Black Lager
Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Black LagerBlack Lager
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German Schwarzbier
Ranked #35
Ranked #19,863
3.84 | pDev: 10.68%
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Virginia, United States
Very Good
Black LagerBlack Lager
Notes: Formerly known as Schwartz Bier
Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 367 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Foyle
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pilsner glass. 1" tan head drops quickly, very little lacing. Color is reddish brown. Aroma of dark roasted malts, coffee, molasses. Mouthfeel is medium with an easy dry finish. Flavors: chocolate, coffee, raisin, smoked malt, mild hops. Overall: very good.

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Photo of Riff
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with a thick, tan head that is slow to fade away. Smells of roasted malts, brown bread, and caramel. Taste is light coffee, slightly sweet, smokey, with a little bit of hop bite binding it all together. Medium light body, moderate carbonation. Nicely balanced beer, a little hop, some smokey malt and an easy drinking ABV, certainly nice for a craving for a dark beer during the warmer months. I'd buy it again.

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Photo of woodsman13
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black pour with even lacing that doesn't stick around. Low viscosity and lighter colored head are what tells you it's not a porter. Smell is roasted, bready, slightly sweet - German brown bread.

Tastes almost smoky, roasted. A burnt sweet, almost caramel. The hop balance on this is very well done. Mouthfeel is a bit thicker than I was expecting but the hops give it an almost tannic quality that balances things out on your tongue. Gets some syrupy qualities to it towards the end. Carbonation is light to medium.

Overall a unique style and a tasty beer if you like a smokier style, although this was not as light as I expected.

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Photo of johnnybgood1999
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A simple beer that's good when you're wanting a refreshing dark beer. Dark black in appearance with a white head. Taste is breast, roasty, very, very light chocolate on the on the back end. Good for the style.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Undated bottle into pint glass. Pours a clear dark ruby brown with a thin light-tan head. Initial impression is a very flavorful, roasty, slightly sweet, with a hint of coffee. Mouthfeel is medium and refreshing; carbonation is perfect. Finish is roasty and semi-dry. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of brentk56
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Arrives coffee colored with a thin cap that fades to a ringlet leaving a few strands that hang around

Smell: Brown bread with hints of chocolate, caramel and nuts

Taste: Brown bread tones lay down the base with caramel sweetness building; some chocolate and nut flavors through the middle with a clean lager finish

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Nice to see the occasional Schwarz out there; not the best example I have tasted but certainly passable

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Photo of MrOH
3.86/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with clear ruby highlights in the light. Tan head, decent retention, nice lace
Smells slightly roasty, slightly smokey, with a nice underlying bready malt
Smokey and bready, with a hint of roast. Did they use rauchmalt in this?
Nice mouthfeel and carbonation
The smokiness is nice, but not to style, so it got dinged for that

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Photo of justincarrasquillo
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: This brew displays a deep black colour with a thin and lacy head. When held to the light, dark brown hues shine through my standard pint glass.
S: A very sweet aroma is prominent with notes of coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, toasted bread, and perhaps a hint of dark chocolate.
T: Coffee and roasted malts hit the tongue with plenty of flavor. It is soon followed by a mild fruitiness, and finished with hints of dark chocolate.
F: The brew is light and refreshing, giving it the perfect qualities for a hot day or a lighter beer during the winter.
O: The beer leaves you with a very tasty and smooth finish that leaves you refreshed. After my initial glass, I wanted one more!

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Photo of PhilHeinricke
4.12/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Oh Man

I was at Costco. Precious likes a type of Moscato that they have in the blue bottle. She won't drink anything else. She's funny when she's had a little alcohol so when I was getting her wine, I noticed a combination pack of Devil's BackBone so I picked it up. One of the beers was Black Lager.

Oh, it's beautiful. It pours out a rich dark color like Wendy Williams' thighs. I have a thing for her. The smell is unremarkable, but the taste is just the perfect dark beer taste that I've grown to love over the years.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the bottle, it pours a dark, black color with a tan head. The head soon diminishes to a ring. Definite roast malt in the nose. The same in the mouth - nice!

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Photo of Tone
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. 1/3 inch head of an off-tan color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, lactose, hint of chocolate, slight yeast, and hint of pine. Fits the style of a Schwarzbier. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, lactose, hint of chocolate, slight yeast, and hint of pine. Overall, average appearance, good aroma, feel, blend, and body.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Extremely dark brown with short-lived tan head. No lacing.
Smell is malty, light smoke, nuts, caramel.
Taste is malts, roasty, toasty, nuts, caramel, faint smoke.
Medium plus body, sharp carbonation. Good stuff.

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Photo of avalon07
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

L: Poured from a bottle to a pilsner glass. had a dark brown / black color and a thick texture. There was a thin, tan-colored, long-lasting, foamy head. Below average lacing.

S: A good aroma of roasted malt, chocolate, and a bready quality.

T: Tasted of some chocolate notes (could have used more in my opinion), a lot of roasted malt, the aforementioned bready quality, grain, and a tinge of coffee as well. This is one of those flavors that would be great, if only they pushed it just a bit further. Tasty, but almost too subtle for its own good.

F: A solid amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: While this beer has its flaws, it's definitely drinkable. Worth a look.

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Photo of BJB13
3.77/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle poured into a narrow mug.

Pours almost black with mahogany edges. It started with almost one finger of tan head that diminished to a nice half finger cap with fine lacing. Weak nose of roast and sweet malts, maybe chocolate or dark fruit. Tastes mostly malty, roast and caramel malt. Slightly sweet with just a bit of bitterness and a mostly clean finish. Light bodied but not thin, with decent carbonation. Crisp and easy drinking. This is OK, but not great.

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Photo of maximum12
3.6/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a really good local lager last week that’s turned me back on to them after a time away, so I snagged this out of the fridge. 12 oz. bottle.

Poured into #properglassware, my old Devil’s Backbone glasses from a BIF who knows how many years ago - they are well loved. Pours on the darker spectrum of brown. Light roast, chocolate, & black waybread in the nose.

Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier! Really, all this reminds me of is the mugs of big black beer we had to use both hands to lift & swig at U Flecku in Prague. Mimics the nose like a mirror, with the exception that the black bread has now been well toasted & I could identify the lager yeast in the dark. Clean, light, easy to drink, this is exactly what I was looking for.

No dabbing or bat-flipping here, just a good, solid lager.

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Photo of Pantalones
3.81/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Last bottle of this one from my Christmas six-pack -- bottling date is November 1st, 2016 so just barely over two months old.

Pours a dark brown, settling into a nearly black color once in the bottle -- can just barely see some dark brown around the edges. Shining a light through makes the streams of rising bubbles visible, must be pretty clear despite the darker color. Nice big layer of light tan foam on top at first, which has now shrunk down to a thinner cap but still looks pretty nice. It's leaving behind really nice rings and lacing on the inside of the glass as I drink it, too.

Smell is roasty dark malts right away, with maybe a tiny bit of sweetness hiding in the background. A bit chocolatey, I'm especially noticing this aspect of it when I sniff the now-empty bottle for some reason. Maybe a little bit of a metallic-seeming thing in there, which is unfortunate; I don't remember noticing this in previous bottles I've had, though, so that may be the glass rather than the beer.

The taste is also primarily roasty dark malt. It's quite dry, not really getting any of that background sweetness that I picked up a bit of in the smell. There's a kind of woody/chalky/almost smoky thing in the background that mixes well with the other flavors. Smoky/char is probably the best word for it. Kind of a dark bread and grain aftertaste. Some nuttiness going on in there, too. Unfortunately I do occasionally pick up just a bit of that metallic thing I was getting from the smell, but it's not strong enough to throw off an otherwise very tasty beer.

Mouthfeel is really nice -- it's got that soft bubbly thing to it, feels light but substantial and very easily drinkable.

Overall, this is another beer from Devil's Backbone that's readily available and consistently good -- and in a style that's difficult to find around here, no less. I'll have to have it again in the not-too-distant future to see if that metallic thing I was picking up in the smell (and slightly in the taste) was just the fault of the glass I'm drinking it out of or my nose doing something weird; that's honestly the only thing I found any issue with in this beer, and if not for that my smell and taste ratings would both definitely be a bit higher.

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Photo of wedge
3.96/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark, nearly black, brown hue with a thick beige head that quickly fades to a soft covering. Nutty roasted malt and brown bread. Tasty toasty flavors of chocolate, bread, and a low fruitiness. Very smooth with no overly astringent roast. Medium-light, somewhat crisp, and very drinkable. Nicely done.

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Photo of Pencible
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

A: This poured a nearly opaque black with a bit of white head.
S: It smelled like coffee and roasted barley.
T: It tasted like earthy roasted barley and coffee grounds with a little creamy wheat. It had a clean bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with moderate carbonation. Decent body.
D: This was a decent schwartzbier. It had a nice clean scent and taste, with a good body and mild finish. So it was easy to drink, even though it's not my favorite style. However, there was nothing special about it, so it was pretty forgettable.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
3.79/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark walnut brown. Tastes and smells like a light lager with a little more roastiness to it -- there are hints of caramel and burned marshmallow, maybe even a hint of smoke. Yet it's light and clean, with a dry finish.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

tried this on tap at BWI -served in a willybecker.

The color is very dark brown with black coffee appearance with opaque clarity thin tan head with very fine bead lace clings well. The smell is cocoa-like with slight roasted coffee and mild mineral yeast with roasted barley dominant in the aroma. The feel has medium body with moderately low sweetness and mild roast with semi-dry yet clean finish.

Taste has a good malt flavor with mild sweetness in taste combined with slight roasted barley and subtle hop in the back with more of a bready taste with toasted maltiness as it finishes dry. Overall a smooth lager as it should be yet nice amount of roast which is not burnt or bitter. This fits the style well I would drink this frequently if available locally.

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Photo of OldSwampy
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very dark brown with small bubbles, nice tan head, though it leaves minimal lacing. Nose not too strong, but not unexpected for this style. Toasty malts dominate. Taste has a clean sharp entry, then the roasted malts emerge smoothly. Never harsh. Does not feel thick or heavy despite dark color. Bottled 3/28/16. Good beer!

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.32/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a very bark black color when poured into a typical pint glass. Has a deep ruby red tint when held up to the sun. Has a tannish head that dissipates quickly. The smell is a mild porter. The initial taste is very porter like with mostly a black coffee finish and not much else. The lacing is good but not plentiful. Overall, I don't think that this beer does enough to separate itself from the competition. Probably pass on any more

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Photo of thebeers
3.63/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Red-hued mahogany brown color with two fingers of lasting, foamy tan head that form peaks as it slowly dissipates. Nice dark malt and "lager" aroma with black bread and molasses notes and a hint of cherry. Medium bodied with a moderately creamy mouthfeel. Much more of a caramel malt profile in the taste with a pretty watery finish. Would have liked more roasted malts in there, but a fair enough example.

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Photo of lwcreasy
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

1/2 finger light tan head caps a dark brown beer with deep ruby highlights. The head is dissipating quickly, there isn't any lacing.

Nice subtle aromas, as expected. There is chocolate upfront and a slight breadiness. Beer gets warmer- cocoa powder, almonds, bread. Everything is nice and clean and subtle. Not picking up any hop aromas.

Flavors are remarkably clean. I know this is what's called for, but I never cease to be surprised and delighted by the trimness and cleanness of a well-made lager. There are light malt flavors that follow the nose- dark chocolate, quaint breadiness, but no nuttiness. There is a bit of herbal and spicy hop quality to pick up as well. Beer is slightly bitter when held in the mouth, but why would you want to do that? This beer is eminently drinkable. So you should do just that. Very refreshing.

Light body, moderate to mid-high carbonation. Dries out the mouth in a very pleasant way. The cleanest your mouth will ever feel after drinking a near-black liquid. Enjoyable mouthfeel.

Very, very good. Surprisingly drinkable and refreshing. Very much enjoyed this beer. A beer for all seasons!

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Photo of OldManMetal
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This dark lager is effervescent and darkest brown with ruby highlights, sporting a very-brief-lived, thin light-tan head; the scant lacing consists of thin, retreating bands. The aroma is moderate in intensity, perhaps just a bit strongly expressed for the style, but this is a good thing, as it is a nice blend of cookie-dough malt, toffee, smoke, and minty/licorice herbal notes with hints of coffee and booze. The flavor is moderately intense as well, consisting of a modest, undiscriminated dark malt character over a lagery grain malt foundation, the two being very well balanced; a spicy hop bitterness overcomes any sweetness from the malt, the net result being a typically-modest lager bitterness. The finish is quite clean, and the linger is a mild, vaguely chocolatey flavor that lasts a minute or two. The mouthfeel is appropriately thin, and the texture is creamy and medium-peppery from the well-expressed carbonation. The crisp, creamy texture and light body make this a very drinkable beer, and the enjoyable dark malt character that avoids being over-present make this a good example of the style. (12 oz bottle, code date illegible)

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Black Lager from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 367 ratings