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 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.