For a while there, everyone was talking about and brewing Rye IPAs, us included. This was due largely to the fact that this hybrid style was selected for the 2012 Garrison Ultimate Brew-Off, an annual home brewing competition in which the winning entry becomes a limited-edition Garrison seasonal. This year's competition was capped off with an awards gala on March 22, in which Niagara College student Kellye Robertson was named the victor. The gala also marked the release of bottles of last year's winning entry, a Schwarzbier under the label, 'Adam und Eric's Neuschottland Schwarz.' (Neuschottland = Nova Scotia. Nice touch!)
|I see your Schwarz is as big as mine!|
We were eager to check out this black lager, and picked up a few bottles at the brewery last Friday. We admit that we're not well-acquainted with Schwarzbier, but understand it to be a relative of Dunkel, with which we have some recent experience.
Also known as Schwarzpils, or Black Pils, we expected the Schwarz to be light in body, but darker in colour and taste. Off the pour, it seemed to fit the bill nicely, with a dark auburn colour that picked up a distinct reddish hue in the afternoon sunlight. The head was thick and creamy but dissipated rapidly, with a pleasant (albeit unassertive) roasty-floral nose. Taking a swig revealed a nice bitter nudge up front, which quickly mellowed into a dry, roasty-malt finish. The body and mouthfeel were light and clean, as you'd expect from a lager, giving it a sessionable quality (especially when compared to some of Garrison's other offerings - we're looking at you, Ol' Fog Burner).
Overall, the Schwarz is an excellent representation of the style, or at least what we perceive the style to be. It isn't overly complex, but it doesn't need to be. It's a refreshing lager, and offers a flavour profile that's a welcome departure from most mainstream offerings. When the warm weather from last week finally makes its triumphant return, we look forward to drinking a Schwarz on a sunny patio somewhere in the Darkside.