Finally got to try Notch Brewing’s Černé Pivo this past week as bombers hit the shelves at my local packie, Merrimac Liquors. They didn’t have any cold, so I grabbed a one and then picked up a cold six of Notch Session Ale. This is a Czech style black lager, with a low ABV (keeping to Notch standards) of only 4%.
I admittedly may have stacked the deck against this beer by having a small glass of Sierra Nevada’s imperial stout, Narwhal, not long before pouring the Notch. However, I have to say, the Černé Pivo did not disappoint. Delicious roasty goodness in the aroma and flavor was topped off with a crisp, clean, dry finish that left me ready for another taste. Unlike the huge imperial stout it followed, I felt like I could easily enjoy several glasses of this beer. The 10% SN stout was tasty, but a bit to much overall for me. The roast’s astringency seems too much for my taste buds. Not to say it’s bad… just not really my thing. Much like some double IPAs, which I can enjoy a taste of, for the sensory overload, only for a short time, I feel like the imperial stout is just too big for my preferences. Granted, time and place for everything, as I recall really loving the double chocolate stout from Brooklyn Brewery I had on tap last winter. Again though, I wasn’t having more than one.
Back to the Černé Pivo… this proved to me that one can have the delicious roast characteristics but without too much sweetness, astringency, or alcohol heat. I polished off the bomber relatively quickly, wishing I had picked up another. But at least I know better for next time. And as always with Notch, the price is right! Bomber was something like $5 (and the six of Session Ale was under $9!)
I can see where someone who thinks of stouts when they think roast flavors in their beer may find this thin by comparison. But then again, they are different beers. The black lager offers chocolate, coffee, roast flavors, but crispness and a dry finish at the same time. A very solid offering by Notch and one I would highly recommend if looking for the flavors of a stout but not the mouthfeel.