Titletown Dark Helmet Schwarzbier Black Lager

Surprising to me, black lagers are actually pretty reliably above average (usually). This one is from the batch of beers from the cycle-riding co-worker who gave me a six pack of assorted beers from his trip to Milwaukee, and I am not sure I can thank him enough.

The beer is quite expectedly black, and it has a fine tan head on it that doesn't lave much lacing, but that's expected with a malt heavy brew as most lagers are. The bubbles are particularly tiny, but I don't think I would quickly mistake this for a Guinness or other nitrogenated beer. What is also a tip-off that this isn't Guinness is the smell. The aroma of burned oats and sweet malt are very distinct and easily discernible from even a fair distance.

First sip is pretty watery, but it has definite carbonation, chocolate, smoke, oats, and even a few nuts. All of it is immersed in that water, but it's more like seltzer water with the carbonation doing its thing. The many flavors, therefore, are more like little people in a small log-shaped car in a giant water ride at the amusement park; these things are having fun, but water is the main ingredient.

Tip-in is carbonation burn and smoke. The oats and even a bit of chocolate are evident right here off the bat, and they are certainly welcome enough. The middle brings a dramatic cessation of flavors. Instead, the carbonation increases a bit while the water just cleans off the palate in expectation of a more more flavorful finish. For its part, the finish is heavy oak, a bit of coffee, and bitterness from the few hops there are.

Bottom Line: Better than your average lager, but a good porter or stout might be a bit more enjoyable.



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