There is a misconception amongst some beer drinkers that dark colored beers are higher in alcohol than lighter colored beers. I still remember being shocked many years ago when I found out the Guinness Draught was lower in alcohol than Bud Light. Apparently some brewers also believe that dark beers need to be heavy and loaded with booze, the shelves are stocked with imperial stouts and robust porters, but have very few sessionable darker beers. I love some roasted malt flavor, especially during the winter, but I get burned out quickly on beers that creep into double digit ABV. Fortunately we have Notch Brewing Company in Massachusetts, you know when you see one of their beers on the shelves or on tap it will be 4.5% ABV or lower. Notch’s winter release is Cerne Pivo, a sessionable black lager modeled after the dark lagers of the Czech Republic. Cerne Pivo is brewed with a series of European roasted malt varieties along with the classic Saaz noble hop. Notch Cerne Pivo is available during the winter months on draft and in 12 oz. cans.
Notch Cerne Pivo pours pitch black with a solid tan head. The scent is mild, just a hint of roasted malt. The first sip packs some solid malt flavor without being sweet, touches of coffee, toasted bread, tobacco and black licorice. Some earthy hops add a crisp bitterness and balance out the malts. The beer has a clean and crushable lager body, and at 4.0% ABV you can put back a few with ease. The finish is smooth with just a hint of roasted malt on the aftertaste. Cerne Pivo is very well done, there is enough of the dark malty flavor you crave in the cold winter months but you will last much longer drinking these than boozy imperial stouts. Grab a six pack to get ready for the Patriots playoff game on Saturday! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
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