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:


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



Clear Your Schedule: Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Schedule

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout (with coffee and whiskey barrel aged), best by date:  2018 (could easily age for longer)

Poured into:  6 oz. wine glass

Aroma:  No words, just feelings.  This is what dreams are made of.  A voluptuous melange of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, oak, and bliss.  The hops are in there somewhere, but I think they’re laying low and letting the other elements do the heavy lifting.  There’s a definite boozy presence that gets thicker as the beer warms.

Sight:  Inkwell-black body with a khaki and orange hued head that builds and dies just as quickly.  All that’s left of the cap exists as a wispy ring and microscopic bubbles.  Carbonation activity unknown, the body pulls in all the light around it.  Lacing is delicate and grid-like.

Taste:  Even on the chilly side, this beer exhibits a twang of roasted coffee and the barrel-aged characteristics of wood, caramel, vanilla, and light spiciness common to good American Whiskey.  Some chocolate comes through as well, but just a hint.  The most important piece of this puzzle asserts itself as dark roasted malt.  Like the aroma, the alcohol comes across easily, though not in a “hot” manner.

Feel:  Rich, oily, astringent.  Finely attuned carbonation, capable of keeping this beer in the air, so to speak.  You always go back for another sip, and then another… but beware, this Imperial Stout weighs in at 11.3% abv, so be sure to actually do the Sunday Times Crossword with your beer, lest you end up needing a nap on the couch.  Finish is long and warming like the whiskey it got to know in the barrel.

Overall:  On par with the often acclaimed barrel-aged imperial stouts heralded on Untappd and BeerAdvocate, but easier to acquire (depending on your geographic region).  I still feel this one flies under the radar.  Love them or hate them, Weyerbacher is capable of producing pleasurable drinking experiences in their high abv offerings.

Food pairing:  Nutty or earthy cheese, beef stew, Cannoli, vanilla ice cream, or, as a cocktail beer (on its own)

Live from Pocono Winter Beerfest 2016

Loyal readers (all 12 of you), I’m reporting live from the front-lines.  That’s right, as I type, I’m here at the Historic Sherman Theater in downtown Stroudsburg, PA, enjoying the live music and fresh brews that are on offer here.  The first act was a solo guitar artist, Adam Jacob.  I paired his able 90s radio-rock covers with a few pours of locally (and I mean locally) homebrewed selections, including a pilsner fermented with Belgian wit-bier yeast and an Imperial walnut stout.  When you homebrew, you can do anything you want, and make the beer YOU want to drink.  Oddly enough, I want to drink it too.  Hats off to Abomination brewing.

A blues band now plays downstairs, amid the mobs and mobs of attendees.  You see, dear readers, I splurged on my ticket, and got the VIP early admission to the event.  It started at 12 noon for me, 1 pm for everyone else.  I was able to have quick chats with the brewers, their reps, and other beer enthusiasts.  Among the “familiar faces” I saw Weyerbacher, Yards, and Long Trail.  To all three I had to compliment them on their product, as I enjoy selling it where I work.  I had a few sips of LT’s SMaSH project (single malt and single hop) that consisted of Pilsner Malt and Galaxy hops.  The result?  A clean, citrusy offering, easily sessionable.  I also had the privilege of trying a fresh glas of their newly released imperial stout- smokey and equally tasty.

It also pleases me to see plenty of people in line for Barley Creek Brewing Co.’s beer, a local here in Stroudsburg.  If you ever drive up to The Crossing Outlet, have lunch at Barley Creek- tasty beer and excellent bar food to accompany it.  I’m currently enjoying my second round of their Belgian Wit.  Spicy, zesty, cloudy, easy to drink and not commit too many typos for this post.

Another highlight goes to Rusty Rail Brewing, in Mifflinburg, PA.  Their Wolf King Warrior (American Stout) is made with cold-brewed coffee.  Very drinkable and smooth.  Lighter body that belies the 8.2% abv.  I’d have more than one sample, but the mass of bodies down on the floor is too much to bear.

This is my first beerfest event, I’ve ever attended, and I’ve got to say, it’s not for me.  While I do like the variety and the small sample size (allowing you to try more than an average flight), the mass of people in this small concert-theater is less than ideal.  Don’t get me started on the cost of a bottle of water here.  Among the beer tables are cigar sellers, smoked meat sellers, baklava, cupcakes, and popcorn.  However, the people I’ve interacted with, from the actual theater staff to the brave souls slinging brew- all friendly and enthusiastic.  But call me crazy- I’d rather visit a brewery or a great beer bar on a slow night, and enjoy the relative serenity of an empty room.

I was tempted to take a gonzo-journalism approach to my experience here, but unlike most journalists out there, I just want to report, and let you decide.  I think anyone that likes good beer should attend an event like this at least once.  If it’s not for you, then more for others, right?

To riff on the words of the most interesting man in the world, “Stay thirsty, my readers.”

This is John, signing off.