Schwarzbier Recipe: How To Make Germany’s Oldest Beer

Schwarzbier beerLearning a Schwarzbier recipe is a standard step for anyone who wants to go further in their homebrewing experience. After all, you’ll be attempting to replicate one of the oldest beer styles in the world.

Dark beers have never gone out of style, but the classic German-style Schwarzbier is hardly ever mentioned. If you’re curious about how to make it, keep on reading our complete recipe guide!

How Make Schwarzbier

With these tips, you can now start making your Schwarzbier. You can decide to make up your recipe if you’re an experienced homebrewer, but it’s always better to follow one for your first time.

All-Grain Recipe

Follow the all-grain recipe below to make Schwarzbier beer.

Grain/Malt Bill

  • 9 pounds of Munich malt
  • 1 pound of Pilsner malt
  • 8 ounces of Carafa II malt

Hops Schedule

  • 2 ounces of Spalt hops at 90 minutes boil


  • Bavarian Lager Yeast


  1. Use a two-step mash method in making this beer for 90 minutes. You can use a decoction or double-infusion mash method.
  2. The first 30 minutes should mash at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In the second 60 minutes, increase the temperature to 153 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Sparge the wort with water at 170 degrees until you have 6.5 gallons worth.
  5. Add the hops to the wort and boil for 90 minutes.
  6. Chill the wort and add the yeast.
  7. Leave it for primary fermentation at 50 degrees for three to four weeks.
  8. Secondary fermentation should be at 35 to 40 degrees, lasting six to eight weeks.
  9. Bottle and keg the beer.


  • Original gravity: 1.061
  • IBU: 26
  • ABV: 4.1 to 4.9 percent

Extract Recipe

Here is the recipe for extract brewers to follow.

Grain/Malt Bill

  • 6.5 pounds of amber malt extract
  • 1.5 pounds of crushed dark crystal malt
  • 6 ounces of black patent malt

Hops Schedule

  • 2.0 ounces of Spalt hops with 4 percent alpha acid at 90 minutes boil


  • Bavarian lager yeast


  1. Steep the grains in three gallons of water at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove and stir in half of the amber malt extract until fully dissolved.
  3. Bring to a boil and add the hops.
  4. After 90 minutes, turn the heat off and add the rest of the extract.
  5. Leave for 10 minutes to pasteurize.
  6. Chill the wort to below 80 degrees and place in the fermenter.
  7. Once it’s below 60 degrees, pitch the yeast.
  8. Transfer it to the second stage after three to four weeks of fermentation at 50 degrees.
  9. Let it lager at 40 degrees for six weeks and then increase to 65 degrees in the last few days.
  10. Bottle or keg the beer for drinking.


  • Original gravity: 1.061
  • IBU: 26 or less
  • ABV: 4.1 to 4.9 percent

What Is Schwarzbier?

Schwarzbier is a dark lager with medium to high bitterness and a light to medium body. It means black beer in German because of the color of the lager. This beer is considered the oldest continuously brewed style of beer in the world. The alcohol content of this beer is usually around 5 percent, and they tend to be refreshing and smooth.

The beer is usually made with malted barley combined with hints of toast, chocolate, nuts and caramel in its aroma and taste. It finishes crisp, dry and clean, with a subtle hop bitterness blended with the malty character.

History of Schwarzbier

The first written references to Schwarzbier are dated back to 1390 in Brunswick, but the actual origin of the lager is believed to be in Kulmbach, a place in southwestern Germany. This is because of the archeological evidence in the site, which points towards brewing the same type of beer since 800 BC.

Kulmbach, which still brews Schwarzbier today, is known as the birthplace of the style. This proves that this is the oldest active brewing center in the world. Kulmbach is also the place where monks first brewed the black beer.

Nowadays, black beer is popular all over the world and is even made by craft brewers in the United States.

Style Profile for Schwarzbier

When making your Schwarzbier, you should keep this style profile in mind so you can achieve the standard appearance, scent, mouthfeel and taste of the beer.


Schwarzbier has the appearance of black lager, ranging from deep copper to brown. The head is tan-colored with a creamy texture.


Schwarzbier black lagerThe powerful aroma you’ll get from Schwarzbier is the malt sweetness from the Munich malt backbone. The noble hop aroma gives you hints of toast or bread crust. You can also sense other aromas like caramel, toffee and nuts. There are no fruity esters or diacetyl in the aroma of this beer.


Schwarzbier features a medium-full body with a strong feeling on the palate. There’s slight alcohol warming, but it does not overshadow the malty taste. You will also feel moderate carbonation.


The highlight of the taste of this dark lager is the Munich malt used in brewing. The taste is similar to bread crust but becomes more complex with its nuttiness, toast, chocolate and caramel notes. It shouldn’t be dominated by the caramel or feature any roast character.

The beer is not considered bitter, so the hop bitterness should be barely noticeable with the malt as the dominant flavor. It finishes dry with some lingering bitterness seeping into the aftertaste.

Tips To Consider When Making Black Beer

There are a few things to keep in mind when brewing your dark lager. You need the right ingredients, especially with new recipes, if you want them to taste similar to German Schwarzbier.

– Best Base Malts

The best base malts to use for a Schwarzbier recipe are Munich malts and Pilsner malts. You’ll also need specialty malts, but more on that later on. It’s essential to know how much each one should be in the brew.

If you’re going for a traditional recipe, the dominating malt should be the Munich, while the Pilsner and other malts make up the rest of the wort. The Munich malt also gives a nutty and toasty flavor and aroma, which is expected in Schwarzbier. The Pilsner malt provides the dry and crisp finish characteristic of lagers.

– Use Specialty Malts

The specialty malts add other flavors like caramel and chocolate, but since they can’t be overwhelming, you can use only 10 percent of this in the total wort. You also need malts to add to the color since you’re trying to achieve a dark lager.

– Soft Aroma Hops

Hop bitterness should be present in your beer, but it shouldn’t dominate it. You can use German noble hops with a soft flavor and aroma, like Hallertau and Terrnang. These also provide just the right amount of bitterness. You can use American hops similar to the German ones to try something new.

– Yeast and Lagering

The best yeast used to brew Schwarzbier is clean German lager yeast. It can be Bavarian Lager or Pilsen Lager yeast, too, depending on what you have access to. Regardless of what you use, it’s best to leave the beer to lager for two months before bottling and drinking.

Food Pairing With Schwarzbier

You can enjoy drinking this dark beer with different types of food including barbecue, steak, rolls, spicy dishes, bratwurst, cabbage and dark chocolate. The beer goes particularly well with meat, whether smoked or roasted, especially those with fruity sauces. It also goes well with fruity and chocolate desserts.

If you enjoy eating cheese, the bold flavors of Schwarzbier go ideally with smoky cheeses such as Gouda or German Bruder Basil. You can bring the fruity flavors of the beer out by pairing it with creamy cheeses like Wensleydale.

Serving and Storage

As for serving, you should pour your Schwarzbier in a tulip glass, as the round shape of the cup holds in the aroma, allowing you to enjoy it while you drink. It also helps in creating and retaining the foamy head.

If you don’t have a tulip glass, you can also use a goblet or chalice. It should be served at 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Schwarzbier should be stored at cooler temperatures and in a dark place.


1. What is the difference between Schwarzbier and Dunkel?

Schwarzbier is a German black lager, while Dunkel is a dark lager with a reddish-brown color and a slightly sweet taste.

2. What pairs well with Schwarzbier?

Schwarzbier pairs well with grilled meats, sausages, and hearty stews. Its roasted notes also complement chocolate and desserts.

3. Is Schwarzbier a stout?

No, Schwarzbier is not a stout. It is a type of lager beer with a dark color and a roasted malt flavor, but it has a lighter body than a stout.

Conclusion: Enjoy Black Beer at Any Time

Schwarzbier recipeFans of dark lagers will be excited to try making the Schwarzbier, although trying something new is great for any homebrewer!

You can give the oldest beer in Germany a go in the comfort of your kitchen.

  • Schwarzbier is a German dark lager with a medium body and bitterness. The word “Schwarzbier” means “black beer.”
  • It is the oldest continuously brewed beer style in the world, dating back to 800 BC.
  • The dominant scent and taste in Schwarzbier is its malty sweetness similar to bread crust.
  • It is best made with Bavarian lager yeast or other German yeast.
  • It requires specialty malts for the hints of caramel, nuts and chocolate in its taste and aroma.
  • It can be made with all-grain or extract methods and requires primary and secondary fermentation up to two weeks.
  • It goes well with spicy, roasted, smoked and fruity food.
  • It should be served at 46 degrees Fahrenheit in a tulip glass.

Get your home brewing kit ready and try a delicious batch of Schwarzbier to drink in the next two months.

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