25 August 2007

Samuel Adams Black Lager (MA)

There aren't a ton of Schwarzbiers around. Here in New York, Saranac makes one. There's Xingu from Brazil, the classic Franconian Kulmbacher Mönchshof, and a handful of others. The style can be viewed as a lager version of stout, or perhaps one step up the ladder beyond dunkel.

The Sam Adams certainly looks like a stout, though perhaps with more light passing through. It even has a nice fluffy beige head. The taste is malty and roasted, with some hints of chocolate. Based on what I've read about the style
, this one is a bit on the sweet side and has a lower hop presence (i.e., practically none). Not that the style is ever hoppy or bitter, but some descriptions talk about a dry or crisp lager finish, which I didn't really detect. Compared with a stout, there is (of course) a huge difference in body. The Sam Adams is still pretty creamy -- medium bodied with moderate carbonation -- but isn't quite the same as a Guinness milkshake.

Facile comparisons to stout aside, I really like this. It certainly is one of the tastier lagers I've had, and would a great smooth-drinking session beer. Now I want to try one of the classic German Schwarzbiers.

Food note: the German Beer Institute suggests using black lager as a substitute for white wine in fondue. I'll have to try that too.

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