Hopstock 2017: Cone’n The Bavarian 5% Schwarzbier/German Dark Lager

April 18, 2017

The hop harvest has been and gone, leaving nothing but fresh hop beers in its wake! Our Hopstock/fresh hop beer for 2017 is a German style with a Kiwi fresh hop treatment: Cone’n the Bavarian 5% Schwarzbier/German Dark Lager.

Take a classic German Dark Lager, annoy the puritans by maturing it on 20kg of freshly picked Nelson Sauvin hop flowers and voilà! That’s German, right?!

Bordering on Cascadian Dark Ale (Black I.P.A.) in its aromatic profile, this decadent dark lager has subtle coffee, caramel and chocolate notes, a subdued and clean bitterness and buckets of pungent hopsmelliness (made-up compound word, just like the Germans do!).
Think citrus, grapefruits and chocolate oranges, and you’re on the money. 

“Possibly, nay, probably the most challenging beer I’ve had to brew here at Fork, mainly due to the challenging filter to remove all those delicious hops!” says Kelly. 

“This Schwarzbier/German Dark Lager is a style not usually known at all for having any big hop character, so the challenge was to do this without affecting the drinkability of what is a remarkably drinkable style.”

Make no mistake, Cone’n the Bavarian embraces the hop; it’s jam-packed with super-fresh Nelson Sauvin fresh hops – around 20 grams per litre.

“These lend a classic Kiwi hop edge to this roasty, clean brew and it even reminds me a little of a low strength Black I.P.A./Cascadian Dark Ale,” says Kelly. 

Whilst he says he could wax lyrical about the history of this German beer style, he’ll believes All About Beer magazine is more eloquent in its description….

Schwarzbier – literally ‘black beer’ – is probably the longest continuously brewed beer style in the world, with its known ancestors close to three millennia in age and with definitive origins in the modern brewing cradle.

Today’s Schwarzbier combines Old World rusticity with the graceful smoothness of lagerbier, and a clean roasted edge with German malt complexity. It’s deep, ruby-black color and modest strength makes schwarzbier the lager equivalent of basic stout.

The origin of Schwarzbier lies in what, perhaps, is the most significant historical brewing region in the world: southeastern Germany, including some of Bavaria, and portions of the former Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. 

The most famous, and arguably the most important, development from there was the invention of pilsner beer less than 200 years ago in Plzen, Bohemia. But the true gems from the region are the ancient, but modernly polished styles: schwarzbier and the smoky rauchbier.

There is concrete evidence that crude schwarzbier was being brewed there as long ago as the ninth century B.C. (and undoubtedly, well before). This proof comes from an 1935 archaeological discovery seven miles west of Kulmbach in Northern Bavaria. The venture unearthed an Iron Age Celtic tomb that dated to about 800 B.C. That grave held an amphora with some residual brewing material and the charred crumbs of partially baked wheat bread, known to be the raw material for Celtic and Germanic brews of the time. Since this discovery places the oldest evidence of brewing in Central Europe in Kulmbach, and that beer was black, we can deduce that the world’s oldest, and still-produced, style of beer was schwarzbier.

Intrigued? Join us, and pillage a pint or two this Hopstock 2017!


Cone’n The Bavarian Schwarzbier/German Dark Lager Tasting Notes

Flavour: A crisp, yet malt-forward base showing whippings of caramel and lashings of subtle, roasty coffee. Balanced by a bold hop character, showing hints of white grape, key lime pie and pink grapefruit. Dry finish with medium body (unlike Conan).

Aroma: An intriguing blend of cappuccino, caramel and a fresh, grassy aromatic with hints of lemongrass, papaya and gooseberries.

Look: As dark as Thulsa Doom’s soul with a subtle tan head… possibly similar in colour to Arnold’s biceps after a winter holiday back in Austria.

Hops: Riwaka (Kettle), Nelson Sauvin Fresh Flowers (Secondary Maturation)

Malt: Pilsener, Munich, Carapils, Wheat, Dark Crystal, Carafa Special II

Yeast: Fork House Strain – cool fermented, lagered for 28 days.

ABV: 5%

IBU: 28

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