Rio Salado Thunderhead Schwarz Dark Lager | Rio Salado Brewing Company

very good
17 Ratings
no score
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Brewed by:
Rio Salado Brewing Company
Arizona, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.81%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by astrobrewer on 09-16-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 17 |  Reviews: 17
Reviews by GreenCard:
Photo of GreenCard
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance: dark brown, rather opaque, great clarity, smooth creamy khaki-colored head, some lacing

Aroma: sweet maltiness, coffee and chocolate cake, slight fruitiness

Flavor: supple malt backbone superbly balanced by a mellow roastiness, very smooth flavor transition, semi-dry finish, lusciously subtle hop bitterness, some dark raisiny notes

Mouthfeel: medium body, "tight and light" carbonation, a bit of astringency, creamy smoothness

Drinkability: excellent, a real quaffer with substance, makes me want to try the rest of this brewery's beers

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More User Reviews:
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

An opaque black body is capped by a short, creamy, dark-tan head that holds quite well and leaves some very nice sheets of lace. The nose expresses a grainy, roasty maltiness but little else. The body is medium with a very fine carbonation that's lightly zesty on the tongue. The flavor is gently malty and lightly sweet with just a light touch of chocolate and a dull roastiness. The bitterness is very well balanced and it finishes dry with a lingering mild roastiness. Very clean and exceptionally well balanced with a subtle roastiness that begs further investigation. A fine interperetation of the schwarzbier style. Really nicely done! Well worth trying.

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Photo of Gusler
3.81/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The pour is pitch-black in color; head is immoderate in size, light chocolate in color, and the lace thick clinging sheets that last till the bottom of the glass. Nose is malt, light roasted grains, fresh and clean. Front is malt sweet, the top has a middling mouth feel, finish is potently acidic, hops are portly, the aftertaste malt dry. One of their better efforts as I see it, and well worth a sample, don’t be afraid of the “Dark Side”, you might just like it.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Originally sampled on 10 May 2003. Thanks to beerguy101 for this one. This pous black w/ a roasty flavor & medium body. I agree w/ beerguy101 that it's porterish, but w/ a lighter body. This beer has lots of flavor. This is a very tasty schwarzbier.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opaque black in color with tall light tan pillowy head. Some scattered lace on the glass. Roasty malts with light caramel malts. Light dark fruits with an odd tartness that was light but stuck out. Sweet and malty was there flavor. Caramel, roastiness and a light fruitiness. The odd tartness is in the flavor as well and hurts it a little. Mouthfeel was a touch light. Easy drinking but the tart flavor really doesn’t help it any. Not sure if it was an off bottle or not but without the tartness this would have been much better. Still solid overall. Thanks to nvsblman for the bottle.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jet black pour with a half-finger dark tan head. Very nice roasty, grainy aroma -- malty but not very sweet. Something of a plasticy phenolic note, but this dissipated quickly and left me with just the intoxicating aroma of grains. Flavor is big on malt, with a medium-light body and something of a bitter-chololate palate, though most of the bitterness seems to be from the grains, rather than the hops. Finish is just slightly dry, and aftertase is roasty and sweet. Very nice and quite drinkable.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The last of the three Rio Salado beers recently collected during an Arizona Beer Trip with Gusler.

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce bottle. The dark blue, black and brown obverse label is broken with white lettering that states ‘Thunderhead – Rio Salado – Schwarz Dark Lager’. Listed as 5.80% by Volume. No Freshness Date. The appearance is all finished with a bronze colored crown Oxycap®.

Appearance: WOW, this really looks the part when poured into my favorite 20 ounce straight sided handled Mug. Pitch Black body with a fantabulous deep thick creamy chocolate crispy brown head. The thick tan brown head has an immense capability for lacing. If you didn’t know otherwise this could easily pass for a kick-ass Imperial Stout. The head goes nowhere, but the lacing that forms eventually slides down the sides of the glass back into the murky black viscous tar pit. The carbonation is sufficiently strong enough to replenish the head when the beer is swirled.

Nose: Bitter sweet chocolate start that fades into a raw roasted smoked malty middle that pervades and fills the nose through to the finish and beyond.

Taste: Lots of bitter cooking chocolate, roasted malts, dry grain malts, and a smoked nuttiness. Walnuts and a very bitter caramel feel in the middle that builds to a bitter hop ending with a soft spicy feel. The ending has a light smokiness feel that lingers on the tongue. Extremely palatable.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied but with an above average creamy feel that finishes with a smoking bitter malt feel on the cheeks that stays around for some time after the swallow.

Drinkability: I thoroughly enjoyed this Schwarz Lager. Very, Very Nice. No problems with demolishing this gorgeous bitter chocolate malt monster.

Overall: My third Rio Salado beer tonight and probably my favorite of the three. Glad that I saved the best until last.

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Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark black color. Large creamy tan head. Aroma is roasted malt. A medium bodied Schwarz beer. Malts are very roasted, nutty with a touch of cheery sweetness. Hops are fairly spicy. Chocolate and coffee flavors, with a touch of fruitiness. Sort of porterish, except its lighter bodied. Well balanced. Lots of flavor. Very smooth. Nice very drinkable beer. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of cretemixer
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque ebony in color with at thick tan head that hangs on for a while leaving a patchy lace. Aroma is caramel and coffee. Sweetly malty, very "stoutlike". Taste is of toffee and weak coffee. Smoky malts with no hop bitterness to speak of. Very smooth. Medium body and average carbonation make for a very drinkable beer. I hate to use the term "stout lite", but thats what it reminded me of, but not necessarily in a bad way. Thanks to Gusler for the excellent selection of brews. As I drank this one, I see he has hit 1000 reviews. Cheers to you Gusler!

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Photo of tavernjef
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black color; as it should be, with a sliver of ruby brown at the very bottom, thick tan froth about one finger high, fades slowly to a fine skim always present and ink blot lacing.

Smell is a great dark roasted ambiance of black malts with a touch of chocolate, very roasty and darkly so. Has some musty dirt and earthy sweetness in a hop sense a slight note of espresso also noted.

Taste is a whole nother gear of exhubantly roasted black malts that tingle the tongue with very tangy sweetness and bewitches at hints of some kind of fruit I cannot distinquish. Mild mango, vanilla, soy sauce, chocolate, with molasses is my take on it and throw in a slight espresso taste just after the midway point. Very porter like with the hops, very rounded in tangyness and roastyness, lightly earthy and mellow bitterness. Fits in well with this perplexing yummy dark lager.

Feel is close to medium, a bit lighter with a nice midway grab and partially thinning and dryish finish of sweetness. A very good showcase to the style, I liked it, although its a bit sweeter then most but very good and quite interesting.

Thanks to Gusler fot the bottle.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A deep, deep black color, completely opaque, with a nice brown creamy head. There is a burnt slightly sweet aroma. This beer has a nice full body with a nice roasted character. The roasted malt has been well used, nicely roasted without the bitterness that can sometimes be derived from dark malts. Fairly nice clean lager taste. The clean taste is a great vehicle for the roasted malt character. A light bitterness finishes this beer off. The fullness and thickness of this beer is very nice. As the beer warms up one can get a bit of diacetyl, which is the only flaw in this beer, though a minor one.

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Photo of astrobrewer
4.53/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Excellent. It's a very dark beer, but it isn't heavy at all. It's the only craft-brewed German-Style Scharzbiers available in the Phoenix area that I know of. It is very smooth and easy drinking with very nice maltiness.

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Photo of arizcards
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a few of these at my local Sprouts grocery store. On sale for $4.99 a six pack.

I was amazed that this beer is as dark as it is as this is my first foray into a Schwarz Dark Lager. Poured a nice head that dissapated quickly. Smell is of roasted malts. Taste is very interesting, roasted chocolatety malts with a dry hopped finish. Could pass for a light stout. Mouthfeel is very full for a lager and very smooth. Overall drinkability is very good as this is a very good first sampling of the Rio Salado Brewery.

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Photo of mentor
3.01/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottle provided by nvsblman, thanks for the opportunity. Pours a two finger chocolate head over a pitch black liquid. No edgings, even when held to light. Okay, I poured this 20 minutes ago and then got pulled away for a household chore. This thing still has a half finger hot-cocoa head on the top. WTF? Smells roasted coffee-like with noticable chocolate playing in to keep things from being to dry in the nose. A little bit of zing, which I think is from alcohol, but which could have a component of hop spice. Tastes soured coffee bitter and roasty dry. Chocolate is present, but doesn't save the flavor the way it saved the aroma. Unsweetened baker's chocolate is too severe a comparison, but is does have some of the dry and sour character you find in unsweetened baker's chocolate. The sour, I think is from black patent and that dark character just doesn't have an underlying sweet or fruity to carry it. Interesting. While I say dry, the dry is in the very front of the mouth. In the throat, the beer isn't such a drama queen. As I drink this beer I get some green apple in the nose which I can then find in the flavor. Well, I jsut read the description BA has for schwartzbier, and this one misses the mark. It's like a super-roasty-porter. Body is thin and there is a creamy character about the mouthfeel. Wow, this was a challenging beer and I wonder if it needs to be placed in a different category.

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Photo of oggg
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first schwartzbier.

Pours like a chocolate stout. Black with brown tints at the edges. Good sized brown head is inviting and leaves lace. Aroma combines mild German hops and chocolate. Yum. Tastes like a light lager with black patent and chocolate added. Like a stout with its heart ripped out. Is this the style? Actually fairly clean underneath the roasted and burnt notes. Just a little chocolate on the tongue. Maybe some smoke. A touch astringent at the end. Slightly oily at the end, but otherwise nicely dry at the end.

Overall: my first schwartzbier... needs a little getting used to, especially if you're more used to thick stouts.

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Photo of Hunter
3.35/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Beer is lovely, pitch black and opaque with a tan head, minimal lacing.

Scent of coffee, smoke, dark chocolate.

Taste is close to a porter but a little more mellow; its lager qualities are able to come through. Coffee and clean malt are the predominant flavors.

Finishes with a lingering taste of mocha.

Not bad, not bad at all.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: a fully black color, and a large, lush cocoa-colored head.
Aroma: creamy, and nutty, and...well, that's it, but it's quite good on it's own.
Nice, though brief, drop of hops on the palate, but malt is cheif in this schwarzbier. Very smooth, and eminently drinkable.
Quite tasty, too. Good texture, full body, taste becomes fuller as we go, rich and chocolatey and delicious.
Ah, I find myself enjoying the schwarzbier more and more, and they might be my favorite lager style!
Big thanks to Gusler for shipping this up north!

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Rio Salado Thunderhead Schwarz Dark Lager from Rio Salado Brewing Company
4.02 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.
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