Cigar City / Max Lagers Black Ash | Cigar City Brewing

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Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Collaboration with Max Lagers of Atlanta GA.

Added by FATC1TY on 12-21-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 111
Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.28/5  rDev +27%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A: poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass, nearly black with a large tan head that dissipates leaving good lacing, clear

S: toasty bread, chocolate, coffee, smoke, very stout like

T: quite smokey, lots of sweetness, odd for a lager in that the flavor profile is quite complex, dark sweet fruits, figs, raisins, tart cherries, bitter citrus hops, there's tons going on here

M: medium bodied, slightly sticky

O: very interesting and unique, elements of stout and rauchbier

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Photo of FLima
4.25/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

As black as it can be, not a chance of light to get through, with a one finger caramel head with medium retention and leaving laces.
Incredible predominant aroma of blue cheese and charred wood.
Interesting flavor of blue cheese, a bit of dark chocolate, spices, charred wood, smoke, finishes with charcoal, not quite peat, a bit of coffee, subdue citrusy and black currants.
Full body with low carbonation. Sticky feeling.
Great beer, very complex with unusual surprising notes. Recommendable.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.21/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: this is very dark and opaque. Highly carbonated. Aside from the thick foamy head, the sides are all bubbled up like a coke pour.
Smell: "buttery" smoke. Unique and enticing. Nothing else stands out. I likes this.
Taste: much like the nose with a slight bitterness in the finish. Very nice Nd interesting.
Overall: kind of a one trick pony but it has that trick perfected. Kudos.

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Photo of Sparkees3
4.11/5  rDev +22%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasant tan head that stays around for entire glass. Pitch black body. Smells of wood, light smoke, and dark malt. Taste is dominated by dark malt followed by pleasant wood with a dry slightly hoppy finish. Mouthfeel is slick and medium/heavy upfront and dry (aided by wood) on the back. Light hops and bonfire flavor linger afterwards. Probably the most heavily wood dominated beer I've tried slightly ahead of fresh Palo Santo. Very unique, but pleasant.

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Photo of babaracas
4.1/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, near opaque in the glass, with thick light brown head of creamy consistency... settles slowly leaving rings of thick lace down the glass. Smell: roasty coffee, wood smoke, chocolate note, toasted brown bread, berry. Taste: currant, pretty hoppy but not terribly distinct... vaguely piney, spicy, fruity. Licorice, woody; chocolate and toasted bread. The smoke + wood is nice and pretty laid back. Medium bodied with a super creamy feel. Not sure how I would categorize this, but it's quite delicious.

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Photo of Bartos
3.99/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a glass

A- Deep black in color with a tan foamy head. Little lacing

S- Overwhelming smell of wood. The strongest aroma of wood I've ever experience in a beverage. More so than any other wood or barrel aged beer. There is a slight smokiness or burnt smell to the wood. Very intriguing smell, slightly like the peat and wood smell of a scotch.

T- Sweet and roasted malts are quickly over taken by the sharp taste of of the black ash wood that the beer was aged on. The smoky taste is different than in any other beer I've tasted yet you still recognized it as a smoky taste. The wood does overwhelm everything else. Reminds me of the strong wood taste of some scotches. Only hits one note, but does it very well

M- Thin for such a dark beer, yet standard for a lager. The right amount of carbonation. Wish it was stickier, sweeter, or thicker to better standard up to the taste.

O- An intriguing beer. Well crafted and very unique. At times the wood taste overpowers but it has a definite appeal. The more I drink it the more I enjoy it. Ultimately, I rated it based on the fact it completely lives up to it's name.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer pours a thick, oily, jet black with a dense, foamy, light tan head that keeps a low profile and has great retention. You can smell this brew from a good distance while you pour, with rich vanilla and coconut tones forward, an underlying charred wood backbone, woody highlights, licorice notes, and a tangy sweet blend throughout. Very unique nose. Flavors are roast and slightly smoky forward, with a solid bitterness behind it. Bitter and resinous hops characteristics deep in the backbone, with tropical fruit characteristics dancing around throughout, slightly under the radar. There is a pretty heavy smoked character that builds towards the end of the palate, along with some richly sweet notes of chocolate and tropical fruit. The bitterness that hits the back of the palate has hops and coffee characteristics. Light and effervescent at its core despite the robust and heavy lean to it. The aftertaste is coconut crème, bitter mocha coffee, and charred wood. The finish, despite being so heavy and rich throughout, is fairly clean, with only a subtle linger of sweet and bitter roast. I can easily say this is one of the most unique beers I have ever had, and it's pretty damn tasty!

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Photo of joe1510
3.77/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz Bomber

Bottled: 12/12/13

Thanks to Mark for passing this one along! Black Ash produces a dandy of a pour. The body is chalkboard black, no highlights make it through. A bubbly, lively, eggshell finished mocha head sits atop the body two fingers in height. The staying power of the foam is strong, settling but painfully slow. Big chunky, clumpy lacing clings to the glass. A good looking beer to be sure.

I have to admit, I didn't expect much but the nose is both interesting and welcoming. This lager is roasty and sooty, bordering on acrid but never quite making it. Black coffee notes as well.The black ash really adds some interesting characteristics I can't say I've ever comes across in beer most notably a blue cheese funkiness that somehow seems to work. It's like a charred up Stilton burger. Sounds strange, I know, but I like it.

The roast is big and dense engulfing every other aspect. Highly roasted, nearly burnt black coffee comes through as well. The roast on this guy is up there, way up there, bordering on smokey even. The bleu cheese quality on the nose has softened on the palate adding just a whisper of Stilton on the backend. I'm still not fully sure where that comes from but it must be the wood. Good beer, a little challenging, but certainly unique.

The body is on the plus side of moderate with a plush creaminess. Carbonation is there but soft, allowing the weight of the body to do the work. The roast is enough that it leaves behind a decent bitterness that tends to grow with each drink. Though not dry at first it gets there eventually, even a little tannic at times.

Black Ash is an interesting beer, one I can't say is comparable to any other I've had in the past. The uniqueness is its strong suit. The roast is turned up to eleven, bringing notes of coffee and a solid bitterness. The wood is somewhat tannic and brings with it that oddly enjoyable bleu cheese note. I can't say I would buy this beer often, and it's better split amongst friends, but it is a fun beer to drink, a bit of a challenge. A thinker of sorts. Interesting.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.6/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle (bomber) picked up from the brewery right when released. Pours essentially black with a big creamy brown head, just looks like a creamy imperial stout. No question that there is wood in this beer. Big smokey ash wood aroma sort of like I am standing in the lumber section if Home Depot. Some light sweetness, chocolate, and roasted malt behind this but it is dominated by the wood. Good grief. Flavor is big woody ash, used cigarette butts, light roast and chocolate, and more ash. You really have to be in the mindset for this one. Medium bodied with medium carbonation and goes down easy enough. I don't think this is bad despite tasting like a burnt cigarette with some extra sweetness. I guess they hit what they were going for. Weird but not terrible. Wouldn't go for it again but I am really curious about the base beer. Seems silky smooth and chocolatey and seems like it would be quite a neat brew on its own with the addition of ash wood.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.56/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"This beer is unique in that it features smoky characteristics despite the fact that we didn't use anything smoked in the brewing process. Prepare to venture to the dark side with this hoppy, mocha lager." Brewed in the style of a Schwarzbier, available in limited run 22 oz. bottles and limited draft. Collaboration between Cigar City Brewing and Max's Lagers in Atlanta, Georgia.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 54 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a medium chocolate brown head of a frothy crisp consistency over a very dark brown, near black body. Retention is above average, and lacing is light and spotty. 3.5

(Smell) Very complex aroma, unmalted wheat, chocolate malts, German biscuit malts, some light caramel syrup, a curious note of funk with light sourness, notes of tart cherry, delicate earthy and grassy hop notes with a low bitterness. Some light impact of smokiness hints at the black ash aging. Aromatically speaking, this is one of the busiest black lagers I have laid my nose upon, neither a good nor bad thing, but not all of the components of this aroma are destined to please. It's a bit wild, a bit tart and funky, artificially smoky, very unusually out-of-style for the typically clean-drinking and straightforward Schwarzbier. 3.75

(Taste) The wood aging comes through aggressively in the flavor. Malt notes of biscuit, caramel and light chocolate are met with the drying impact of strong and bold black ash wood, very drying and very green, leaching raw vegetative and living wood notes all throughout the beer and into the finish. Light hop notes are drowned out in the flavor, and the tart funk flavors are a wild, but surprisingly fitting combination with the wood flavors of the black ash. Very unusual- I could easily see how this would be an offensive culmination of flavors to some but frankly I don't have enough beers that go this far out on a limb. I'm compelled enough to see this beer through to the last drop. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, lightly oily, faintly chewy, chalky dry. Carbonation is moderate generating a light frothiness and a moderately crisp finish. Body is high for the style and medium/high overall. Balance is earthy wood bitter, tart and funky over sweet. Alcohol presence is mild and there are no off characters to mention. If this beer was infected, there would be virtually no way to tell. 3.5

(Overall) Expect the very unexpected here. I have never had a beer aged on Black Ash, but the flavor that comes from black ash is profound and comes through 110% in this beer, arguably overdone, but I appreciate the occasional aggressively-aged wood beer. I found the lighter-bodied choice of a black lager unusual for such a bold wood choice but it allows the unique characteristics of the black ash to shine uninterrupted. I personally enjoyed this beer even though it has appeared to have turned many stomachs since its release. 3.5

Cigar City Brewing's
Black Ash American Black Lager Aged On Black Ash (With Max Lager's)

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Photo of Vec2267
3.55/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - black with a minimal tan froth with medium bubbles that persists nicely, good lacing

S - mostly wood, some chocolate, subtle smoke

T - wood first, followed closely by smokey char, some chocolate and pine are quickly overwhelmed, bitterness from the aging and the char dominate but this beer is not overwhelmed with smoke, it is a major component, but the wood serves as the balance

M - quite rich

O - this was a marginal purchase, not a fan of the style, that I was able to finish AND enjoy this is testament once again to the skill and bravado of the brewery, the aging did a lot to counterbalance the smokiness, this beer has more nuance than the few other examples of this style I've tried

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Photo of SomethingClever
3.54/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle purchase 12/13 22 oz poured into a Snifter

A: A shade of darkness that absorbs all light bottle was very cold tried getting aggressive with the pour only ended up with a small head that was a mocha color it disappeared quickly just some tiny film around the edges with bubbles

S: Smells like liquid smoke and a little big of wood chips that have been soaked in water with maybe a little maple sweetness

T: Wow smoke, burnt wood like a campfire that someone has poured water on and surprisingly very little sweetness with a sour finish

M: You almost think it's thin but it becomes so dry that it kinda makes you feel like it's coating your tongue

O: Not a big fan very smoky though and a year old!?! Yikes what was this fresh, no real underlying beer taste just campfire I think it's interesting the lack of sweetness, the more of it you drink it's really not bad it was very cold when I started it's better warm

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Photo of Zach136
3.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3

22oz bottle "canned at" CCB in Tampa. Poured in CCB Snifter.

A - Pitch black, minimal head/lacing
S - Nose is pretty great - burnt peanut butter, vanilla and caramel with a hint of coffee
T - Punishing at first. Literally like drinking an ashtray at a cigar bar. Serious undrinkable- but I was given the good advice to power through and let the palate adjust. The cigar ash developed into more of a burnt coffee roast and hint of pencil shavings and vanilla popped up. Still not super desirable but drinkable.
M - crisp clean lager finish. Which is good because I didn't need to feel like I just smoked a cigarette for the rest of the night.
O - appreciate the effort and creativity - still glad I got to try it and wouldnt take back spending whatever I did on this bomber. But drain poured most of it and wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 9.99. Bottled 12/12/13. Served in my favorite Christmas present- a custom etched Phish snifter (my wife is awesome!).

Pours black with a finger and a half of pale tan head. Wispy, thin retention but plenty of lace.

Interesting aromas of earthy wood, piney hops, some sort of pepper and a something slightly akin to band aid. A little weird but not offputting.

A unique flavor profile for sure. Burnt wood and that strange band aid taste (peat?) are strong up front. Also something similar to cedar. Sharply bitter piney hops, charred malt, dark chocolate, szechuan peppercorns, mild smoke, faint blackberry and vaguely caramel. So many things going on here but I'm not sure that it's all entirely complementary. Still pleasant enough in it's own right.

Body is slick and medium thin with ample carbonation. Peat, char and earthy, piney hop finish.

Unlike anything else I've tasted. Many things are similar to a standard American black ale but the woodsy and earthy notes are totally new to me. This is a unique experience. My advice would be to throw away any expectations and just enjoy the fact that this gives a completely new experience.

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Photo of Paincane
3.08/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: Dark brown, almost black in color with creamy khaki head.
S: Smoky, woodsy malt aromas.
T: Smoked malt flavors and earthiness with dark berries. Dry hoppy finish.
M: Smooth, balanced smoky body.
O: Interesting brew from a great collaboration.

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Photo of mverity
2.91/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

Bottle share at Proof courtesy of kantrauch. Opaque black in appearance. Some tan head that comes back with each swirl. Aroma is really woody, really smokey. I am now very certain what black ash smells and tastes like. This is sooo unenjoyable. Entirely too much wood and smoke. Taste like burnt malt. Good body and mouthfeel, but I can't get into this beer.

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Photo of macrosmatic
2.82/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Reviewed from notes. Poured from bomber into a Tampa Bay Brewing Company snifter.

A: Pours jet black and opaque, with a thin tan head and minimal visible carbonation.

S: Chocolate, burnt ash, smoke, charred wood, a bit acrid. But overall smells pretty good and complex.

T: Smoke, medicinal Band-aid, smoked dark chocolate, some spicy onion. It's really not good, and the flavors last for quite awhile in your mouth.

M: Medium body, low carbonation sensation, and alcohol presence moderate.

O: This is really not good. Smoked beers aren't my favorite, but this is over the top. The Band-Aid flavor was the main cause for me giving up on this one. Sadly, drain-pour.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.49/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.25

22 ounce bomber - Sherlock's in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Black pour with a foamy, wispy, khaki-colored head.

Smell: Burnt, blackened roasted malts, smoky oozing tar, heavy ash wood. Piercing and jarring, the aroma is a bit distressing.

Taste: Blackened, chary roast and burnt toast -- woof! -- heavily smoky, heavily burnt, just all kinds of earthy. Peppery. Tangy. Absolutely rippling with creosote. Fire-roasted blackberry. It's coarse. This beer will have you flailing and hollering like a hysterical orangutan.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Sleek, slick mouthfeel.

Overall: The twenty-two ounces contained within the bomber were an absolute fight to get through. Where's unclemattie when I need him?

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.2/5  rDev -34.7%

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body. Big khaki head. Retains well. Thick collar.

Smell - Whoa. Weird. Gorgonzola cheese. Chocolate and licorice. Woody.

Taste - It tastes like gorgonzola cheese up front, too. Chocolate. Very woody. Bitter chocolate finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Kinda bitter. Well carbonated.

Overall - Well, the cheese is remarkably odd. Odd and gross.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
1.48/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A black lager aged on black ash- the tree wood, not ash as in from a fire place. Supposedly this still gives it a smoky taste, but I can't say I get much of that. What I do get- and this is quite off-putting- is a very strong aroma of blue cheese and an only slightly less strong note of the same in the taste. This component pretty much dominates everything else for me, and although it might count as interesting to some- not only am I not sure if it's intended or an infection, but regardless it's pretty nasty. If it is intended, then all I can say is that black ash will not catch on as the wood of choice for aging.

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Cigar City / Max Lagers Black Ash from Cigar City Brewing
3.37 out of 5 based on 111 ratings.
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