Posts Tagged ‘dark lager’

Harvestmoon Schwarz (369 of 1001)

December 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.6

One of my last few Japanese beers for a while now, this one being another offering that features in the 1001 beers list and is a bottle that I managed to pick up on my last day in Japan when I spotted it after two plus weeks of looking, finding it in a Liquors Hasegawa store in Tokyo Station before heading back to the airport for my flight home. The bottle I picked up appears to be a 2014 release from the brewery, one from a year that also seen the beer win a silver medal at the Monde Selection awards and this one also marks the fifteenth Japanese beer from the 1001 list that I’ll have reviewed here with the majority being beers that I tried in Japan and leaves another seven to go, although I do have a bottle of one of those still waiting to be tried soon.

Appearance (4/5): Pitch black and opaque looking, this one was very dark with a thin head that sat about half a centimetre tall and was a light beige colour, fading to a thin lacing after a minute or so with some break up around the edges too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite an unexpected nose from this one, there was a lot of roasted malts and dark notes in the early going with far more smoke than anticipated too. Further on there was a coffee bitterness that had a subtle sweetness sitting behind it and some dark, rich smells before a hint of caramel featured towards the end and some grains rounded things off.
Taste (7/10): Caramel malts and a nice sweetness kick things off with the taste, there was a lot of roasted malts and grains not too far behind though with most of them carrying over from the nose. It was again quite a rich beer with some chocolate and earthy flavours around the middle then some of the smoke from the nose making itself known. Towards the end some wood flavours and a little cocoa featured with further sweetness from some vanilla pods seeing things out alongside hints of coffee bitterness.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied, bordering on full at times with a thick feel and plenty of smoke featuring through. This one was a dark and rich offering that was dry towards the end and had plenty of bitterness, mainly from the coffee and roasted malts but it was balanced with some sweetness in there as well thankfully and wasn’t too hard to drink.

Overall (14/20): This one turned out to be quite an interesting offering with nice variety to the beer and a good balance too that helped make it relatively easy to drink. It seemed like it was a stronger offering than the 4.5% abv. on the bottle but this was mainly down to the complexity of the beer rather than any strong alcohol flavours but it was quite a dark and smoky beer too. Further on and some nice sweetness helped to balance things out with the beer, some chocolate flavours featuring to help out but it was the vanilla pods that contributed most in this respect and kept things interesting through; a solid effort and one worth looking out for if you’re in Japan but probably not a beer that I’d go searching for again.

Brewed In: Maihama, Chiba, Japan
Brewery: Roti’s House Harvestmoon Brewery
First Brewed: 2000
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: 4.5%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Liquors Hasegawa (Tokyo Station, Tokyo)
Price: ¥518 (£3.43 approx.)


Asahi Super Dry Black

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.4

Not to be confused with the similarly named Asahi Black that I reviewed here a few years ago, this one is another dark beer from the brewery that I managed to try in Japan last month and one that is also my penultimate new offering from the brewery that I tried in the country. Seemingly a 2012 release, this one is a newer beer that their Asahi Black (or Asahi Kuronama as it is sometimes known) but unlike that offering, this one isn’t a beer that features in the 1001 beers list sadly. I managed to try this one in a Tokyo whale meat restaurant on my last full night in Japan and opted for it as the only non-pale lager on the menu despite it being one that I had already tried early on my trip to Japan; it is also a nice one to check off since it doesn’t appear to be an Asahi beer that is readily available in the UK either.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark mahogany to black in colour and sitting with an opaque body, this one has quite a thin head on top that sits just under a centimetre tall but fades to a thin surface lacing after about thirty seconds, with a little more build up around the edges at least.
Aroma (6/10): Darker malts and some roasted notes kick things off here, there was some earthy bitterness and light coffee in the early going too but neither overpowered thankfully. A little further on there was some grassy smells and a little sweetness but it was quite a basic, almost weak nose at times.
Taste (7/10): The beer opens with some dark and roasted malts, there was some chocolate showing too which provided an early sweetness that only showed towards the end of the taste. Around the middle some grains and subtle hops featured with a few touches of hay before coffee and earthy malts seen things out nicely.
Palate (3/5): Medium bodied and not overly dry despite the name, the beer was dark and bordered on fresh with a subtle hop bitterness that fades and turns almost watery further on. It was however an easy to drink beer with a nice balance without it being anything overly special on the way down.

Overall (14/20): This one was a fairly enjoyable offering from Asahi and a nice change from the usual pale lagers I was drinking with dinner most nights in Japan, this one was lively and fresh with a slightly dry feel at the end. There was plenty of roasted and dark malts throughout with some grains, hay and grassy hops working well together to help this one go down easily enough.

Brewed In: Tokyo, Japan
Brewery: Asahi Breweries
First Brewed:  2012
Type: Schwarzbier/Black Lager
ABV: 5.5%
Serving: Bottle (334ml)
Purchased: Kujiraya, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Price: ¥450 (£2.98 approx.)

Bock Damm (350 of 1001)

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Rating: 2.9

The second ever beer brewed by Barcelona’s Damm brewery and introduced way back in 1888, this beer is still one of the most popular dark beers brewed in a country those beer scene is almost completely dominated by pale, blond lagers. This one is a beer that features on the 1001 beers list and as a result is one that I’ve been looking to try on my last few trips to Spain but was surprisingly unable to find it one previous visits before finally stumbling across it at the tail end of last month when returning to Barcelona. The beer is actually available in a number of pubs and some supermarkets in the city which makes it all the more odd that I wasn’t able to pick it up sooner but I eventually sampled a pint of the stuff in a local bar just off the Placa Reial in Barcelona city centre just over a week ago. Despite the name of the beer, this ‘bock’ is actually much closer to a Munich style dunkel lager and due to it’s lack of bitterness was in the past aimed at female drinkers in its advertising campaigns while the bottle itself features the image of a goat which was added as a play on the fact that the word ‘bock’ translates from German as billy-goat.

Appearance (3/5): Dark mahogany coloured with an opaque body and quite a thin head on top that was a foamy texture and slightly off-white in colour; there’s was some touches of lacing on the sides of the glass and the surface was covered well too.
Aroma (6/10): Quite nutty on the nose initially with some basic roasted notes and malts coming through in the early going, there was a touch of caramel in there too. The beer turned out to be lighter than expected on the nose which was surprising given it was such a dark beer but some hints of sweetness did manage to appear alongside some grassy touches nearer the end.
Taste (6/10): The taste started off in much the same vein as the nose with a lot of nutty flavours and some lighter caramel sweetness backing it up, there was faint biscuit and some roasted malts in there too. Around the middle I managed to get some lighter grassy flavours but there was no sign of any hops or bitterness and it came across as quite a basic offering.
Palate (3/5): Light-medium bodied and moderately carbonated, this one was a semi-sweet offering thanks to the touches of caramel coming through at times. There was a fairly basic feel to the beer and it seemed a lot lighter than expected too but the balance was a decent one and it proved easy enough to drink without being an overly enjoyable one.

Overall (10/20): Quite a basic dark beer that wasn’t quite as strong or as pronounced as I’d been expected with the majority of the taste coming through the roasted malts and faint caramel that featured throughout. There was no sign of any bitterness or hops to the beer which sadly made it seem quite bland and basic but the light sweetness off the back of the caramel was at least somewhat enjoyable. It’s definitely not a beer to go hunting for but it’s always nice to check another beer off the 1001 list even if it’s not a great one.

Brewed In: Barcelona, Spain
Brewery: Damm S. A.
First Brewed: 1888
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 5.4%
Serving: Keg (500ml)
Purchased: Cerveceria Canarias, Barcelona, Spain
Price: €4.60 (£4.01 approx.)

Kill Lager

February 1, 2017 2 comments

Rating: 3.6

My first review of a beer from Trouble Brewing based in County Kildaire now although I have tried one of their beers on a previous trip to Ireland without actually reviewing it; I’m not sure exactly which of theirs I have already tried but their Graffiti session IPA seems to spring to mind. This one is another that picked up in Ireland whilst visiting over the holidays and I cracked the beer open in early January thinking it was about time I tried something from this brewery with the eye-catching labels. Being the only offering from the brewery available in the bottle shop I visited and given the cashier had recommended it, I grabbed this bottle thinking it was going to be a fairly standard pale lager offering but was pleasantly surprised upon opening it to find out it was a darker Vienna lager loaded with sweetness; here’s what I thought of it.


Appearance (3/5): Light copper in colour and fairly clear bodied, this one was still but topped with what was quite a disappointing looking, half centimetre tall head that was patchy and only covered about half of the surface.
Aroma (7/10): Opening quite sweet with some caramel and toffee notes before some bread and biscuit malts featured alongside some basic sugars. It was quite a predictable nose to the beer with some subtle earthy hops coming through with some floral backing before touches of toasted malts appeared. Towards the end there was a little freshness and some spice but it was generally quite a decent and balanced aroma.
Taste (7/10): Sweet to begin and coming through with a good mix of toffee and caramel flavours before the sugars started to appear. The biscuit malts from the nose featured and the floral touches seemed a little stronger here too, some grassy hops backing them up. Nearer the end there was again some toasted malts and faint citrus that gave the beer quite a nice, unexpected finish that was a slight improvement on the nose.
Palate (4/5): Medium bodied and a touch sweeter than I’d expected going in without being overpowering, there was a nice balance to the beer. I found this one quite crisp with a semi-dry feel to it and the odd touch of hop bitterness, particularly around the middle of the taste before the more earthy, toasted malts came through and changed this. It was a little stronger than anticipated too but carbonation levels were moderate and the beer seemed quite fresh and drinkable too.

Overall (16/20): This was a really nice beer and one that was a lot better than expected, probably helped by the fact that I’d barely read the label when I picked this one up and was anticipating a fairly standard pale lager before opening it. There was a lot of sweetness to the beer that was helped along by some caramel, toffee and biscuit flavours plus the balance wasn’t too bad either. It was moderately carbonated and quite easy to drink with some sugars and bread malts coming through and being balanced out by the odd toasted malt and floral flavour. Nice stuff from Trouble and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a few more of their beers this year.

Brewed In: Kill, County Kildare, Ireland
Brewery: Trouble Brewing
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Vienna Lager
Abv: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Reilly’s (Lisnaskea)
Price: £2.59

Plaza Vieja Negra

January 13, 2017 1 comment

Rating: 3.25

The third and final Taberna de la Muralla beer that I’ll be reviewing here and also the last review I’ve still to add from my trip to Cuba last year; likely my last review of a Cuban beer for quite some time too I’d imagine. This one is the darkest offering available at the Factoria Plaza Vieja brewpub in Havana and is probably also the darkest beer available in Cuba, certainly of all the Cuban brewed beers anyway. Like the Obscura before it, this is a beer I was really looking forward to hunting down and trying when I was in Cuba and perhaps I’d built it up a little too much in my mind because it definitely wasn’t as good as I’d expected, I actually preferred the Obscura to this one and was looking for something a little darker and malty from this beer. Still, if you find yourself in Havana then it is definitely a beer to go looking for as it’s sadly one of the better beers available in the country; something that’s more a reflection of the state of Cuban beer than on how good this one is though.


Appearance (4/5): I was expecting something a little darker but this one turned out to be a caramel amber that was reminiscent of the Obscura from the brewery and was again topped with a foamy white head that was bubbly around the edges. The body looked slightly hazy and head retention was okay as well, not a bad-looking beer so far.
Aroma (6/10): An earthy caramel nose opens things up here and there was some subtle hops following on behind that added some faint bitterness. The beer was quite dry on the nose and has a semi-sweet aroma to it with some darker malts but definitely not as many as I’d have expected. Towards the end some sugars featured and added a little to the sweetness but it could definitely have been a little stronger.
Taste (6/10): Sweet with some nice caramel malts and the odd earthy flavour to kick things off, the beer is again quite dry with a slight bit of citrus showing but it definitely wasn’t a complex beer. There was some toffee and sugars around the middle but very little else of note; still it’s not bad for a Cuban beer.
Palate (3/5): A light-medium bodied beer with a semi-sweet feel to it, this one was quite dry and balanced which allowed it to go down relatively easily. It wasn’t a complex offering but there was some slight citrus adding a subtle tang to go along with a light hop bitterness that kicked things off.

Overall (13/20): A decent third beer from this Havana based brewpub but one that definitely wasn’t as dark or malty as expected; the anticipated roasted flavours were also missing sadly. The beer as a result felt closer to an amber ale than a dark lager but it was still enjoyable given how hard it is to find a decent beer in Cuba at times. While not as good as the Obscura from the brewery in my opinion, it was better than the Clara and is still a beer well worth checking out if you happen to find it in Cuba.

Brewed In: Havana, Cuba
Brewery: Taberna de la Muralla
Full Name: Taberna de la Muralla Negra
Also Known As: Factoria Plaza Vieja Negra
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: circa 4.2%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Factoria Plaza Vieja, Havana, Cuba
Price: 2 CUC (approx. £1.56)

Schwarzer Kristall (315 of 1001)

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Translated as ‘Black Crystal, this dark schwarzbier was first introduced in 2007 and will be my fourth from the Appenzeller brewery with each of them featuring on the 1001 beers list; this brewery seems to dominate the Swiss offerings on the list. The beer itself is based on a recipe from the late 19th century but was given a few additional, modern touches as well. The beers from the brewery that I’ve tried thus far have been a fairly average bunch with the bottle of Naturperle (the first from them I reviewed here) going down best and since this one is the last from Appenzeller that I still have to review here it would be nice to go out with a good one, thankfully this beer does not disappoint in that regard. It is currently the seventh highest ranked schwarzbier on BeerAdvocate and is also highly ranked on RateBeer, sitting about forty-forth on that site.

Schwarzer Kristall

Appearance (4/5): This one poured an opaque black with a thick looking, one and a half centimetre tall beige head that is foamy and straight looking with very good retention. There is little movement over the opening couple of minutes before it eventually reduces to about half its original size.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a dark beer on the nose, I’d expected as much from the second I’d started pouring this one. There was plenty of roasted malts and coffee to kick things off, I also got a few background fruits making an early appearance too. The aroma was slightly earthy at times with some grain and a few touches of sweetness sneaking in as well. The beer was also lightly smoked on the nose with some cocoa and sugars right at the end.
Taste (8/10): This one follows on from the nose well with some nice malts, particularly the darker one but also some coffee from the nose featuring as well. The beer was definitely a dark one with sugars, grain and chocolate all making themselves known before a few dark and ripe fruits showed themselves; most notably some raisins and prunes. There was some roasted flavours and smoky flavours towards the end with some caramel seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium to full body with a few creamy patches on top of light carbonation. The beer was quite well-balanced and easy-going with some smoke showing in areas and some sweetness sneaking in too; an enjoyable mouthfeel.

Overall (16/20): This one was a really nice beer and definitely one of the better Swiss beers that I managed to try on my trip to the country. The taste of this one was good and the nose in particular was an enjoyable one with some good roasted malts and dark fruits showing themselves alongside sugars and chocolate flavours plus a touch of smoke towards the end; great stuff and very much a beer that I wouldn’t mind having again at some point.

Brewed In: Appenzell, Switzerland
Brewery: Locher Appenzeller
First Brewed: 2007
Full Name: Appenzeller Schwarzer Kristall
Type: Schwarzbier
Abv: 6.3%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Drinks of the World (Basel)
Price: 2.90 CHF (approx. £1.88)

Ueli Robur Dunkel

November 19, 2015 2 comments

Rating: 3.75

My second ever Swiss beer now, following on from the macro pale lager Feldschlössen Original, this was another beer that I managed to sample on my first day in Basel recently when I stopped by the brewpub having made a point of finding it on my trip. This one differs from the pint of Feldschlössen I had before it in that this one is more of a craft offering and is one of the first beers the Fischerstube brewery produced when it started operations back in 1974. Like all the brewery’s beers, this one falls under the ‘Ueli Bier’ banner and I opted for a large glass of this one on-tap when I spotted it in the menu since it had been a while since my last dunkel; I also managed to try some of their weizen offering when in the pub (a review of the bottled version of that beer will follow shortly).

Ueli Robur Dunkel

Appearance (4/5): Copper red and cloudy with some orange touches and a one centimetre tall, foamy white head on top that is slightly rusty with great retention over the opening couple of minutes.
Aroma (7/10): This one kicks off with plenty of sweet malts and a solid caramel backing, there is some nice sugars thrown into the mix as well and toffee notes that follow on from that. Whilst not being the strongest smelling beer out there, the beer is definitely a sweet one on the nose with some roasted malts and a few dark fruits making themselves known towards the end.
Taste (7/10): Following on closely from the nose, this one is again quite a sweet beer with a good combination of caramel and toffee malts that are backed up by some sugars and a good, malty base. There’s a few dark fruits sitting in the background and the toasted malts, biscuits and subtle bitterness all work together well.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium body and lightly carbonated, this one is very sweet and malty on the palate with some nice bitterness towards the end as well; the balance of the beer was particularly good as a result with it going down very easily indeed.

Overall (15/20): This one was quite a nice, easy going dunkel that was a major step up from the only other Swiss beer that I’ve tried to date (Feldschlössen Original) and the fact there was actually some flavour to this one was definitely a plus. There was plenty of sweetness throughout but it didn’t seem overdone and the balance was quite good with some pleasant bitterness towards the end as well.

Brewed In: Basel, Switzerland
Brewery: Brauerei Fischerstube
First Brewed: circa. 1974
Type: Dunkel
Abv: 4.8%
Serving: Draught (500ml)
Purchased: Restaurant Fischerstube, Basel, Switzerland
Price: 6.80 CHF (approx. £4.41)