Shiner Bohemian Black Lager
This is a John and Dad sit down and have a beer on Thursday night over Skype just like our forefathers used to review and today we’re hitting the Shiner Black Lager – technically the Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Interesting story on the Bohemian Black Lager – it was originally introduced as one of Shiner’s anniversary beers as they were working towards their 100th anniversary of brewing. It was then known as the Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager (in 2006). It proved popular enough though that in 2008 they made it a permanent part of their lineup.
The Bohemian Black Lager, as well as all Shiner beer, comes to us from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. It is a schwarzbier (which is just German for “black beer”) and is Shiner’s darkest brew. Schwarzbiers can be tough to stereotype due to the looseness of the definition of black beer. Some of the best schwarzbiers we’ve done really come in strong with coffee, roasted and smoke flavors, which you’d think all schwarzbiers would, but they don’t have to. Well, they do if they want good ratings here at The BeerFathers, but we digress. We try to put those characteristics into black beers as we tend to identify black beers with stouts but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Remember, a schwarzbier is a lager, so you’re not always going to get some of the strong ale characteristics in the beer.
The Black Lager packs a 4.9% ABV into a 12 oz bottle. It comes in at 18 IBUs and for our review we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 53.8 F. Our initial pour yielded an average 1 1/2″ frothy light brown head that left no lacing as it dissipated quickly into the dark brown to black body. Though dark, the body clarity is clear. There was little to no discernible carbonation in the brew.
It has a general “sweet” smell to it that’s nice. For our full-on sniffy sniff we got only a handful of aromas: chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and milk. It’s a pretty thin smell, even with the nice sweetness.
Our initial flavors struck us with a light to moderate sweet and a light bitter, followed in the finish by a light sweet, light to moderate bitter and a light acidic. The flavors hold fairly true to the aromas – chocolate, coffee and roasted malts, but we dropped the milk from the smell and got a hint of light black licorice on the taste. The overall taste is somewhat bland – it tastes “dark” but there’s almost no finish to it. The finish that is there is odd – almost like tasting the dark part of the grain.
Thankfully the finish length is short. The mouthfeel is dry and the tongue hit is in the middle. There was no body lacing to speak of and on the malt to hop scale it comes in 1.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side.
For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable and balance, but a no to repeatable, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.
Perhaps other schwarzbiers have ruined us, but this one just didn’t bring it. There’s just no depth to it. It’s like a big mouthful of not too much. Granted it is a lager, but we’ve done some other schwarzbiers before that have at least blown one sock off. I think we wanted it to be more like a stout or at least some of the other schwarzbiers we’ve done, but it’s just not there.
It’s got a malty taste but no bold flavors and that’s what it needs – some boldness. It’s just a little too subdued. The malts that are there are just too thin and it needs a more robust mouthfeel to it – more creaminess. The bitter at the finish seems more malt than hop based, surprising as schwarzbiers tend to get their bitterness solely from the hops, but as we said before schwarzbiers can be tough to characterize. It’s actually a bit annoying towards the finish. Perhaps we need to try it colder than we did it, but a well crafted beer should hold up in the 50 degree range and this one just doesn’t do that.
We like to say “May the schwarzbier be with you,” but if it is we hope it’s not this one.
Shiner Bohemian Black Lager Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)
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