Tasting the Monchshof Schwarzbier

What do you know about dark beers? Do you believe that they are all heavy and rich? That they should be be thick and creamy with a huge density that you could relate to a roast beef sandwich? Before you read on, let me assure you that this does not have to be the case. The world of beer is filled with stereotypes, misconceptions, and myths – this happens to be one of them. The idea that all dark beer is rich and robust proves how little the general public really knows about real beer. But the best way to fix a lack of understanding is a touch of experience, and thats where the fun begins.

There is also no better place to begin that the Monchshof Schwarzbier, a German Schwarzbier of unparalleled quality and heritage. This Schwarzbier defines the style – it comes in a 500ml German swing-top bottle, is 4.9% avb, has clean and moderately light malt and roast flavors, shows cocoa a touch of bitter chocolate at the end, and looks magnificent in a glass mug.

This style of beer, although may seem menacing and dark, is a crisply clean lager. The yeast that creates rich body, fruity flavors, thick malts and deep and penetrating character will not be found in this beer. Instead, the yeast that creates clean, smooth and elegant beers is used; one that lets the malts shine through on its own and requires a longer period of maturation in the cold – lager yeast. This is all what you should expect from this beer, and then some.

I opened the swing-cap bottle cool around 8C (45F) and poured it into a glass mug. Its not often anymore that I pour beer into a mug; they don’t trap the flavors and aromas of a real beer very well, and the thick walls can distort the color and appearance of the beer. The Monchshof Schwarzbier seems to have been designed for this type of vessel though, and I can think of no beer better suited for a clean glass mug.

The pour was very easy and clean building a rush of foam initially, then resting gently as the beer rose creating a 1 and a half inch tan to khaki colored head. The beer glowed rich brown and black from the center, but  shone with amber rich burgundy, deep reds and golden browns with light touches of dark copper towards the edges. It was completely transparent, although relatively dark, but not black. I loved the creamy and airy froth of the foam. Very appetizing.

The nose is succulent and tantalizing; its is all soft roast, gentle dark malts, clean cocoa, creamy nuts, and hints of field freshness. Really? This out of a black beer? YES! It is not very pungent, the beer is only 4.9%, but it is very aromatic. I would love an imperial version of this! It shows great roundness of flavor, soft toasted aromas, and a creamy overall sensation. I’m ready for it.

Let in a big gulp of the Schwarzbier, and let it in easy. Really it will be easy. A cool, lightly crisp, but utterly soothing wave of clean roasted dark malts will dance over your tongue like you have never felt before (most likely never). Theres milk chocolate, creamy walnuts, almonds and hazelnut. Cocoa powder meets toast, lightly roasted coffee beans, and a hint of herbal bitterness. All of this is light, clean, silky, and supremely refreshing. This redefines what you think a black be can be.

This beer is lighter, yet more flavorful than many of the world’s best amber or pale beers. Please don’t judge a book by its cover, or a beer by its color. Cause you have no idea. The Monchshof finishes cleanly with a delicate nut and cocoa sweetness, hints of malt again and a hop freshness. A touch of dark dried fruit comes in a bit over your cheeks, but overall this beer is a smooth roasted coffee milk chocolate. In beer form of course.

This beer would be excellent with sausages, anything grilled, pub fare, soft cheeses, light chocolate or coffee deserts, and with snack food. But first, enjoy one on its own. Its worth it.


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