Black Licorice Lager | Short's Brewing Company

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Black Licorice LagerBlack Licorice Lager
Very Good
185 Ratings
Black Licorice LagerBlack Licorice Lager

Brewed by:
Short's Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Euro Dark Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
"A high gravity American dark lager aged on anise seed, Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans and fresh chocolate mint leaves."

Added by hoppymeal on 06-06-2007

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 185 |  Reviews: 129
Reviews by JamesShoemaker:
Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

More User Reviews:
Photo of joe1510
4.29/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Brewed: 12/19/06
Bottled: 12/13/07

Bottle #507 of 744

A huge thank you goes out to Dukedevil0 for picking me up this bottle on a recent trip to Michigan, cheers Dave! Black Licorice Lager is one handsome beer. My big ol' goblet fills with a liquid the darkest of browns and a creamy, microbubbled beige head rises nearly overflowing the glass. The head slowly recedes to a thick cap while leaving impressive, sticky lacing down the glass. Garnet waves highlight the body but only when directly backlit.

Damn, this is one unique smelling beer. The nose leads off with an intense amount of high cocoa content dark chocolate before it perfectly segues into woody anise. The black licorice aroma is rich and powerful and there's a crazy interesting note of mint throughout. A touch of vanilla whispers in the back but each deep pull I take goes directly back to the intense dark chocolate and licorice. A quick swirl of the glass brings the mintyness to the surface before slowly receding back to the licorice. This beer gets my salivary glands working overtime.

Holy shit this is a wild beer! Somehow the licorice doesn't come off as strong as I was expecting but the other flavors are rich and intense. That deep, dark chocolate is back and it's so vivid I can almost feel the grittiness. Mint comes in and adds a cooling refreshness before my tongue is coated with vanilla of the finest kind. The anise actually comes along on the rear with a nice woody flavor and a hint of bourbon peeks through the backend. The aftertaste is lingering and all about dark chocolate and mint. I'm thoroughly impressed with the flavor of this brew.

The body is medium with a lively enough carbonation to keep things moving. The vanilla adds enough, of what appears to be stickiness, to bring along the feel of heft. The mint and gritty chocolate lingers for a long time after each sip seamlessly coating the tongue and cheeks.

I didn't think this would be the case with the odd ingredients added but this beer is a breeze to drink. I actually haven't set the glass down yet and don't plan to until it's empty. The mint adds a refreshing quality I didn't expect to find in such a beer.

Black Licorice Lager is one hell of a creation! I don't know how Joe Short pulled all these flavors together but it was done nearly flawlessly. If any of you have a chance to pick a bottle of this up do not hesitate, I can't recommend it enough. Shorts can do no wrong in my book. Thanks again for the bottle, Dave!

Reviewed: 11/28/09

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Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer review from BA Mag Oct 2007.

This is number 4 out of 13 for their Imperial Beer Series. It's spiced with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, fresh chocolate mint and anise seed. Redefining extreme beer again--has anyone else brewed with chocolate mint?

Solid two fingers of foam ride the side of the glass with a tan lacing that sticks here and there. It's good to know when brewers use the word black in the name, that the beer is actually black as well. Big aromas of mint and anise with mellow vanilla to the side, a chocolaty nose with hints of baker's chocolate. Heightened smoothness slowly rolls over the slightly slick full body. Layered explosions of flavor erupt with each sip. First is the anise with a soft but sturdy licorice character, then on to the mint--which is so embedded in the beer that you'd think it were a traditional ingredient. Middle to end comes the vanilla bean with pops and then disappears, which allows the chocolate character to ride the rest of the beer out with an unsweetened baker's chocolate flavor. Minimal hops, lots of malt to take in as well, while the alcohol tries hard to make itself a bit more noticeable, but there is so much going on that it is playing second fiddle for most of the time.

This is certainly one of those beers you wish was year-round, even with the oddball ingredients. The quest to obtain this beer will be worth it.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.32/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. #77 of 744.

Pours into my glass a deep black with dark brown edges and a half inch of creamy tan head on top. Nice lacing as well. Aromas start with roasted dark malts along with a mix of herbal black licorice notes. Mint comes through as well as vanilla in the nose. Quite complex with chocolate tones too. Herbally, good show!

First sip brings roasted dark malt upfront that careens into notes of chocolate and vanilla as well. Herbal anise / black licorice flavor moves in quite substantially as the brew flows down with mellow mint accents. It's finishes crisp and roasty with a melding flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of root beer. The anise remains on the palate in the end.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Easy drinking somewhat lighter lager body. Quite an interesting, complex brew overall. A good one to share with its strong flavor, herbal/spicy profile and aftertaste. If you enjoy black licorice you need to seek this out. Another wonderful experiment by Short's.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head. The aroma is very heavy on the black licorice. I was expecting it due to the name of the beer, but it was still a little surprising that the aroma was that powerful.

The flavor is more balanced. There is a lot of black licorice, but I also get some chocolate, vanilla and roasted malt. The flavor profile was a pleasant surprise.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Brenden
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Frazbri for giving me my first taste of this and making me want to try it again. Notes are somewhat old but thorough.

This brew, fairly thick and absolutely black in color, starts off with about 2 fingers of brown head that take a bit of time to dissipate and finishes with a thick, strong foam leaving moderate lacing on the glass.
There's plenty going on in the aroma, though subtle rather than strong. The anise is evident and there's a bit of mint. This beer smells impressively of licorice, considering none is used. There's also a bit of chocolate.
The flavor is strongly of licorice, and there's clearly a lot of skill that went into brewing this one. It's also minty with bittersweet chocolate, and underneath even some vanilla. Considering the high ABV, it's very well masked. There's not much of a hops presence, but there shouldn't be.
The body is full with appropriately very light carbonation. This beer is smooth to the point of slickness. The thickness of the body helps supports the rest of the beer, keeping it working together.
This is an unusual mix of flavors, so it's particular to the drinker, but there's good drinkability to it. ABV keeps it down a touch as well.

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Photo of king75
4.59/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is jet black with a small but creamy head on it, with generous lacing.

One of the best smelling beers I have ever had. A complex smell of chocolates, licorice, and a slight hint of mint are quite present.

Taste really malty, the licorice taste is well balanced with the chocolate, an extremely smooth lager that almost drinks like an american porter, but not quite as heavy.

Very drinkable, if you are looking for something different, buy it, buy it regardless, you won't regret it.

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Photo of nkersten
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bomber into snifter. Liquid is a dark brown with a small mocha head that quickly fades. Smell is lots of black licorice, some dark malts, no hops at all. Taste is a very bitter black licorice, sugary dark malt, a slightly toasted flavor, and the finish is more black licorice. Mouthfeel was very heavy with a medium carbonation - I would have liked this one to be a little cleaner. It was tough finishing this one - I give shorts credit for their creativity, but I think there could have been something done to balance out some of the strong flavors in this beer.

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Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bourbon, corn and then I was getting mostly the mint here, the concoction tasted off, yes lactose. Lager secondary, black coloured body. Some chalky taste, a little roasted malt. Whole thing does not carry together. Rather ordinary though drinkable.Stephen’s bottle from a previous batch.Tried again with Steve's bottle, and much better. Soft bodied, licorice and mint, better drinkable..

 390 characters

4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into tasting glass.

A: pours a deep ruby red, that looks black once settled. The head has great formation and grows steadily. High level of carbonation, with full and fluffy lacing.

S: A very light and clean aroma of subtle roast and a hint at vanilla. Anise comes through on a very slight note.

T/M: Good flavors all around, a well malted lager, that has a light character, but that doesn't compromise on taste. Anise plays a very good role in the lingering finish. The vanilla is very subtle, but does have active role. Very chocolaty mouthfeel, with a clean finish.

O: This is a very well done experimental beer, with a taste of anise that is very well balanced with all the other elements, it does not become over powering. Very interesting brew.

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Photo of prototypic
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to hoppymeal for the bottle. Never thought I'd have the opportunity to try this one. Thanks, Derek.

Bottle #267 of 745

Appearance: It pours a very dark mahogany color. There's only a little light getting through and giving a slight ruby hue. The head is a lighter mocha color and didn't quite reach a finger deep. It receded very quickly and left only light, spotty lacing in its wake.

Smell: The nose is interesting and is unlike any other beer I recall encountering. There's a nice vanilla aroma that kicks it off. It's followed quickly by an interesting spicy scent. It must be anise, obviously. There aren't any other spices of note. Sweet chocolate malt is a bigger player than I expected. Black licorice is noted, but isn't all that strong. Chocolate with a touch of light mint actually plays a larger role in the grand scheme of things here. It's a little yeasty on the tail. Alcohol is very subdued and goes unnoticed.

Taste: The unique character of this beer is even more apparent in flavor. It starts out with an interesting mix of vanilla and anise. It's a nice flavor. Those are very quickly followed by strong black licorice. It's not an overpowering licorice flavor, but more than enough to recognize it. I actually like it quite a bit. Something about it works. That's saying a lot coming from someone who loathes licorice (of any variety). It is a little sweet and a tad sugary. Sweet chocolate and mint are noted toward the end. They seem to take over the flavor once they emerge and linger into the aftertaste. Alcohol is blended extremely well and is not noted at all. Pretty impressive for an 8.2% beer. Finishes sweet and a little spicy.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: The body feels pretty light, but smooth. Carbonation is active and a little crisp. It's good here, but not elite by any means. Drinkability is good. The flavor is unique and impressive. It doesn't feel like a big beer at all. It goes down quite easy. At 8.2% abv, it's not too scary. I like the flavor, but can't say it lends itself to great drinkability. It's just too much of a novelty.

Black Licorice Lager is an extremely interesting and unique beer. I truly have never experienced a beer quite like it. Given the fact that I hate licorice, I'm surprised that I like it as much as I do. But, it has a very nice flavor and really impresses. I can't say I'm in love with it, but I definitely like it quite a bit. I haven't had much experience with Short's beer, but I am very impressed with what I've had. They certainly have a knack for blazing unchartered territory. This venture is an overall success. Recommended if you can find a bottle.

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Photo of 33nickadams
3.44/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark, not much head, doesn't really lace as you drink.

S- Good sweet smell, slight vanilla.

T- The black licorice doesn't come until after you swallow. A nice way to end the taste. Dare I say even a little spicy?

M- Leaves the mouth a little dry.

D- Very good if you are just having one. You can't really tell that its 8%.

Overall I like it, I don't know that I would stock the fridge with it though.

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Photo of nickd717
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle via trade thanks to Tyson. Shared at a tasting hosted by Sandstone.

Pours dark brown, nearly black, with a creamy tan head and good lacing.

Aroma is anise, root beer, vanilla, chocolate, mint, and caramel. Interesting.

Flavor is very strong on the licorice plus a little roast and bourbon, spices (especially mint), vanilla, and lots of sarsaparilla/root beer.

Palate is medium-full and fairly smooth with somewhat soft carbonation. Overall this beer is good and very different. My only real criticism is that drinkability is not terribly high.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.4/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass. No bottle date and I don't even know where this came from. Maybe Marc? Just found it in the fridge and figured it needed to be consumed sooner rather than later.

Appearance - Nearly black body with just the faintest of red coming through when I hold it up. Nice khaki head that clings to the glass and maintains a thick collar with nice surface foam.

Smell - Musty mint leaf aroma. Chocolate malt and just a touch of licorice in the nose.

Taste - A lot more licorice here. Hits immediately with a dose of chocolate. Mint lends a bit of acidity to the flavor throughout. The blend is odd at certain points. I find myself focusing on different aspects with each sip. I don't discern the vanilla, though.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thin. Easy drinking, except for some of the wild flavors. Well carbonated.

Overall - Not sure how I feel about it. Sometimes I like the flavors, sometimes they seem off. As I click Review, I like it. That could change by the end of the glass.

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Photo of russpowell
4.09/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to MarcatGSB for this long-time want! Some sort of dating code, couldn't really read it, it was smeared a bit.

Pours a chestnut-tinged mahogany with a finger of tan head. Not much lacing or head retention

S: Herbal & faint bready notes. Sarsaparilla & mint as this warms

T: Herbal & licorice notes a long with toasty & roasty malt notes. Spear minty notes come through as this warms, along with sarsaparilla & licorice, plus dryness.

MF: Medium bodied/chewy, subtle carbonation

I really enjoyed this, a well executed one-off that didn't disappoint

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Photo of Kegatron
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep cola-brown in the glass (with some ruby along the edges) and is topped with a finger of foamy mocha colored head. This retains with a tight ½ finger of creamy froth, which leaves back a robust and sticky cascade of lace. The aroma smells just as advertised, with notes of licorice, vanilla, and a dark and ripe fruity tanginess. There’s a touch of fresh mint flavor across the back of the nose as well, while just a touch of floral accents round out the edges. This is nice.

The taste changes things up a bit, with more malty notes of cocoa and caramel being at the forefront of the profile but I’m always picking up some vanilla and a ripe (and slightly tart) fruitiness to this as well. An earthy bitterness is present and adds a bit of assertiveness to this. Anise comes out across the back, lingering in an overall tart and tangy feeling finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a smooth crispness to this that glides along easily in the mouth. Maybe just a smidge of light warmth to this but nearly enough to tell me that this is 8%.

My experience with this beer pretty much mirrored the one that I had with it on draft last year. The nose really delivering the promised flavors (and it seemed even a bit more here in the bottle) but the flavor, while still good, just didn’t bring it as hard. This is still a really tasty and unique offering from Short’s though and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if given the chance.

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Photo of beergorrilla
3/5  rDev -22.5%

Photo of OddNotion
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split bottle into my Captain Lawrence stemmed glass. One of 16 bottles of Short's beers received in a very generous trade with kzoobrew, thanks Kevin!

Appearance: Black with no light penetrating. Two and a half finger tan head that recedes pretty quickly.

Smell: Smells like chocolate chip mint ice cream. I never though that mint would play the kind of role in the smell that it does. It is interesting, can not decide if I like it or if it is just that I am intrigued by it. I do not really smell the vanilla beans, its very "mint forward".

Taste: Very interesting. Nice and sweet. Mint is the main player and works great with the beer. Tastes like chocolate chip mint ice cream as in the smell, just scaled down a little. I think a dark lager was a good choice for the use of the mint leaves as they meld really well into the flavor of the beer but are not over powered by the roasty grains. Once again I struggle to find the vanilla, maybe it blends really well with the mint flavor. Very nice sweet malf flavors in the background.

Mouthfeel: To style, on the thinner side with decent carbonation.

Overall: Solid beer and I would certainly love to have this again. I doubt I would want more than a 12 oz bottle to myself in one sitting but certainly an enjoyable beer and a great way to be introduced to this creative and innovative brewery.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.62/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Massive thanks goes out to beeruser for sharing this one with funkydelic and I at an impromptu tasting! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller sampler wine glass. Poured a deep dark brown with a minimal slightly tan off-white head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, fruit, smoke, and licorice. The flavor was of sweet malt, nutty, and licorice. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. Nothing on this one really made me want to drink a whole lot of it. It was very interesting that they were able to tie the licorice into this beer very effectively, but I was not a fan of the flavors that came along with it. Worth trying for any licorice fan, but I would leave it at that...

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Photo of Tripphop
3.33/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very pretty beer, deep mahogany with crimson glow in the light. Minimal head, but carbonation is present in the sip. Nose is stront of anise, black licorice and sweet malt dominate the nose. Flavor overall is very confusing. Avery complex beer, but almost too many flavors. Mint comes through near the finish, but the licorice and chocolate flavors linger throughout. Sweet vanilla front with lingering licorice and a touch of bitterness.
Very unique brew, glad I got to try it. Not really a fan of licorice though..

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Photo of jduprey007
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of alleykatking
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle. Thanks to semibaked for this wonderful new Short's beer.

A- Pours a almost black color...more of a super deep brown. When held to the light there is amberish tint to this beer on the sides. One finger tan head shows light retention like most Short's beer. Light streaks of lace are left on the glass.

S- Anise shows in the front of the aroma profile for a quick second before retreating behind of chocolate malt profile. Middle of the beer shows a strange mint aroma that I wasn't expecting with this beer. Towards the end of the nose there is a lingery breadness to it along with a hint of darker fruit which is then covered by a mint/anise combo. A very interesting beer aroma.

T- Darker bready malts in the front of the beer interact with a darker fruit as well. Anise comes into play toward the ending of the front of the beer giving off a nice black licorice flavor. Middle of the beer calms with hints of chocoalte and toasted malts. Ending shows the chocolate mixing with mint which gives off a nice girl scout cookie flavor. Anise comes back in the backend with a hint of alcohol to finish it up.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the beer. Anise, chocoalte, mint, and hints of bready malts are left on the palate. Aftertaste is alcohol, chocolate, mint, and anise. Flavors were actually well blended together. No off flavors at all where present while drinking this beer. Medium alcohol drying left on the palate.

O- This beer was interesting to me as to be honest I didn't think I would like it. The flavors were very well blended and no one flavor outshined the others. ABV is a little high but it never really shows itself while drinking this beer. Overall another great beer from Short's!

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Photo of trappistlover
3.92/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(12oz bottle courtesy of rayl101! Pours black with a nice fluffy khaki head. When held up to the light, you can see its actually dark brown with some ruby hue. Active carbonation, but the bubbles are very small. Wow! Aroma is very powerful. Anise, chocolate and mint are prominent . I’m having trouble detecting the vanilla initially. There is a mint chocolate chip ice cream (which happens to be my favorite) thing going on with the aroma. Taste is sweet with a nice mix of anise and chocolate mint again. There is some bitterness, but its mostly roasty rather than hoppy. Medium bodied with a slick texture. Finish is smooth and seems like it cleanses the palate as anise and chocolate mint tend to do. This is a pretty unique beer and one that I enjoyed. If you don’t like anise or chocolate mint, then you will have a tough time with this.

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Black Licorice Lager from Short's Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 185 ratings