Great Beer for the New Year #7: Colbitzer Heide-Brauerei Schwarz, at Wolters, Braunschweig, Germany
Date: January 12, 2019
The Story—Schwarz beers fared well in East Germany under Communist oppression. Even the Communists celebrated some of the iconic beers that defined their cultures, Many East German breweries closed under Communist “efficiency” policies, but capitalism hasn’t been any kinder. Colbitzer survived the Communist era and continues to brew distinctive beers, albeit sometimes at other breweries.
Our first tasting note on a Schwarz Bier was Köstritzer in 1993. By then Bitburger had taken control of the brewery and was importing into the US. Still, I’m pretty sure we ran into it during our first foray into Communist East Berlin in 1977, but it’s much older than that. Köstritzer has been producing a Schwarzbier since the 16th century. Supposedly Gloethe sustained himself on it when he was too ill to eat solid food.
Schwarz biers have been brewed in the western parts of Germany for decades, but we believe the western breweries were strongly influenced by Köstritzer and other East Germany Schwarzbier brewers. They’re darker than the dunkels of Bavaria and Baden Wurttemburg with a bit of a lactic edge that has to be a brewers slight of hand since adding lactose to a German beer can get you shot.
The Beer— A classic Schwarz bier. Very dark roast with a touch of lactose creaminess. The creaminess continues as it drinks to crate an easy to drink darkness. Ellie found an edge to the dark malt that added to the caramel.
Value — Good. you’ll pay import pricing, but it shouldn’t be expensive.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.