Black Licorice Lager | Short's Brewing Company

very good
129 Reviews
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

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Reviews: 129 | Ratings: 185
Photo of jpmclaug
2.08/5  rDev -46.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Poured from the bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. Grabbed this bottle at Siciliano's in Michigan during the 4th of July.

A - Black as the name would suggest with a small tan had that quickly disappeared. If you hold it up to the light it has a bit of a brown hue.

S - This one is pretty difficult to describe. Hints of sweet fruits with a little bit of black licorice aroma. Interesting aroma.

T - Black licorice flavor up front with a malty bit of flavor in the finish. Weird taste up front but I've never cared much for black licorice. This beer just isn't for me. Pretty much undrinkable.

M - medium body with a good amount of carbonation.

D - I can't do more than 3 or 4 sips of this. I don't love black licorice but never hated it. This is just a bit too much for me. I hope this never touches my lips again.

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Photo of Jayli
2.26/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Acquired from decadance via our most recent trade so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!!!
Poured in to a pint glass.

A: This beer pours a deep opaque brown with a 1/2 inch of khaki colored head. Head recedes quickly with minor lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is black licorice. Ouch. I knew by the name it had licorice, but I'm hoping that there isn't THIS much licorice. Big notes of anise as well.

T: Taste is nothing but anise and licorice. Wow. I was hoping that the nose was deceiving. Not so much. Licorice and anise is huge, a decent amount of mint notes also come through. LIghter sweet malts hit the finish.

M: Lighter bodied, medium carbonation, crisp and clean.

O: Goes down ok, not very tasty, well hidden kick, interesting represntation of style. I wanted to like this beer, but it just didn't do it for me. It was a licorice beer, it was licorice with beer...and it was a bit much.

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Photo of Florida9
2.33/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Appears black in the glass, but holding it up to the light shows it to a have a deep, dark ruby color to it. Forms a weak light tan head that quickly reduces to a thick ring around the edge. Leaves some light lacing.

S: Aroma is mostly anise with some mint or peppermint in the background. The slight nose of alcohol mixed with the anise makes this smell almost like Sambuca.

T: Oh god, why did I put this in my mouth? Holy fucking tongue terror. A fake chocolate mint taste assaults my tongue. It fades ever so slowly to an even more foul minty mouthwash flavor highlighted by lightly roasted malts and toasted anise seeds. The flavor sticks on the tongue with a artificially minty saccharine sweetness. Why? why? why? I think I'm going to cry.

M: On the lighter side of medium in body. Cloying, sticky, and unrelenting in the mouth. As minty fresh as that cheap ass mouthwash you get for free in hotels rooms.

O: Wow, this has to be one of the worst beers I've had the misfortune of trying as of recent. Unbearably heavy on the anise, with virtually no redeeming quality that I can think of. It's as if someone took a subpar dark beer and thought they might spice it up a bit by adding mouthwash to it. It simply doesn't work on so many levels.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.64/5  rDev -32%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Thorpe for this one.

A: The beer pours a very dark brown color with a finger of off-white head.

S: Heavy licorice/anise aroma with a lot of lactic notes to it. There are some herbal hop notes and a little bit of roasted malt. It's also a little bit metallic, sort of like many other Short's beers.

T: Sweet malt, a light smokiness, and tons and tons of licorice and anise. As with the aroma, there is a little bit of a lactic tartness. Sort of watery, too, and a little bit of metal.

M: Light to medium in body with a medium carbonation.

O: Just a really weird, funky, flavor and aroma to this. Not very good.

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Photo of jmarsh123
2.82/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours an opaque black with a very small tan head that fades immediately.

Nose definitely lives up to the name. Black licorice and a bit of anise.

Similar to the nose, but a little weaker flavor profile. Black licorice and anise are heavily present throughout with that slightly tangy finish similar to most Short's beers.

A bit watery on the mouthfeel with a good bit of carbonation.

Another interesting idea comes up short. Too watery and the yeast strain doesn't play nice with the initial licorice flavor.

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Photo of zeledonia
2.98/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Bottled April 2011. Tasted 31 August 2011, reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark brown, opaque, coffee-colored at the edges. Big thick two-finger head, a light tan color, nice retention. Tons of sticky lacing, so abundant it actually looks like lace.

Smell is interesting - dark malts, but also black licorice. About half black licorice, a quarter dark malts, and a quarter warm and slightly sweet (vanilla). It's a crazy cacophony that almost works, but doesn't quite come together for me. The licorice is a little too dominant.

Sadly, I don't like licorice. And this doesn't taste like beer with licorice highlights, it tastes like licorice beer. There's a little bit of dark roasted malts before the licorice kicks in, but the middle two-thirds of the taste is strong licorice and slightly bitter. I don't like it. Fortunately, it gets less licorice-heavy as it warms up, but still not enough that I really want to drink it.

Mouthfeel is quite thin and light. Carbonation is medium-low - with the heaviness of the flavors, it could use some more.

This beer doesn't work for me. My big caveat, though, is that I don't like licorice, and I don't like the way it combines with beer. Adding sharpness and bitterness on top of something that's already bitter and sharp doesn't help. Adding black licorice to a rich, sweet stout might work, but here it just accentuates the qualities I don't like: the acrid and thin bitter flavors.

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Photo of sidetracked
3.19/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with dark brown highlights and lots of foamy light brown head. Head dissipates fairly quickly leaving a ring and thin film of head.

Smell is chocolate and mint, roasty malts. Kind of floral. Not much else going on.

Upfront taste is slightly bitter with roasted/toasted malts and mint. Finish has some brown sugar sweetness, chocolate, and mint. Reminds me a bit of mint ice cream. Lingering minty flavor.

Medium body with medium carbonation. Slightly sticky.

For me this was a "meh" beer. The chocolate and mint is kind of nice, but I didn't get any licorice ever. Easy to drink due to the medium body and subdued flavor.


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Photo of emmasdad
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from the tap a deep dark brown (almost black) with ruby hued edges and a short khaki head. Aromas of black licorice, mint, tarragon and simmering cocoa. On the palate, this one was fairly crisp, medium bodied, somewhat medicinal, with chocolate-mint, licorice and roasted malt. Good, but not all that drinkable.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2007 or 2008 vintage 750ml bottle shared at a tasting by rogue.

The beer is really a dark, dark ruby color. The thinner parts of the glass relinquish it's red hues. Lots of little pearls of lacing stick to the glass.

There is plenty of oxidation, but the papery notes work well with the other aromas of this beer. Anise is very strong, but its kept in check by vanilla and even a little bit of bourbon.

I think I can handle the smell of anise a little better than the taste of it. This beer is loaded with black licorice, but it has enough stuff going on that it begins to sit back. There is a lot of nutty vanilla bean sweet earthiness, some bourbon, a nutty husk cocoa nib like flavor and some dry oxidation.

Thinnish body with a tame carbonation. There is a surprising level of heat to this beer.

A really cool beer to be able to try. This lager aged quite well, I'd say. The anise is strong, but probably at the highest level it can be without ruining the beer.

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Photo of amphion1065
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle - thanks for this extra Shumista. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a an almost pure black, quite similar to licorice. No head to speak of, and unfortunately no lacing.

The smell is incredibly similar to Fernet, though without the sharp hint of alcohol. There is a ton of mint at work here, with a significant amount of chocolate, too. The combined effect of these two flavors is a smell somewhat close to licorice, but that specific flavor is not terribly present.

Very, very smooth flavor. Again, the mint is quite strong here, and I really enjoy the flavor. Unlike the aroma, the licorice taste is quite strong. It reminds me a little bit of anise, with an added element of chocolate.

Feel is a little flat, and on the thin side. I couldn't imagine drinking a lot of this stuff, but 6-8 oz. would make a nice digestif.

A beguiling brew, and I'd expect nothing less from Short's. I'm a big fan of both licorice and the combination of chocolate and mint and I found this very interesting, though likely not a beer I'll seek out again.

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Photo of Gorgoroth
3.31/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From tasting notes taken on 10/20/10

Presentation: Typical Short's label layout, rather neat but, as always, lacking important information such as ABV, bottling date, etc. The artwork on this particular label is on the less-inspiring end of Short's offerings but it's not an eyesore.

Appearance: Pours into oversize snifter a deep brown with almost no visible carbonation except near the head which is half-a-fingerwidth, smooth and the color of mocha.

Smell: The base of the aroma is dark chocolate with hints of fresh mint and vanilla and possibly notes of star anise. The aroma is not very potent.

Taste: The palate experiences dark chocolate and burnt coffee with a lingering burnt taste in the throat. There is a slight cooling , herbal spiciness (i.e. minty, star anise) on the back of the palate with gentle hop spice undertones throughout. It is fairly sweet but also notably spicy in the herbal sense.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a medium body with coolness from the spices and light carbonation. There is a slight oily cloy in the throat.

Drinkability & Final Thoughts: This beer isn't hard to drink and it's not a terrible beer, but some things about it were a little off-putting to me. When I see such a dark pour with light carbonation and a small, tan head, and smell dark chocolate and burnt coffee, I except a rather full, chewy mouthfeel and lots of bready, roasted malt character. However, this beer's body is medium at strongest and there isn't nearly the strength of roasted malt flavor one might expect. I also think the cooling spice flavors would work better if they were held up against a thicker body and breadier flavors; as it stands, they come like an afterthought in an otherwise fairly straightforward and not particularly exemplary Euro-style dark lager. Short's doesn't entirely miss the mark but they've brewed much better.

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Photo of Tripphop
3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
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 xnicknj
3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into dfh signature glass - thanks to lgandrew

Pours a deep blackened color with a slightly tanned head. Retains with a layer of film on top, plenty of spotty lacing on the glass.

Interesting nose, almost like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but with some slight hints of booze. Vanilla, anise, and roasted malts, slight metallic hint.

Roasted malts with some leafy, oily hoppy notes. Mint and vanilla with a slick layering of licorice. A bit of sweetness and chocolate, hint of warmth. Little touches of off flavor and slight metallic flair, but not out of control (yet). Finishes with a bite of vanilla sweetness and faint alcohol.

Fuller medium body, slightly higher carbonation, attempts to be creamy but some prickly feel as well. Another off beat and interesting beer from Short's, although it feels like there's something off here.

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Photo of Franz4
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a chalice

A- Looks like a stout for sure, 1/2 finger of tan head that settles to a thin cap.

S- Smells of black licorice, pepper, and a couple other spices mixed in.

T- Anise is prominent here, strong flavor, well placed and probably very close to what the brewer intended, but I can't say I'm feeling it.

M- very dry, not thirst quenching at all, leaves a strong aftertaste in the mouth.

O- a complex brew, but it just wasn't doing it for me, not quite to my taste but seemed to be well crafted, we'll call it average.

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Photo of JamnesCameron
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Second Short's brew tonight, first one was infected. Let's try this one in a Dogfish Head glass.

Pours pitch black with a tan head that does not last.

Heavey aromas of anise seed dominate. Hard to smell much else over the anise.

Flavors of roasted malt and licorice. Slightly sour. Some cocoa and vanilla notes.

Mouthfeel is thin and rather dry, almost puckering.

Drinkability is good. Not a "wow" beer. But I'll enjoy the bottle I have.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
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 phishisphunk
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to splax23 for the extra. I totally dig black licorice, so I'm really looking forward to trying this one.

A: Pours a deep, translucent brown with reddish hues. Pretty dark, however the red hues reveal a brown looking ale when held against light. A one inch fluffy and bubbly head remains for several moments. Looks very inviting.

S: Unlike other Short's brews, I'm struggling to pick up the aroma on this one, possibly due to the fact that I chilled it down a bit prior to imbibing. But unlike other Short's, which I can usually smell from several feet away, the aroma is subtle. However, the first aromas are chocolate mint, more mint then chocolate, but defintely some dark chocolate in the mix with the mint. Beneath the mint is very subtle anise and the slightest hints of bourbon-y vanilla. Bready malt and lager yeast pull these unsual aromas to find in a beer back into the beer-ish realm.

T: The taste on this one is strongly mint. Entry, mid-palate, and finish is mint. The mint lingers along with dry cocoa powder. Really struggling to find the licorice. It's in there, but like the aroma, it's subtle and drowned out by the mint. The finish is also slightly metallic and clean. I imagine the lager yeast is really showcasing the mint.

M: The beer is well carbonated. Really does a good job of picking up the flavors and moving them through the palate to the finish. No complaints here.

O: I imagine a beer like this one could have ended up a convoluted mess of flavors. My only real fault is that the licorice isn't as well showcased as well as I anticipated. Really struggled to find it. The mint is well highlighted without being overbearing. Fairly easy drinking, but I imagine this would pair better with a dish that would benefit from a minty aperitif or with glazed pork chops, etc. Not really a desert beer.

Another interesting beer from Short's who always seems to stray from the beaten path.

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Photo of 33nickadams
3.44/5  rDev -11.3%
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 EricCioe
3.48/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This pours a very dark brown with a two finger sepia head leaving nice lacing with a nice cap after it dies down a bit. On the nose there is mint and anise in about equal proportions. There is also something like charred oak deeper down, but the anise and especially the mint truly dominate. In the mouth, the anise dominates, but not in the pleasant way it can in a good stout. It's exactly what the label says, black licorice, which to me isn't melded as well as it ought to have been here. I'm able to entertain Short's forays into the strange but this was a bit much for me. Others may feel otherwise, because the quality is evident. The body is medium but with a goofy, soda-like carbonation. People say root-beer and I can see where that comes from.

Overall, while the quality of the brew is evident, it just didn't sit well on my palate. The mint and anise, while a nice combination in theory, end up working against one another here. Again, others may find this better than I do.

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Photo of nkersten
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
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 billab914
3.51/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish shaped pint glass. It poured nearly black in color with a fizzy head filling the rest of the glass. Head retention was decent and it did leave a little lacing as i drank it.

The aroma shows a lot of star anise to it. It gives it a pretty bold licorace like flavor, but there is also a good dose of citrus to it. I don't get much past that for the aroma.

The taste shows a lot of the star anise throughout the flavor. It shows a pretty bright citrus flavor to it right up front as well. Towards the finish I start to get more of a cocoa like chocolate flavor to it along with just a hint of the vanilla. It definitely has a lot of sweetness to it throughout the flavor as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being below average. Drinkability is pretty decent and better then I expected going in. The star anise was a little strong for me, but I liked how the chocolate kicked in some towards the finish. Pretty decent beer overall.

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Photo of Giggy
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: This beer pours a dark brown with very little transparency and small beige head that quickly fades to a thin ring around the edges of the glass. The aroma consists of moderate doses of licorice with light coffee, vanilla, and hints of mint. The flavor starts with a quick dose of black licorice and is slightly bitter and dry. The finish has moderate dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and a touch of vanilla. It leaves behind a minty chocolate aftertaste. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Churchkey DC. Beer is black with a nice tan head of tiny bubbles, moderate carbonation, lots of lacing.

Aroma is sweet and spicy with an almost toothpaste quality to it. I know it's from the anise, it is not off-putting but it is also not too inviting. Oh well.

Beer is mildly sweet with a nice moderate finish. The anise is the star of the flavor and it does have this medicinal quality to it but I don't hate it. I like it more than other anise beers I've had and I'd even have it again.

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Photo of hopdog
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle acquired in trade with hoppymeal (thanks Derek!). Bottled on 2.13.07 and #203 or 744.

Poured a dark brown color with a large (5 finger) sized off white head. Aromas of licorice, anise, roasty, vanilla beans, and chocolate. Tastes started off very minty with licorice, chocolate, lighter vanilla, herbal, and anise. This one was, as most Short's are, 'different' and I appreciate a brewer trying beers like this!

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Photo of Spider889
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage bottle shared by rogue at a beer tasting. Really cool beer to bring, even if it's not typical to cellar a lager for so long!

A - Black in color, nice tall coffee colored head.

S - Licorice and chocolate with loads of vanilla. Age has not quieted the vanilla beans, though I wasn't smelling any of the bourbon aspect of the Madagascar beans.

T - Light bitterness, toasty, some char, and also chocolate sweetness. The licorice/anise is much heavier on the nose, it's barely notable in the flavor. No mint is left remaining (which is very likely a good thing imo).

M/O - Bitter up front, a bit hot - maybe this is partially due to the vanilla bean, but overall drinks smoothly. I'll bet this beer is really something when fresh, and while odd, this was not bad at all, even at a ripe old age of 3.

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Black Licorice Lager from Short's Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 185 ratings.
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