Dark Helmet Black Rye Lager

Review Date 4/9/2014     By John Staradumsky

What’s up with the Spaceballs character Dark Helmet and Schwarzbier? I guess the fact that The Schwarz is such a central feature of the movie has a lot to do with it, though I’m not sure how two distinct breweries got the rights to use the character in naming one of their beers. Tonight, I’m drinking Dark Helmet Black Rye Lager from Westbrook Brewing Company of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

This isn’t the first Dark Helmet beer that I’ve tasted, though. That honor goes to Dark Helmet Imperial Schwarzbier from Ohio’s The Brew Kettle. Maybe if these two were to Duke it out, they might say:

So Lonestar. You have the ring, and I see your Schwarzbier is as big as mine. Now let's see how well you handle it.

Though neither of them is really Lonestar, but you get the idea. I had to paraphrase a line from the film. Anyway, the two beers, while broadly in the Schwarzbier style, are very different, because the Brew Kettle version is a whopping 9% alcohol by volume and the Westbrook Dark Helmet contains rye malt. Here’s what Westbrook says about their Dark Helmet on the label:

Dark Helmet is a

German-style black lager

(or Schwarzbier) brewed with

10% malted rye. Chocolate and

 Carafa malts give this beer its dark

color and ludicrouslysmooth,

 roasty flavor.

May the Schwarz be with you!


Westbrook Dark Helmet is sold in 22 ounce bottles, at least that’s how I got mine. It was reasonable enough, at least these days, at $7.99 for the bomber bottle. The beer has an alcohol content of 6% by volume according to the label, although the Westbrook website pegs it at 5.9%. They also reference 25 IBUs. My purchase was bottled on 10/22/2013.

Westbrook Dark Helmet pours to a jet black color with a thick creamy head formation and a gently roasty, subtly spicy rye nose. Taking a sip, the beer has the subtly coffeeish, gently roasty base of a good Schwarzbier. It’s clean, too, as I also want, and medium in body. There’s dark bittersweet chocolate, more than you would expect in a Schwarzbier, but it really works so no points off for that. What makes this one different though is the grainy, spicy rye, and really, the balance with which it folds into the Schwarzbier. It’s almost like sipping a roggen at times, and at others, the Schwarzbier is predominant. The rye comes out more in the finish I think, but overall this is a battle to the death, with maybe the Schwarzbier winning by an inch.

Except, of course, that you the drinker are the real winner. Just an incredible beer, and a tasty combination of German inspired Schwarzbier and Roggen. In the final analysis, this is another winner from Westbrook, and another beer for Spaceballs fans to chase after as well. You can never have too many Dark Helmets after all.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned