Death & Taxes
Moonlight Brewing Company

Death & TaxesDeath & Taxes
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Lager - European Dark
Ranked #1
Ranked #2,610
4.18 | pDev: 9.09%
Moonlight Brewing Company
California, United States
Death & TaxesDeath & Taxes
Notes: A very dark yet surprisingly light-bodied Lager beer, crisp and refreshing with no heaviness.
Reviews: 147 | Ratings: 356 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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BerkeleyBeerSleuth from California

4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Color is very dark brown to black with a big foamy tan head. Aroma is delicious; coffee, cocoa nibs, dark and milk chocolate. Medium bodied chalky flavor almost like a stout. Dark all the way through with bitter coffee, chocolate and nut. Finish is slightly dry. Very good. It's so malty, I can't believe this is a lager. Though you can tell from the hops.

Jul 19, 2021
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jeffdr123 from Florida

4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a can at Sarah and Zak's cookout. Pours dark like Coke. A balanced roasty, slightly smokey flavor like a good German Dunkel. I can see why it's legendary in some circles.

Jun 24, 2021
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lucius10 from California

4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sweet chocolate roasty, toasty bready malty, and hint of dark roasted coffee nose on this one!! Taste follows with a clean, dark roasted malty and dark chocolate-coffee bitterness on the finish. Whoa...this is just a tasty, balanced, and quality dark lager! You can taste the craftsmanship put into this. Great stuff!

May 11, 2021
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Beerbom from California

3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I don't really favor lagers but a dark lager is even more difficult for me to appreciate. I know this beer is considered legendary in some inner circles and I don't live very far from Moonlight but I unfortunately didn't enjoy this at all.

Jan 24, 2021
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jrc1093 from Connecticut

4.39/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Canned on 11/18/20; consumed on 12/22/20

Pours a dense black body with distant blood red-brownish edges and topped with multiple fingers of fluffy, creamy, khaki foam; spectacular head retention yields a finger of rocky cap, an expansive, creamy collar, and a comprehensive spatter of sticky, webby/spotty lacing painting the walls of the glass in near-entirety.

Aroma brings a malty char upfront before welcoming nutty textures deepening to flowing undertones of sweeter milk chocolate against coffee roast; touches of grassy hops develop into the back end as a fine minerality and slick touch of burnt toffee close the bouquet.

Taste opens with robust cacao steadily embracing undertones of rich, nutty milk chocolate and proceeding to a moderate, charry roast; light smoke scurries across the mid-palate and leveled by soft coffee roast as subtle lager yeast and a steady minerality shines into the finish.

Mouthfeel offers a light body, flaky, crisp, and firm, elevated with a higher end carbonation which fades with a prickle to a fluffy mid-palate; an easy, roasty grit builds through the back end as a fading, earthy bitterness tinges the finish.

A black lager reaching the highest tiers of the style not with any deliberate boldness, but with a focused preoccupation with the supreme balance of every element, from texture and roast to sweetness and hops; the comprehensive structure and practiced consistency ultimately see a truly comprehensive black lager shine through.

Dec 23, 2020
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RyanK252 from California

4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can poured into a pint glass

A: Pours dark chestnut brown with a frothy tan head that settles to a light layer and laces nicely.

S: Roasty, coffee, char, a hint of smoke, a hint of chocolate, earthy, slightly herbal, toasty biscuity malt, and a touch of dark sugar.

T: Roasty, coffee jumps out, baking chocolate, light char, earthy, slight herbal notes, a bit grassy, faintly nutty, toasty biscuity malt, and a touch of toffee/brown sugar sweetness.

M: Light to medium body, moderately prickly carbonation.

O: Hard to imagine black lagers get much better than this.

Dec 05, 2020
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Roguer from Connecticut

3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very good head production; decent retention; very little lacing. Body is an inviting nutty black.

Nice roasty and toasty nose, bready with dark fruit. Not a lot of hops in the way.

Really interesting on the palate, as it's immediately roasty and toasty up front, yet slick, lively, and almost watery. It's like someone took a porter profile and swapped out the body for a pilsner. The resulting marriage is a very easy drinking yet full flavored dark beer.

Toast and light char up front; some coffee tones and toast. Caramel and brown sugar grow in the middle, along with prunes and grapes, but the sweetness is quite restrained. Caramel and prunes grow through the finish, which caps off with a lovely and immediate note of chocolate-covered nuts, along with a lingering char of lightly burnt toast and coffee.

No off tones of any kind. Remarkably easy drinking. This is a well crafted, straight forward beer, and a delight. Goes down very easily, and I'd love to have a beer like this available on tap.

Nov 14, 2020
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.81/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Dimidata for this one from a recent ninja box. 1/248 U.S. Barrel (dated 5/28/2020) poured into 14oz teku. Poured a solid black color with over an inch of tan head that had good retention and lacing.

The aroma had light roast at the front, with some softer grains behind. Just a hint of grassy hops showing through.

On the tongue, the roast was notably stronger, but still not overpowering. The backing grains shone a touch more, and the hops still just floated around the edges.

The body was light, smooth, crisp, and had a dry finish.

Drinkability was excellent, I could easily drain these on the regular.

Overall, a really nicely done version of the style. A must-try if you get the chance.

Nov 11, 2020
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larryi86 from Delaware

4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Blind review:
16 oz can poured into a pint glass

A- Black with a three finger light tan head. 4.25

S- Roasted malts, some dark chocolate, touch of pale/Pilsner malts, earthy, hints of fruitiness. 4.25

At first looking at it I thought this might be a stout or porter but now based off of the nose I’m leaning toward this being a schwarzbier

T- Dark chocolate, roasted malts, touch of pale malts, earthy, some hints of coffee. 4.25

M- Smooth, light to medium body. 4

O- After tasting this it moves back into the world of a stout or porter. Whatever this is I can say in confidence that it is a well brewed low ABV dark beer that I truly enjoy. 4.25

Oct 11, 2020
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Ahypercube from California

4.79/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Long had I awaited the chance to taste the legendary Death & Taxes Dark Lager. Alas, it was not until my family happened to be passing through Windsor, California on our way down from a camping trip in the redwoods that I happened upon this brew while we were using the restroom at the local Raley's. I secured a four pack of pints of this as well as some devilishly fresh Hoptimum IPA--an old favorite which I will review shortly.

It pours with a gorgeous thin black body and voluptuous quantities of dark khaki head which linger in sudsy layers of thick fluff on the glass like stalactites on a cave ceiling. Beautiful can art. Appropriate for such a notable brew.

Aromas of whole wheat bread, chocolate, medium roast coffee and pretzel with hints of brown rice, caramel, marshmallow, clove and charcoal on the finish.

Delicious. Dry roasty malty goodness with a nice creamy edge that makes it incredibly smooth. I can almost guarantee that if you like dark beer you will find this heavenly. Notes of chocolate, marshmallow, pretzel, charcoal and rice milk with hints of clove and a beautifully restrained biscuit sweetness to tie it together.

And a super smooth texture, like a nitro cold brew, but less acidic.

I had a decent Irish Dry stout recently, and while Old No. 38 Stout is pretty decent, this is so much smoother. That said, if I daresay, Alternate Present by Fiction Beer Co. was even smother than this, if my memory serves me correctly. Excepting that, this is finest schwartzbier I have ever laid lips upon. Prost!

Aug 23, 2020
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woosterbill from Kentucky

4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

16oz can, dated 3/20/20, slow-poured into a footed Pilsner glass.

A: Pitch black body with garnet highlights under a creamy, chunky tan head that towers effortlessly above the rim of the glass and settles ever-so-slowly into a doughnut of dense foam while leaving rocky lacing everywhere. Stunning.

S: Simple, straightforward roasted malt dominates, with dark chocolate and coffee notes. A nice touch of grassy hops in the background. Quite nice.

T: Straight from the fridge a notable metallic flavor was the first thing I noticed, but as it warms that thankfully subsides into smooth, rich roasty goodness. Baker's chocolate on top of bread crust. Very dry and moderately bitter finish, without any discernible hop flavor - just dusty bittersweet malt. Supremely drinkable, and very focused on the core flavors.

F: Soft and fairly light-bodied, with mildly spritzy carbonation and some significant dryness - not quite to the point of astringency, but approaching the borderline. Pretty much spot-on for the style.

O: This definitely deserves its acclaim among Schwarzbiers, and I can't think of another one I've had that I would prefer. Not as transcendent as Reality Czech, but what is? Always great to tick another top-rated beer for its style - 48 down,


Jun 14, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.89/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one pours a fairly dark black color, with a small white head and lots of lacing.

This smells like dark roast, light coffee, slightly spicy hops, smoke, dried fruit, and dark chocolate.

This is just so well balanced and crisp - everything is in perfect harmony, pretty much. There’s a hint of smoke - but not too much. There’s a hint of dried fruit sweetness - but not too much. There’s a nice creaminess too, but it doesn’t prevent the beer from finishing dry and super crisp. I also get a hint of slightly bitter hops on the back end - herbal and spicy.

This is light bodied, super creamy and clean, with a fantastic drinkability to it.

This is crazy good stuff. If you’re at all a fan of dark lagers, you are gonna love this stuff.

Apr 19, 2020
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JohnnyHopps from Indiana

4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - The beer poured a black color with a light head crowning the pilsner class.

Smell - The nose is pleasantly roasty. The nose reflects the fact that the brewer did not try to overdue this beer or add unnecessary adjuncts.

Taste - My first impression is how smooth the beer is. The smoothness lends itself well to crisp, burnt malts. Perhaps there is a bit of breadiness about the beer. It is not overly acidic or off putting. The profile is well balanced with a hint of sweetness that borders on being caramelly.

Mouthfeel - In accordance with the style, tiny carbonation leads to a smooth beer.

Overall - There is good reason for this to be the #1 Schwarzbier on BA.

Addendum: This beer is no longer categorized as a schwarzbier, but a European dark lager.

Nov 09, 2019
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bret27 from California

4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance purely black with thick tan head (think stout)
Smell is bread, espresso coffee.
Taste, coffee and/or mocha, toasty, malty, slight alcohol warming effect. Minimal hop bitterness.
Full bodied clean fairly dry finish.
Delicious. Label says drinks like iced coffee. Much like a strong iced coffee I couldn’t drink more than a couple in a sitting. Well... maybe in cold San Francisco weather. Not your typical lager.

Nov 04, 2019
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FBarber from Illinois

4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black color. Completely opaque, shiny, somewhat viscous in appearance. Thick frothy tan head dissipates pretty steadily albeit slowly leaving no residual head.

Aroma has notes of roasted malts, cocoa and a hint of spiciness reminiscent of pumpernickel bread.

Taste has notes roasted malts, cocoa, smooth milk chocolate, spicy pumpernickel bread on the back end that leaves a bright spicy hop finish. Touch of bitterness on the finish. Lovely flavors throughout with a great balance.

Feel is medium bodied, smooth, velvety. Bright carbonation. Dry finish.

Overall a truly lovely beer. Hits all the right notes.

Jul 13, 2019
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aside from its existential name, what sets this dark lager apart from the competition is that gets neither too dry or too much like chocolate or coffee in the mid and late palate. A great session of one on a cool day. And a great substitute instead of a late afternoon coffee

Jun 05, 2018
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

absolute classic, literally bulletproof, and just so darn good and drinkable. honestly, this sets the standard for the style here in the states and maybe anywhere at all. looks like a porter or stout in the glass, fully black in color and holding its inch of tan head unrelinquishingly. fine fine aroma, jet black malty roastedness, unbrewed fresh ground coffee beans, bitter dark cocoa, mild pine from some hops, and a classic old world lager yeast strain robust enough to stand up to all of it. the flavor is the same, tons of dark malts, eve a hint of smoke and raisin to this, but its simple in its depth, which is an uncommon treat. still obviously a lager, but with some real bod at the same time that its incredibly light. bitter to finish too, hops and grain do it together, and its just so smooth going down. dry too, it doesnt linger like so many black ales and lagers in this niche. its quite special in overall quality, and while we all have tasted countless attempts at this kind of greatness, this beer is one of a kind, the best of its field, and the more i drink this, the more im sure the margin of victory for it is monumental. this thing is an institution, without a doubt one of the very best. i froth for this one every time. its as good as black lager can be!

Jul 22, 2017
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VelvetExtract from Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap. Have wanted to try this. Tasty! Awesome dark lager. Smell balances potency and amiability. Easy to drink but also very deep and satisfying. Roasty, toasty, mild, nuanced. Pretty much exactly what I was expecting. One of the best dark, light bodied beers I have ever had.

Jun 15, 2017
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jmdrpi from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on draft, served in a 12 oz glass

very dark, close to black in color, but not much head. nice pleasant aroma of chocolately roasted grains. taste is more mild, restrained. thinner bodied, easy drinking.

Apr 22, 2017
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LiquidAmber from Washington

3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a mini-growler into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a half finger light khaki head that dissipates to patches with slight lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, coffee and cocoa. Flavor is dark toasted malt with moderate char, a little smoky, cocoa and drip coffee. Finishes with charred malt, coffee beans and slight grassy hops. Light to medium bodied with good carbonation. This definitely has a schwarzbier profile rather than a Euro dark lager. There is good smoky, toasted malt with a little graininess, coffee and light chocolate flavors. Richly and evenly flavored for the ABV. Nicely done. Reviewed as a schwarzbier.

Apr 21, 2017
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mdfb79 from New York

4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with no head or carbonation evident.
Eye wheat grains citrus chocolate and roasted malts. Medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall a good Euro lager but not a style I love; still looking for their Czech pilsner....

Apr 20, 2017
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Buck89 from Tennessee

3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a pint glass. An opaque chestnut brown color with a modest tan head. Nice lacing in the glass. There were aromas of bitter roasted malt. Some coffee and cocoa. The palate featured a clean roasty flavor, with moderate bitterness and some char. Clean and dry finish with medium body. A flavorful beer but not a standout in the style.

Feb 25, 2017
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TheSixthRing from California

4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Final Gravity in Roseville, CA

Appearance - Served to the brim in a pint glass, the brew is near black with dark, ruby highlights. An island of suds decorate the surface along with a razor thin ring around the edge of the glass. Lacing consists of a few broken lines and miniscule spotting.

Smell - Moderate aroma, with equal notes of coffee and earthy nuttiness. A touch of brown sugar sweetness sits beneath.

Taste - Light, but flavorful notes of coffee, nuttiness that hits on peanut and hazelnut character, and a touch of chocolate. Faint, earthy hops. Balanced finish.

Mouthfeel - Light bodied with fair carbonation. Super smooth and utterly crushable. A beer that will work all year, in any weather.

Overall - Light, but very tasty. Probably the best black lager I've had to date. It has the spirit of an adventurous porter, with the body of a quenchable lager. This is great.

Apr 24, 2016
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ELS from Florida

3.25/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

My first beer from Moonlight on tap at Toronado SF. I was eager to try this having had Coffee and Cigarettes at Cellarmakers about a mile or so from Toronado. The look and smell were good but honestly I was not enjoying the taste. A strong charred, burnt taste that was overpowering the rest of the beer. Maybe the fact I had C&C earlier that day distorted my rating (I realize that one is a porter and the othe a Euro dark lager) but I wound up leaving some of this beer in the glass which I rarely do unless a beer is completely missing it for me. I know othe BA's like this lager and maybe on another day I would have liked it more. I can't recommend this beer.

Apr 01, 2015
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JonahNW from California

4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

4 oz. draft pour in Santa Rosa, CA, at Flavor Bistro. Typically don't care much for black beers but this one is miraculously, almost paradoxically light -- no gut-busting thickness or crazy high-ABV undertow beneath the flavor, which is impressively complex: slightly charred, pleasant notes of coffee and chocolate... very fresh-tasting, too, which is the upside of it being brewed only a few miles away.

Oct 31, 2014
Death & Taxes from Moonlight Brewing Company
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 356 ratings