Devil's Backbone "Schwartz Bier" German Style Black Lager

The Devil's Backbone Brewing Company is trying, and I give them credit for it. A proper black lager is hard to get right, and even good brewers can get it horribly wrong. How will this small Lexington-based brewer deal with something this complex? Well, I hope they figure this puzzle out.

The suitably black beer has a ruby fringe to it and a very thin tan head. The tiny patch of bubbles that remains on the top is just enough to let you know that this beer isn't flat, but it's calm. The aroma is smoked oats, vanilla, nuts, and coffee.

First sip is more chocolate than I could smell. The carbonation is notable for its splashy kind of smack and run on the tongue. It still has the stuff from the aroma, but I don't know that I can really pick out the best of the beer. I suspect this will take a proper gulp.

Tip-in is kind of harsh with a buzz of carbonation just dulling everything around it in an icy shower of bubbling. Somewhere in the back, barley and chocolate scream for attention, but they get very little. The middle hits with a deep and smooth smokey oat and other grains with a hint of coffee around the edge. The finish is a real power finale with a sudden dropping of a malt hammer with the coffee getting stronger, the hint of chocolate and vanilla popping up and dropping away quickly, and the nuts just hanging around trying to be seen.

Bottom Line: A delightfully complex beverage that is simple enough to mindlessly enjoy or deeply contemplate.

3.75/5

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