• • • Heritage Beer Award • • •


When folk were losing their minds over black IPA a few years back – “it’s a dark beer, but it’s really light and refreshing!!” – I was the weirdo stood on his own yelling about schwarzbier. And who’s laughing now? Yes, it’s probably still the black IPA people, but I swear this style is destined for craft beer greatness, and together we can make that happen.

Named with characteristic German flair, this style literally means ‘black beer’ and is somewhat reminiscent of a dunkel (meaning ‘dark’ – see the pattern?) but lighter, drier and with just a touch of roasty bitterness. Heritage-wise, it’s got a very respectable pedigree, with evidence that it was brewed in ancient Saxony and Thuringia more than 2000 years ago.

More recently, it’s gained moderate popularity as a seasonal brew among US craft brewers, notably in those states with a strong Germanic influence. Here though, it’s up to breweries like Avaans to champion this great heritage style to hop-obsessed UK drinkers. As ever with Avaans though, there’s a crafty twist; in this case, its schwarzbier is brewed with top-fermenting ale yeast, rather than the traditional lager yeast. It’s a subtle difference, but one which results in a slightly less clean, crisp finish, and an extra layer of slightly fruity yeast character. The traditionalists may scoff, but we love it, and we’re picking the winners here.

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