Style: Euro/Czech Dark Lager
Malt: Munich, Crystal, Carafa
Hops: Northern Brewer, Mt. Hood
Brewer’s Note: “Inspired by the black session lagers of the Czech Republic, Notch Černe Pivo is malty, toasty, and infinitely drinkable. While Černe pours black, it trades the high intensity roast and bitterness of a porter or stout for the mellow malty profile of a lager. Think roasty, but think subtle roasty. It also trades the fruitiness of an ale for a cleaner lager aroma, which allows the subtle malt character to come through. Černe Pivo is Czech for “Black Beer”, and is a style wholly indigenous to the Czech Republic, yet with little awareness in the US. I’m not sure why the beer world perceives the Czech Republic as having only one style (Pilsener) when there are dozens. Maybe most of the US beer cognoscenti prefer trips to Belgium instead.”
The label is like all Notch labels, the only difference being the colors, and I am still not complaining at all. The blue and coal-gray of the font mix beautifully with the gray-blue of the background, and the text is all laid out perfectly to appease the eye while still being a little heavy in text. This label, like all Notch labels, is a work of Textual Art, and is worthy of a space on the shelf for sure.
The beer pours a dark, dark brown, bordering on black, with the faintest hint of ruddy red coloring. The beer pours with a nice lightly khaki color head that sits a fingers width above the beer with plenty of tightly packed, little bubbles that form a very smooth top to the head. The lacing on the sides of the glass is thin, tightly packed, and moves out with tendrils along the glass. On the nose, the beer smells lightly roasty, with a nice bready tinge and some slight hay notes. As the beer is swirled in the glass I get strong waftings of milk chocolate with the slightest hint of sea salt, which has me very intrigued. The smell is light, lager-clean, and inviting. On the tongue, the beer tastes roasty, but clean and light. The beer begins with light and watery milk chocolate before pulling in watered down and light roasted malts that suggest very light coffee, and is really quite pleasant. The finish of the beer is where it really shines, bringing the roast to a full flavor and hinting at chocolate on the sides of the taste. The aftertaste rings with light roasted chocolate, coffee, and even a slight hint of vanilla. On the mouth, this beer feels light and clean in body, as a lager should, and is honestly a little watery in feel, though paired with the flavors of this beer, that is certainly not a bad thing. After the beer passes, the mouth is left clean with only a light feeling of dryness on the roof of the mouth. Overall, I love this beer. Notch has done it again. All hail the session king. It is smooth, light, and extremely drinkable, and yet still is packed with flavors reminiscent of a big old stout. This beer could be knocked back all night, and is perfect to sip in front of a fire. Try this beer.