Sprecher Black Bavarian

January 31 2011 - 9:30 AM

Bb_pint_n_pint_cold Josh and Brian, who hail from Wisconsin, will be happy to see me reviewing a Wisconsin beer.  Any denizen of Wisconsin will be proud after reading this review.  Wisconsin has a rich brewing tradition fueled by the substantial German heritage residing there.  Unfortunately, the state has, in the past, been dominated by mass brew producers that have saturated the market with enough watery lagers to fill Green Bay.  Of late, the craft brewing industry has exploded there, producing myriad unusual and delicious beers each in some way bearing Wisconsin's signature personality.  Sprecher has picked up and run with this baton and there may not be a finer example of their craft work (or should I say kraftwerk) than their Black Bavarian lager. 

I first tried this at a Brewers game around 5 years ago when I visited a craft brewing tent but was unable to spot a New Glarus beer.  This schwarzbier (German simply for black beer) is coal black but candling it reveals a reddishnes somewhat darker than the German flag. It entices you with a robust white and slightly tan head.  The aroma is piney and herbaceous with some roasted nuttiness.  The flavor knocks this one out of the park.  You get roasted malts, herbs, pine, toffee, coffee, chestnuts, dark chocolate, and a decent amount of acidity.  Its body is light enough to make this one easily sessionable; however, it sits around 6% making it no wimpy stadium lager. Handle with care.

What really puts this schwarzbier out in front for the style is the downright robust bite that grabs you upon each sip. I can't figure out whether this comes from the hop acids or the roasted malts.  This will require further research. All I know is that this beer makes you take notice and will stand up to a whiskey pairing or any spicy food with which you dare try suppress it.  Black Bavarian's not going down without a fight. This is pretty amazing stuff, folks, and there are very few beers in the country like it.

Tiny Lounge in Lincoln Square currently has it on tap, but you can also find it at Binny's or most craft brewing friendly liquor stores.  Enjoy it and feel free to belt out some drinking songs while you're at it. 

–Mark Sheppard