Black Lager a.k.a. Schwartzbier
Of all the lagers we brew when we have the Bavarian lager yeast strain in house, the black lager is among the most interesting. It seamlessly combines two apparent opposites—rich roast malt notes and a clean refreshing character.
The Civil Life’s black lager is a very dark but refreshing traditional German style beer that is easy to drink at 4.6% A.B.V. We use a blend of Munich, pilsner, and pale malts along with a handful of deeply roasted malts. It’s both darker and dryer than our dunkel and has an especially rich roast malt character that combines chocolate with a deep earthy note approaching char. The finish is very dry and clean. This is a black beer you can drink in any weather.
The style is an old one, but for a while, it was not widely known. The most popular variety, Köstritzer, has been brewed since the 1500s. After the Second World War, the brewery was part of East Germany. When the wall came down in 1990, West Germans were reminded of this excellent beer and started drinking it in quantity again. That was something East and West could easily agree on. This refreshing beer was both roasty and clean at the same time. That was surely a model for reunification, with two apparently contradictory elements married in perfect harmony.
That beautiful balance is the key to the beer’s greatness. Perhaps noted German beer authority Horst Dornbusch says it best:
“The Schwazbier grain bill is composed of large quantities of Munich malt with sparing additions of the more high-temperature-kilned color and roasted malts. The resulting maltiness may be spicy but must never be acrid. Though a dark beer, the clean lager taste must always be evident.”
Prost, Herr Dornbusch! If you ever make it to Saint Louis, stop in to try our authentic German-style lagers; you won’t be disappointed.
The Civil Life Brewing Company Welcomes Two New Brewers
As many St. Louis craft beer drinkers know, the Civil Life traces its start back to the homebrew community. We’re proud of our humble origins and like to think that we’ve grown a lot over the last few years. We recently brought two new brewers on staff, and they, too, come from home-brewing backgrounds. We were fortunate to have had many very well qualified applicants. We’d like to introduce Troy Bedik and David Seymour.
Troy Bedik, having graduated from Tufts with a drama degree, was working in New York City as a theater tech thinking she’d work her way up to stage manager, but she started to get disillusioned with life in New York. Her parents had moved to Saint Louis, which they informed her was a really affordable place to live. Oh, and Saint Louis had plenty of beer, something about which Troy had grown extremely passionate.
She thought she might pursue some beer-related marketing position, but what she really loved was brewing beer. She got involved with Femme Ferment, a local group of female brewers, whose members included Side Project Cellar Manager Katie Herrera, Libby Crider of Second Shift, and Cat Golden, brewer at Mark Twain in Hannibal.
Troy spent over a year at Schalfy as a cellar operator and kegger. She’s been recognized and awarded for homebrews and beers done with Femme Ferment. She loves Wit Beer and hopes to brew one for Civil Life. This fall, she will complete a course in brewing technology through the highly regarded Siebel Institute in Chicago, thanks in part to a scholarship from the Pink Boots Society, an organization that promotes and supports female beer professionals.
Troy is happy to be here working with her hands, following her passion—brewing beer. She says she couldn’t be in a better environment for brewing “high quality beers that are true to style.” Thanks, Troy!
Seymour also made a career transition to follow his passion for beer. (Please note that Seymour goes by his English surname “Seymour” not “David,” so we won’t have a repeat of that Brandon/Brendan confusion with our new chef Dave.) He left a long-term career in financial services to bring the Civil Life his longstanding interest in authentic English beer styles and traditional English public houses. He is an award winner home brewer who has written widely about beer and is active in the local beer communities. He also moderates on several English brewing forums.
In addition to education and outreach programs, Seymour wants to continue to pursue “super-authentic” English recipes, recreating these styles (many all but forgotten), while recognizing the modern palate. He’s also passionate about real ale and wants to help further develop the Civil Life’s cask program. His knowledge of cellarmanship and authentic dispensing are part of his plan to help create the most authentic English pub-going experience this side of the Atlantic. He has pledged to work with Jake to create one of the best authentic cask programs in the US.
We are honored to welcome Troy and Seymour to the Civil Life family. They’ll love it here as much as we do and as much as our loyal regulars do. And with their help, the Civil Life is about to get even better. We raise our dimpled mugs to Troy and Seymour. Welcome and Cheers!
Welcome Back Munich Dunkel
Our summer lager series continues with the return of an old favorite, Munich Dunkel. This style is perfect for your old friends here at the Civil Life—it’s a beer that highlights rich malt character.
Dunkel lager is one of the oldest recognized beer styles in the world with a history that goes back several hundred years. For half a millennium or so, dunkel lager was the beer consumed in Bavaria (one of the world’s most celebrated regions for beer).
Dunkel means “dark” in German. The color of this classic beer ranges from dark amber to mahogany. The malt character is rich and complex, but never sharp. Dunkels are somewhat sweet, but not cloying. The Bavarian lager yeast strain ensures a clean finish and imparts no fruity or spicy notes, so the complexity of the layered malt character can be better appreciated.
The base of this beer is Munich malt, sweet and complex with notes of bread, toffee, and nuts. Descriptions of Munich malt often use the word “elegant,” which is apt. Dunkels are very lightly hopped, so the malt flavors really show.
Our take on the great dunkel lager is very traditional. The beer is a beautiful red mahogany color with a nutty, earthy nose. We use mostly Munich and Pilsner malts and add hops only early during the boil to impart just enough bitterness to counter the sweetness of the malt. On the palate you get delicious layers of toffee and nuts and a clean, dry finish.
Come down to our pub and enjoy one of the world’s oldest beer styles in one of our city’s most convivial atmospheres. Prost!
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.