44 / 100
Dry-hopped black session lager, purchased from St. Gambrinus in Brooklyn.
Pours a kind of dirty brown colour, with some hazing, a little like filtered coffee that's been sitting out all night. Head forms a coarse crest to begin with, but quickly settles out to nothing, leaving no lacing at all. Body is thin, although the darkness gives the suggestion of more. I'm underwhelmed.
Nose is oddly grassy. Loads of cut celery, and a seedy note like carrot seed. Slight organic note which smells like (and I'm sorry to say it) cat litter. There's a slight lemon character which gives a note like a car air freshener. But overall, as you can tell, I'm not impressed.
Taste is very thin. It has a faint cereal quality which provides the bulk of the body (what there is), but this is only leavened by a very quiet but strident lemon note, which seems like it's whispering at the top of its lungs. Otherwise, it's really quite bland. That's a shame.
Overall, this is a really disappointing beer, and speaks to a brewery that doesn't have the courage of its convictions. I've had some amazing dark lagers—both traditional, and those, like this that claim to be hop-forward with a strong dry-hopping regime. This feels a lot like a lager done without inspiration, and lacking the progression of the craft.
330ml brown bottle purchased for me by Sam some time ago.
Pours a rather nondescript medium brown colour, that nonetheless has a good oily thickness to the body, and holds lovely fine carbonation. Head is a fine ring of beige that leaves beautiful speckled lace. The colour is a bit not-one-thing-nor-the-other, but otherwise, it's a good-looking beer.
Nose is interesting. It has quite a strong liquorice note to it, which is probably some combination of boozy bite and darkness. It has other notes like carob and pecan pie. But that liquorice note is definitely the dominant character. Interesting, but a bit one-note.
The taste to some extent matches the aroma, but the liquorice, while still noticeable, is much more subdued. Instead, there are definitely fruit notes which come out. Weirdly, I get pear and white grapes more than anything, and these provide an odd counterpoint to the bass note of dark toffee. Feel is slick but smooth, maybe lighter for being a lager, but I'm not sure I'd notice this if I didn't know it was a lager.
Overall, it's a nice beer, but it's one that hard to wrap my head around. The fruit characters are unexpected, and could arguably be unintentional flaws. The liquorice is a better fit, but it's not particularly pronounces on the palate. I think I'd like to try this again sometime to figure out if this is how it always is.
75 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos. This is a high ABV black lager brewed with coffee. Shared with Sam & Rich.
Pours a slick, but light-weight ebony brown, with fast-moving but prolific carbonation. Head starts out as a firm crest of pale milk chocolate, but settles back quickly to a filmy ring. Lacing forms in little spots. Looks decent.
Nose is also pretty solid. It's fairly heavy on the coffee, as you want. But it has a lightness as well—it makes the coffee more direct and sharp. There's greener notes of lucerne hay and nettles. It also has a slight body odour character to it—which you'd think would be unpleasant, but it does lend the beer something. Some sweetness is noticeable as it warms up a little. It's pretty nice.
Taste is conflicting. It has a real lightness and sharpness on the body, but this is at odds with an almost milky sweetness through the centre of the body. It gives it a slight mocha/latte character towards the back of the palate, which is not expected, but also rather pleasant. As it warms, the sharpness is dulled slightly, and it feels less like a lager—then I happily slip into step with this beer as a sweet, milky coffee beer.
In the end, I think I'm a fan. It took a while for me to wrap my head around it, but when I got there, I think it does make sense, and it is pretty tasty.
74 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA.
Pours a pleasant deep brown colour, with a fine beige head made of very small bubbles. Carbonation is very refined, and moves languidly in the glass. Lacing forms in tiny specks. There's something just very appealing about it. I appreciate that.
Nose is quite pleasant, while also being quite simple. It's based around coffee, with slightly old roasted beans being the dominant character. There's a faint hint of grassiness to it as well, which adds some relatively pleasant organic notes. It has overtones of capsicum and fresh chilli to it as well from the coffee. All up, it's pretty nice.
Taste is much more towards the vanilla, certainly in the front of the palate—but that's both a benefit and a curse. The vanilla also adds a creamy quality to the mix, which doesn't mesh very well with the lighter lager body. It's neither one thing nor the other. The coffe comes in late, with a pleasant biting, fragrant kick on the back. This, at least, works very nicely with the lager yeast, which abbreviates the ending of the beer.
Overall, I like it—the vanilla and coffee are nicely done, and both are very present in one form or another. I'm not really opposed to it being a lager either (breweries should be brewing more lagers!) but I think that these particular characters do clash a bit with some of the fundamental aspects of the beer. Still. I like it a lot—I just feel as though there are a couple of things that could be done to make this really quite spectacular.
69 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Whole Foods in Los Altos, CA.
Pours a pleasantly clear deep brown, with flashes of ruby at the corners. Carbonation forms in pleasant, appropriate streams of fine bubbles. Head is almost white—it's actually a nice contrast to the dark body, and lighter than you'd expect. It lacks some persistence though, really only sticking around as a ring of coarse bubbles. Lacing is minimal, but forms in a few long streaks. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is toasty, light and nutty, with some of the classic characters you'd expect from a schwarzbier. It could use just a little something to leaven it—I know it's non-traditional, but a little dry hopping would be lovely in a beer like this—even as it is, it's restrained and appropriate.
Taste is quite light. It has an emptiness in the front to middle of the palate, which I feel could be filled with something—maybe just a touch more roast would bring it out a bit more. On the back, the flavours are nicely integrated, with a nuttiness and a dry, roasted character giving some depth. Feel is quite restrained as well—there's a tingle of carbonation, but it's quite mild. A little extra body would be nice—I swear, just a bump from 4.7% to 5% ABV would probably do wonders for the beer.
Overall, I like it. It's a traditional beer, and it sticks almost dogmatically to that tradition. That has positives and negatives associated with it. But I like it, and will happily enjoy this bottle.
Bottle ordered at Automata Restaurant, Camperdown, to be drunk with dessert.
Pours a dark espresso colour, with nice beige foamy head when poured. Dissipates to a rim of small bubbles with some thin lacing. May be the wrong glassware too; but looks fine.
Smells mildly dark, roasty and somewhat herbal. Slight chocolate notes and a mild metallic aroma to it, with some Chinese medicinal hints at the back. Maybe a touch of oxidation, but not too bad.
Taste is darker than I expected, and better for it. Has some caramel malty notes, develops some pretty big roasty character as well; dark chocolate but also some mild wood smoke character midway, then gets an espresso bitterness that's somehow washed clean by some neutral hop character that just adds a mild grassy note on the back. Maybe a hint of black tea to the back and some carob on the finish as well. Nicely crisp, but with a surprising strength to the roasty bitterness that I didn't expect.
Thin, but the roastiness has an odd viscosity in the body that's maybe a touch too bold for the crispness on the palate.
Pretty nice dark lager; manages to serve both of its masters by being simultaneously dark and crisp. Pleasant.
Tried on tap at GABS festival 2017.
Pours a dark brown colour; a bit pale for the style maybe, but the head and lacing are pretty nice; pale brown beigey colour, large bubbles but retaining well.
Smells quite malty, but not a whole lot on there. Touch of vanilla and a slight subtle roast character. Bit uninspiring.
Malty on the palate as well. Caramel grain upfront, that develops some subtle complexities midway, slightly sweet with a dark dried fruit character. Hint of roast and a bit earthy on the back. Predictable, and fairly subdued. Not great.
Body is a bit thin, but goes down decently. What I expect from the style and not badly delivered.
Not a bad schwarzbier, but nothing special. I don't dislike this like I dislike most schwarzbiers, so maybe I'm finally resigned to the fact that they will never really impress me.
Tried on-tap in a taster at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a brown, clear hue, light in the body with fine carbonation. Head is pale beige that forms as a bubbly ring. Lacing forms in solid sheets, meaning it ends up looking reasonably good.
Nose is underwhelming. Vegetal notes give a kind of hay or grass-like aroma, turning into a musty grain bag note. There's other odd notes as well: savoury stock aromas and a sharpness like almond meal. It's not bad, but it's a little bit off.
Light and dry entry to the palate is okay, and it develops into a relatively pleasant toastiness on the middle of the palate. By this stage, though, there's pronounced yeastiness coming through, turning almost to a trub-like yeast cake taste on the back palate. Fortunately, the schwarz character clean it up in the finish, leaving it light and clear, and with a slight bite from the darker malts.
Feel is crisp. Quite suitable.
Yeah, that yeast note is a real shame, because it dominates the mid palate. I will admit that after it warms up a bit, the yeast is less prominent—but it's still an unfortunate character that diminishes the brew as a whole.
74 / 100
500ml brown bottle purchased from Bottleworks in Seattle. A Schwarzbier brewed with squid ink. I'm game. Shared with Rich.
Pours a proper schwarzbier colour, deep (inky) black, but with a lightening at the edges leaving it sepia brown. Head is coarse-bubbled to begin with but after this burns out it persists as a fine ring that leaves specks of lace. Body is actually pretty firm: a little heavier than expected. Looks decent though.
Nose is toasty, and rather rich. There's a sweetness to it, almost a hint of vanilla or oak. It leaves some semi-sweet chocolate notes as well, although you could also interpret it as a concomitance of malt notes—deep but intertwined. Yep, I like it.
Taste is also good, and stylistically appropriate. There's a leanness to the palate which makes the centre and back quite crisp. The back has a slight medicinal or mineral tone to it—it's easy to attribute it to the squid ink, but I've had similar flavours in ink-free schwarzbiers. Finish is clean, rather dry, but with a very faint hint of astringency—perhaps that mineral note persisting a little longer.
Feel is light and crisp, but with a sleekness through the centre.
Overall, this is a nice beer. Firstly, it's a decently put together schwarz. There's a gimmick to it, perhaps, but it's not actually something you notice all that much in the finished product. Or if you are, it might be entirely psychosomatic.
On tap at GABS 2016 in Melbourne.
Pours a coffee colour, with a fairly pale brown edge. Large bubbly head of beige foam, sticking around OK. Looks alright, not great.
Smells yeah, like coffee. Quite spicy with a nice roasty edge. Pretty decent complexity to it but it just smells like coffee. Good quality coffee but could use a bit more beeriness.
Taste is less impressive than it smelled. Again it's one-note with very little besides a complex espresso bouquet. Spicy and roasty, but it feels a little watered down with it trailing off at the end and turning very mildly sour.
Body is fairly thin, in line with the style. Slight tingle from carbonation is welcome but nothing special.
Apart from it being a Schwarzbier which is always just a stout-only-disappointing to me (I have a long history of disliking this style), this is a tad sour which is the biggest flaw here. But it's not terrible.
58 / 100
500ml brown bottle, part of the Black Box of Dark Ales. Purchased from Camperdown Cellars in Leichhardt.
Pours a dark brown, oily in the corners of the glass. Head is a thin ring of off-white without much weight or retention. Body is light and rather thin, which is expected. Carbonation is pleasantly fine though. It's a shame about the head, the other facets are on point though.
Nose is quite pleasant. Mild roasted notes mingle with a bold hint of liquorice. There's some sweetness, more like thick stewed molasses. It's not big, broad and punching the nostrils, but it's pretty solid even so.
Taste is a bit of a disappointment. Structurally, it's a decent schwarz, with a fine light body and a bit of crispness in the finish. But the flavour is very light otherwise, with a mild toastiness and a faint overtone of rose. There's some darker notes giving a hint of spent coffee grounds towards the front, but it doesn't carry. As a result, the feel, which should be one of the strengths of a schwarz, just seems thin rather than light, effervescent and crisp.
Overall, it's a slightly inauspicious way to start the Black Box. I love a good schwarzbier, but sadly, while a decent enough beer, it's not a fine example of the style. This feels like someone had to think up a fourth beer to add to, say, a box of dark beers, and went "let's do a schwarzbier, that'll be easy!".
Found this review in my bag. Don't remember having it. I only remember it's from a can because I saw Jez's photo.
Pours a dark brown colour, pale beige head that's dense, nice at first but dissipates to a thin cloudy rim. Lace clings in spots. Looks pretty good.
Smells roasty, but mostly chocolatey. Cocoa, some chocolate grain. Touch of dark fruit and maybe just a hint of coconut. Not bad, not sure about what it's selling though.
Taste is richer, darker, roastier. More worldly and cynical. Plenty of cocoa on there with a bitter, almost unroasted cacao grounding to it. Hints of dark cherry and black forest cake; has just enough sweetness to carry it through, but finishes dry with a good dark bitterness. Maybe some dank hops help there. Not ground-breaking, but pleasant.
Weird grating texture. Not sure if it's fizz or booze, as either seem out of place, but it's very drying in the mouth with a bit of a sharp edge.
Pleasant after-dinner drop. Good earthy bitterness, but enough chocolate character to pull it off.
12oz can purchased from Whichcraft in Austin. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a moderated brown-black, colour with a coarse-bubbled head that settles out fairly swiftly, leaving a very fine ring and nice speckled lace. Body is fairly light and fluid, but the carbonation is pleasantly fine and powdery. It looks very pleasant.
Nose is a little cereal-forward, with a hint of grain and a mild corny sweetness. Under that, there's an odd character of berries that comes through, and maybe just a suggestion of mild brown roast. It's actually fairly mild all up, but there's some pleasant things there.
Taste actually takes those odd sweet fruit notes and runs with them. There's a definite hint of raspberry or artificial strawberry on the front to mid, before it's cleaned out by the thin body and a sharper carbonation character. Lingering rose notes in the back create some interest, while the body peters out, leaving it rather sharp and dry.
Feel is thin and crisp, but with an odd roundness from all the fruity characters.
Overall, it's an odd little beer, which is not what I've experienced in the past from Austin Beerworks—they tend to be more on the straight and narrow, and I thought a Schwarz would be a good fit for them. But there's some oddities here that confuse me, even while they intrigue me.
Tried on-tap at the Quarrymans Hotel in Pyrmont, during the Bacchus Brumalia event.
Pours a clear, reddish black colour with a thin but actually quite slick body. Big head of beige forms early on that leaves very decent lace. It's a bit light-looking, but OK all up.
Nose is a little underwhelming, but it's coherent. Slight nuttiness laced with a touch of palm fruit—smells like the slightly fermenting fruit that the bats eat. The nuttiness wins though, giving huskier notes of coconut and brazil nut. Pretty solid.
Taste is also pretty good. Sligh coconut suggestion on the front, lightening a lot to the back and leaving only a sort of ephemeral fragrance. Very clean finish with a slightly metallic aftertaste. It works well enough for a schwarzbier.
Feel is surprisingly smooth on the front, but clean on the back, which makes a nice combination.
Overall, it's pretty drinkable stuff and certainly well-made. It didn't wow me like some of the beers at Brumalia, but this was part of a solid core that just trooped on in the background.
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne. This is a monster collaboration brewed at Hawkers for Good Beer Week 2015.
Pours a rather muted deep brown, quite light at the edges, and certainly rather ruddy when held to the light. Head is coarse, but persistent, sticking as a fine ring around the glass and leaving pretty solid sheeting lace. Carbonation is fine but swift through the body. Looks decent enough.
Nose is also fairly muted. There's a vague brownish malt character that gives it a bit of toasty graininess, and perhaps a little clean hop character that vaguely smacks of lemon. Together though, it's a little bit dull, and extraordinarily restrained for a beer that doesn't have much to lose.
Similar kind of thing on the palate: it's not unpleasant, but it is really surprisingly dull. Thin, mid-level malts give it a sense of body, but it also takes on a rather flat dry grassy tone that doesn't really do it any favours. Back is cleaned out by the dryness of the lager yeast, but there's nothing in the way of a counterpoint, meaning it just flops around impotently until it dies.
Feel is actually surprisingly flabby—a bit of crisp hoppiness singing in the top register would lift it, as would a touch more carbonation. Having both would be better.
Overall, this really genuinely wasn't that great, especially for a one-off beer brewed for a special occasion. Surely, more than any other time, this is the chance to go for something more exciting or unusual, and instead we've got something which meanders towards the equivalent of a beer-world median. Maybe it's just a matter of Too Many Cooks.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a pure brown colour, quite clear in terms of haze but otherwise rather dark. Body is quite light and it hold very fine carbonation. Head is beige, forming in a coarse ring that leaves some fine streaks of lace. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is slightly toasty, but rather dry and dull otherwise. There's perhaps a slight vegetative note, something herbal or else peppery but it's pretty light. It's not bad overall, just lacking in character.
Taste is similar. Toasty dry entry with a mid-palate getting slightly metallic like aluminium. Back is decently clean at least, meaning the structure seems good, but it's really not very interesting. Aftertaste just has a tinge of mild, muted roast.
Feel is light and clean.
There's nothing wrong with this beer. It's just dull, and its dullness is particularly prominent at an event like GABS.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a red brown-black colour with some haze through the body. Fairly light weight with some fine carbonation. Head is beige and forms a pretty good full crest. Some nice rings of lace too. Looks good.
Medicinal characters on the nose, and the spices come through strongly. Marzipan, nutmeg and stacks of aniseed, to the detriment of everything else. It gives is a liquorice tone and a note like vulcanised tires. Clove and bubble gum round it out as it warms.
Aniseed and plastic launch the palate as well, giving some rubbery tones and mingling with a very pronounced clove note. Here the clove is overdone to unpleasantness, while the plastic and rubber persist from front to back. I don't much like it.
Feel is very light. It's okay for the style, but with so much spice character it needs some type of cushion.
Overall, I don't really want to drink it. I like a good schwartzbier, but this is adulterated and not very interesting as a result.
74 / 100
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a deep, oily brown colour, with fine streams of carbonation through a relatively light body. Head is a pale beige colour, forming a fairly decent fine ring. Looks pretty good all up.
Nose is nice enough. Bright and grainy from the first, with mild thin toasty characters from the darker malts. There's a slight hint of aniseed and some secondary characters like bubblegum and rye bread. It's quite nice.
Light and spicy on the front palate. There's a slight rubber character giving some banana hints, but this is quickly alleviated by a solid, toasty mild mid-palate. Back has a slight bite, again with a touch of anise, and a hint of booze. Aftertaste is clean, with the crispness you want from a schwartz.
Feel is light and bright, which works well in this type of beer.
Overall, this is pleasant and easy to drink. Schwartzbiers are an underappreciated style, and this is a good one. Very solid, and it went down well at GABS.
62 / 100
Pours a dark brown cocoa colour. Head is beige, bubbly with nice clingy lace and the bubbles get more dense closer to the body. Head is a bit pale, but looks nice.
Smells bourbony. Well, American oaky at least. Big coconut vanilla character, sweet and musty at the same time. Peanut brittle. Caramel toffee. Crystallised sweetness, really. Of course it's pleasant, but could use more oomph. Roast for balance probably, but any kind of grounding would do.
Taste is a bit richer, but still seems a bit one note. Character of chocolate grain, cocoa. Then vanillin oak, maybe some vinous character and then coconut on the back. Doesn't even reach the heights the nose promised, just a light toasty character and then a light American oak character. It's not that I need bombardment for enjoyment, but I feel this is a fairly middling effort and seems a bit lacking, even while it's fairly tasty and pleasant.
Bit thin, in fact really thin. Good smoothness to it, no rough edges, but it feels undertextured.
Not bad, but I feel they've gone to a lot of effort with this beer. It has some impressive - perhaps - flavours, but just doesn't seem a fitting synthesis of all the big oak barrel effort that's gone into it. Maybe it's just me and Schwarzbiers again.
62 / 100
Pours a brown colour with a gold tinge at the edges. Beige head, sparse bubbles but retaining quite nicely. Definitely a bit pale but not too bad otherwise.
Smells dark, with chocolate-caramel overtones. Kinda spicy as well with clove and peppery characters. Not bad.
Taste is similar; chocolate malt upfront with a light toffeed edge. Roast towards the back that never reaches a big peak of flavour, just finishes dry with a slight smokey edge. Dry and light-bodied like a schwarz, touch of carbonation showing through as well.
Not a bad schwarz; traditional and to style. The weird thing about this vs the Bright Lord Helmet Schwarz is that this leaves me with an overall better impression because it didn't promise as much on the aroma.
70 / 100
Pours a coffee colour, very dark at the edges. Head is tan, dense and thick and retaining beautifully with some sticky lace around the edge. Looks great.
Smells great too. Chocolate and espresso with a spice explosion on there as well - cinnamon mostly with some peppery edge and a touch of woodiness as well. Loads of aroma. Love it.
Taste is a bit of a letdown, as are all schwarzbiers. Cinnamon spice is still on there with a touch of clove; finishes with a touch of vanilla and a mild chocolate grain note. Has a lightness which is fine but it just feels empty and disappointing after that aroma explosion.
Decent body, nice texture, goes down crisp and light and pleasantly.
So the Bright Brewery twitter account tried to draw me into a lager-hate argument when I complained that this was light and disappointing "So like all lagers then?" he said. Not true. This is a particular problem I have with schwarzbiers: they promise so much on the nose and then the lightness of the palate becomes a disappointment. If it was light, simple, unbloated on the nose, then the palate would match and the overall package would be pleasant. This just inflates expectations on the nose with hope for flavour that the palate construction can't deliver.
Sorry for the essay but the style really frustrates me. I don't get this disappointment from bocks, or doppelbocks. And I don't get it from pale lagers, or Munich helles or kellerbiers. Just schwarzbiers.
A spiced imperial schwarzbier brewed for GABS 2015.
Pours a brown colour, quite pale for the style. Head is beige, nice and foamy with a decent amount of retention on it. Not bad, but could be darker.
Smells like pear??? Spicy notes all around it with clove, licorice, and coriander, and yeah a weird pear fruit character that wasn't in the description. HErbal and a bit strange.
Massive spice on the palate, particularly star anise and licorice giving a big aniseed flavour overall. Touch of clove to it as well, and not a lot else. Nice roundness to the spice though, it finishes the way it starts and has no loose ends.
Thin body, but a decent texture as it goes down.
Not amazing, but handled well. What I'd expect from Temple.
80 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Southwest Parkway Market in Austin, TX. Brought it back to Sydney where I cracked it with Sam and Rich at the end of a long brewday.
Pours a pleasant coffee-tinged black, with a clarity to the body that makes it look blood-red when held to the light. Head is excellent, forming a crisp, fine cap of pale tan. Lacing is also excellent, forming in lovely, intricate streaks. Looks great.
Nose definitely shows its genesis, with some definite oaky aged tequila characters providing the sharpness that would usually be ascribed to hops. Under this is some pleasant smoother, sweet dark characters, almost chocolate. There is a very slight floury quality that detracts a little bit, but it's only a minor flaw in what's otherwise very pleasant.
The taste is great. Pleasant smooth dark malts, leavened by the yeast and the barrel, which gives it both a lovely smoothness and a kick of brightness. Feel is fairly light, and being a lager it's very clean on the finish, leaving an echoey void which is filled with reminiscences of the tequila and a dry cacao character. Slight peppery agave character in the aftertaste helps remind us of some of the complexities in the main body.
I really like this a lot. This is a really great use of a lager—some of the lightness on the back stops it from being cloying, and helps moderate some of the sweetness. Similarly, the tequila barrel really adds some sharpness at just the points it needs it. I really enjoyed drinking it, but beyond that, this is a very clever beer—it shows very well what other breweries should be aspiring to.
Pours a dark-brown colour, clear with beautifully dense beige head, retains thick and creamy. Looks great.
Smells strange. Touch of cocoa and toffee-style malts with a twist of vinegar. Um yeah, strange.
Wow, taste is totally different, and far more schwarzbiery. Cocoa notes with a touch of rye spice, dark toffee, burnt sugar. Very malt-driven but finishes quite dry. Impressive.
Decent body, lack of carbonation is a shame, could use a little bit of cutting through.
Super impressed with this for the degree of difficulty. Given how much I've hated O'Brien's other efforts at gluten-free beers just for lack of similitude to what I expect from 'beer', this is an amazing drop. Really quite drinkable.
2012 Australian Amateur Homebrewing Champion beer, brewed at Young Henry's for GABS Festival 2013. Tried on tap at the festival in Melbourne, May 2013.
Pours a coffee colour, clear with nice beige crown of foam on the top. Pretty-nice-looking, if a little pale for the style.
Smells sweet, with a touch of roast. Notes of chocolate and a subtle espresso character as well. Decent schwarz smell.
Taste is again pretty standard for the style. Slight maltiness upfront descends into darker unsweetened chocolate notes, with a touch of licorice spice and a slight dark caramel note. Decent darkish palate; quite sweet though.
Fairly light on body but it matches the palate and the style nicely. Slight touch of carbonation.
I'm not a huge fan of schwarzbiers as a rule because they seem to straddle a bunch of different styles. This is certainly a decently made example though.
12oz bottle purchased from Leura Cellars in the Blue Mountains.
Pours a deep claret red with a lackadaisical head of beige which froths itself up when swirled and then disappears again very quickly. Some persistence forms a crescent of fine film around the glass. Minimal lacing. Light body.
Nose is sweet with cereal grain airiness, a little soggy and limp. It's helped by the touch of roast which comes through, and a tender smokiness. When swirled, the roast becomes a little more prominent and the cereal notes dissipate a little, giving more of a floury tone. Still, it's a bit flat, and those grainy characters persist longer than I'd want them to.
Definite cereal characters on the palate as well, which give a pronounced sweetness that really detracts from the beer. Under this is the potential for something better. Solid, structured, toasty dark malt characters with a lightness and crispness in the body—a nice amalgam for what a Schwartzbier should be. The interplay between the sweetness and this darker underpinning gives off some strange harmonics in the interim though: concord grape, musk and frosting. It's not wrong, but it doesn't seem all that right either.
Feel is light without being crisp: and the added sweetness seems to give it more body than it actually has.
Overall, I'm a little disappointed. A schwartzbier can be very simple and still very good, but this seems to flounder a little. It doesn't reach deep complexity, nor does it stay truly crisp and brittle. Either direction would have improved this beer.
62 / 100
Tried on-tap at the GABS festival in Melbourne. I actually have a lot of respect for Rebellion Brewing (the guys who produce the O'Brien's beers)—they've put a lot of effort into getting a decent process in place for gluten-free brewing.
Pours a reddish brown colour, clear in the body and quite light-weight. Head is good, a solid foamy mess of beige that leaves pleasantly soft lacing. Looks pretty good.
Mild olive noticeable first up on the nose, with some faint roasted characters and a soft brown sugar note. Slight spice characters come through as well, giving a touch of the savoury to it. It's not bad.
Light and clean on the palate, clear entry leading to a fresh mid-palate dosed with a healthy ration of dark malty notes. Clean on the finish as the yeast tidies up, with a little residual dark malt in the aftertaste.
Feel is a little dull and empty, but that's perhaps the price you pay for the cleanliness.
Overall, this has some really pleasant flavours for a gluten free beer, and has more oomph and character. In fact, it's a perfectly fine dark lager in its own right, and the fact that it's gluten-free is kind of peripheral. That's a good thing.
76 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Whole Foods SoMa in San Francisco.
Pours a lightish, browning black, with a fine, slightly filmy, slightly bubbly head of off-white. Lacing is minimal, but forms in oblique streaks. Body looks light and fluid, with fine carbonation. Decent look, but not exceptional.
Nose is pleasantly light, with some dedicated roast characters giving a faint suggestion of acidity. Some black olive character comes through as well with this roast. It's pretty light on, but pretty pleasant, and stylistically very appropriate.
Taste is similar. Pleasant roasted character, but a nice dryness and lightness in the body to keep it clean and drinkable. The roast flattens out towards the back, leaving a pleasant toasted grain flavour, and mellowing into a dry, almost crisp finish. Where the acidity was on the nose, this dips to become smoother and more savoury, leaving it crisp but interesting.
Feel is light and dry, but matches with the beer nicely.
Overall, this is a great dark lager. It has the lightness and freshness of a lager, with some genuinely well-delivered roasted characters from the malt. It's a delicate balancing act, and it's performed very well here.
62 / 100
Pours a dark brown colour, beige head with sparse, frothy bubbling. Slightly uneven, with thin lace on the glass. Head is crafty, frothy goodness. Looks natural and pleasant.
Burnt and nutty on the nose - charry roast malt notes with walnuts, coffee grounds and a touch of carob. Standard, but also fairly blaring, one-track dark beer aroma.
Taste is roastier, with a burnt bitterness lingering from the mid-palate. Spent coffee grounds, bitter cocoa plus some pepperberry, carbon and coriander notes late. Maybe could use some more body; a bit thin, so the roast is fairly harsh. Decent crack at the style, but I don't think it recommends more schwarzbiers to me.
87 / 100
Bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours a pleasant clear and clean black, with a bubbly but solid head of mild yellow-brown. Lacing is spotty. Body looks rather fluid, but slick, and it holds carbonation well.
Nose is lovely. Toasty malts leavened by a mild touch of something bright, fresh and even a little lemony. Dark rye bread, spread with cream cheese and shallots. It's a beautiful balance between darkness and light. Love it.
Taste is also excellent. Lovely clear lines to the feel and the vectors through the palate, delivering solid toasty malt all the way. Flavours of mild chocolate, a little crust and some dark seed cake on the back. This is all beautifully balanced with a really lovely dryness and a lovely clear but slick feel. Only a lager delivers that integration and lightness.
Overall, I love it. Black lagers are well underrated: this a superb example of why this should not be the case. This is clean and pleasant, but loaded with flavour and character. More craft lagers, please!
I have to say, I'm pretty sure I picked this out of the cooler at Belmont Station in Oregon because of the label. Especially with the other two beers from the brewery next to it, it's particularly compelling and striking.
Pours a clear, quite bright black-brown hue, with a frothy, insubstantial, but believable head of scungy white. Decent body and carbonation. Looks fair enough.
Nose is pleasantly balanced between crisp dark malts and a golden freshness of slightly herbal hops. It has a wholemeal, wheaten character to it, cut with a pleasant brightness. Not bad.
Taste is light but also pleasant. Crisp grain comes through with a light feel and a lingering greenness around the back. Slight bitterness makes it feel like a hoppier than usual dark lager, and the feel is pleasantly light and biting.
Very decent schwarzbier. It has a pleasant crispness and lightness to it, while maintaining some grips on its genesis as a dark beer. It's not particularly big or complex, but it serves its purpose well.
I had great success with Lucky Hand's Cali Common, so when I saw this one out and about I thought I'd give it a try as well.
Pours a deep, opaque brown colour, black for most of the body, with a fine and solid head of beige foam. Lacing is solid. The body weight is pretty light, and pretty fluid, which suits the style, although it always looks odd in a dark beer in world increasingly filled with heavy stouts.
Nose is pleasantly light but roasted, with a clean grain character giving wholesome dark bread notes. There's a little bit of green, leafy organics to it, lending a touch of tea and perhaps a hint of sweet pepper. It's not all that complex, but it gets the important parts right. Pretty solid.
Taste is also stylistically good, and solid, without being particularly jawdroppingly exciting. Strong roasted basis throughout the palate, but light in body, leaving the slightly too intense carbonation to bloat the palate, and fray away the other components. It's pretty clean, though, and pleasantly refreshing for a dark beer.
There aren't enough dark lagers out there! Even though this is a solid, but not exceptional example, it warms my heart to drink it. There's something of the cleanness and the crispness of a well-made lager that melds so nicely with the rich, darker notes of a Schwartzbier. More please!
77 / 100
Pours a dark brown with a mahogany bent, with decent frothy head of ochre, sinking steadily to leave some whispy trails of lace behind. Nice head pattern, very nice everything.
Smells quite roasty and pleasant with some sweetness to it. Touch of coffee but with a dark caramel edge, toffee-esque really and I think some floral hops just peeking out, a tad grassy but lending it a welcome freshness. Not quite enough of anything but very enjoyable.
Taste is quite pleasant also, much dark flavour but mostly sweet with chocolatey notes, more toffee with a really nice brandied edge, yeah takes on a warmth towards the back with a nutty marzipan touch and a bitterness which is hoppy-grassy, resinous as well. Bit of darkness lingers on the back, roasty but not burnt. Very deft touch involved here, for an enjoyable, balanced taste experience.
Bit hot around the edges on the mouthfeel, esp. on the mid, and a bit of dryness around the back. Decent body otherwise.
Great drop of beer, really. Tasty and pretty damn smooth.
80 / 100
Purchased in the US, from a location that is apparently no longer getting Avery beers (sob!), brought back to Australia to share with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.
Pours quite a deep, dark brown, so much so that it's fair enough to call it genuinely black. Good opacity and a foaming head of pock-marked beige bubbling. Lacing is anarchic. Looks great.
Very heavily dry hopped, obviously, as a big resiny and pleasantly sharp green hop aroma punches the nose. It has the American-style power to it, but oddly, not the American-style flavours. Much more of a continental European style, more resiny, slightly earthier, less fruit and citrus. It's gorgeous nonetheless.
Under this, is a pleasant dark, slightly grainy note, which again suggest German roots. Very nice indeed.
Taste is very interesting, with a much stronger grainy lager character coming through. Minimal hop bitterness, although a roasted grain note gives a dark pumpernickel toast character to the finish. This mingles with some of the earthy hop flavours to produce an interesting melange of whole grains sweetened with honey, and cleansed with organic greenness.
Feel is a little light, which is assumedly what the lager aspect lends it.
Such a wonderful mix of flavours make this an exceptionally good one-off brew.The bready, grainy characters give it heft and body, and the hop fragrance gives it vivacity. It's a great combination.
Pours a dark espresso brown colour with ochre head; generous and dense and puffy. It's sizzling a bit but being kept alive by strong carbonation from beneath. Some lacing, nice and sticky but a bit thin.
Nice coffee aromas. Roasty but not burnt, so there's a bitterness but doesn't cross into sour or astringent territory. Quite strong (also helps) and yet fairly one-note, although there is a subtle caramellish malt note underneath. Simple, but really quite pleasant.
Taste is more or less what I was expecting; more's the pity. Lots of espresso coffee with a slight vegetative flavour to it. Slightly alkaline on the front that stays steady without much complexity to the end, where rich roastiness comes through, very espresso-like and bitter, not quite charred, but that very darkly bitter coffee flavour. Subtle enough to be enjoyed but at a couple of times it gets a smidgeon too burned. Very subtle bite of resiny hop at the end helps to cleanse, but doesn't entirely do the job.
Texture is there and there's a foaminess, yet the body is fairly thin. Carbonation sears the tongue a bit too much. Interesting though, especially for a lager.
A few snags here and there, but otherwise very decent drinking. A post-dinner sessionable beer.
75 / 100
Jesus. What the hell's up with this brewery? Last beer I had exploded carbon dioxide in my face, this one, I undo the fastening on the swingtop cap and the cap explodes with a violent pop that leaves my ears ringing and almost lifts the entire bottle off the table. I don't really need a heart attack with my beer.
Pours a deep brown in its stream, in the glass it looks very dark, although when held to light it does show a very deep red-black shining through. Head is frothy, but large bubbled, settling pretty quickly to a film of beige-brown. Lacing is good. Looks pretty decent.
Ooh, nose is very pleasant. Mix of dark fruit, light vinous acidity and a faint whisky-malt smokiness. Really pleasantly mixed together. Way better than I expected for effectively a generic Dark Euro Lager. Sweetness is very pleasant, and the malty, peaty note is very welcome. Really lovely.
Taste is also nice, with a good blend of sweetness, roasted malts and light earthy characters to round out the palate. Light crispness on the back brings it back to its lager roots, but this has a good deal of complexity despite this. Very pleasant.
Great dark Euro lager. Very smooth, but with a pleasant lightness on the palate that leavens the complexity. Drinkable but interesting - it's a great mix.
50 / 100
Pours a deep burnished red, clear but quite dark, with modest ochre head that nevertheless sticks around in its modesty. Leaves some thick sheets of lace. Very decent indeed.
Smell is quite dusky, with a fair amount of phenolic character. Quite malty, with English toffee, peanut brittle and a bubblegum character. Slight molasses richness and a whiff of dusty basement at the back. Smells heavy and sweet; enough to intrigue.
Taste is a bit lacking - possibly a bit old? Fair malty base with caramel and toffee that loses a great deal of character midway, becoming quite watery and dry with a stale biscuity edge to it. Finish is very lightly spicey, with what might have been nice phenolic heat, producing a very light, dry kick that has more stale character than anything else. Swills alright in the mouth, definitely a bit thin on the back, however.
It's mild and drinkable enough, but I'm not getting a lot of character from it, and it feels very lacking on the mid where the excitement is supposed to happen.
Pours a very dark brown colour; you'd be forgiven for thinking it was black, even though there's a slight deep ruby tinge when held to the light. Head is frothy and good, a light mocha colour, and very full. As it eventually collapses, it leaves some very chunky lacing. Looks pretty good all up.
Nose is husky and grainy, and rather potent with organics. Quite dark, with a gritty, earthy undertone and a whiff of coffee grounds. It comes across perhaps a little too forcefully, and doesn't have a huge amount of complexity - I feel a touch of sweetness, a more layered grain note, or something similar would deepen it.
Taste is a little thinner than expected, but that may well be the lager yeast having its way. Comes across with a light coffee grain character, with a touch of metallic cling on the back. Feel is light, although the residual coffee bitterness hangs on for quite a while.
Drinkable enough, and it has some pleasant characters. It doesn't come across as an extreme or particularly complex beer, but I don't think it's trying to. It ends up being a drinkable, and surprisingly sessionable brew, that has some genuine flavour to it.
61 / 100
Having a Port Brewing session this evening. This seemed to fit both the "Port Brewing" and the "session" bill.
Pours a lovely dark schwarz, with a slight hint of brown at the edges. Head forms quickly when pours, but then dissipates almost as rapidly, leaving just a floating film of light beige. Lacing is a little hit and miss, some suds on one side, and a little of nothing on the other. Not bad.
Lots of roasted malt on the nose, toasted and slightly charred, with a slight astringency. Brown bread comes through as well, which oddly lightens the palate, and there's a whiff of something a little sweeter as well, perhaps a lilt of ripe banana - very faint though. Overall, it's mostly roasted and black, with just a few hints around the edges of something else.
Taste is dark, and a little empty around the edges. The bread notes come through more prominently here, leaving a damp emptiness through the centre of the palate, and a lingering odd burnt sweetness that continues through to the end. Mouthfeel is crisp, but with an oddly numbing effect.
Nope, this feels like something of a miss to me. It has some pleasant characters, but some slightly unpleasant ones as well. Not Port's best offering, that's for sure.
71 / 100
Pours a really nice deep black-brown, with good clarity. Heady is loose-bubbled and made of mocha-coloured foam. Lacing is good. Looks like there's a decent amount of carbonation, and a surprisingly thick body for a lager of this strength. Looks good.
Dark roasty cereal notes on the nose, a bit of sweetness and a lot of toasted bread character. A bit of something green and fresh as well; cut grass or lucerne. Not bad.
Taste is clear on the front, before a welling of roasted character on the back gives a bitter finish with a pleasant leavened nuttiness. Quite a dry finish, but it has a lingering dark ashy character that lengthens the palate. Feel is clear.
Very nice beer, clear and clean, but with a robust dark character to add a deal of interest. I like it.
Pours a dark brown colour, definitely brown all over despite pretense that it's black. Don't need to hold that to the light to see it's just brown. Head is a nice dense cream-colour, sinks slowly to leave a film, with some pleasant trails of off-white lacing at the top. Body is quite clear; looks alright, yeah quite nice.
Nose has a lot of standard dark characters, lots of roasty grain, some spicy character and some smoke in there as well. Lot of carbon, really, spicy smoke and roasty grain. Slightly savoury in character although with hints of cocoa, not very sweet, but pleasant.
Taste is fairly standard schwarz, but nicely balanced. Quite mild with fair roasted grain throughout, a slight cola character on the mid and some chocolate notes. A lot of oak comes through as well and a hint of cherry. There is a particularly fresh, organic woodiness on the finish. A slight port sweetness as well, but yeah, overall a lot of 'brown' flavours and not a lot of black. Maybe I've just been drinking too many imperial stouts lately. Dark malt and dark sugar, not over-cooked.
Fairly foamy and grainy-textured in the mouth, slightly soupy I guess. Pleasant feel and a nice complement to the flavour.
Mild drinking, very little in the way of power or offense here, but not a bad beer at all.
61 / 100
Pours a dark deep reddish brown, quite clear in the glass with a filmy head of cocoa coloured foam. Some small bubbled carbonation, but not a lot. No lacing. Body looks a bit thin. Not bad overall.
Smokiness and wet grain on the nose. Darkness is slightly muted, but otherwise it tastes pretty pleasantly roasty and sweet. It's a little thin, but the smoke is quite pleasant.
Dark characters on the palate, some toast and smoke, but they're surrounded (or, I guess, not surrounded) but a rather thin body; a sort of emptiness. It's as though the true characters of the beer are quarantined from my mouth in some way. Mouthfeel is particular is thin.
It's not a bad beer, and it has some really pleasant characters. It's just that they seem either muted or otherwise slightly insipid. Drinkable enough, but not necessarily something I'd seek out or even bother trying again.
60 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour with a modest cream-coloured head of very small bubbles. Leaves some gorgeous sticky dense lace behind as it sinks slowly. Love that lace, otherwise pretty good too.
Smell is quite chocolatey with some vanilla hints. Slight cashew nut edge and some raisin characters. No burnt or roasty characters, actually smells overly sweet, to the point where I'm craving more burnt character. But my personal taste aside, for a Schwarzbier smell, pretty good.
Taste is similar, very light flavour with a lot of cocoa character and a nutty edge, quite sweet with a bit of a yeasty edge, actually.Slight roasted character with mild meatiness around the edges. Pretty smooth flavour, doesn't have a lot in the way of palate complexity or richness. Quite creamy and sweet, again can't say I'm a big fan but it's not bad.
Quite fair bodied, medium full, bit of a sharp edge that I don't like. Overall not bad, just needs to iron out that kink to make it more slick.
Drinkable? Yeah, 'salright.
Pours a dusky brown colour with a nice translucent appearance, light brown tinge when held up to the light. Head is decent, dense with small off-white bubbles. Looks pretty nice.
Sweet and sour on the nose, with some nice vanilla characters, hints of cinnamon as well. Slight sour roasted characters, hints of beans and cooked greens. Pretty nice nose overall, quite enjoy that. Mild and pleasant.
Taste is quite roasted, with bits of burnt character and some smoke with a sour musty flavour poking its head around the back. Slight spice characters, tastes kind of wintery with nutmeg and cinnamon characters, no real spice sensation though, just the flavour. Tastes quite like an English dark mild, it's smooth with light bitterness and slight roasted flavour. Not delicious, but tasty.
Mouthfeel is a letdown. A bit thin, with a lot of sparkle from carbonation. Fairly fizzy, really, and doesn't really suit the flavour. Just needs a bit more body.
Pretty good drinking, this. A decent effort.
Pours a pleasant reddish black colour, with a lovely head of chocolate coloured pancake bubbles. Some lacing, not a lot, but pretty decent overall. A very nice looking beer.
Some roasted notes on the nose, but quite a large amount of rice or corn sweetness as well, which very much overpowers. A little oatmeal rounds it out, but overall it comes across as too sweet and too clingy.
Taste is similar, although a roasted grain husk character redeems it slightly. Far too sweet - syrup is very noticeable throughout the palate, with a big wallop of corn or glucose, and by the time the dry, dark character has made its presence felt, it's too little, too late. Mouthfeel is thin, and doesn't redeem a seemingly blaze palate.
Not great overall. The darkness in it does nothing to the flavour, and it ends up seeming sickly, weak, cheap and amateurish. Unimpressed.
45 / 100
Pours a dark cola colour with thick, frothy tan head, sizzles as it sinks slowly with light pock marks appearing, not leaving a whole heap of lace. There seems to be a lot of very small bubbles pounding the head from beneath. Does look very fizzy, quite cola-esque, but pretty good.
Nose has a rich, deep sourness to it, roasted and slightly burnt. Fair amount of espresso coffee with a light cocoa character and an astringent spice to it, like licorice or even, dare I say it, a touch of cayenne. A bit lofty or slight on the fragrance, a nice blend but not much to it.
Taste is very earthy in its bitterness, with a distinct burnt flavour that suggests itself without being especially potent, oddly enough. A slight cocoa character on the front is soon overtaken by the roastedness, which has hints of charcoal, espresso, soil and red apple skin. Palate stops quite short and falls short as far as flavour goes. Finishes quite dry, but flavour-wise is fairly weak, with nothing really happening there.
Mouthfeel is accurately described on the label as "never heavy in texture", but the label doesn't mentioned that that makes it a bit thin instead. There is enough body to elevate it above the 'watery' level though. Drinkable enough beer but not very hearty. All in all a bit blah.
Brown 33cl bottle with twist cap. Brown label with a rather drab graphic of a man in armor on the front.
Slightly hazy chocolate brown body, with a mocha coloured creamy, foamy head. Small pancake bubbles arise in the solid head after a while. Excellent retention and good lacing - in fact, this is a damn fine looking beer! I was expecting something a lot more insipid, and this one looks amazing.
Dark brown Schinkenbrot loaf on the nose, traces of yeast and toasty bitterness. More subdued than it could be, and not a lot of complexity, but it's pretty tasty all the same.
Ah yes, tasty. The taste is pretty much what you'd expect. A dark, bready slightly singed palate, redolent with toasted notes and a slight coppery bitterness. Remarkably short though, and could have used a smoother feel.
Still, it's a tasty brew, and surprisingly good for a generic-branded beer I picked up in a Slovene supermarket!