What's going on here? The silver-on-black label is a clue. It's a very dark beer, almost opaque, and you'd expect a porter, but it's dry. It's a schwartzbier, a relatively uncommon style in this country (the only really widely available American schwartzbier is Samuel Adams Black Lager). Think of it as a stout, made with the same sort of roasted malts, except that it's a malty, low-hopped lager. So it has a very foamy tan head, a clean lager flavor and a paper-dry but pleasantly rounded palate, with a mild chocolate aroma and just a little bite in the finish.
Spoetzl Brewing, maker of the well-known Shiner Bock, first made this beer in 2006, and it's doing it again this year for the company's 100th anniversary. Basically this is a comfortable sipping beer for after lunch, but it would go with a cheese pizza.
Charles Perry --
Style: A smooth dry lager with a touch of chocolate
Price: $7.99 to $8.75 per six-pack
Where you find it: At Beverage Warehouse, 4935 McConnell Ave., No. 21, Los Angeles, (310) 306-2822, www.beverage warehouse.com; Ramirez Liquor and Kegs, 736 S. Soto St., Los Angeles, (323) 261-2915, www.ramirez liquor.com; and Beverages and More stores (for locations, www .bevmo.com).