I'm pounding away at some more beer reviews, and I want to make sure I get some more locals in the mix. Two Brothers recently put out a Schwarzbier as part of their Artisan Bottling series. It's still available at place around town at this time.
Schwarzbier is a German style, as you no doubt guessed. It may look like a stout, but it is very distinct, and not just in that it's a lager instead of an ale. A dry lager finish is expected, with none of the roasty grain character of a stout or porter. Schwarzbiers are the descendant of the beers produced in Germany from the Middle Ages, before barley could be kilned instead of roasted to lighten the color. Alcohol content rarely rises above 5% by volume. It's meant to be as sessionable as any pale lager.
The example Two Brothers has offered, in a 22 oz. bottle, poured a big black body under a light brown head, just a tad lighter than a stout. This one actually did have a more roasty smell than the other black lagers I’ve had. Much more roasty malt. The label shows this one at a mild 5.5% abv, but there is some alcohol in the nose. The taste has the roasty roughness of a stout at first, but it settles down to let some dry lager character in. Once you get used to the dark roast, it does suggest a heartier Dortmunder or altbier. I can definitely feel German noble hops making a bit of peppery spice. The finish seems to offer a contradictory light texture on the tongue, while still seeming a bit heavy in the sniffer.
Seek this out while you still can. Other good examples would be Sprecher's Black Bavarian, Sam Adams Black Lager, or the imports like Köstritzer Schwarzbier and Kulmbacher Mönchshof. Schwarzbier was not a widely produced style among craft brewers until recently, but now nearly every brewpub in the area has had a go at one, and you may find one in the next one you visit.