By Iron Chef Leftovers
There are times that I think Black Raven is one of the best breweries in the state and others that I think “WTH are they doing over in Redmond?” Schwartzeit Black Lager lends itself more to the former than the latter sentiment. In case you are not familiar with Black Lagers, Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
Schwarzbier, or “black beer”, is a German dark lager beer. It has an opaque, black colour and a full, chocolatey or coffee flavour similar to stout or porter.
Schwarzbiers are bottom-fermented beers, though originally top-fermenting yeast was used in brewing them. The alcohol content usually ranges from 4.8%–5%. They get their dark colour from the use of particularly dark malts in brewing. The malt in turn gets its colour during the roasting procedure.
The roots of the Schwarzbier lie in Thuringia and Saxony; the oldest known Schwarzbier is Braunschweiger Mumme (“Brunswick Mum”) brewed since the Middle Ages (the first documented mention is from 1390) in Braunschweig. The earliest documented mention in Thuringia is of Köstritzer from 1543, a popular Schwarzbier still produced today. The East of present-day Germany has many unique varieties of this style from regional breweries. It is often served with dark, chunky breads with cream cheese. It also pairs well with marinated meats like brisket and is an excellent companion to German Sauerbraten.
I had the Schwartzeit in a 22oz bottle which ran about $7 and clocked in at 5.9% ABV.
The beer pours dark and slightly opaque with a generously fizzy tan head. A great deal of roasted malt appears on the nose with hints of chocolate and coffee – this beer could easily be confused with a stout on smell alone. The similarities end with the nose though – a slight sweetness starts you out, followed by a pleasant light grain flavor. That fades very quickly into light roast and chocolate (the chocolate is more pronounced as the beer warms) with a very mild bitterness from the hops at the end. The beer won’t win over light beer, drinkers despite being a lager, but it is balanced and delicious and should appeal to those who like a dark beer, but don’t want to go for full bore into the realm of stouts and porters.
Schwartzeit is a seasonal beer for Black Raven and one of the few that they actually bottle, so pick up a couple next time you see it in your local bottle shop.
Black Raven Schwartzeit Black Lager goose-steps in with a stellar 4 Achtungs! out of 5.