Beer Beer Beer

Beer of the Week: Shiner Bock Bohemian Black Lager

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

It's back! Though there was a solid stretch where Texas' oldest independent beer, Shiner Bock, was not available in Florida, it's back again and (hopefully) here to stay.

Not only can you get the original Bock but Spoetzl Brewing Co.'s other beers have started to show up around town. Shiner Bock Bohemian Black Lager is one of them, and I'm glad it is. This is one great example of a schwarzbier, or German black lager.

A refresher course on lagers versus ales: Lagers, unlike ales, are

generally fermented at a much lower temperature and with slightly

different yeast strains than ales. The result of that process is that

the little yeasty buggers are generally less active. Think about it

like this: When it's cold out, you generally want to hide under layers

of blankets and clothes to stay warm. Yeast do the same thing... sort

of. These bottom-fermenting yeast sink down to the depths of the brew

tank, where their hunger is a little bit subdued. They eat up less

sugars in the wort (that's unfermented beer), which in turn produces

less alcohol and less flavorful byproduct such as fruity esters. This

is the reason lagers take slightly longer to produce than ales (it's

why they're called lagers, which means "to store" in German).

It's also why lagers typically have much less flavor than ales. Flavors

like malty, nutty, roasty, and fruity are generally not associated with

lagers. Depending on who you talk to, you'll instead hear words like

clean, crisp, light, refreshing, skunky, piss-like... well, you get the


If a bock (as in Shiner Bock) is a dark form of lager made with more

sugary malts, then a schwarzbier, or black lager, is a form of lager

made with really dark, rich malts. But unlike other dark ales such as

porters and stouts (think Guinness), black lagers are not necessarily

super potent in flavor.

I like to think of it as more of a nice balance. Shiner Bohemian Black,

for example, is a very mild dark beer in comparison to thick stouts.

It's body is not heavy or thick; rather, it's light in texture with very

little carbonation or head. The flavors are mild but still present: There are hints of coffee, chocolate, raisins, dark fruit, and

vanilla. And at less than 5 percent alcohol, it won't put you under the

table after the first pint either. You can drink a ton of these and

still stay strong (unlike that other black stuff). It's a dark beer to

drink when you don't want a heavy dark beer -- just a lager with a bit

more flavor. Dig?

Find Shiner Bohemian Black Lager at Total Wine and Spirits.

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John Linn