Schwarzbier Discussion

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by steveh, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,055) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Don't want to overwhelm the Bock thread with Schwarzbier talk, so why not start another thread.

    Here's a great article by K. Florian Kemp, a long-time beer writer on styles, regarding the Black Beer:

    "Today’s schwarzbier combines Old World rusticity with the graceful smoothness of lagerbier, and a clean roasted edge with German malt complexity. It’s deep, ruby-black color and modest strength makes schwarzbier the lager equivalent of basic stout."

    A Briess recipe with Black Malt and Roasted Barley:
  2. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,206) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I've only had the style a couple of times, I hope American craft brewers start making more versions so availability is no longer my excuse for not having more.
  3. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,529) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    That is just how I think of it and it is a favorite style of mine. The black lager is a great beer to pair with lots of food. In fact the darker malts like things like olives, the richness of raisins and it can even go alongside the avocado in a heaping plate of nachos. I like to say that a lighter stout or schwarzbier can go where red wine will go as long as the beer is dry and not too hoppy or fruity. While the black lager will not go with the raw tomato it does go nicely with american style wings and the dark chinese condiments like oyster sauce. it's hop presence is what keeps it away from some kinds of cake although it depends on the cake. In fact it's the hops presence in that beer that puts it with every style of meat and game. You would serve it with pancakes even with fruit on them, bacon and eggs but not with eggs sans bacon. =)
    #3 utopiajane, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  4. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,555) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    Shiner has their Shiner Black, which is labeled here as a Schwarzbier "style", but I find it misses roast character you find in most. But this was my go to beer back in my wine days, it was a very easy drinking beer, and still is. I would say my go to Schwarzbier is Great Raft's Reasonably Corrupt, it is a great beer and delivers on the roast character, yet is easy to drink year round. If you ever get down to Louisiana, Arkansas or North Texas you should give it a try
  5. cheeseheadinMinneapolis

    cheeseheadinMinneapolis Initiate (145) Sep 20, 2017 Minnesota

    cut and paste from the Bock thread:

    As for Schwarzbier, I taste plenty of roasted malts. I prefer Titletown Dark Helmet over Sprecher Black Bavarian. Kostritzer is great too.

    Utepils 2018 Moment Czech Style Dark Lager is good too. Lazy Monk Bohemian Dark Lager is one of my favorites, but it is a slightly different style of beer.
    TongoRad likes this.
  6. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,438) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    Black lagers are probably my favorite type of 'session' beer; I just wish there were more available.

    My recent favorites seem to fall into the Czech Black Lager style, more than a Schwartzbier; the main difference being a bit more 'oomph' flavorwise, a bit more depth. But still, they have that finely woven tapestry of flavors with no rough edges, and enough elegance and complexity to be able to happily drink them all night long.

    Specifically, Moonlight's Death and Taxes, and Catskill's Nightshine strike me as being in that category- very reminiscent of Herold Back Lager when it used to be available in the US.
  7. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,618) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    During a recent visit to East Texas (Jefferson, Texas) I was in a bar that had both Shiner Bohemian Black Lager (bottles) and Great Raft's Reasonably Corrupt (draft) so I did a side-by-side tasting of these two beers. As you detailed above the Shiner beer was 'smoother' and less roasty but the Great Raft was a bot more bolder overall with a notable roast aspect. I enjoy drinking both of these beers but at that specific beer drinking experience I had a preference for Great Raft's Reasonably Corrupt. In all fairness I typically prefer draft vs. bottle/can so that aspect may have been in play as well.

  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,618) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have a homebrewed Tmavý Ležák (Czech Dark Lager) conditioning in my basement right now. I have homebrewed this batch before.

    How would you characterize the roast aspect/level of Utepils 2018 Moment Czech Style Dark Lager?

  9. guinness77

    guinness77 Champion (881) Jan 6, 2014 New York


    Rinse, repeat. The cans are the best.

    Have to admit....Dark Helmet by Westbrook is a solid American choice.
  10. cheeseheadinMinneapolis

    cheeseheadinMinneapolis Initiate (145) Sep 20, 2017 Minnesota

    Good question I drank the last can a few nights ago. I need to buy some more if I can find it. Might report back in a few days
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,618) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I would appreciate it.

  12. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,042) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    I'm still a big fan of Sprecher.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,618) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    There is a nice write-up on Schwarzbier by Conrad Seidl in the Oxford Companion to Beer (see link below). One discussion topic from the write-up:

    “Many are now made with dehusked roasted malts, allowing the beers to attain a very dark color and chocolaty flavors while avoiding the acidic bite usually associated with heavily roasted malt.”

    Perhaps these are more of a ‘new school’ Schwarzbier?

    I use Weyermann dehusked Carafa II in brewing my Tmavý Ležák and I can attest that dehusked roasted malts do indeed provide a differing character to the beer.

    Cheers! Oxford Companion&f=false
  14. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,000) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    I've only had one Schwarzbier, Xingu Black Beer, and really should try other examples because I didn't care much for that specific one. Xingu shares a problem with many Samuel Smith beers - the mineral water they brag about. The problem I have with them using mineral water is that the bitter mineral taste seriously detracts from the beer flavor IMHO.
    Premo88 likes this.
  15. guinness77

    guinness77 Champion (881) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Xingu, imho, is nothing special. You’re right, try something else, anything else.
    Ranbot and bbtkd like this.
  16. hopsputin

    hopsputin Meyvn (1,267) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    Yes!! Black Lagers are a perfect session beer. They have (as you mentioned) the depth of flavor combined with the drinkability. More enjoyable, in my opinion, than a Session IPA.
    beergoot, AlcahueteJ, Ranbot and 3 others like this.
  17. cheeseheadinMinneapolis

    cheeseheadinMinneapolis Initiate (145) Sep 20, 2017 Minnesota

    I bought a 4 pack of Utepils, I also have Kostritzer in stock. So i did a head to head. The Utepils has plenty of roasted malt.

    I will dig into my stock I might have a titletown or lazy monk buried in one of the beer fridges or root cellar.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  18. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Meyvn (1,398) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    Schwarzbier is super underrated. I'd like to try more examples of the style. Not only is Kostrizer delicious, but, at the beer store I work, I recommend Uinta Baba Black Lager to almost every customer at the make-your-own six pack.
  19. rtrasr

    rtrasr Aspirant (290) Feb 16, 2009 Arkansas

    First had it on draft at Capital Ale House in Midlothian Virginia. Kostritzer is the standard for schwarzbier, one of the world's truly great beers.
  20. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (1,947) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    Ah, the black sheep of the lager family. Sorry, couldn't resist. I don't go out of my way to acquire them but never turn one down.
  21. zid

    zid Champion (867) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I feel like I'm @marquis , making the same posts over and over (:wink:), but Xingu isn't a Schwarzbier. It's a black lager (for lack of a better category). I think the mistake that many people make is that they see the category that a beer is listed under on BeerAdvocate, and they think that that beer is that style (as opposed to no more than the best category available). I might be remembering incorrectly, but I seem to think that you were on a "try all BeerAdvocate styles quest." If so, try ticking that style with something else in order to actually tick that style... like the Kostritzer mentioned many times here. Cheers.
  22. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,000) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    Yup, I'm at 101 of 104 styles. When I looked for a Schwarzbier, Xingu was the most easily attainable here. Does the style need to be changed on BA? Of course that would temporarily drop me back one, but wouldn't be the first one that's changed on me. I see there's no black lager to change it to, so not sure what it should be then. I note that many of the beers listed on BA as Schwarzbier have "Black Lager" in the name.
    #22 bbtkd, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  23. zid

    zid Champion (867) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I personally wouldn’t change it... I think that people shouldn’t look at classifications here so strictly across the board in this very way. My two cents.
    Lurchus and LuskusDelph like this.
  24. cheeseheadinMinneapolis

    cheeseheadinMinneapolis Initiate (145) Sep 20, 2017 Minnesota

    what is a "Euro dark lager " ? Other, doesn't fit anywhere else, Open class
    Ranbot likes this.
  25. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,000) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    I'm tracking my quest based on styles listed on BA and how the beers are classified on BA, but will sure try to find a real Schwarzbier at some point. Perhaps BA will rename this style to Schwarzbier/Black Lager when they review the styles as they've indicated they intend to do, but for god's sake we sure don't need any more new styles.
  26. zid

    zid Champion (867) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Says the guy at 101 out of 104. :wink: :slight_smile:
    Ranbot and bbtkd like this.
  27. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (28) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    This is also why I think Czech Dark Lagers should get their own category, as they have a unique style and heritage from Schwarzbier or generic dark lagers in general. Plus, Czech Pilsner is lonely in the Czech Lager category.:wink:
    AlcahueteJ, steveh and TongoRad like this.
  28. Ryan4120

    Ryan4120 Disciple (364) Dec 17, 2014 Virginia

    I love me a good schwarzbier - it's a shame they are relatively hard to come by.
  29. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,064) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    Our Fastenbier rides the rails between Franconian Dunkel and Czech dark lager. Quite happy with the way this year's version turned out. At just around 5.0% ABV, drinkability VERY high. Prost!
  30. smbslt

    smbslt Champion (811) Dec 26, 2010 Illinois

    Remember have a Herold Bohemian years ago and it was pretty amazing. It was like liquid pumpernickel.
  31. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,055) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Think Beck's or Heineken Dark.
    FBarber likes this.
  32. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (1,947) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    Around here it's St. Pauli Girl Dark.
    FBarber and steveh like this.
  33. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,055) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Is this the Bohemian Black Lager? If so, I reviewed it back in 2013 and liked it a lot:

    Overall: Not a Munich Dunkel* by any means, but a smooth beer with roasted character. This is a great textbook of style in the Schwarzbier category -- whether German or Bohemian. Big flavor at 4.9% Spoetzl surprises yet again.

    *I wonder if it was mis-categorized at the time?

    Were you drinking the Shiner on tap? I notice that draft versions of certain beers tend to mellow out from the keg.
    donspublic and Squire like this.
  34. Roadkizzle

    Roadkizzle Initiate (170) Nov 6, 2007 Texas

    I don't know if this is getting to far away from the discussion.

    But is there a difference between Franconian Dunkel and Munich Dunkel?

    A local brewery that I always think should have excellent German beers always seems to strike out with me.

    One of there beers is a "Dunkel" so I'm always primed for the rich bready dark fruits that I get out of Munich Dunkels. But there version tastes more like a stout.

    I've always thought if it was called a Schwarzbier I may be in the right frame of mind.
    But are Franconian Dunkels different from Munich Dunkels? Are they more roasty?
  35. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (4,268) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    B52 is a small brewery north of Houston. They made an amazing Schwarzbier and at 4% ABV was ridiculously sessionable. I haven't seen it at all lately, as they are now just doing all the trendy styles people line up for. I think they have really cut back on their more traditional offerings. Sad face for me, but I guess they are doing what is making money and generating hype :slight_frown:
    beergoot likes this.
  36. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,386) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    I've never found it in cans and never found it fresh - Might have to look for some cans. Even old, it was a good beer.
    LuskusDelph and guinness77 like this.
  37. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,386) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    This is a hard beer style to find period, let alone well crafted examples. However, one well done American example I've had is from Civil Life Brewing in St. Louis.

    I would love for Dovetail (Chicago) or Great Central Brewing (Chicago) to do one.

    Metropolitan (Chicago) also does a schwarzbier - Magnetron. I had it some time ago and remember it as being an above average American brewed example of the style. But I didn't review it on here so I can reference my notes.

    @steveh have you had magnetron?
  38. guinness77

    guinness77 Champion (881) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    I’m assuming homebrew?
    Schlenkerla Fastenbier is amazing and this is the second Lent in a row I haven’t seen it around my parts. Little off topic, sorry.
    FBarber likes this.
  39. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,386) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    @herrburgess is Scott Burgess of Bierkeller - Columbia. A place most of us lagerphiles (tm pending @Sixpoint ) dream of visiting and drinking at someday. (at least I do ... )
  40. guinness77

    guinness77 Champion (881) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Thanks, I hadn’t realized. Not a lot of ratings, but seems like people are digging it.
    FBarber likes this.