The Brewer: Matt Dailey
Matt lives in Titusville, Pennsylvania and is a high school emotional support teacher. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Southern Illinois University and a Masters in Special Education from Slippery Rock University. He and his wife have 2 boys, ages 4 and 1. If he’s not spending time with his family or brewing and the weather allows, you can find him on the golf course.
The Beer: Schwarzbier
This beer offers a great clean, slightly roast malt character while not picking up much astringency from the dark malts. This brew was fermented under pressure which enables you to ferment lagers at higher temps and supress the esters you can get sometimes while fermenting lager yeast.
The Recipe: Black Forest Lager
- 8 lbs Avangard Pilsner Malt
- 0.5 lbs Chocolate malt (350 SRM)
- 0.5 lbs Blackprinz Malt
- 0.25 lbs Roasted Barley
- Boil hops: 0.45 oz Herkules - 0:60 min
- Boil hops: 0.5 oz Hallertau (4.3%) - 0:10 min
- Imperial Harvest
BATCH SIZE: 5 gal
MASH TEMP: 150ºF
BOIL: 90 min
64ºF - 14 days
Matt Dailey - Oil Creek Brewing Company
For more blogs by Matt, check out his article on all things Hops!
Spike Summarizes: All Things Schwarzbier
What is a Schwarzbier?
Schwarzbier, translating to "black beer" in German, is a lager style known for its dark color and remarkably smooth taste. Despite its appearance, Schwarzbier is surprisingly light on the palate, offering a harmonious balance between roasted malt flavors and a clean finish. This style originated in Germany and stands out as a testament to the diversity of lager beers.
What distinguishes Schwarzbier from other beers?
Schwarzbier stands apart from other beer styles due to its combination of dark color and light body. While its appearance might lead one to expect heavy, rich flavors, Schwarzbier surprises with its smoothness and drinkability. Its roasted malt character is present but not overwhelming, making it a unique and approachable choice for those who enjoy darker beers.
What's the history of Schwarzbier beer?
The history of Schwarzbier dates back to medieval Germany. It was traditionally brewed in regions like Thuringia and Saxony. Unlike the heavy and robust stouts and porters of other countries, German Schwarzbier was crafted to have a more delicate profile. This historical context adds to its charm, as it represents a local adaptation of dark beer styles.
What does Schwarzbier taste like?
Schwarzbier offers a flavor profile that balances roasted malt character with a lighter body. The roasted malts contribute to notes of chocolate, coffee, and a subtle nuttiness. Unlike some darker styles, the roasted flavors in Schwarzbier are often mild, allowing the beer's smoothness to shine through. It's a beer that offers a pleasant contrast between its appearance and its taste.
How is Schwarzbier beer made?
The brewing process of Schwarzbier involves several key steps, similar to other lagers. The use of darker malts, such as roasted barley or chocolate malt, imparts the beer's dark color and roasted flavors. These malts are added to the mash to extract their color and flavor compounds. Hops are used to provide a balanced bitterness and aroma. The fermentation process, often using lager yeast strains, takes place at cooler temperatures, allowing the beer's flavors to develop cleanly.
What are the essential ingredients in Schwarzbier?
The essential ingredients in Schwarzbier are water, malt, hops, and yeast. The choice of malt is crucial in achieving the beer's dark color and roasted character. Dark malts like roasted barley or chocolate malt are used alongside lighter base malts. Noble hop varieties are often utilized for their mild bitterness and aromatic qualities. Lager yeast strains are preferred for their clean fermentation profile.
What foods go best with Schwarzbier?
Schwarzbier's balance between roasted flavors and a lighter body makes it a versatile pairing option. It complements a variety of dishes, including grilled meats like sausages, burgers, and steak. The beer's roasted malt character enhances the flavors of roasted vegetables and dishes with caramelized components. It's also a great match for hearty German cuisine like schnitzel and bratwurst.
Is Schwarzbier a year-round beer?
Yes, Schwarzbier can be enjoyed year-round. Its lighter body and smooth taste make it suitable for warm weather, while its roasted malt flavors also provide comfort during colder months. Its versatility makes it a fantastic choice for any season.
How strong is a typical Schwarzbier?
Schwarzbiers typically have a moderate alcohol by volume (ABV) ranging from 4.4% to 5.4%. This moderate strength aligns with the style's focus on balance and drinkability.
Are there different types of Schwarzbier beers?
While Schwarzbier is a distinct style, there are variations within the category. Some Schwarzbiers may lean slightly more toward the roasted flavors, while others emphasize a lighter and crisper profile. These variations often reflect regional preferences and the creative approaches of different breweries.
What's the correct temperature for serving Schwarzbier?
Schwarzbier is best served slightly cooler than room temperature, typically around 45-50°F (7-10°C). This temperature range allows the roasted malt flavors to be noticeable while ensuring a refreshing experience.
What are some popular brands of Schwarzbier?
Numerous breweries produce excellent Schwarzbier examples. A few renowned brands include:
- Köstritzer Schwarzbier: One of the most famous and widely available Schwarzbier brands, known for its balanced flavor profile and smooth finish.
- Kulmbacher Mönchshof Schwarzbier: A traditional representation of the style, with roasted malt flavors and a slightly sweet finish.
- Einbecker Schwarzbier: Another classic example, offering a harmonious blend of roasted malt character and a crisp body.
These brands are a good starting point for exploring the diverse world of Schwarzbier.
Why does Schwarzbier have a black color?
Schwarzbier's dark color comes from the use of roasted malts like roasted barley or chocolate malt. During the malting process, these grains are roasted at higher temperatures, leading to the development of darker color compounds. These malts are used in the brewing process to achieve the characteristic black hue of Schwarzbier.
How does the brewing process affect Schwarzbier's flavor?
The brewing process significantly impacts Schwarzbier's flavor. The use of roasted malts contributes to its chocolate and coffee-like flavors. The choice of hops provides a gentle bitterness that balances the malt sweetness. The fermentation and lagering process allows the flavors to meld and results in the beer's smooth and clean finish.
Is Schwarzbier beer good for beginners?
Schwarzbier's smoothness and balanced flavors make it a suitable choice for beginners interested in exploring darker beer styles. Its roasted malt character is present but not overpowering, offering a gentle introduction to the world of dark beers.
Where can I buy the best Schwarzbier beers?
Schwarzbier beers can be found in various craft beer shops, liquor stores, and online retailers. Many breweries that specialize in lager styles, particularly German-inspired ones, offer Schwarzbier as part of their lineup. Exploring local breweries and specialty beer stores can help you discover a selection of Schwarzbier options.