Friday, December 4, 2009

Beer review: Schwartz @ Half Acre & 4 of Allagash

Magnus – Half Acre
Schwartz beer

I have not had a Schwartz beer before this, so I looked up the style on They had the following to say Schwarzbier [which I presume to be what Half-Acre is going for] is simply German for black beer. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily heavy or light in body, although they tend to lean towards light. Unlike other dark beers, like porters or stouts, they are not overly bitter with burnt and roasted malt characteristics that the others tend to depend on. Instead, hops are used for a good portion of the bitterness. Very refreshing and soul lifting beers, they also make a great alternative for the Winter. Especially when you are looking for a lighter beer, but one with depth of colour and taste.

This take on the style, presumably, is pretty loyal to Beer Advocates’ description.
The beer is rather dark, like dark mahogany, but is not opaque.
Pour = No head retention to speak of.
Aroma = not quite chocolate, but black malt. Cannot decipher the aroma hops.
Taste = light coffee, little bit of smoked malt.

It is a good beer from a very capable brewery. I am really looking forward to trying more from Half-Acre.

Four – Allagash Brewing Company

Allagash’s info for this beer = Allagash Four is brewed with four malts, four hops, four sugars and four Belgian yeast strains. During the mashing process, we add Date Sugar to the mash tun. Later, during the boil, we add Light Candi, Dark Candi, and Light Golden Molasses. After primary fermentation with the first strain of yeast, we add more Candi Sugar, and referment the beer with a secondary strain of yeast... that process is then repeated with a third strain of yeast, and finally a fourth for bottle conditioning in the cellar.
After reading the description, I am intensely curious as to what malts, hops, sugars and yeast strains were used for this beer. Brown and/or cane sugar? Centennial/Fuggle hops? The unknown is tough, but we beer fans must power through aye?
This beer has the expected Belgian aromatic characteristics (light & fizzy), but there is also an aire of tartness. I figure this tartness is due to the intermingling of the yeast strains. It is not entirely unwanted, but not being a fan of tart beers has my opinion of this beer at a disadvantage.
The color of this beer is of light shining through a melted, dripping wad of unfiltered caramel.
The taste of the beer provides a nice sized stage for the molasses and malt. The hops used are not immediately evident (and only faintly so aromatically). Beyond that the candi sugar partners nicely with the caramel malt. Will need to experiment with this pairing in my own beer recipes.

In the end, this is an appreciated job but I am not so sure i'd purchase this beer again.

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