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Schwarzwald Black Lager Brew Day

I was contacted by the nice folks at Midwest Supplies a few weeks ago asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their kits and/or doing a article or two for them. I was happy to take them up on their offer and I grabbed their Schwarzwald Black Lager kit. The beer is modeled after a traditional German Schwarzbier (German for black lager). It’s a beer style that I have always liked, but never attempted to brew.

I really like the box that this beer kit ships in. I should quickly note that this is the first partial mash beer that I have done in three or four years. The kit comes with some grain, a half gallon of liquid malt extra, hops, yeast, Sinamar color extract, and everything else that you would need to brew this beer ingredient wise. Midwest puts sticker on the side of the box to let you know what you should find in the kit as well as the expected color of the beer.

I followed the included directions to the “T” so that I could accurately review this beer kit. The grains that came with my kit did not appear to be crush so I sent them through the grain mill and filled my muslin bag with them. I heated 2 gallons of water to 155 degree and steeped the grains for a half hour. After the half hour, I removed the pot from the burned and let grains sit in the water for another ten minutes. You can see the color change that took place during that time below.

I removed the grains an put them in the box that the kit came in (a nice and easy way to dispose of your spent grains). I only made one change from the directions and added a gallon of water before adding the liquid malt extract and boiling. I did this because I didn’t want to scorch the extract and come away with a “homebrewed flavor.” After boiling and adding the hops as described in the directions I cooled the wort and added two and a half gallons of additional water. I then shook the carboy to oxygenate the wort and added the yeast. The final product looks like this.

My basement is sitting right around 57 degrees at this time of the year, which is perfect for primary fermentation. I’ll leave it in the carboy for two weeks and then transfer to another carboy that will be held at a colder temperature for eight weeks or so. As of right now the carboy is sitting with all of her brothers and sisters.

I’ll give an update to this one after I get a first tasting.

Beer Review #85 Howl Winter Seasonal

Today’s winter seasonal comes from another Vermont brewery, Magic Hat. Magic Hat Brewing Company is based in South Burlington, Vermont and is one of the larger craft breweries around. This winter beer is classified as a Schwarzbier which is German for black beer. Those Germans sure love their compound words. From my experience they have been light in body and are wonderfully roasty in flavor. Let’s see if Howl meets my prior expectations.

Howl Winter Seasonal pours a very deep brown to black with a nice tan head. If you tilt your glass so that the beer is thin on the edges you can see that it is clear. The aroma coming from this beer is really nice. It is a mix of dark chocolates and roasted coffee. It is not overpowering, but subtle and nice. There is also some slight smoky smells in there.

The taste is nice and smoky. It is super roasty, but not in a biting way. There is a bit of a hop flavor on the end, but it is very slight. Balance is the real shinning point for this beer, everything is just perfect. It’s dark, but not really fully of spices of alcohol. Heck, this beer comes in at only 4.6% ABV. It’s not your typical winter beer, but it does such of nice job of delivering flavors that I don’t mind. Howl really helped me remember how much I like this style of beer. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do. It is something a bit different, but very wonderful.