Black Lagers Matter: 100th Blog Post!

To my devoted fans, my new fans, and future fans, welcome to my 100th blog post.  You didn’t think I’d make it here, did you?  Well, I’m happy to say, the time has arrived.  In honor of such a momentous occasion (in my head at least), I felt it only right and proper to do a beer review.  This one is partially in honor of my heritage, my fondness for dark beer, and of course, because my freakin’ awesome wife bought not just the beer, but the container in which this marvelous libation dwells (though soon, it will have a new home, in my stomach).  As her Valentine’s gift to me, she bought me a ceramic, 64 ounce growler from Barley Creek Brewing Co. and filled it with one of their year-round favorites of mine:  Angler Black Lager.  Below is the review:

barley_creek_angler_black_lager

Angler Black Lager

On the docket:  Barley Creek Brewing Co.’s Angler Black Lager

Growler filled:  2/13/17

Poured into:  Lone Eagle Brewing Co. craft glass

Sight:  From a long way off, you’d swear the glass held the darkest stout in the world.  But come closer.  A more attentive inspection screams walnut hardwood or if you want to get esoteric, bistre (sooty brown) with reddish-orange highlights.  The head, though short lived is a quick-forming beige cap.  Lacing is braille-like and delicate.  The cap recedes into a swirl of suds and a small conclave of bubbles on one side of the glass.  The body is dark enough to prohibit the detection of bubbles rising to the surface.

Aroma:  Malt is definitely the star here, as this beer yields an aroma of darkish baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder.  There’s a slight suggestion of roasted coffee, and an earthiness that reminds me of either tobacco or leather.  Either is fine.

Taste:  Closely mirroring the aroma, is a malt-driven brew.  Chocolate, sweetish malt and a hint of brown or pumpernickel bread.  The slightest trace of caramel.  There’s a roundness here that’s appealing.  Only on the end do the hops make an appearance in the bitter balance to all the smooth, dark malt flavors.

Mouthfeel:  The commonly held misconception is that dark beers are heavy.  Well, some are.  But this?  This is light, elegant, and dances on the tongue, a medium- on the body.  Fine carbonation.  Crisp, smooth finish– just like a lager should have.

Overall:  Is it an imperial, barrel aged stout with vanilla, coffee, cocoa nibs, and blessed by a priest?  NO.  This is a fine example of a beer style that receives way too little attention in the beer world:  Schwarzbier.  For those that love lagers, for those that love German beer, for those that love dark beer, for those that love session-able beer (5.2% abv), this beer is for all of you.

Suggested food pairing(s):  banana chocolate-chip pancakes (beer with breakfast anyone?!), coffee-encrusted flank steak, smoked wurst, sharp English or Irish cheddar, chocolate-pecan terrine

 

 

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May the Schwarz be with You: Saranac Black Forest

On the docket:  Saranac Black Forest Black Beer with a date of 1/25/15.  Pretty old, I blame the establishment from which I purchased it, and the fact I didn’t look until I got home.  Caveat emptor.

Poured into:  Sam Adams perfect pint glass

S: A deep, amber-brown body with violet highlights supports a dense, pockmarked beige head.  Tiny bubbles zip to the underbrush of the head’s bottom.  Eventually, the head subsides into a clearing, a small ring on top.  Lacing is sporadic due to the beer’s age, or a non-beer-clean glass, or both.

A:  Clean, with a hint of caramel, a touch of sweetness, and white-bready grain.  Subtle hop aroma of earth and a twist of lemon.

T:  Smooth clean malt, a dash of roast.  Sweet start but drying finish. Reasonably bitter and hoppy, with earth and lemon carrying through from the aroma.  There’s something a little off, I just can’t quite tell what.  DMS?  Am I crazy?

F:  Medium-light, persistent, tiny bubbles.  Sweet on the start, but chalky and drying on the finish.  Crisp, drinkable.

O:  Consumed fresh, I’m sure this one is fantastic, as evidenced by “the brothers.”  Old, it’s certainly drinkable, but not how the brewer’s intended.  It does, however, sport all the hallmarks of a well-made Schwarzbier.

Suggested food pairing:  barbecue pulled-pork, fruit tarts, Münster cheese

S:  4  A:  4  T:  4  F:  4.25  O:  4