Schwarzbier

8B. Schwarzbier
Overall Impression:
A dark German lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt flavors with moderate hop bitterness. The lighter body, dryness, and lack of a harsh, burnt, or heavy aftertaste helps make this beer quite drinkable.

Aroma:
Low to moderate malt, with low aromatic malty sweetness and/or hints of roast malt often apparent. The malt can be clean and neutral or moderately rich and bready, and may have a hint of dark caramel. The roast character can be somewhat dark chocolate- or coffee-like but should never be burnt. A low spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is optional. Clean lager yeast character, although a light sulfur is possible.

Appearance:
Medium to very dark brown in color, often with deep ruby to garnet highlights, yet almost never truly black. Very clear. Large, persistent, tan-colored head.

Flavor:
Light to moderate malt flavor, which can have a clean, neutral character to a moderately rich, bread-malty quality. Light to moderate roasted malt flavors can give a bitter-chocolate palate that lasts into the finish, but which are never burnt. Medium-low to medium bitterness, which can last into the finish. Light to moderate spicy, floral, or herbal hop flavor. Clean lager character. Aftertaste tends to dry out slowly and linger, featuring hop bitterness with a complementary but subtle roastiness in the background. Some residual sweetness is acceptable but not required.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-light to medium body. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation. Smooth. No harshness or astringency, despite the use of dark, roasted malts.

Comments:
Literally means “black beer” in German. While sometimes called a “black Pils,” the beer is rarely as dark as black or as bitter as a Pils; don’t expect strongly roasted, porter-like flavors.

History:
A regional specialty from Thuringia, Saxony and Franconia in Germany. History is a bit sketchy, but is suspected of being originally a top-fermented beer. Popularity grew after German reunification. Served as the inspiration for black lagers brewed in Japan.

Characteristic Ingredients:
German Munich malt and/or Pilsner malts for the base, supplemented by a judicious use of roasted malts (such as Carafa types) for the dark color and subtle roast flavors. Huskless dark roasted malts can add roast flavors without burnt flavors. German hop varieties and clean German lager yeasts are traditional.

Style Comparison:
In comparison with a Munich Dunkel, usually darker in color, drier on the palate, lighter in body, and with a noticeable (but not high) roasted malt edge to balance the malt base. Should not taste like an American Porter made with lager yeast. Drier, less malty, with less hop character than a Czech Dark Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.052
IBUs: 20 – 30 FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 17 – 30 ABV: 4.4 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples:
Devils Backbone Schwartz Bier, Einbecker Schwarzbier, Eisenbahn Dunkel, Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Mönchshof Schwarzbier, Nuezeller Original Badebier

Munich Dunkel

8A. Munich Dunkel
Overall Impression:
Characterized by depth, richness and complexity typical of darker Munich malts with the accompanying Maillard products. Deeply bready-toasty, often with chocolate-like flavors in the freshest examples, but never harsh, roasty, or astringent; a decidedly malt-balanced beer, yet still easily drinkable.

Aroma:
Rich, elegant, deep malt sweetness, typically like bread crusts (often toasted bread crusts). Hints of chocolate, nuts, caramel, and/or toffee are also acceptable, with fresh traditional versions often showing higher levels of chocolate. Clean fermentation profile. A slight spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is acceptable.

Appearance:
Deep copper to dark brown, often with a red or garnet tint. Creamy, light to medium tan head. Usually clear, although murky unfiltered versions exist.

Flavor:
Dominated by the soft, rich, and complex flavor of darker Munich malts, usually with overtones reminiscent of toasted bread crusts, but without a burnt-harsh-grainy toastiness. The palate can be moderately malty, although it should not be overwhelming or cloyingly sweet. Mild caramel, toast or nuttiness may be present. Very fresh examples often have a pleasant malty-chocolate character that isn’t roasty or sweet. Burnt or bitter flavors from roasted malts are inappropriate, as are pronounced caramel flavors from crystal malt. Hop bitterness is moderately low but perceptible, with the balance tipped firmly towards maltiness. Hop flavor is low to none; if noted, should reflect floral, spicy, or herbal German-type varieties. Aftertaste remains malty, although the hop bitterness may become more apparent in the medium-dry finish. Clean fermentation profile and lager character.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body, providing a soft and dextrinous mouthfeel without being heavy or cloying. Moderate carbonation. The use of continental Munich-type malts should provide a richness, not a harsh or biting astringency.

Comments:
Unfiltered versions from Germany can taste like liquid bread, with a yeasty, earthy richness not found in exported filtered examples.

History:
The classic brown lager style of Munich which developed as a darker, more malt-accented beer than other regional lagers. While originating in Munich, the style became popular throughout Bavaria (especially Franconia). Franconian versions are often darker and more bitter.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Grist is traditionally made up of German Munich malt (up to 100% in some cases) with the remainder German Pilsner malt. Small amounts of crystal malt can add dextrins and color but should not introduce excessive residual sweetness. Slight additions of roasted malts (such as Carafa or chocolate) may be used to improve color but should not add strong flavors. Traditional German hop varieties and German lager yeast strains should be used. Often decoction mashed (up to a triple decoction) to enhance the malt flavors and create the depth of color.

Style Comparison:
Not as intense in maltiness as a bock (and thus more drinkable in quantity). Lacking the more roasted flavors (and often hop bitterness) of a schwarzbier. Richer, more malt-centric, and less hoppy than a Czech Dark Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.048 – 1.056
IBUs: 18 – 28 FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 14 – 28 ABV: 4.5 – 5.6%

Commercial Examples:
Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, Chuckanut Dunkel Lager, Ettaler Kloster Dunkel, Hacker-Pschorr Alt Munich Dark, Weltenburger Kloster Barock-Dunkel

Czech Dark Lager

3D. Czech Dark Lager
Overall Impression:
A rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent. Malty with an interesting and complex flavor profile, with variable levels of hopping providing a range of possible interpretations.

Aroma:
Medium to medium-high rich, deep, sometimes sweet maltiness, with optional qualities such as bread crusts, toast, nuts, cola, dark fruit, or caramel. Roasted malt characters such as chocolate or sweetened coffee can vary from moderate to none but should not overwhelm the base malt character. Low, spicy hop aroma is optional. Low diacetyl and low fruity esters (plums or berries) may be present.

Appearance:
Dark copper to almost black color, often with a red or garnet tint. Clear to bright clarity. Large, off-white to tan, persistent head.

Flavor:
Medium to medium-high deep, complex maltiness dominates, typically with malty-rich Maillard products and a light to moderate residual malt sweetness. Malt flavors such as caramel, toast, nuts, licorice, dried dark fruit, chocolate and coffee may also be present, with very low to moderate roast character. Spicy hop flavor can be moderately-low to none. Hop bitterness may be moderate to medium-low but should be perceptible. Balance can vary from malty to relatively well-balanced to gently hop-forward. Low to moderate diacetyl and light plum or berry esters may be present.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body, considerable mouthfeel without being heavy or cloying. Moderately creamy in texture. Smooth. Moderate to low carbonation. Can have a slight alcohol warmth in stronger versions.
Comments: This style is a combination of the Czech styles tmavý ležák (11-12.9 °P) and tmavé speciální pivo (13-14.9 °P). More modern examples are drier and have higher bitterness while traditional versions often have IBUs in the 18-20 range with a sweeter balance.

History:
The U Flek brewery has been operating in Prague since 1499. Many small, new breweries are brewing this style.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Pilsner and dark caramel malts with the addition of debittered roasted malts are most common, but additions of Vienna or Munich malt are also appropriate. Low mineral content water, Saazer-type hops, Czech lager yeast. Any fruity esters are typically from malt, not yeast.

Style Comparison:
The beer is the Czech equivalent of a dark lager ranging in character from Munich Dunkel to Schwarzbier, but typically with greater malt richness and hop character (aroma, flavor, and/or bitterness).

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
IBUs: 18 – 34 FG: 1.013 – 1.017
SRM: 14 – 35 ABV: 4.4 – 5.8%

Commercial Examples:
Bohemian Brewery Cherny Bock 4%, Budweiser Budvar B:Dark tmavý
ležák, Devils Backbone Morana, Kout na Šumave Koutský tmavý speciál 14°, Notch Cerné Pivo, Pivovar Breznice Herold, U Fleku Flekovský tmavý 13° ležák

International Dark Lager

2C. International Dark Lager
Overall Impression:
A darker and somewhat sweeter version of international pale lager with a little more body and flavor, but equally restrained in bitterness. The low bitterness leaves the malt as the primary flavor element, and the low hop levels provide very little in the way of balance.

Aroma:
Little to no malt aroma; may have a light corn character. Medium-low to no roast and caramel malt aroma. Hop aroma may range from none to light spicy or floral hop presence. While a clean fermentation profile is generally most desirable, low levels of yeast character (such as a light apple fruitiness) are not a fault. A light amount of DMS or corn aroma is not a fault.

Appearance:
Deep amber to dark brown with bright clarity and ruby highlights. Foam stand may not be long lasting, and is beige to light tan in color.

Flavor:
Low to medium malty sweetness with medium-low to no caramel and/or roasted malt flavors (and may include hints of coffee, molasses or cocoa). Hop flavor ranges from none to low levels, and is typically floral, spicy, or herbal. Low to medium hop bitterness. May have a very light fruitiness. Moderately crisp finish. The balance is typically somewhat malty. Burnt or moderately strong roasted malt flavors are a defect.

Mouthfeel:
Light to medium-light body. Smooth with a light creaminess. Medium to high carbonation.

Comments:
A broad range of international lagers that are darker than pale, and not assertively bitter and/or roasted.

History:
Darker versions of International Pale Lagers often created by the same large, industrial breweries and meant to appeal to a broad audience. Often either a colored or sweetened adaptation of the standard pale industrial lager, or a more broadly accessible (and inexpensive) version of more traditional dark lagers.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Two- or six-row barley, corn, rice, or sugars as adjuncts. Light use of caramel and darker malts. Commercial versions may use coloring agents.

Style Comparison:
Less flavor and richness than Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier, or other dark lagers. Frequently uses adjuncts, as is typical of other International Lagers.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.056
IBUs: 8 – 20 FG: 1.008 – 1.012
SRM: 14 – 22 ABV: 4.2 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Baltika #4 Original, Devils Backbone Old Virginia Dark, Dixie Blackened Voodoo, Saint Pauli Girl Dark, San Miguel Dark, Session Black Dark Lager, Shiner Bock