It may come as a surprise to you (it sure came as a surprise to me) that the big brewers in Japan brew some pretty solid schwarzbiers- but they really do. Not only are they tasty, they really aren’t that hard to find. While I wouldn’t say they are available year around, you can find them in cans at different times throughout the year.
Sapporo’s Premium Malts Dark is a fixture at the American style restaurant, T.G.I. Fridays. I’m not one to frequent that type of place but I have been known to stop in for their happy hour and kick back a Dark or two. I am human, after all. The Yebisu Black Beer is another fairly common find in and conbini or market. The only wildcard can be Asahi Black but really, I’ve found it to be around enough to not fret when in need of a can of schwarz. This one turned out to be the closest showdown with mere fractions separating #1 from #3. On with the showdown!
Sapporo Yebisu Black Beer – 5% abv. Pours dark brown with a fizzy, short lasting head. Molasses and light chocolate malts with a faint fruit aroma as well. Body is pretty thin. Flavor is definitely one-sided, but it’s not bad at all. A bit of molasses, sweet malts, light cocoa powder, some roasted malts, and faint fruits. This is a solid macro Schwarz. While it’s #3 on the list it’s not a bad beer by any means. Easy to drink, flavorful, and not a pale lager. I’m in.
Asahi Black – 5% abv. Pours dark brown, ruby highlights, and a big off white head. Aroma has light roasted malts, some caramel, light chocolate, and definite fruits. Watery body. Pleasant flavor of lightly roasted malts, some chocolate, and faint fruit. This one is pretty light from top to bottom. Light aroma, Light flavor, Light Body. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad- it’s quite tasty and the lightness of it all makes for a refreshing brew. Asahi Black is easily my second favorite Asahi beer following only their stout. As close as the Yebisu was to being the winner, Asahi lost out by the thinest of margins. Closer, even, than Murphy’s was to Beamish.
Suntory Premium Malts Dark – 5.5% abv. Pours dark brown with a small tan head. Lightly roasted malts, some caramel, and cocoa in the aroma. Medium bodied schwarz. Flavor has some roasted malts, some molasses, light fruits, and a touch of cocoa. A really nice beer. Easy to drink but with plenty of character (for a macro). I won’t go so far as to say it could be mistaken for a proper German brewed schwarzbier, but for a canned macro schwarz this is a mighty fine offering. It earns that coveted showdown gold. You could even say that Suntory was able to “Own the Podium” for the macro schwarz category. Sorry, Canada.
Really, all three were good and you should be able to enjoy your can o’ macro regardless of which one you pick up. Now comes that time of night when I’ve consumed three beers, I’ve finished writing a post about it, and I don’t have work in the morning. Bars? I’ll see you there.