Schwarzbier, or black beer, is a dark lager that originated in Germany.[1] They tend to have an opaque, black colour with hints of chocolate or coffee flavours, and are generally around 5% ABV.[2] They are similar to stout in that they are made from roasted malt, which gives them their dark colour.[2]


Schwarzbiers are made using a cool fermentation method, which classes them as lager, though historically warm fermentation was used. The alcohol content usually ranges from 4.4% to 5.4%. They get their dark colour from the use of particularly dark malts or roast malt extract in brewing. The malt, in turn, gets its colour during the roasting procedure.

Its flavor may vary between bitter and slightly sweet.

It's known in Chile as malta.


The roots of schwarzbier lie in Thuringia and Saxony. The oldest known black beer is Braunschweiger Mumme, ("Brunswick Mum") brewed since the Middle Ages (the first documented mention is from 1390 in Braunschweig.[3] The earliest documented mention in Thuringia is of Köstritzer brewery from 1534, a brewery which later started producing schwarzbier and still produces it today. The present-day East Germany has many unique varieties of this style from regional breweries.


Modern schwarzbiers include Köstritzer, Samuel Adams Black Lager, New Belgium 1554 Black Lager, and Xingu Black. Round Corner Brewing’s Gunmetal Black Lager is a Schwarzbier and won the gold medal for draft lagers at the oscars of beer, The International Brewing Awards 2019.

Dark Czech lagers (Czech Černé), like Budvar Dark, can serve as a closely related style.


  1. Charles Bamforth (2009). Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing. Oxford University Press. p. 86.
  2. The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 718.
  3. "Schwarzbier – die dunkelste deutsche Biersorte" (in German). German Agricultural Society. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
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