We met a friend at Doc's Clock last night before an incredible show (High on Fire, with Hightower opening) and I was pleasantly suprised to find Speakeasy's Bootlegger Black on tap.
Bootlegger Black is—take a guess—a schwarzbier, weighing in at 5.3% ABV. I'm a big fan of black lagers, with their incredibly robust stout-like flavors but a lighter body that keeps the style from being too filling.
Speakeasy's version didn't disappoint in the flavor department. At first sip, I got a great smack of overtoasted malts, coffee and tobacco. Those malts gave it a mild sweetness which kept the tobacco and coffee flavors from seeming too bitter or overpowering. But I was disappointed as I gave it a swallow; the body was extremely thin and watery and it just washed the flavors away. There was an ever so slight hint of hops at the finish (didn't last) but I like a little more hops dryness to balance out all those malts.
Schwarzbiers are traditionally lighter bodied for sure and malt-heavy, but Bootlegger Black had so little body to speak of and so little hops dryness that I couldn't help but wonder what happened. Maybe after mixing up a batch of their incredible Big Daddy IPA, they found themselves short on the good stuff. Either way, what I was left with was an eminently drinkable session beer that didn't linger.
I'd absolutely recommend Bootlegger Black as a soft introduction to schwarzbiers, but if you're looking for a paradigm of the style, try to seek out Moonlight's Death and Taxes.
More Bootlegger Black reviews at: Beer Advocate and Rate Beer.