Overview for the Schwarzbier

The Schwarzbier style originated in Germany and gained popularity following Reunification. Its name translates to “black beer” in German, and indeed, its appearance is a very dark brown but not quite black. The lager is smooth with a medium-light to medium body and moderate to moderate-high carbonation. Light to moderate malt flavor can be neutral or bready with a bitter chocolate taste. Its dark malt character shouldn’t seem roasted like an American Porter or Stout. Its hops presence is low to moderate with flavors that are floral, spicy or herbal. Comparatively, the Schwarzbier style is darker, drier, and lighter than the Munich Dunkel. It’s drier with less malt and hops than the Czech Dark Lager.

Style Expectations

A dark German lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt flavors with moderate hop bitterness. The lighter body, dryness, and lack of a harsh, burnt, or heavy aftertaste helps make this beer quite drinkable.

Appearance

Medium to very dark brown in color, often with deep ruby to garnet highlights, yet almost never truly black. Very clear. Large, persistent, tan-colored head.

Aroma

Low to moderate malt, with low aromatic malty sweetness and/or hints of roast malt often apparent. The malt can be clean and neutral or moderately rich and bready, and may have a hint of dark caramel. The roast character can be somewhat dark chocolate- or coffee-like but should never be burnt. A low spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is optional. Clean lager yeast character, although a light sulfur is possible.

Flavor

Light to moderate malt flavor, which can have a clean, neutral character to a moderately rich, bread-malty quality. Light to moderate roasted malt flavors can give a bitter-chocolate palate that lasts into the finish, but which are never burnt. Medium-low to medium bitterness, which can last into the finish. Light to moderate spicy, floral, or herbal hop flavor. Clean lager character. Aftertaste tends to dry out slowly and linger, featuring hop bitterness with a complementary but subtle roastiness in the background. Some residual sweetness is acceptable but not required.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation. Smooth. No harshness or astringency, despite the use of dark, roasted malts.

Reviews

Samuel Adams Coffee Black Lager

Schwarzbier  •  Boston Beer Company

Samuel Adams Coffee Black Lager is a German-style Schwarzbier by the Boston Beer Company that blends subtle floral hops and coffee with bready malt and dark chocolate. Read More

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Baba Black Lager

Schwarzbier  •  Uinta Brewing Co.

Baba Black Lager is a German-style Schwarzbier by Uinta Brewing Co. that balances roast malt and herbal hops with dark chocolate. Read More

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