I love drinking all different types of lagers but not every lager is of the typical pale variety. Some have different dark malt or bready characteristics that I absolutely
adore during the colder months, or really any time. I have started gravitating towards breweries that know how to lager effectively and that highlight all types of lagers for our enjoyment. Which brings us to the style of Czech Dark Lager. I have been very pleasantly surprised to see this much overlooked dark lager style on more beer lists in breweries that I have visited lately. Kudos to the likes of Green Man Brewing with their CZ Dark, The Cellarest for their Oaked Moonglade (video above) and St. Petersburg, FL Green Bench's Tmavè Pivo 13º
BJCP describes the building of this beers recipe as using Pilsner and dark caramel malts with the addition of debittered roasted malts being most common, but additions of Vienna or Munich malt are also appropriate. Low mineral content water (like that of Asheville), Saazer-type hops, and Czech lager yeast. Any fruity esters are typically from malt, not yeast per usual with lager yeast. The raw ingredient in this style of beer is all Czech with Saaz being the OG noble hop most used.
This dark lager style is the Czech equivalent of a German dark lager ranging in character from Munich Dunkel to Schwarzbier, but typically with greater malt richness and hop character (aroma, flavor, and/or bitterness). It has been a revelation to lager drinkers that didn't realize that lagers don't have to always be pale. Basically it's the Czech version of their German dark counterparts using Bohemian ingredients instead of German.
The Cellarest describes their version as, "a base of Czech pilsner and Great Chit malt from Riverbend, and black wheat from Epiphany Malt House. Hopped with Styrian Celeia (from Slovenia) in the kettle and cold aged in our oak puncheons for eight weeks. Moonglade is 4.4% and begs for another sip.
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I was also able to enjoy the Tmavè Pivo 13º (or Dark Beer in Czech) at Green Bench Brewing Co. in St. Pete, FL a few weeks back. I really appreciated the amount of smooth dark bread crust flavor and fuller body of this dark lager. The roundness and drinkability of this Czech dark lager comes from a precise and delicate double decoction process to bring out more flavor from the malt, followed by a very cold and slow fermentation and long lager maturation.This beer is so drinkable because it weighs in at 4% ABV which encourages patrons to have another and another.
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Green Man Brewery describes their version, or CZ Dark, as "a dark brown lager with ruby highlights and a crystal clear clarity. Topped with an off-white persistent head that leaves lacing down the glass with each sip. A highly quaffable lager with a perfect balance of malt and hop flavors. The aroma opens with notes of light cocoa, cola and hints of dark stonefruit. The flavor is a combination of light roast coffee, chocolate, dark toast, and a touch of sweetness in the mid palate. The flavor finishes with a nice hit of herbal and slight woodiness from the hops and a cleansing dryness. Crisp, light bodied and crushable. Don't be deceived by the dark color, this beer is made to be enjoyed in an afternoon drinking session with friends, over good conversation. Na zdravi! (To your health in Czech)."
COME TRY THIS AMAZING BEER STYLE ON AN ASHEVILLE BREWERY TOUR TODAY