Grand Teton Brewing Co.
5 O’Clock Shadow Double Black Lager
Lagers have been surprising me lately, in particular black lagers/Schwarzbiers. The combination of hoppy and roasted characteristics of black IPAs and the rich smoothness of lagers is a really refreshing and enjoyable blend that I really don’t give enough chances.
It helped when Grand Teton, one of those consistently good breweries I don’t think gets enough attention, decided to put out 5 O’Clock Shadow, their take on the style. Instead of keeping it at session levels, GT bumped up the ABV to nearly 8% by increasing the crystal and roasted malts, brewing it in the typical lager style and keeping it cold conditioned for four months.
The color is a deep, deep brown that verges on black but still allows a little light through the edges of the glass, giving it a brownish amber tint. Two fingers of a pillowy brownish head top it off, but it dissolves pretty quickly. A little lacing but not much alcohol legs.
There are some hops on the nose, but the smell verges more on that of a porter – strong dark chocolate with a hint of roasted coffee behind it. There’s a slight hint of dark fruits and some caramel sweetness with a very slight hint of alcohol.
On the tip of the tongue is a subtle hop bite that give way to a medium-bodied mouthfeel. Coffee and the roasted characteristics come through toward the end but melt away into a really smooth, slight caramel sweetness. There are also bits of raisin and dark fruit flavors in there well. The yeast characteristic is very chewy, but the finish is much smoother.
This particular bottle has been cellared for about four months, so I think the hops may have died down a bit. Additionally, the fact it’s bottle conditioned probably helped bump up the sweetness. Still, it’s an incredibly smooth and drinkable Schwarzbiers that’s awfully quaffable.