Boutip (6567) - Gatineau, Quebec, CANADA - JUN 13, 2006
Bottle (shared by Lubière): Poured a pitch-black color beer with small off-white had with minimal retention. Aroma of roasted malt with some caramel. Taste is also dominated by sweet and slightly roasted caramel malt with a very subtle bitter finish. Body is a bit thin and generally lacks a bit of character. Lubiere (14182) - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA - JUN 12, 2006
Dark clear brown with a thin off white head. Sweet caramel malt aroma with sulfur notes, which dissipears to leave some roasted notes. In mouth, sweet malt with light coffee notes, simple, a bit thin, but overall pretty good, considering the bottle is more than 6 months old. Enjoyed with Boutip. Quevillon (3186) - Boisbriand, Quebec, CANADA - JUN 4, 2006
Post-mondial Tasting. Couleur de cola foncé, peu de collet. Arome de malte torifier simple. Goût de malte sec, pas fraiment savoureuse. ClarkVV (6893) - Boston, Massachusetts, USA - MAY 3, 2006
Early 2006 bomber? You can never be too sure with McNeill’s, but I did buy it at Winooski, and I don’t think this one ages that well, so it must be fairly fresh. Drunk on 4/27/06 CapFlu (5132) - Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA - APR 19, 2006
When bottle conditioned and unfiltered beers go bad, they really go bad, but when they go "good", they do so equally as well. This one showed a ton of light chocolate brown head that was retained throughout the entire bottle, with lacing and all, up and down the glass. Lively bubbles still visible in the medium-dark, cola-brown liquid, with an auburn-ruby glow on the edges and high clarity from a settled out bottle and careful pour.
The nose takes a little while to build up steam, but once it’s warmed and breathed, the melanoidins, baker’s chocolate, strong roast character and balance of vibrant/piquant fruitiness and dry, British malt-like nuttiness is absolutely charming. Even some grassy/spicy hops thrown in for good measure, adding a layer of complexity on end, without disrupting the malt strength or harrying the fruitiness. Lacking is any real breadiness, and that is a great thing, as that quality too often builds up and over-dries the finish. One of the most complex aromas I’ve come across in a 4.5%abv beer. I didn’t find an unbalanced or domineering roastiness at all, nor any of the smokiness others have talked about, but just supple milk-chocolate sweetness and dark fruits, ending on spicy hops and light anise-infused coffee.
Supple maltiness is the key to the flavor, and is always difficult for me to not gush about. Smooth, nearly creamy and perfectly tempered by light vinousness and cola-like notes, leading to a very dry, light roasted bitterness on end and more fresh roasted coffee with ample cream. I expected the malt to recede as it warmed, fearing some nuttiness and roast astringency might take over, but it was anything but. An almost liqueurous-like cherry cordial chocolatiness (hyperbole, for sure, but it still made me think of it) emerges, with light traces of sweet cream, and then is suddenly snapped off, as the fine-bubbled carbonation clears the palate, leaving dry brown malts in its wake.
I could definitely believe that I just got a bottle in its absolute best shape, and perhaps it was also the right beer at the right time, but whatever the case, I can hardly rate it any less than what I experienced. Somehow lighter, more drinkable and bright (if you can use that in describing a schwarzbier) than your typical, more heavily malted, sweet schwarzbier. More like Kostritzer, I suppose, in that regard, but take Kostritzer, don’t filter it and serve it fresh and bottle conditioned and you are closer to this. Elegant....very elegant.
(22oz bottle) Purchased at Winooski Beverage in Winooski, VT. Pours a medium, brown frothy head with a sediment-filled, cola-coloured body. Nose of roasted malts and tin. Flavour is very nice, a tad thinner and less gritty than Escousse but the bitter chocolate and lasting oily, thin molasses. Very enjoyable.
DarkElf (3067) - La Jolla, California, USA - JAN 8, 2006
(22 oz bottle: Obtained in trade with Eyedrinkale, thanks Mike!) I acquired this beer before I knew how touchy McNeill’s beers were, that they required immediate refrigeration or you risked some major nasties having a field day. This bottle has spend several months at 65 degrees, so I’m not surprised that there is a mild sourness to this beer. But the dark, roasty malts are strong enough to still maintain solid dominance here, with the sour notes acting more in a complementary role. And in fact, they do add a nice contrast and an overall positive effect on the flavor. The ashy roast is not strongly bitter, and there’s a slight smokiness in the finish. Chocolate, earth, mild sweetness, and some fruity notes add further complexity. The somewhat yeasty flavor is understandable given the dense, thick layer of black sludge lining the bottom of the bottle. Yeasty, roasty, earthy nose isn’t as enjoyable as the flavor. Medium-full bodied. Strong carbonation makes my eyes watery and my belches loud and frequent. Very dark brown with somewhat ruddy highlights at the edges, but the beer is dark enough to be nearly opaque. The light-tan and very bubbly head is fizzy, active and loud on the pour, initially resembling root beer, but settling to a thin layer, though a quick swirl and the head reforms briefly. Quite a solid beer in general that has aged quite nicely I think, and I even like the modest sourness, but I wish the beer didn’t taste so yeasty. BuckNaked (1230) - Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA - JAN 3, 2006
22oz bottle: Pours to a medium, mostly clear brown that shines medium-dark amber/ruby when held to the light. The head is a small light beige head that lasts for a bit, then fades to a tiny ring. Aroma is chocolate, mildy sour vinous grapes (I was worried about infection, but taste does not bear that out), chalk, charcoal, mild roasted malt, and roasted coffee. Medium bodied, medium carbonation, finishes bitter with notes of grains and caramel. tiggmtl (4543) - East York, Ontario, CANADA - FEB 3, 2005
Very dry roasted aroma with some notes of sweet chocolate. Opaque black body with shy, large-bubbled head that recedes to lasting cover with very nice lacing. Surprisingly fruity sweet flavour is eclipsed by dry roasted malt bitterness. Very dry and light body with decent, engaging carbonation. Bottle (City Market - Burlington - Oct 2004). egajdzis (6776) - Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 25, 2005
Poured a prunish/black color with a thin off white head that left light lacing on the glass. Aroma of chocolate, roast and various dried fruits. Taste of chocolate and more raisins, roasted coffee, and finishes with a dry hoppiness. A very enjoyable schwarz. VTHopHead (1513) - Seymour, Tennessee, USA - SEP 12, 2004
Bottle - Pours a dark brown/black with a very thin tannish head ... very little carbonation. Aroma is of roasted malt with faint coffee. Flavor is very roasty and malty with medium coffee and mild hop bite. Slight sourness. Finish is raosted malt and mild bitterness and does not last too long.