Schwarzbier, or "black beer", is a German dark lager beer. It has an opaque, black color and a full, chocolatey or coffee flavor. Although they share some similar flavors they are milder tasting and less bitter than British stouts or porters, owing to the use of lager rather than ale yeast and no roasted barley.
Schwarzbiers are bottom-fermented beers, though originally top-fermenting yeast was used in brewing them. The alcohol content usually ranges from 4.8%–5%. They get their dark color from the use of particularly dark malts in brewing. The malt in turn gets its color during the roasting procedure. Dark beers are some of the original types of beers brewed, with lighter colors only becoming possible with lighter, short-roasted malts approximately one hundred and fifty years ago.
The roots of the Schwarzbier lie in Thuringia and Saxony; the oldest known Schwarzbier is Braunschweiger Mumme ("Brunswick Mum") brewed since the Middle Ages (the first documented mention is from 1390) in Braunschweig. The earliest documented mention in Thuringia is of Köstritzer from 1543, a popular Schwarzbier still produced today. Present-day Eastern Germany has many unique varieties of this style from regional breweries. It is often served with dark, chunky breads with cream cheese. It also pairs well with marinated meats like brisket and is an excellent companion to GermanSauerbraten.
A number of U.S. breweries produce Schwarzbier. The Boston, Massachusetts basedSamuel Adams distributes a Schwarzbier under the name "Samuel Adams Black Lager". Spoetzl, a 100 year old brewery in Shiner, Texas produces Shiner Bohemian Black Lager.Saranac also produces a Schwarzbier under the name "Saranac Black Forest". Iron Springs Brewery in Fairfax, CA brews one called "The Dark Path Dark Lager". TheGordon Biersch Brewing Company chain also produces and carries schwarzbier.Moonlight Brewing Company in Sonoma County California has as its flagship beer a black lager called "Death & Taxes".