Style: “Organic Idiosyncratic” Black Lager – Schwarzbier
From the bottle:
I am a zeitgeist.
I was not delivered into this world into submission, nor does acquiescence run through my veins.
I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd.
I am a zeitgeist and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep.
The slaughterhouse of conformity is not my destiny.
I am a zeitgeist.
Zeitgeist is an idiosyncratic and alternative black lager.
It seeks to create the spirit, attitude and autonomy of an age gone by. Zeitgeist takes an age old classic, a forgotten masterpiece and gives it relevance and an avant-garde edge.
Visual: Pours a near black with a thin, very light brown head. So dark I can’t tell how carbonated it might be.
Nose: Smoky, dark malt with cream, quite chocolatey.
Taste: Light but bitter, dark chocolate. Hint of sweetness to it with a heavy roasted malt flavour before a nice hint of hop bitterness at the end.
Mouthfeel: Slightly heavy carbonation, medium bodied with an ever so slight syrupy feel. Less watery than you’d expect from a schwarzbier.
This is more of a winter warmer! As we head into spring, this light but rich beer is perfect. The flavour is of a less creamy Guinness, but with very little of the heavy, stodgy, meal-like quality of the Black stuff.
The carbonation is a little heavy for me, but it is a lager style so it should be expected. It lingers on the tongue a bit too much and tickles your tonsils as it goes down, but the bubbles feel quite large and omnipresent. The colour makes it impossible to tell how big the bubbles are or how many of them there are, so I can only go on mouthfeel alone.
The bottle blurb makes this beer sound like a return to the old ways from a dystopian present. The tropes of subversion and the resurrection of a zeitgeist, and the metaphor of the sheep all make it sound like a groundbreaking development, a victory for the people who dare to challenge authority – encapsulating the critical “punk” attitude of BrewDog. In reality though, this fits the schwarzbier mould perfectly. It doesn’t actually break any boundaries. It doesn’t give the style, the “age old masterpiece” any “relevance and an avant-garde edge”. It is thoroughly normal for the black lager style, up to the point that it sits slap bang in the middle of the ABV range for a schwarzbier.
The liquid is damn tasty though. It is a great example of a schwarzbier and that should be embraced. Instead, BrewDog have told us it is something which it isn’t, which only leads to disappointment. As I said, as a liquid, it is lovely. As a beer, with everything we consider around the liquid – the bottle, the description, the hype; simply put, the experience – it is a bit of a let down. This is only a fresh take on a schwarzbier in that it is a fresh schwarzbier. MAybe that’s why BrewDog avoided using the term “schwarzbier”.
“I ain’t no sheep. The man can’t put a label on me. I’m gonna be something different, see how that sits with them.”
It sits quite comfortably actually. You aren’t anything different, Zeitgeist. You are a good example of what you are. Embrace that fact.
As for a rating: on the package that we call a beer, I can only give 4/10. As for the for the only important factor, ignoring the BrewDog talk, the liquid itself: 8/10.
Next up: Alice Porter.
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