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 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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Photo of wedge
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
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 -9.2%
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 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 Slatetank
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
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 +9.4%
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 -13.1%
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 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 lwcreasy
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
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 +11.3%
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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Photo of Owlish1
4.52/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a glass. Almost black body with a smallish tan head which disappeared quickly but left a ring of lacing. Malty aroma with hints of Coffee and something charred, perhaps the lingering remains of tobacco in an old pipe. Light to medium mouthfeel. Medium carbonation. Very smooth and drinkable. No overpowering bitterness. I like this beer.

 363 characters

Photo of 88caprice
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a pilsner glass.

OVERALL: A really good schwartz. Not too bitter or overly complex.

LOOK: A nice cola black. Minimal head that dissipated quickly.
SMELL: Very roasty. A little charred. Hints of dark caramel and wet coffee grounds. Almost an old tobacco pipe effect.
TASTE: Dark roasted malts with a charred edge. Some burnt sugar. Flavor is more single-noted than complex.
MOUTHFEEL: Light to medium body with some smoothness.

 454 characters

Photo of drtth
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a dark brown, almost black color, with some reddish highlights. The fluffy, almost 2" light tan head recedes only slowly and leaves lots of small patches of lacing. Sipping creates a few small patches and speckles of lacing. Mid-way through the beer there's a small layer of foam on the liquid and even to the end there's a small ring leaving isolated patches on the side of the glass.

The aromas include lightly roasted malt that create a dark bread character with hints of dark chocolate and coffee in the background.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose with some lightly roasted malt and some touches of chocolate and coffee hanging around as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a light crispness from the mild but persistent carbonation. The finish is medium long with the malt sweetness disappearing first leaving the roast character and the chocolate and coffee to slowly fade from the scene leaving a touch of dryness.

Over all this seems to be a pretty well made Schwarzbier that would serve well during an evening party that included dinner and time for long chats with friends. I certainly could drink another. That said, it doesn't quite bump some of the others I've tried from my "buy again" list. (Although it comes close and if this were more easily found locally....)

 1,349 characters

Photo of JamesBondGA
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

poured a dark brown in color with a tan, creamy head. Nice cocoa notes hit the nose, with a little caramel. Taste is like a coffee mixed with some caramel and chocolate milk. Pretty tasty.

 189 characters

Photo of mpyle
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very deep amber color, brilliantly clear. Pours slightly tannish head, creamy and long lasting.

Dark malt aroma, semi-roasty but not quite. Subtle smoke.

Rich malty flavors up front, very well balanced (malty but not overly sweet). Very clean in the finish. No overt hopiness, but they are providing adequate bitterness.

Medium body, medium high carbonation. Aside from the slightly high carbonation, very easy on the palate.

Not a style I know well, but found this to be a delightful dark malt lager. Very smooth and drinkable.

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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!

 529 characters

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.

 274 characters

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 argock
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a branded willi at the brewery/outpost.

A: Black with short cap of light beige head with decent lacing.

S: Roasted dark malts but dominated by chocolate and light espresso notes

T: Delicious with exceptional balance of light roast with dark chocolate and mild coffee contribution. All in a very clean lager package.

M: Light bodied and easy to drink with moderate carbonation.

O: Excellent lager and a great example of DB's strengths.

 451 characters

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.

 621 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Cogan's Pizza in Norfolk, VA.

It pours decently dark black, with a white foamy head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells like roasted malt, some light smoke, cream, and caramel.

This is a pretty tasty dark lager here, fairly roasty and earthy, with some light sweetness in the form of caramel and light creaminess. There's some smokiness that's fairly mild as well.

This is medium bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel, and a moderate level of carbonation.

A nice roasty dark lager, nothing crazy, just well crafted.

 534 characters

Photo of DuffDaddy
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many pints with the brewery reps visiting Winston Salem for tap takeovers at The Bull Tavern and Carlisle's. We hooked up with the reps and the distributor and they bought our drinks for the night! Great beer and great fun - lots of swag!!

 241 characters

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 illpass78
4.14/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

11 oz. on draft at Lebanese Taverna in Pentagon City, Virginia. Poured into a long stemmed glass that sort of resembles a cappuccino glass without the handle.

Appearance: Pours a clear black with a one-finger head that retains briefly. Lots of ringed lacing on way down. Head is kind of tannish. Looks like a stout or porter.

Aroma: Smells of some herbal hops and a lightly toasted grains. Some mild hop stickiness. Faintly grassy, or herbaceous.

Taste: Tasty combination of toasty grains and grassy, prickly hops. Doesn't taste like what it looks like, at least to me. "Dark beer," to me, means porters and stouts, so this is a fun change-up.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light and easy. Nowhere near as dense as I'm used to from dark beers.

Overall: I dig this. Would have again. Nice to have a dark beer that works in summer or spring. Good pair for these awesome falafels, too. May the Schwartz be with you.

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Photo of cbutova
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Black body pour to a becher with a light tan, creamy foamy head rising up to two fingers. Pretty good retention. Spotty lace with a few webs.

S- Roast barley and milky cereal grains hinting to a light sweetness. At this stage it reminds me of cocoa cereal, the good stuff. Toasted nuts and just a hint of German yeast esters.

T- Clean and to the point which I find is a strength in this style. Dry roasted grains with a lack of any bitterness giving notes of milk chocolate and toasted nuts. Slight fruits, cereal grains and breadiness.

MF- Very light bodied but kept safe by a smooth creaminess brought on by the moderate bubbles. Light bitterness throughout.

Super smooth and amazingly clean performance from the yeast. Cocoa and cereal grains delivered by a creamy body. A black brew you can drink in super hot weather.

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Schwartz Bier from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 325 ratings.
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