German Schwarzbier is a dark lager that literally translates from German to black beer. This style tends to depend heavily on the heavily roasted malt character, depth of color, and bittersweet taste that might bring flavors of coffee, cocoa, and licorice to mind.
The Schwarzbier recipe calls for Munich or dark malts of course, to give it the very dark brown to black color. However, the malt flavor and fragrance produce a moderate level of sweetness. For hops, Schwarzbier relies on German Noble hops to achieve a good portion of bitterness.
Smooth and revitalizing, the Schwarzbier black beer relies on a very dry finish. The drier, darker, more roast oriented character is what differentiates Schwarzbier beer from a German Dunkel. The Schwarzbier lager tends to be lighter in body despite its deceivingly dark color that might associate it with heavier dark beer styles like Porters and Stouts.
The best Schwarzbier brand that brought the style back in Germany in the 1990s was Köstritzer Schwarzbier. Naturally after this re-emergence, American craft beers followed by producing their own American Schwarzbier.
The 3.8% to 5.2% ABV Schwarzbier features a pale colored foam head with good cling quality that has a nice appearance in a Pilsner flute Schwarzbier glass. Schwarzbier pairs wonderfully with food, especially hearty, spicy dishes such as roasted or smoked meats, barbecue, and sausage. These beers make great alternatives for winter months, especially when looking for a lighter, but still wintery alternative.
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