 479 characters

Photo of cavedave
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Matt who broke out this beauty at HT today. My first try of this style from my favorite brew state.

Pours a pure black, opaque, topped by a quick to vanish beige head. Some lace on the glass. Nice look.

Smell is a light/med. aroma, mild tart yeast, chocolate, coffee, even some floral/spicy hop in there.

Taste is a remarkable balance of chocolate malt, coffee notes, roasty notes, nice floral leading to the finish, and a pleasantly juicy finish of very mild bitter and floral. There is a bit of tart in this, but it is well tamed, and the result is a mix of understated flavors that is freaking delicious.

Low carb., easy on the palate, clean flavors, beautiful finish. Excellent mouthfeel.

This easy drinking beauty could be prodigiously consumed on a hot day such as today. If this is what this style is like I want MORE.

Impression: Yet another superb beer requiring cross country travel to revisit.

 924 characters

Photo of tempest
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Split a bomber with a friend and had this back to back with the Heater Allen Dunkel. That beer is a tough act to follow, but this is still quite a nice beer. My only gripe is that while the Dunkel was very true to style, this tasted more like a porter, with more roast than a typical Schwarzbier. Still, it held more than a enough lovely cocoa flavor to win me over.

 366 characters

Photo of mjl21
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Belmont Station in Portland. 22 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. No bottling or abv info is given.

A-Pours an extremely dark brown that lets a hint of light through. It has a bubbly one finger sandy head that leaves some decent streaks of lace.

S-Lots of roast malt and smoky aroma. Coffee is apparent along with a tad bit of sweet malt.

T-Initially it has a nice bit of sweetness before quickly giving way to coffee and smokey/roast flavors. The smokey/roast dominates as it goes down and is the dominant flavor in between sips. The sweetness stays on the tongue in between sips which reults in the beer not completely drying out my mouth.

M-It falls on the lighter end of the medium spectrum. It has a soft carbonation level and is smooth and creamy.

D-A really good version of the style and is not super dry. You can tell that a lot of craftmanship is put into this beer.

I had never heard of HA and this was a recommendation of one of the Belmont employees. It is a really good lager and I would seek it out again.

 1,040 characters

Photo of Spikester
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I bought this hard to find black beer at Market of Choice in West Linn, Oregon.
Pour dark brown almost black with a one finger tan head. Has a good amount of lacings. Aroma is caramel malts. Taste is bold dark malts with a matching amount of earthy, leathery hops. Perfect balance.
Mouthfeel is pure silk with just enough carbonation to prick the tongue.
Nothing bold or unusual about this beer but I enjoyed it very much. Delicious black beer. Drinkability is very good due to the under 5% abv. I could drink many of these beers.

 531 characters

Photo of RedDiamond
3.1/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

If you shine a flashlight through it, you can draw out some ruby highlights. Otherwise, this black lager is indeed black. It is casually sweet with some hints of molasses and a bit of roast in the finish along with retained maltose. Its light, estery aroma is too frail to dwell on.

Reasonably enjoyable but somewhat indistinct and far from exciting.

 352 characters

Photo of Metalmonk
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Schwarz and schwarz can be, this thing is quite lovely, with a stout-like cap of foamy foam on top. Not much lace, and a quick thinning of the head.

Aroma is nothing special, has that typical lager-ness to it, with a very mild hint of roasted malt inside of that. Try as I might, it's not leaving much of an impression, but there's nothing bad about it either.

Flavor is very good: a pinch of anise, coffee bitterness, dark fruit sugars, lactic goodness, and a big juicy/creamy mouthfeel that delivers the flavors beautifully. Coffee hangs around in the finish...seems like morning.

Another great lager from Heater-Allen that will turn the heads of lager-lovers and lager-disbelievers alike. There's nothing more to say--it's simply very good.

Thanks to msubulldog25 for this rare treat.

 793 characters

Photo of msubulldog25
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another of the fresh bottles dropped off by brewer Rick Allen, just before Thanksgiving. This 22 oz. pours to a pint glass.

The H-A website describes as: "This is our interpretation of the little known Schwarzbier, or “black beer” of Germany...when I brew this, I use a lot of flavorful amber malts, and just enough black malt to get the color right – a total of nine different malts in all. The beer’s rich malt/espresso aroma, leads to complex malt, caramel, chocolate, and espresso flavors. There’s just enough hop bitterness to keep everything in balance. (1.014 BG, 4.8%, 36 IBU, 29 SRM)"

My review:

A: Deep, deep brown opacity - nears blackness but for a scant amber-hued thinning toward the edges. Modest bubbliness atop, visible in just that lightest portion; head is very slim, creamy/fizzy and light but with a short span of retention. Leaves a pencil thin trim of light rusty-tan and virtually no lace.

S: This one smells malty, with notes of sugared dark fruit, caramel and smoked grain. Unfortunately, to me it's also pretty metallic (beyond typical 'lager yeast' smell), like a kettle after a good steel wool scrubbing. This twang mellows as the beer warms; still it's worth noting.

T: Malty caramel sweetness upfront, then developing a deeper and more bitter roasted-ness. Dark chocolate and coffee grounds are really strong in the backing. Hops add a slightly sharp citrus zest, but don't entirely cut through the grainy roasting. It's balanced well between hops and dark malts, just a little heavy with bittering in the finish.

M: Light-to-medium body initially, modest carbonation. This became surprisingly heavy as a sticky maltiness crept up; my experience with the schwarzbier style is that it's mildly toasty/husky, yet clean finishing; this one is more clingy, almost chewy. Leaves a lasting coffee bittering.

D: Pretty good beer, definitely worth a try. Not my favorite of the Heater-Allen brews I've tasted so far, but one I'll return to for more evaluating/enjoying. Flavors are good, but mouthfeel and aroma are not quite as pleasing as I'd hoped for. Or, this may be one that needs to grow on me, as I'll admit my experience with this interesting style is relatively's a fine, sessionable lager (under 5%) that I'll be having again (2 more in the cellar).

 2,309 characters

Schwarz from Heater Allen Brewing
3.89 out of 5 based on 50 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.