6% ABV, 32 IBU Kulmbacher style schwarzbier
Sprecher Black Bavarian
Sprecher Brewing Co., Glendale, WI
By Bill Lau
Posted April 28, 2015
Sprecher Brewing opened in Milwaukee in 1985, coincidentally enough the same year I left town. (In the famous words of Maxwell Smart, “Missed it by that much!”) Up to that point my local beer-drinking experience was pretty much limited to Pabst Blue Ribbon, also coincidentally the previous employer of Sprecher Brewing founder Randy Sprecher. That it would take more than 10 years for me to get to try any of his new brewery’s beers is just one of those things.
I remember reading British beer and whisk(e)y writer Michael Jackson’s glowing reviews of this beer some years later, and having to wait a number of years after that before I finally spotted the beer at a local shop here in Ohio. It was the first example of a Bavarian style black lager (or schwarzbier) I ever tried, a style which is still not very widely made or found even today.
It’s a style worth seeking out, though. Schwarzbier delivers a different malt character than a dunkel or bock beer while still bringing clean lager flavor and smoothness, but is not as heavily roasted or chocolate-tasting as most porters or stouts. It really fits a unique space in the beer spectrum. Prost!
Appearance (4.5/5): Appears black from a distance, but held to the light shows a deep, glowing red mahogany hue and clarity. Beige/pale tan head is composed of very fine bubbles, and leaves partial rings and patches of foam behind.
Aroma (8.5/10): Dark malts – Munich with its deeply caramelized notes, a touch of sorghum molasses, and hints of light roast. Malty without seeming overly sweet-smelling.
Palate (4/5): Somewhat creamy texture with fine carbonation bead; smooth and silky. Medium body.
Taste (8.5/10): Dry malt notes – toasted and caramelized but only lightly sweet, balanced by a pleasant bitterness and light roast with coffee and cocoa. No esters allowing the complex malts to shine and take center stage, including a sorghum-like note, again without the sweetness. Faint hint of licorice late with a lingering bitter twang and roast in the finish.
Overall (17/20): Excellent interpretation of the style. Great malt character but on the dry side. Flavorful. Would go great with a Reuben sandwich, sauerbraten, or schnitzel (especially jaeger schnitzel with mushrooms!).