Death & Taxes
Moonlight Brewing Company

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German Schwarzbier
Ranked #1
Ranked #2,352
4.18 | pDev: 9.33%
Moonlight Brewing Company
California, United States
Notes: A very dark yet surprisingly light-bodied Lager beer, crisp and refreshing with no heaviness.
Reviews: 135 | Ratings: 330 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of JohnnyHopps
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.

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Photo of bret27
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of FBarber
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.

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Photo of Beginner2
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

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Photo of StonedTrippin
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!

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Photo of VelvetExtract
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.

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Photo of jmdrpi
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.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
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....

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Photo of Buck89
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.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
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.

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Photo of ELS
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.

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Photo of JonahNW
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.

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Photo of Smakawhat
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured on tap into a shaker pint at Toronado SF.

Deep mahogany brown, presented up to the rim with a faint tan collar, and just a smidge of brown head. While finishing the beer may actually be red, hard to tell might be the neon in the bar.

Absolutely ripping grain aroma on the brew. Ripped husky grain and lots of milk chocolate quality on the nose. Clean smelling. Big and nearly rich, but waffery all over. Fantastic.

Palate does not disappoint. Big crackling grain notes in the mid palate, followed by waffered chocolate and a bit of coffee. Literaly tastes like chocolate covered grain seeds. Mild sensing notes and a great lager crisp body all over.

Wonderfully balanced and presented, with a classic lager feel. Wonderful brew.

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

On tap at the Toronado in San Francisco and only $5. Dark black, good head. Aroma is dark malts, nice. Flavor is dark malts with hints of mild chocolate and a definite lager flavor. This definitely tastes like a schwartzbier. Another nice beer from Moonlight.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.19/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

In my journey of rediscovering the beauty of Moonlight Brewing's offerings, I luckily found a place that had this in addition to Reality Czech. Poured on tap into a shaker pint glass at Thalassa.

Wow, this has to be the most opaque and blackened dark Euro lager I've ever seen! Granted, when held against the light it does promote a bit of reddish, plum hue, but it's overall quite dark and its off-khaki head would convince anybody that it was a stout, a porter, or something similar. Head retention is best for this beer in these crappy shaker pint glasses compared Moonlight's other offerings, as it leaves behind about a half finger of head rather an a ring, as well as extra sticky splattered lacing at the glass's edges as it dissipates.

Whoa, smells like a porter (or stout) as well! Big roasted notes resembling cold pressed coffee, some dark chocolate, black licorice, as well as some notes of raisins, prunes, and light bittered berries. Contains a green tea tannic consistency at the back, as well as some notes of black pepper. Quite malty and charred at the finish, resembling pumpernickel or something similar. The roasted grainy sensations get a bit oppressive in the long run (as the does the licorice), but it's remarkable to see a lager produce a bready flavor of this caliber, even here. Let's see how it translates to the flavor.

As expected, this is a tremendously high roasted malt bomb - although it's luckily enjoyable overall due to the variety of flavors that go with it. It starts with a rich charred and toasted graininess that coats the palate with an extreme astringency, which then is washed up by the coffee and chocolate notes, as well as the brief hints of raisins and cherry pits, as well as some molasses. The finish is a little less astringent, although it contains similar herbal properties to black tea, sage, and (yes) some anise. Slightly leathery as well, which comes as one hell of a surprise. It's an amazingly dense flavor, and the low ABV makes it nearly sessionable, but I feel it may also be to its detriment - there's a lack of residual sweetness and body that makes it a little difficult to wade through, and this becomes a bit of a drag to finish over time, unfortunately. While I could down a ton of their Reality Czech beers, I'd never be able to that here. Good, but a bit challenging at times.

This is by far their most intensely flavored beer I've been able to sample from them so far, but it's also the most challenging to finish a full pint of, unfortunately. I'm astonished on how a dark lager could ever taste this bready, thick, and intense, and yet still retain a low gravity. Definitely not a bad offering during the colder months, however - and I always gladly revisit this whenever I'm in the mood. Recommended for those wanting an adventurous new favorite lager!

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

On tap at Toronado in San Francisco, CA.

It took a sip or two, but after the third one, Raulsky almost done lost his mind like Nietzsche in 1889. As I came back from my stupor, I was awaked by beautiful and glorious notes of chocolate and roasted coffee. Then, as the main man went in for another sip, it was almost his mind that became roasted. Beautiful and "light," but light with rich and robust flavors.

I suggest riding the Midnight Ghost like Kerouac up to San Francisco to try this one, my children.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.28/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap at Beachwood Brewing in Seal Beach, Calif. in a tulip glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Finger and a half cream-colored head. Long retention. Great lacing. Black beer, no light permeates.

S- Extremely dry smell, chocolate and deep roast smells. Kind of muted though. Bitter and dry, roast flavors with a light body. Finishes with roast malts and barley.

M- Light bodied and dry, a hoppy lager.

O- Middling black lager. Apparently I am totally bucking the reviews. I wish I had another chance to review this.

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Photo of jethrodium
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap. Pours a very dark brown with small tan head that has good retention and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is quite roasty with a bit of coffee and some light dark chocolate. The taste is dry and roasty with light coffee and dark bitter chocolate. The finish is dry with some roastiness and a light bitterness. Lingering roastiness. Light body. Medium carbonation. This is quite enjoyable. A light bodied, dry, roasty beer that you can easily have several of. Awesome.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a pint of this on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco. This review is from notes.

Pours black as night with just a few amber glints at the edges of the glass. The tan head is compact but coats most of the glass in lace. Chocolatey notes mix with a doughy, cracker maltiness in the nose. The taste is crisp and malty. Chocolate and coffee notes mix with a subtle leafy hoppiness. The mouthfeel is light-bodied, nothing like you'd expect looking at the stuff. Carbonation is very subtle, like silk.

This is a stellar Black Lager. Incredibly fresh the deep malt flavors, yet still light and extremely quaffable. Seek this out if you're in the bay area.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to stupac2 for shipping me this growler/bottle...

A: Pours a deep brawn, basically black, with about a half finger of dark mocha colored head. the foam settles fairly quickly, but a nice froth around the edges is left. There is no lacing as it drinks.

S: The nose is roast, burnt toast, dark chocolate, and walnuts. There is a slight funk to it, but not to it's detriment.

T: Damn. This beer is a great mix of sweet and roasty right off the bat. It follows the nose is notes of burnt toast, dark chocolate, nuts, caramel, and bread. I pick up some mild licorice notes in the middle, and it finishes with some solid hop bitters. Really interesting and pretty darn tasty.

M: Medium bodied beer. The flavors are great, it's not too thick, and it's unbelievably drinkable. It's smooth from start to finish and finishes creamy.

O: Great beer. It seems fairly complex and it's gets even zanier as ti warms. I'm actually really impressed. Damn. I'd drink this all day long if I could. Solid!

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. Hallelujah. Thats the first thing that comes to mind after I take a whiff of this one...and taste it. The complexities of this one almost seem like a porter or stout. But it's a lager?! Brilliant. Amazing beer. This is one of my top beers of the year. I appreciate when brewers can make beers outside of the popular styles of the day and really do it well. This is one of those beers. A real pleasure to drink. This would garner my highest suggestion for a beer to try. Do it if ya get the chance.

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Photo of Philousa
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Imbibed at Hop Monk, Sonoma on 8/18/11. Reviewed from notes.

Very dark, black. Half a finger tan head. Aroma is very dark and chocolatey, seems creamy. A touch of burnt coffee. Taste starts creamy, transitions to tart amber, then chocolate and caramel. Feel ends up being light and near watery.

I could drink this half liter for a while. Great rendition of a dark lager. Lots of flavor but still very light. I only give a 4 overall because this isn't my favorite style to drink.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Stu for this hook up
poors a dark black or brown ... nice tan head with good retention
smells smokey and malty. taste sweet and very flavorful ... lots of roast and malty goodness ... well carbonated good mouth feel ... overall a really good representation of the style

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Photo of elNopalero
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nothing certain in this world except how tasty this brew is.

This is draught-only and pours a solid dark black color with tight foam that turns into tiny compacted bubbles sitting on the top.
The aroma has a nuanced roast which contrasts with a pleasing malty sweetness. It’s a day and night contrast, as the dark roast meets a welcoming sweetness, almost like a milk stout’s tart lactic notes.

It looks, smells, and feels like a stout, almost, with an easy-sipping smoothness in spite of the roasted notes. The flavor is smooth with roast and bittering to define it, as well as a robust roast and a dry finish. It’s full flavored, with so much going on, and it remains one of my absolute favorite brews. Brian Hunt is an unsung marvel of brewing. Bravo!

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Death & Taxes from Moonlight Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 330 ratings