Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘Schwarzbier’

Go With The Flow: Xingu Black Beer

June 29th, 2011 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Xingu is a journey worth taking

One of my favorite Schwarzbiers has a rather unique history to it. Named after the Xingu River in the Amazon rainforest, it’s brewed from an ancient tribal recipe that was noted by explorers to the region as early as 1557.

Xingu Black Beer (Cervejaria Sul Brasileira; Santa Maria – RS; Brazil; Schwarzbier; ABV: 4.7) is a full-bodied jet black lager. Xingu has rich notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt complimented by dark fruit and spices with a smooth creamy finish. The coco like character of the silky, well balanced Xingu gives this lager the feel of a porter or sweet stout, making for a nice exotic session beer.

Speaking of the Xingu River, the brewery supports efforts to preserve the region and its indigenous tribes through the Y Ikatu Xingu organization. So you can enjoy this exceptional beer knowing that it’s going to a great cause as well!

Bright Lights Brew City: Take Flight

December 16th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Magic Hat has brewed a beer to Howl for

After a fun filled weekend in the City, it was time to head back to Florida. After going through security, I stopped by one of my favorite airport bars to grab lunch and have a pint or two. The NY Sports Grill, located in Terminal 5 at JFK, is a little gem of a pub. Along with a decent bar menu, it has 48 beers on tap, with something for everyone. I decided to try the Winter lager from Magic Hat.

Magic Hat Howl (Magic Hat Brewing Co.; South Burlington, VT; Schwarzbier; ABV: 4.6), also known as Magic Hat Howl Black As Night Winter Lager, is the best schwarzbier I’ve had since Sprecher Black Bavarian. Brownish black in color, Howl has subtle notes of sweet chocolate and caramel complimented by roasted malt and light floral hops with a crisp clean aftertaste. The velvety Howl is well balanced, and at 4.6%, it’s a perfect session beer for Winter. It paired well with the Kobe beef sliders that I ordered for lunch.

Kudos to Magic Hat for crafting a schwarzbier to howl about. It was a fitting end to my New York adventure.

In addition to the NY Sports Grill, there are quite a few excellent brewpubs at airports throughout the country where frequent fliers and weary travelers can enjoy libations before taking flight. has put together a nice city-by-city guide at the website listed below.

Spin The Wheel

November 15th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Stone has brewed one truly Epic ale

Stone has brewed one truly Epic ale

There’s an old saying that to win at roulette, you should always bet on black. And there were several dark beers that I tried over the past week that are winners in their own right.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale (Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6) is an absolutely outstanding Belgian strong ale. Brewed on a limited basis annually, Epic is both smooth and complex. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, vanilla, orange peel, and spices. The ABV of nearly 9% isn’t very noticeable either, so this ale can definitely sneak up on you. Quite frankly, I like it even better than Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), and compare it favorably to another outstanding Belgium, Gulden Draak Dark Triple (Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.; Ertvelde, Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 10.5). Kudos to Stone for brewing this excellent ale.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY (Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0) has been getting a lot of hype recently, and since I’m a fan of the brewery, it made sense to give this beer a try. I’m pleased to report that this is an excellent stout, with a big bold presence. The taste is an array of milk chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Comparable to other outstanding imperial stouts such as Brooklyn Black Ops, Ten Fidy is definitely a beer to be savored.

Keweenaw Widow Maker Black Ale (Keweenaw Brewing Co.; Houghton, MI; Schwarzbier; ABV: 5.2) turned out to be a pleasant surprise. This schwarzbier is quite smooth and very drinkable, with the light chocolate taste balanced by hints of roasted malt, toffee, dark fruit, & nuts. This ale can definitely be a session beer, as it’s a lighter alternative to such outstanding schwarzbiers as Sprecher Black Bavarian.

Last but not least, I asked Tim, the bartender at WOB, to make me a Black Death. A fusion of Guinness Extra Stout & Rogue Dead Guy Ale, this combination was first made famous at The Flying Saucer. Needless to say, it was as good as advertised, and highly recommended.

Planes, Trains & No Automobiles

August 13th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The Space Needle was a great place to have a beer...

The Space Needle was a great place to have a beer...

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

No rental car, no problem. The Pacific Northwest has some of the best public transportation around. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, and spent a considerable amount of time exploring Seattle. Anne & I even took a shuttle down to Portland to pay The City of Roses a visit. The area has a lot to offer, particularly in the way of beers. Most of the restaurants have an extensive beer list in addition to the breweries & brewpubs. And where else can you enjoy a refreshing Scuttlebutt Amber (Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.; Everett, WA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.1), while catching a magnificent view of Seattle’s skyline, than atop the Space Needle? Or watch an art film, e.g. The Girl From Monaco, in a trendy theater in downtown Portland while savoring a Hopworks Organic Velvet ESB (Hopworks Urban Brewery; Portland Oregon; English Session; ABV: 5.2)? There’s a beer for everyone here, from the outstanding local brews, thru microbrews from around the country, with a few imports thrown in for good measure. It was even IPA Week at the Tap House Grill, with 40 on tap!

I sampled dozens of beers during this trip, and in addition to the beers mentioned above, as well as last week’s post, have compiled an additional list of my local favorites. I’ll call it the Drinking Dozen:

Boundary Bay IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.4. A more subtle version of their Imperial IPA. A crisp array of Cascade hops & roasted malt, with a nice piney finish. I enjoyed this on tap as well as cask.

Total Domination IPA; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; India Pale Ale; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. This is a crisp, smooth tasting IPA. The citrusy hops, particularly grapefruit, is noticeable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Terminal Gravity IPA; Terminal Gravity Brewing Co.; Enterprise, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9. This IPA has a big reputation in the Northwest, and it’s well deserved. The big citrusy hops up front are complimented by hints of caramel & a sweet malt finish.

Hop Henge Experimental IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8. A big, bold hopbomb. The citrusy hops hit you up front, and are balanced by sweet caramel & a piney finish.

Inversion IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8. A kinder, gentler IPA than the hopbomb Hop Henge. A nice array of citrusy hops & caramel.

African Amber; Mac & Jack’s Brewery; Redmond, WA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2. Very refreshing. The citrusy hops up front are well balanced by sweet malt & a piney finish.

Rogue Brutal Bitter Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB); ABV: 6.5. The beer of choice for the staff at Rogue PDX. Comparable to the classic English ESBs. The sweet, creamy taste is complimented by toasted malt & a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Rogue Chipotle Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Chile Beer; ABV: 5.5. The hops & malt up front give way to a wonderfully spicy finish. This ranks with Dogfish Midas Touch Golden Elixir (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 9.0) as my favorite eclectic beer.

The Horror Belgian Stout; Elysian Brewing Co.; Seattle, WA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 9.0. Oh the horror! Very drinkable stout despite the high ABV. The taste is an array of light chocolate, roasted malt, & coffee.

Cascade Lakes 20 Inch Brown; Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.; Redmond, OR; English Brown Ale; ABV: 5.4. This ale has a sweet nutty flavor, with hints of chocolate & Cascade hops. Comparable to a classic English Brown Ale.

Hale’s Cream Ale; Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub; Seattle, WA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 4.9. An excellent session beer. The creamy, caramel taste is complimented by hints of roasted malt & a light, citrusy hop finish.

Haywire Organic Hefeweizen; Pyramid Breweries, Inc.; Seattle, WA; Hefeweizen; ABV: 5.2. A very crisp & refreshing hefe. The wheat is well balanced by citrusy hops & sweet malt.

In addition to the local talent, there were several non local beers worth noting:

Southern Tier Unearthly; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0. This was my favorite during IPA Week. Easily the best IPA from the East, and quite possibly the best period. Unearthly more than holds its own with its West Coast counterparts. A wonderful full bodied Imperial IPA, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. Very smooth for a hop bomb!

Pliny The Elder; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another big & bold IPA with a surprisingly smooth taste. I was dying to try this beer based on what I had heard. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean. Pliny The Elder has the reputation on many beer sites as being The IPA, although I would still take Unearthly & even Green Flash Imperial IPA over it.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale; New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 5.5. While their excellent Fat Tire is better known, this is actually the best beer produced by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it back here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate. It’s similar to a schwarzbier such as Sprecher Black Bavarian, but is even better.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock, & it was great to have it again. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Wunderbar!

We had a great time in the Pacific Northwest, & plan to come back for another visit in the not too distant future. It’s not hard to see why more & more people are calling it home.

Black Irish

March 23rd, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Made the rounds this past Tuesday in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Plenty of corn beef & cabbage, “green” beer, etc. While the “wearing of the green” is the theme for this day, 2 beers with a black label stood out for me.

The first was Sprecher’s Black Bavarian, an excellent, very drinkable schwarzbier. A nice chocolate & roasted malt taste up front, with only a slightly bitter aftertaste. The second was Broughton’s Black Douglas Ale, a smooth & crisp tasting Scottish Ale. It had a sweet malty taste balanced by dark fruit & toasted nuts.

Tried another beer by Broughton, Merlin’s Ale, before calling it a night. I found it surprisingly light for an ESB, which tend to be more full bodied. Sweet fruit up front, with a hint of light hops & malt.

Beer Review:

Black Bavarian; Sprecher Brewing Co.; Glendale, WI; Schwarzbier; ABV: 5.9. A nice chocolate & roasted malt taste up front, with only a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Black Douglas Ale; Broughton Ales Ltd.; Broughton, Bigger, Scotland (UK); Scottish Ale; ABV: 5.2. Sweet malty taste balanced by dark fruit & toasted nuts.

Merlin’s Ale; Broughton Ales Ltd.; Broughton, Bigger, Scotland (UK); Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB); ABV: 4.2. Surprisingly light for an ESB.