The craft beer scene is becoming crowded. There are currently 2,100 craft breweries in the US, with another 1,200 in the planning and licensing stages for 2013. If you want to compete, you've got to stand out. Not every new craft brewery can be good, though many of them are.
Nothing jumped out at me about the bottle of 3 Beards Beer Company Lumberjack Black Lager I brought home one day, but supporting local craft beer is always a good thing. I took the yellow bottle home with no expectations.
Lumberjack is a black lager, or Schwarzbier, made with Munich, Vienna, and Black Malts. It's brewed and distributed in Massachusetts. Three Beards selects a brewer who may not have the means to market their beer but has a killer recipe and distributes that beer in the state. Lumberjack Lager is 6 percent alcohol by volume with 22 IBUs. Written on the bottle where the warning label should be it says, "For best results, enjoy bearded."
The beer pours a dark chestnut (in between brown and black) with a frothy, cappuccino-colored head. I smell caramel, a hint of raisins, smoke, and moss-covered-earth. If a beer can smell rugged, this one does.
The first sip is medium-bodied and highlighted by bready, woody flavors. There's a lingering smokiness but the beer isn't heavy. This is really nice. I wasn't expecting to find a beer I'd go back to, but I'd definitely buy this again. In this expanding world of craft beer, it's hard to find a full-flavored beer at a reasonable alcohol level. There's a place for big beers, and I love many of them, but there's also a niche in the market for a beer like this.