Schwartz Bier | Devils Backbone Brewing Company

very good
63 Reviews
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Schwartz BierSchwartz Bier

Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Virginia, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by on 07-24-2009

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Reviews: 63 | Ratings: 325
Photo of Marraybay
2/5  rDev -47.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Dry, bitter, nothing remarkable wrt presentation or mouthfeel. No elements of sweetness: A somewhat one dimensional taste profile. Would definitely recommend New Belgium's 1554 as a better alternative black beer, at least given my experience, but as always, one-oft bottles may not be entirely representative, as some are reporting far pleasanter experiences.

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Photo of rdilauro
2.75/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

My first Schwartz Bier... Just when you think you have tried so many different beers.
This one poured jet black like a stout except you could tell it was much thinner and lighter.
There wasnt a pronounce nose except for a faint hint of European hops which I normally find in German and Czech Pilsners.
This beer went do very easy, almost too easy. I could see why sitting around a table it would be very easy to drink a number of these

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Photo of Cyrion
2.97/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard shaker pint.

Appearance: Very dark, basically black. Sports a 2 inch tan head. A great deal of carbonation on the sides. Leaves attractive concentric rings around the glass.

Smell: Sweet toffee. I'd even say it has a sugary pastry smell, like a hot cross bun. Chocolate is there, as well as a slight amount of coffee.

Taste: Chocolate malt, with very little coffee bitterness. There's a bit of toast here and dark fruit, but frankly, these are being drowned out. A strong metallic flavor appears quickly, and when combined with the heavy carbonation, it's tasting a bit like a cola soda. Very unappealing, and it's leaving a citric acid aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very thin.

Overall: Not sure if the metallic cola taste is an undesired element or not, but the end result is a brackish lager that has limited appeal.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.26/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"In a brewery far, far away" states the miniature tagline above the name of this beer on Devil's Backbone's giant chalkboard.

Appearance: A dark mahogany but transparent (telltale Schwarz, there) bodied brew, capped by one-finger of slightly tan head, that fades relatively quickly in to a thick sheen. Carbonation is sparse, but relatively large and slow. As the sip begins there is plenty of sticky carbonation, blotchy and spotty all over the sip side of the glass, which is a good indication of staying power.

Aroma: Largely devoid of anything, really - agitation gets a few grainy toast notes out, and a few fainter grassy hop notes. There's not really much going on here, unfortunately.

Taste: Mild and a little watery. Moderate toastiness, faint earthiness, fainter chocolate, and a few lighter, sweeter, roasty notes, and a faint moderate hop bitterness in the fade compromise the bulk of this one. It's a little on the grainy side - that is, due to the lack of characteristics that jump out at me on this one, the grainy husky notes come through a little stronger.

Mouthfeel: A moderately thin body with a moderate amount of carbonation. It's not as thin as I thought it was at first, and it's also more even than I thought it was at first, but that's not necessarily a good thing, as the increased body isn't accompanied by a comparable "flavor" increase, which thus brings the relative mediocrity of the flavor profile in to stark contrast.

Drinkability: Just not a very flavorful beer, which is a big knock in my book. However, given that this generally is not considered to be a very "flavorful" style - in my opinion, at least, and I know there are likely many who disagree (perhaps my palette is simply not "refined" enough) - I can't necessarily knock it too much. At 4.9% abv, it's also not terribly unquaffable, regardless of the flavor-quotient. It's worth a try once, but like with so many DBB brews, I'm not sure if I'd come back for a second glass.

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Photo of Brian_L-2056
3.32/5  rDev -13.1%
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 StonedTrippin
3.34/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

my first beer from these guys is a bit of a let down. it tastes a bit stale, like a crummy euro dark lager all extracty and weird. dark in color, more like a porter in looks than a dark ale, rather dense and not super heady after the initial gush fades down. a nose of tale dark roasted grain and lager yeast, nothing seems alive or fresh about it, flavors are all muted, and the yeast is just weird. i have heard these guys make some great stuff, but this is a pretty uninspiring introduction to this brewery. lacking the nice carbonation and quick finish of the better schwarz types, and not really giving me much grain character at all. it makes me thirsty for a good one. it also seems a bit thick and under carbonated, not the feel i am really after in the style. all up, there is nothing particularly bad about it, but it just never really comes together, something with the yeast i think, but this one is forgettable for me.

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Photo of obywan59
3.41/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, but shows ruby highlights when held up to a light. Tannish 2 finger head that recedes leaving minimal lacing.

Light malt and spicy hops. A bit of chocolate. Sspice predominates.

Dry and tart. Again a hint of chocolate. Light citrus and a light bitter follow through.

Mouthfeel is moderate. Carbonation is noticeable. A bit drying.

This beer is okay. Maybe DB is targeting mass appeal, but to me this is on the B list. It's very drinkable and would make for an easy session. Definitely better than the macros. but a bit of a let down for those with a more adventurous taste.

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Photo of jmasher85
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Less flavor than I was hoping for, and one of the few from this brewery that hasn't wowed me on the first sip. A bit malty, slightly thin texture, though it is a lager so I guess it fits the profile there. I just figure if you're working with this style, in this day and age, put a little more oomph into it unless you're going for something with deliberately less oomph. Either way, totally drinkable, perfectly enjoyable, a bit malty, a bit ashy/burnt, and a nice, if unremarkable take on the style. But hey, drink locally!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark brown color. The head is a finger high, mocha in shade, and VERY creamy-looking. Retention is fine enough for the style, while a nice ring of lacing is left on the glass.

S: Some solid brown sugar notes are coming through quite well. There are also lighter aromas of coffee and chocolate. This is a pleasant nose in general - mild, but pleasant.

T: Fairly roasty for the style. While there's an initial and lesser finishing note of brown sugar, in the middle lies a good amount of roasted coffee. A combination of sweet caramel and gentle noble hopping builds up slightly after a few sips. I'm glad it isn't overly cola-esque, too.

M: This one feels rather sharp-edged, light, and coarse on the palate. Those who aren't bothered by the 'bite' will find a dry (not bone-dry), drinkable offering. The intense carbonation should be toned down about 10%, though.

O: This is the first beer from these guys that I didn't find utterly average. It's very easy to drink, yet with a decent coffee flavor. I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of Pencible
3.47/5  rDev -9.2%
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 Minkybut
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was really black and it poured a nice head. The beer smelled like beer, sorry! The beer had a malty taste and was very pleasant to drink. I would certainly buy this beer again. This seems to be a good beer company.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.62/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/2 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of surface foam. Resilient lacing trickles down the glass leaving a jagged ring behind.

S- Metallic aroma with some dark roast and coffee. Also has some nuttiness.

T- Flavor is a bit more enjoyable with some smooth dark roast and chocolate. Very easy drinking due to barely any alcohol being detected. Slightly bitter from the hops and roast.

M- Thin, even for a dark lager. Medium carbonation and a body that's a bit too light.

O- Certainly quaffable, but doesn't have much character.

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Photo of thebeers
3.63/5  rDev -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 Darkmagus82
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep black color with ruby highlight seen shinning through the body when held up to the light. Upon pouring there was a big billowy cream almost grayish head that faded relatively quickly as the large carbonation bubbles popped. One the head receded it left a persistent film on the brew with a moderate level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of roasted malt with some hints of a more bitter cocoa mixed within. Other lighter hop aromas of a earthy and herbal nature were mixed with these giving a dry and roasty aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt flavor of a toasted dark bread, some caramel and a bit coffee. Notes of a semi-sweet cocoa come to the tongue more toward the middle where they sweeten the taste ever sol slightly. Notes of char and a earthy hop flavor then come to the tongue more toward the end, leaving a drier, but overall relatively smooth flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer was on the medium to slightly above medium side in terms of its creaminess with a carbonation level that was average to slightly on the higher side. The creamier body was fantastic for the roasty and toasty flavor of the brew while the carbonation level keep it on the easy drinking and more refreshing side.

Overall – A pretty nice brew overall with a good roasty flavor and nice drinkability.

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Photo of qchic
3.69/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Well done Schwartz bier. Looks nice, subtle roasty aroma and smooth, smooth drinking! Nice afternoon beer to begin a session. Recommended when trying to not overdo it.

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

Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier has a thin-to-medium, cream-colored head, a very dark brown (lighter around the edges) appearance, some visible stray bubbles, and moderate lacing left behind. The aroma is of toasted, dark bread crust, some cream, and general malt. Taste is of sweet malt, bread crust, and just a kiss of the hops. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier finishes semi-wet and highly drinkable.


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

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a deep, dark, auburn highlighted, brown coloring with a halo of off-white head. Aromas of richly sweet nut and chocolate, smoky highlights, and a bitter coffee backbone. Flavors are richly sweet forward, nutty, creamy, and with chocolate highlights. There are roasted overtones, hints of smoke, and a tangy cream profile at the end of the palate. Mid-bodied, with a slight effervescence, and a dry undertone. The aftertaste is a subtle smoky highlighted blend of candy-like sweet notes all blending together. Smooth, slightly dry, slightly effervesced finish. Not bad.

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Photo of Zraly
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark with deep brown highlights and a nice, fluffy tan head into a pilsner glass. Smell fresh with roasted malt and earth notes.

Rich and earthy, this is a nice black lager. Chocolate notes meld nicely with caramel flavors. The mouthfeel is a bit on the prickly side due to the carbonation. While ample carbonation is necessary, this is a bit sharp and distracts a bit from what is otherwise a solid, enjoyable brew; the overall mouthfeel is affected by the super-sharpness of the carbonation. Medium-bodied. I think I would like to try this on tap and see how it translates.

I'm a big fan of schwarzbier, especially on cooler evenings in the spring and fall. Would make for a good BBQ beverage.

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Photo of TheLibertyFlamesTaster
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Very dark in color.
Very little light shines trough the berr.
Smell-A sweet almost licorice smell.
Taste- Lots of carbonation up front. smoky sweetness is the taste,
Pretty good beer.

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Photo of gautch726
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A damn fine looking dark pour with a nice, medium frothy head. Smells of autumn and has a roasted taste to it. Not overpowering. Just a smooth, easy beer to drink with a light finish. Recommend for relaxing with friends in colder weather. Nothing crazy, just enjoyable.

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Photo of IPhantom
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours an awesome brown-black, like an extremely well-foamed cup of French pressed coffee. Thick head with copious lacing looks like the foam on top of a great root beer float. Smell is roasty malts, a little toffee, a little coffee, and maybe just the slightest hint of vinous dark fruit. Taste is sweet coffee malt, pleasantly burnt flavors, and some crisp hops. Finish cleans up nicely with some tannic, almost tobacco-like notes. Mouthfeel is surprisingly crisp and not cloying, with the hop finish rounding out nicely.

Although I would have preferred a little more sweetness, this is nonetheless a fine alternative beer for summers, especially if you like to spend yours eating charred meats and sitting around campfires until all hours of the night.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
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 chilly460
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a clear, auburn brown, quite dark as expected. No head at all for this pour, just a light ring of bubbles around the outside of the glass. Swishing brought minimal carbonation to the top. Little in the way of lacing as well.

S: Somewhat muted, even as it warmed. First impression is toasted grain, with a bit of more robust roasted malts in there as well. Earthy, grassy hops are in the background.

T: Again, the taste came through as mild. Initially get that toasted grain, some more roasted malt as picked up in the aroma as well. As it warms, started to get a bit of sweet chocolate, and some caramel sweetness too. Not a flavor bomb, but it grew on me, like a good bowl of cereal.

M: Somewhat thin body, very crisp, although doesn't appear to be heavily carbonated. Do not get a 'prickly' carbonation from it.

O: This is not the most robust beer, but I believe it works as a nice session beer. It's warm and refreshing, with a grainy profile that is nice to sip.

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Photo of oberon
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours into my schwarbier glass a deep cola color with a light beige head sitting perfectly atop,just a great pour.Aromas of chocolate and earth with light roast...not overpowering,smells like a great dessert beer.Chocolaty sweet flavors but not overly so,some more brown sugar comes into play giving more sweetness but a big earthy backbone keeps the sweetness from taking over,roast is bigger as I drink more but the lager smoothness holds thr to the finish.I like this rendition of the style,it's alot better than most American versions in my opinion.

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Photo of Pantalones
3.81/5  rDev -0.3%
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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Schwartz Bier from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 325 ratings.
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