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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 129 | Ratings: 185
Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
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

Photo of brentk56
4.92/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours an espresso brown color with ruby highlights; the tan head sticks incredibly well and while the lacing is sporadic, the strength of the head is impressive

Smell: I can't help but pick up the chocolate mint as the dominant aroma, with vanilla wafers being secondary; the anise is also there, no doubt and puts up a good battle with the other aromas

Taste: The chocolate mint also dominates the front end, with some vanilla, licorice and balsa wood appearing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the anise flavor builds in intensity but that mint...oh, brother, how unusual is that

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate, but creamy, carbonation

Drinkability: It's too bad Short's is in such a remote location as their beers are very hard to come by; this is my first of three beers obtained in a trade with hoppymeal; if the others are anywhere near as good, it will be an extraordinary experience to drink them

Thanks again, hoppymeal

 960 characters

Photo of largadeer
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle shared by nickd717. Dark lager aged on anise seeds, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans and fresh chocolate mint leaves. Thanks, Nick. I was curious about this one, and it didn't disappoint.

Dark crimson-brown in the glass, excellent clarity and head retention. The nose is a melange of licorice, vanilla and root beer. It's faintly tar-like, chocolatey, minty, roasty. The taste is similarly odd; licorice, root beer, green tea and mint at the forefront with a subtle vanilla character. Medium-light body, herbal, spicy, unique. Black licorice finish. An odd beer, but very enjoyable.

 596 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. On tap at The Union in Clarkston, MI.

Pours near black with a thin head and not much lacing. The nose is quite nice with a good dose of black licorice. After that, a tad bit of vanilla and light molasses. Taste is all black licorice. Slightly sweet. Tastes fairly authentic. Good feel with a nice sweetness and good carbonation. Nice feel. A fairly one dimensional brew, but quite good and spot on in nailing the flavor.

 442 characters

Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into pint glass.

Pours 1/2 finger of tan head that fades down to a thin layer. Leaves slight splattered lace. Color is a deep caramel brown, but settles black.

Aroma: A big spice flavor on the nose. The mint is very apparent as well as chocolate and vanilla. It does smell a bit like black licorice.

Taste: Mint, chocolate, vanilla all melding together to create the black licorice flavor. Some spice notes again. Very malty.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, smooth, spiced. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with a mint flavored aftertaste.

Overall, another very unique beer from Shorts. Some unique flavors. A very big lager that I wasn't expecting. Drinks easy, however.

 692 characters

Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, no bottling date. Pours hazy very dark brown color with a nice 2 finger fairly dense tan head with great retention that reduces to a thick cap. Some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of big chocolate, mint leaves, licorice, vanilla, molasses, roasted malt, biscuit, dark fruit, and a bit of bourbon. Nice and very interesting aromas as I would have expected. Taste of big chocolate, roasted malt, light coffee, licorice, bourbon, vanilla, biscuit, mint leaves, dark fruit, and some herbal spiciness. Some light licorice tartness on the finish; with some lingering notes of chocolate, roasted malt, mint, and licorice on the finish for a bit. Finish is fairly dry. Very nice overall balance of flavors, with no cloying at all. Medium carbonation and body; with a fairly creamy and slick mouthfeel. Very smooth to drink at 8%. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming on the finish. Overall this is a surprisingly nice and interesting black lager; that is very drinkable and balanced.

 1,025 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

 1,499 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a near black body with a small, fizzy, khaki-colored head.

Smell: Aroma jam-packed with distinct-smelling black licorice and lesser notes of chocolate, roast, spearmint, and a vague fruitiness.

Taste: Sweetish black licorice flavor is quite heavy, with a lesser taste of semi-sweet chocolate. Slight hint of roasted malt. Tiny taste of chopped mint leaves. Thin measure of fruitiness. Lightly roasty finish with a lingering taste of root beer. All of the flavors and tastes combine beautifully to present a taste truly reminiscent of root beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Recommended. The best root beer I've had in a coon's age. Yet another wonderful creation by Short's Brewing.

 735 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
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

 562 characters

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.

 995 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

so i decided last night to break out 10, thats right 10 new shorts beers for a nice sampling with the family. turns out my and my brother in law were the only ones willing to go down this road, so long afternoon for sure. serve cold and consumed on 10/02/2010.

so i was perplexed by this one for sure. started out with a smooth, dark pour, nearly black with a neat and tight head of tan that sat on top somewhat nicely for a good bit of time.

aroma is licorice. dark, black licorice with a touch of licorice, lol. once sided at first but warming brought out a touch of light smoke and dark fruit notes that then started to dominate the scene. first sip smacks of deep licorice flavor that steals the show. i will admit it takes a bit to get used to but once it is there it is quite nicely done. light prune and plum flavors in the back field here give it some depth with a nice finish that smacks of dark fruit.

overall a very solid an very interesting offering. i could see myself doing this one on a whim again.

 1,016 characters

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.

 624 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a deep mahogany brown color with two inches of tan head and light carbonation evident. Head lasts for one to two minutes and leaves no lacing.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, chocolate, roasted malts, anise/licorice, light vanilla, very light bourbon. Smells very sweet and the dark fruit and chocolate definitely come out a lot. More vanilla as it warms up. I was expecting more anise/licorice, but it's pretty nice.

t - Tastes of bitter coffee and chocolate, licorice/anise, fennel, roasted malts, sweet fruit, and vanilla. More vanilla than the nose, and a ton more of that sweet anise/licorice than in the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth body.

d - Overall a pretty decent beer from Short's; one of their better beers that I've had. Lots of sweet licorice in the taste. Probably couldn't drink more than one of these personally due to licorice overload, but nice none the less.

 973 characters

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.

 1,008 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I have to admit I put two strikes against this one since it was a licorice beer. However, interestingly enough, there seems to be a nice minty tone to this from the licorice. And thankfully the licorice doesn't overpower things at all. What you get is a nice, evenly robust lager with a nice little flavor ride. Odd as it seems for me to say, this may end up being one of my favorite Shorts brews.

 397 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 Imperial Series #346/745, kindly delivered by rlcnmeyer a while back. Served in a taster glass at the monthly Goose Island gathering.

A - Pours with a dark tan finger of foam that settles to a thin cap and thick ring, with no lacing left behind. Dark brown with some transparency at the fringes.

S - Thin mints, dark bread, a bit of cocoa and vanilla, some earthy notes, and light anise.

T - Thin mints, dark rummy bread, black licorice. Finishes with light bitterness. More overt anise flavor here.

M - Body is somewhat thin, but the carbonation is thankfully not harsh. A little sticky and tooth-coating. Odd cooling menthol sensation.

D - Better than I expected. Reminded me of thin mints, or licorice cough drops like Fisherman's Friend. I had a couple pours of this one, and I may seek out a few of the new 12oz bottles to compare.

 846 characters

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.

 508 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, I hate licorice, anise and cough medicine, which are three things I think of before trying this brew.
A dark pour, some hints of ruby tones. Does it look a bit dark blue? Hmm. Slight head on it, a bit filmy.
A medium strength aroma of anise rises, followed by some slightly roasted malt and soft herbal hops. The licorice isn't very strong, but noticeable.
So goes with the taste. Very well balanced. Soft bourbon, anise, fennel and caramel blend nicely. Presently surprising. The anise/licorice is not the main focus. Slight medicinal touches. Easy drinking as well. Very nice brew!

 587 characters

Photo of Mora2000
3.88/5  rDev 0%
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.

 476 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As usual, another extremely interesting beer from Short's. This one is pours dark and slightly murky, but with a head that sticks around. Very nice aroma that's heavy on chocolate and vanilla, and lighter on anise and mint. The beer is aged on chocolate mint leaves, anise, and vanilla beans, and I'm surprised how much chocolate comes through from the chocolate mint leaves. The anise is almost lost on the nose, but the overall effect is very pleasant, with a light snap of mint right at the end. The taste is heavier with dark licorice notes, bitter chocolate, roastiness, and a bitter earthiness. There are some vanilla notes throughout and some mintiness on the end again. A substantial beer, and perhaps just a touch harsher than it should be, but so very interesting.

 774 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz received in an amazing trade from Kbeals... Our 3rd!! Kevin is a stud, but don't look him up as a trader, I want the great connection all to myself ;-)

Shared this one with Inflatablechair and Ditmier .... Pours with a thin tan head.. pretty black, yet clear brew.

Lighty roastiness but has a lite yet pronounced chocolate mint character.. I love chocolate mint and some cocoa in the nose and subtle sweetness really makes it jump from the glass... surprisingly, I am only getting background licorice.

More "candy shop" licorice plays in the palate.... I normally don't appreciate anything anise or licorice, but this works pretty well.. the mint aspect moves more toward the finish.. chocolate is present, yet more in the middle and helps bring out the mint at the end.

Lite/medium body and good carbonation.. Pretty interesting.. glad I got a chance to try this one pretty fresh.. I doubt age will do much for the plethora of ingredients.

Thanks again Kevin.... I hope you like your box as much as I like mine.


 1,036 characters

Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic.

(A)- Pours a dark black color that produced a good brown colored head with decent retention.

(S)- A rich yet smooth black licorice aroma with a light roasted raisin finish.

(T)- Just like the smell. A lovely rich black licorice flavor with hints of a nutty raisin creaminess.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Very smooth and creamy with that awesome black licorice kick.

(D)- A fun and unique take on the style. A nice idea to kick up the flavor a notch with the black licorice addition. Smooth and creamy. A successful offering from Shorts.

 595 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to witbier for bringing this six pack back from Short's.

A: The lager is black, a schwarzbier if ever I say one. It's darkness rivals that of a stout, nothin' in and nothin' out. A finger of tan head, a lighter brown hue, was quickly reduced to a thin band.

S: Where I was expecting anisey black licorice, I got a strong dose of molasses with mint hiding under the surface. A powerful, enticing aroma even it if isn't the black licorice as promised.

T: The mint and chcolate stand out, leaving a dry finish in their wake. More molasses, the blackstrap variety with its burnt strength. Anise is at a premium, although a vanilla flavor, faint, does peep through. The combination of flavors come across a tad metallio, as though it is off, even though I know it isn't. It does make me wonder, though, if my 750 mL bottle has the same qualities. The mid- to late-sip flavors bring home the dark lager body, roasted with a decent bite.

M: The mouthfeel seems, as I mentioned, off at times. Regardless, the flavor is solid with enough Short's-like twists and turns to keep me interested.

D: The ale doesn't feel like an 8% whopper (of course these 12 oz bottles could be lower). An interesting take that oculd use a little more anise.

 1,240 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into tulip aug22 2010

A near black with a fast falling two finger tan head that left a couple partial rings of lace

S milk chocolate with some licorice and a little mint and booze

T not far from the smell but more licorice and mint and booze is well concealed

M thinner then I expected but enough carbonation to give it a slightly creamy feel

D pretty easy to drink for a 8%alc brew, nice flavors and unlike anything else I can think of

this is a beer worth seeking out if you want something original, thanks irishkyle21 for sending this one my way

 575 characters

Photo of maximum12
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for malty for dragging a load of Short's brews to the Great Taste for a box of Surly; seems both of us went away happy. After a delicious Huma Lupa playing poker, it's on to this strange sounding beast.

Pours is untranslucent black, with minimal light leakage even about the edges. And I'll be damned if the thing doesn't smell like black licorice. Once in my head, it's pretty much all I can imagine. How'd they do that?

Black Licorice Lager carries the nose over into the body, too. Minty mints are in the fore, mixed with chocolate, almost like those little after dinner mints they give you at restaurants that are trying to be a touch better than they really are. Fact is, that's exactly what it tastes like. Wrap-up is bitter hops with a espresso-style sidekick, leaning against the sweetness of the forefront. I would absolutely not want more than one of this creature, but I find myself picking it up frequently. I imagine I might look puzzled. I feel my brow creasing.

Notably creamy in the mouth, almost like an oatmeal stout.

What a weird brew. Weird, but good. I don't believe I need another any time soon, but it's certainly piqued my interest to see what other bizarrities this brewery has cooked up.

 1,228 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Black Licorice Lager from Short's Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 185 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.