Tag Archive: Schwarzbier


Shikkoku

Coedo: Shikkoku (Japan: Schwarzbier: 5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Loose coffee brown bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Roasted barley. Slight charring. Fudge underneath all that.

Body: Roasted nuts. Slight chalk. Smooth texture. Toffee notes under. Charring and slight charred bacon. Black cherry.

Finish: Roasted. Peppermint. Light chalk and smoke.

Conclusion: Hmm, I’m in two minds on this one. Possibly due to comparisons with my favourite of the German Schwarzbiers.

This one is nice and very roasted. The nuts, smoke and charred touches give a slight harsh edge, and the rough edges of flavour are counterpointed (that is a verb now, honest) by the smooth texture. There is very subtle sweet contrast as well, some toffee and black cherry but it is very deep down under the roasted elements.

What makes me in two minds is for all the smoothness of texture it doesn’t quite have that grip and slight thickness of feel that really puts a beer in the top class of the style. The feel is a bit too clean which doesn’t quite work with the flavours.

Though, as indicated, the actual flavours are very good, especially on the roasted spectrum. The beer is also better cool, but not heavily so. You get some nice flavour as it warms up in your hand.

So, I will conclude that it is a reasonable beer of the style and uses its smoothness well but doesn’t bring the grip. It has some unexpected elements, most notably a welcome almost charred bacon like flavour. So sorted on the flavour, touch let down on texture. While Germany still has the best of the Schwarzbiers I’ve tried I will note they have a huge range to pick from, and many years of experience. While not the best this competes very well with your average every day beer in the style.

Background: Schwarzbier! Been a while since I had one of these, back in 2011 was the last review. Since I found this, which is currently one of rate beers listed top 50 Japanese beers, I thought I’d give it a try. This one was found in a food market under Shibuya station. Food markets are surprisingly good places to find craft beer in Japan. Also a lot of train stations have far better selections than you average dedicated booze store. Go figure. Coedo seem another reasonably common beer to find around Japan, especially in the aforementioned places. Drunk back at the hotel chilled down against the heavy duty Japanese heat of the day.

Kulmbacher: Monchshof Schwarzbier  (Germany: Schwarzbier: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: A dark mahogany red with an inch of bubbled beige froth that leaves bubbled trails.

Nose: Lightly dusty with some crushed peanuts when cool, an odd amount of coffee cup remains as well. Warms nicely to light cinnamon and lovely frothy chocolate.

Body: Dry malt and some liquorice touches. Slight sour black cherry. Malted drinks. Very smooth texture.

Finish:  Dry dusty chocolate. Brown bread. Slightly bitter.

Conclusion: You have to hand it to Germany; they know how to make good beer. Now these days it seems trendy to give them grief for being heavy on the lager styles and big on large scale brewing, but I cannot say they don’t do it damn well.

I’d slightly over chilled this beer at first, which kinda killed it’s aroma, but as it warmed the dusty peanut style got traded it for a delicious frothy chocolate, and the smooth body got a nice extra punch of flavour at the same time.
When you get it to that point the aroma is like sticking your head over a chocolate fondue, and whilst the body isn’t as thick as that imagery it still gives decent grip to the flavours.

The range of flavours is quiet small, balanced well but not wide ranging.  Makes for a solid beer with what it does though. Rich chocolate and dry malt bitterness that rides to the end.  Add in that slight sour touch mid body and its got a bit of fun to it.

Nothing in this beer pushes it to the exceptional range, but a definite chunk above average.  Great aroma, good body. I’m impressed.

Background: I noticed we are back on Oktoberfest time again, in fact have been for about a week at this point. So a perfect time to catch up on Germany’s beers! I’ve been slacking on this country for a while which is a great pity.  Drunk whilst listening to Paradise Lost: Hallowed Land.

Central De Cervejas: Sagres Preta (Portugal:Schwarzbier:4.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddish black with a sturdy beige bubbled froth.

Nose: Campfire and roasted nuts. Slightly dusty and chocolate malt. Sour cream and mild coffee. Quite smooth.

Body: Bitter and slight sourness. Charring with chocolate back, Quite a chalky texture and some caramel.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and milk chocolate mixed. Treacle and charring. Coffee.

Conclusion: A bit of an unassuming one this. I first tried a bottle in the middle of a couple of craft ale bottles and found it quite forgettable.

Revisiting it I find myself more forgiving towards it. Its flavours are not forceful, but there is a nice mix of chocolate and coffee in there, with a tiny amount of sourness which gives it a nice something to last the distance.

Taken as your first, or the only beer you’re drinking in the night means that the flavours get time to build slowly without being overpowered by more forceful beers, though you will still occasionally get the texture reigning in your enjoyment a touch.

A mellow beer, and ok for that.  It’s a reasonable easy going beer and I’ve tried a lot worse.

Sapporo: Yebisu – Black (Japan: Schwarzbier: 5% abv)

Visual: Bubbling black with a decent toffee brown head.

Nose: Lots of roasted nuts, cherries and malt. Orange and coffee.

Body: Roasted malt, nuts (peanuts?). Smooth and quite sweet. Coffee whitener. Toffee.

Finish: Creamy, treacle. Charred elements.

Conclusion: Smooth, kind of satisfying, but pretty much middle of the road. Apparently the old Sapporo black was something quite special, but this, the inheritor of its legacy, does not hold such charm.

It’s forgettable, but not unpleasant.

Brewdog: Zeitgeist (Scotland: Schwarzbier: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Slightly fizzy black with red tints in the light. Medium but quickly dissipating head of a muddy brown nature.

Nose: Milky coffee and liquorice comes very strongly. Dry and almost porter like.

Body: Very bitter cored, treacle. Slight fizzyness and quite sweet with it. Burnt roasted coffee beans. Quite a thick texture.

Finish: Fizz and pops, busty and bitter. Treacle again. Leaves a long dryness.

Conclusion: A simple dark lager feeling beer with a lot of treacle and bitterness. It isn’t a patch on the German examples of the style, but it does balance the bitter and sweetness well.

For some (and I speak of the Sensei as part of this group) this is the beer of choice as it has flavour without being too harsh. For myself it is a bit too burnt on the front giving an almost starbucks coffee burnt annoyance.

Not terrible, but definitely weak for a brewdog. It does however go fantastic with chocolate mini rolls and the like which balance out with it nicely and make it a much better beverage to drink.

Köstritzer (Kostriker) Schwarzbier (Germany: Schwarzbier: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black with a robust beige head that carries a creamy appearance.

Nose: liquorish, a mix of whisky soaked oak ageing in a warehouse and a distillery in progress. Touch of sulphur. Dry wood elements.

Body: Smooth mouthfeel; light but sweet. More dry wood, frothy at times like the base of a waterfall. Somewhat like the centre of a Cadburys crème egg. Edge of liquorish comes through.

Finish: Slow to start then rises. Liquorish toffee of liquor, but wonderfully understated.

Conclusion: A lovely balance of liquorish and sweetness without being sickly. The flavours are understated, so this beer is not a booming explosion, instead relying on a steady balance which makes for a refreshing Schwarzbier that does not overstay its welcome. Not the most complex beer but possibly the best balanced Schwarzbier that I’ve had.

Wurzburger Hofbrau Schwarzbier (Germany: Schwarzbier: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark black until held to light to reveal rich red with a quickly diminishing brown head. A thin froth resolutely remains till the end.

Nose: liquorice, roasted popping nuts, hops

Body: Smooth; light nutmeg. Malt and light froth. Wholemeal sandwiches. Slightly sticky mouthfeel. Treacle.

Finish: Chocolate cake with fresh cream (blackforest?). Nuttiness.

Conclusion: A restrained example of this style with a wonderful finish. The slight stickiness makes it hard to recommend for a warm day drink which would otherwise be its natural territory. Definitely drinkable as the first cool wave of the night comes in though.

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