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February 22nd, 2012 MARTIN CIZMAR | Drank
 

Drank: Schwarz (Heater Allen Brewing)

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Not many American craft brewers count a Pilsner—the stalwart style that includes big names like Beck’s and Stella—as their signature brew. For marketing purposes, they’re probably too close to their mass-produced and much-cheaper American cousins to convert fans. McMinnville’s Heater Allen Brewing, which focuses on German-style lagers, makes a great Pils that’s bright and refreshing with malty depth. The same balancing impulse recently drove brewer Rick Allen to tone down the smoke in his Schwarz dark lager. The resulting brew, which has only two-thirds as much smoked malt as it did when first released, is subtly impressive. Schwarzbiers are German beers similar to English porters and stouts in their black color and cocoa and coffee flavors. Heater Allen’s Schwarz has a little black coffee acridity and a lot of mild fruitcake-type nutty sweetness. Too many craft brewers make smoked malt beers that taste like ashtrays; Allen’s reconsidered restraint is appreciated. Recommended.

 
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