Celebrate the dark side of Octoberfest with a tasty, rich Schwarzbier




BeerNav collaborates with Savage Brewing to create The Schwarz. Releases on October 1st.

A few weeks ago, I introduced BeerNav, an app that helps Washington beer lovers navigate the local beer scene while saving a few bucks along the way. (See that story.) Today, I’m telling you about a collaboration beer that BeerNav brewed with one of its many partners, Savage Brewing of Kirkland, Washington. The beer release is slated for this Saturday, October 1st at the Savage Brewing taproom in Kirkland.

The beer, dubbed “The Schwarz”, is described as a German-style Schwarzbier. Details: German-style Schwarzbier / ABV: 5.0% / IBU: 24. Hops: Hallertauer Mittlefreuh. Grain: Munich, Marris Otter, Chocolate, Malted Barley, Carahell and Carafoam. Yeast: Savage’s house German lager strain.

According to the release announcement: For Savage and BeerNav, “The Schwarz” is all about celebrating the Oktoberfest tradition, and wanting to shine a spotlight on one of the most underrated lager styles.


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“I think Schwarzbier can be misunderstood amongst craft beer drinkers in the US. Being complex, it looks like it should be a stout, but when you drink it, it is actually really light and easy”, says Will Savage.

The release announcement adds that, not just in Washington State, but across most of the country, you will only see Festbier, Marzen, and Helles lagers on tap this time of the year for Oktoberfest season. Rightfully so, but it is quite unfortunate given the countless other German styles that are also available in Munich during Oktoberfest.


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Savage and BeerNav wanted to stay predominantly true to the classic German Schwarzbier style for “The Schwarz”. With the help of the BeerNav team, the two found areas where it made sense to put a twist on the recipe, and make something completely unique and their own.

Whereas many traditional Schwarzbier recipes hold back on the malted barley and chocolate malt, we added a larger dose of that in that grain bill as supporting elements. The intent here was to play up the smokey, coffee and espresso notes that are derived, but still achieve a dark body that is crystal clear if you peer through the glass. For the base malt, nothing fancy here, just a traditional combo of Munich and Maris Otter malts. To round out the supporting cast, additions of Carahell and Carafoam add a complex caramel note and improved head retention respectively. With the final product, you have a beautifully clean, crisp body, with chocolate, coffee and roasty notes that are not overpowering by any means. Leaving you an amazing, easy drinking lighter black lager at just 5.0% ABV.


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According to the announcement, though Savage and BeerNav took a few creative liberties with the grain bill to spruce things up a bit, the remainder of the recipe development follows the German playbook for what is the
perfect Schwarzbier.

“We wanted to still pay attention to what makes a Schwarzbier a Schwarzbier”, says Savage. This was accomplished by sticking with traditional German nobel hop additions of Hallertauer Mittlefreuh at the beginning and end of the boil to give us the expected earthy, slightly spicy hop character of a German lager, and balance out the entire beer’s flavor profile and aroma.

For the yeast, Savage’s German house lager yeast did the trick for a clean fermentation with no sulphury characteristics that can commonly be found in other German lager yeast strains. Last but not least, and arguably the most important part in designing a beer, the water profile. Here, BeerNav and Savage called upon a water profile from the Kulmbach region of Bavaria, Germany; the birthplace of Schwarzbier.

The partners will release the beer this Saturday, October 1st at Savage Brewing’s taproom in Kirkland.

For more news about recent beer releases, visit the Washington Beer Blog’s New Beer Releases page.



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