Cascading brownish tan bubbles provide nice visual accessory while pouring frothy-headed ruby-maroon Schwarzbier. Way too slick on the blanched backend (and a tad phenol besides) to recommend to serious dark lager admirers. Yet chalky nuttiness, black chocolate coarseness, fig-licorice twinge and evasive blackened wood bitterness nearly make up for poor cardboard finish.
Luminescent chestnut-hued dark brew counters lighter Heineken Lager’s astringent bitterness by straying from typical yeast-soured hop pungency characteristic of most Dutch brews. Pleasing sweet caramel nose leads to roasted barleymalt mouthfeel dominating sweet ‘n sour chocolate, cocoa, and coffee. But timid finish and fizzy assertion block much-needed grain inertia.
In the 1970s, Lowenbrau and Beck’s were thankfully imported into a dire U.S. macrobrew market, but when Miller took over the formula for American consumption, flavor and strength dissipated. It has now lost its edge to more authentic microbrews. The American version lacked complexity. As for the bubbly-headed Swiss variety, mildly bitter hop nose detected amongst dark malt pungency and clammy sour vegetal sag. Try instead the creamier, tangier imported version from Germany on tap for a four star adventure.
Bottled in ’96, consumed in 2002, idiomatic 10-month-aged full-bodied lager warms like a spectacular dessert treat, bringing ripe cherry overtones and dry plum intimacy to its capacious chocolate liqueur center. Sweet raisin and sour prune juxtaposing heavy cream finish catapults prune-hued Swiss variant to exalted grandeur its Austrian version also maintains. Barleywine, burgundy, and brandy lovers should indulge in its complexity.
Extremely versatile medium-bodied English lager miles beyond simply obvious malted grain-enamored competition (presently brewed by Canada’s Sleeman). In original ’60s British incarnation, much-benigned brew gained popularity via controversial sloganeering. But bittersweet sherry sweetness rules! Rich mocha malt extract and persistent hop pop firm up grainy bottom end. Faint fruitiness fades in and out. Easily one of the most enjoyable lagers available, despite underserved negativity.
Hefty 9% alcohol strong lager placates sweet barley-roasted caramel malting with sullen citric-herbal wisp. Yet despite undeniable strength, bronze-hazed Pol needs more pronounced lemon-peppered finish and better all around distinction. Miserly green apple tartness and slick yeast musk don’t help matters.