Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shiner - Bohemian Black Lager

You have got to respect the folks at Shiner.  They keep trying different styles and selling them for our enjoyment.  While I have not had any brews from them that are a "must-buy" or a knock-out punch to my tastebuds as of yet, I will keep buying Shiner because I like what they are doing, I want them to continue, and one of these days they are going to knock it out of the park.  This review is for their Bohemian Black Lager.  The black/gun-metal gray monochrome packaging is sweet looking and encouraging.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 5/12
This score is a little worrisome as the aroma usually foretells the fate of the beer.  Not that the smells are not interesting, they simply are not strong enough.  Right off the bat, there is a sweet roasted smell that is akin almost to roasted marshmallows.  An unusually sweet smell for a schwarzbier.  There is also a faint smell of chocolate, but any hop aroma is absent.

Appearance 3/3
Appearance is appropriate to style.  In fact, the visual is quite perfect, casting deep ruby hues behind a black translucent shade.  The beer pours like a lager, despite its dark roots, and yields a moderate-sized, loose, khaki head.  The head has excellent retention, keeping a collar to the bottom of the pint, but lacks any lacing.

Picture is my own.

Flavor 12/20
In a similar story to the aroma, there are certainly noticeable flavors, but they are meek and light.  Initial tastes yield a watery, malty taste and little of the roasted aroma.  The sweet malt then blends perfectly with a coffee flavor and remains that way through the finish.  A nice balance, even if the flavors are somewhat muted.  The after taste is remarkably clean for a black beer, but eventually reveals a spicy hop bitter and a bit of coffee.  The hop is noticeable by itself during an exhale.

Mouthfeel 3/5
This offering seems a bit light-bodied for the style.  The carbonation level is appropriate for the style, but it feels prickly and is a bit distracting.  Extremely drinkable!  It would be a very nice compliment to a sweet, charred, rack of ribs.

Overall Impression 7/10
While this beer will not win any prizes for an intense flavor, I must give it accordingly high marks for its stylistic accuracy, with the exception of a near-absence of hops.  Its light flavors are noticeable, yet light, and allow this lager to remain flavorful and extremely quaffable.

Total 30/50 (Very Good)
We cannot expect the same strong, dark, roasty flavors of a porter to some out of a black lager.  This is a different style and must be judged accordingly.  Again, I fear I may have let my bias weigh a bit heavier in this review than I should because the stylistic accuracy is very high, but my personal preference for intense flavor was not met.  However, I do feel the flavors could have been stronger, the body a bit more, and the hops present in anything more than a suggestion.  This rating says that this brew is "generally within style parameters" but could be touched up a little.  I could not agree more.  However, if you are wanting to get into black beers, stouts, imperials, and the like, I could not think of a better starting point.

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