Munich Dunkel and Schwarzbier - the original Lager
The classic Bavarian dark lager is dominated by aromas of Munich dark malt: caramel, slightly chocolaty, toasty to bread or cookie - a Munich Dunkel is full-bodied, malty, mild and palatable. Schwarzbier are darker and accentuate the roasted flavors even more. They have a surprisingly light foam and are sometimes slimmer than their Bavarian siblings. What hardly anyone knows: from several hundreds of years, at the beginning of the lager beer era, all beers were dark.
Why is my Helles dark?
Nowadays, the beer styles Pilsner or Helles are associated with a lager, i.e. a bottom-fermented beer. It has become the epitome of the styles. Many people wonder why there is also a dark lager. But strictly speaking the dark lager is the original lager. Many hundreds of years ago, all beers were first top fermented, i.e. Ales, and mostly fermented with wild yeasts. This was because it had no scientific knowledge about yeast. Even when bottom-fermented yeast slowly began to appear in Bavaria, people did not know why the beer was so palatable. The bottom-fermenting yeast became generally accepted because the beers in Bavaria were stored in cold cellars or in hills. The low temperatures caused the yeast strains in the beer to mutate. This has also changed the basic taste profile of beer. It became clearer, cleaner, less sour and simply more palatable.
The dark color of the beer also has a historical background. In the past, the malts were dried over an open fire. This resulted in the malted barley and wheat "burning" slightly and producing a dark color and roasted taste. This was the way it was for many hundreds of years, until the 18th century, all over the world. Until the 18th century, when the first kilns were invented in England during the beginning industrialization, which allowed the malt to dry gently under hot steam. The background was that due to the England-France conflict, the tree- and wood-poor England could no longer obtain wood from the European mainland. So something new had to be thought about how the beloved beer could be produced on the island, necessity is the mother of invention! The invention of the "English kiln" made the rounds relatively quickly. The first to adopt this type of kiln were the Bavarians. More precisely, Gabriel Sedlmayr from the Spaten Brewery in Munich. He thought progressively, looked into the future and replaced the traditional "Bavarian kiln" with the "English kiln". The malts became lighter, the beers became lighter.
From roasted, to nutty, to chocolaty - this is the taste of a dark lager
Dark malts can also vary in intensity of color and taste. Very dark and strongly kilned malts tend towards roastiness, coffee, sometimes a little liquorice, while less kilned malts taste more like nuts or cocoa or chocolate. Depending on how the malts are combined in beer, the taste profile also changes. A typical Bavarian dark malt is Die Dunkle from Tilmans or from the Ayinger Brewery the Altbairisch Dunkel.
Black beers are no longer found so frequently nowadays. They originate rather outside Bavaria. They are also finely roasted, have notes of dark chocolate and usually a dry, clear body. The Buddelship brewery in Hamburg, for example, has a wonderful Schwarzbier called Schwarzfahrer in its assortment.
The taste profile of a dark lager
- Flavors vary from roasted, smoky, coffee to nutty, light chocolate and cocoa
- the color can be deep black for a black beer, but also chestnut-colored or dark brown for a Bavarian dark
- the body can be dry, clear as well as slightly sweet and full