East Coast Beer Co. back in December, their Winter Rental schwarzbier. I was all "ho-hum, another New Jersey contract brewer," because these outfits haven't had a great track record. (Anyone remember Coffaro Beer? Diving Horse Lager?) It's brewed at Genesee, as you can tell by the "Rochester, NY" on the label, where they've done a great job on the Narragansett seasonals, but...to be honest, I wasn't in a rush to try it.
But then I needed to get some tasting notes together for a column I do in the local weekly paper (nice source of pocket money), so Tuesday afternoon I popped it. Okay, I'd made a mistake waiting this long! The beer smelled rich and malty from almost a foot away, but it was not thick and sweet on the tongue: smoothly refreshing (sounds like a 60s beer ad, I know, but it is), a little hop bite up front that swooshes into lightly chocolatey malt with a slight crunch of roast; saunters off into a clean finish.
I have to apologize to you: shouldn't have waited so long on this one. If you like schwarzbier, get out and give this one a shot. It's 5.6% ABV, and quite tasty.