Heavenly Goat Brewing Co. Salute Your Schwarz Schwarzbier (5.0% ABV)
Pour: 32 oz. crowler into a pint glass
Appearance: Pours a medium black that turn reddish when held up to direct light. A healthy amount of thick, tan head that persists. Very little lacing.
Aroma: Not much to speak of, which is kind of to be expected for a lager. There’s something mildly earthy in the nose, likely from the hops, plus subtle toasted malt.
Flavor: Very light on the palate. Mild coffee and perhaps a hint of stone fruit up front and through the middle, mildly bitter aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Light, similar to a cold press coffee. Very clean finish that doesn’t coat the teeth or tongue.
So a few weeks ago I wrote about Granger’s Heavenly Goat Brewing Co’s and their Purveyor ESB, which has since gone on to place third in the ESB category at the Indiana Brewer’s Cup (see – I told you it was good). This week I want to talk about their Schwarzbier, the very tasty Salute Your Schwarz. I don’t think I’ve ever been to another craft brewery in the Indiana or Michigan area at has a beer of this style, which by itself piqued my curiosity enough to try it, and I immediately fell in love. In fact, I’m actually kind of surprised that I like this beer as much as I do, since I generally don’t like lagers.
But wait…what’s the difference between ale and a lager, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked…
In simplest terms, there are two main differences in the brewing process between ales and lagers: the types of yeast that are used and the temperature at which the beers ferment. Ales are generally fermented at room temperature with the same strain of yeast that’s used to bake bread, which leads in part to the widely believed misconception that ales are top-fermenting beers. Yes, the bubbles do tend to rise in fermenting ales, forming a kind of foamy head called a kräusen, but the yeast eventually sinks to the bottom of the fermentation vat. Lagers, on the other hand, generally ferment at cooler temperatures with an entirely different species of yeast.
My objection to lagers is that I find them to either be either pretty flavorless or too sweet. Most of the widely distributed domestic macrobrewery beers like Budweiser, Miller, Coors, (and PBR and Hamm’s for the hipster crowd) are either American Light Lagers or American Adjunct Lagers (meaning the brewers add cereal grains like rice or corn in order to cut costs, which also negatively impacts the flavor of the beer). The other most popular lager style in the US is probably the Vienna Lager (Sam Adams Boston Lager, Dos Equis, Negro Modelo, Great Lakes Eliot Ness), which I’ve also found to be generally lacking in character. There are other varieties that do have more flavor, like Bocks or Doppelbocks, but I’m probably wandering a bit off point here…
The Schwarzbier is essentially a German dark lager – the name literally translates to ‘black beer.’ In spite of its dark appearance, though, it’s actually a pretty light style of beer, both in terms of its body and its bitterness. It may seem strange to call a dark beer refreshing, but that’s really the best way to describe Salute Your Schwarz. This beer is a really good summer alternative for the times when you want something that isn’t heavy like an IPA but still has flavor. With mild coffee, lightly toasted malt, and a hint of stone fruit across the flavor profile and a pleasant, subtly bitter aftertaste, Salute Your Schwarz isn’t the kind of beer that’s going to wreck your palate. It’s very clean and incredibly drinkable, and at a very kind 5% ABV you can have several without worrying about getting too buzzed. So if you’re the type who likes to do some destination drinking/alcotourism, this beer is another excellent reason to add Heavenly Goat to your travel plans. There’s even a very nice hotel right next door…