Jack’s Abby Brewing
Cascadian Schwarzbier Hoppy Black Lager
I’m a bigger fan of ales than I am lagers. To me, there’s more room for experimentation with ales and a wider variety of styles to explore. It may also be because when I think “lager,” I think of the Big 3. But every once in a while, a lager comes along that surprises me. It happened with New Belgium’s Shift and again the other night with the Cascadian Schwarzbier from Jack’s Abby.
I came by this bottle thanks to a trade with someone in the Northeast. Since it was an extra with some other ridiculously good beers – reviews to come! – I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was right.
First off, it’s brewed with Magnum, Cascade, Centennial, Cluster and Columbus hops in the boil, and then dry hopped again after brewing, making it a very hop-forward lager. Add that with the roasted malts and you’ve got a very smooth, clean lager with a great hop profile and a nice roasted backbone.
True to its name, it pours pitch black, although there’s a hint of brown around the edges of the glass. There’s a huge three-finger foamy and pillowy head with light lacing that melts away quickly. I’m not sure if it’s bottle conditioned, but it sure looks like it.
It’s very coffee forward on the nose with light hints of coffee and caramel. The hops are prevalent but very subdued. It smells as balanced as it tastes.
On the front of the tongue is a slight bitterness from the hops. The lager yeast gives it a very smooth mouthfeel in the middle, and then the roasted malt notes come through at the back of the throat. There’s a hint of dark chocolate that comes through more as the beer warms. The lager yeast gives the beer a really rich, smooth mouthfeel.
After the last few lagers I’ve had, I may have to rethink my opinion on them.