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
Photo of TCgoalie
4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from 6/12/10

Pretty unimpressive with the pour, it comes out like a dark cup of coffee. No head, No lacing, No fun.

The smell is that of wood, mint, and anise. Not extremely interesting and a bit mild.

As you can see above, I'm not built up much for the taste. Yum, I should have been...this brew tastes great. Dark and roasty, this is much less anise-y that I thought it may be. There is a touch of spice with the anise coming out more at the end.

Medium mouthfeel low on carbonation which is interesting. The dark malt and anise linger a while after the sip.

A nice change of pace beer, this goes down slower than a standard lager.

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Photo of WakeandBake
3.83/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice black pour with a light tan two finger head , leaving some spotty lacing , medium carbonation . Aroma of black licorice, vanilla , roast , and a hint of mint leaves . Flavor is much the same as the aroma , roasty , , wood , vanilla , chocolate, licorice, and light hops , light;y bitter , short finish , light body, thin feel, quite drinkable and not too bad .

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Photo of techfed87
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a moderately sized head.

Color is jet black. Gives off a VERY anise-full scent, combined with a darker roasted character. I can definitely say that I've never smelled anything like this!

First sip is a bit of a surprise. What appeared to be something smelling quite heavily of liquorice has suddenly turned into a very satisfying, well balanced lager. And being about as heavy as one can get before turning it into an ale, I can definitely say I enjoy its malt complexities as well as its overall mouthfeel. Its carbonation is also nice, giving just enough of that bite that you expect from a drink that should be served cold, rather than at cellar temperature.

Cheers to you, Shorts, you really know how to make them!

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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 JohnGalt1
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
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.


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Photo of JordanEllwanger
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark near black and opaque with a caramel colored thin head. A fair amount of sediment cakes the bottom of the bottle. Pouring it in completely snaps the head to a denser slightly darker foam. Smells like an English dark lager, lots of malt presence and of course the ting of black licorice. Not as strong of a licorice taste as i thought there would be. Pleasantly surprised by a really good blend of ingredients. I was not looking forward to an over powering licorice taste. Great beer.

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Photo of GRPunk
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle (stamped 050710) poured into a pilsner glass.

A- A moderate pour left a 2-finger, dark tan head that dropped right to 1/2 finger and eventually to a thin film that left decent sticky rings on the glass. The body was a deep brown-black.

S- It's quite complex. Intially I picked up a good deal of chocolate. Herbal scents that are floating around are a little lighter. There's a definite sweetness of brown sugar and vanilla mixed with the chocolate.

T- More complexity in the flavor. It starts of chocolatey (more dark than milk). There's a lot going on through the middle. Licorice flavor comes out a bit with an herbal mixture. It finish off with soft vanilla. The sweetness is held in check by herbal qualities. The alcohol is cleverly hidden behind bold flavors.

M- Moderate to heavy carbonation with just a hint of alcoholic bite. Something about it comes off as a bit chalky.

D- It's a definite sipper. Flavor made me want to take full sips, but the ABV really sneaks up on you about halfway through the bottle. The complexities of this beer really make me want to drink it again to try to "figure it out."

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Photo of kruz805
4.62/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: jet black with a dark tan creamy head that presists

S: coco with a light mint aroma. Med low burbon aroma with a hint of vanilla. Did not get much anaise aroma.

T: chocolate and lsome mint, burbon and vanilla. Very much the same as the aroma

M: this is only a medium body beer but, you exspect more.

D: due to this beer being a lager, itis very smooth and clean. Nice to have a few glasses but may become a little much.

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Photo of GregoryVII
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I treated my snifter to Short's Black Licorice Lager, which had a dark, rich brown color with a copper red outline along the curves of the glass. The head produced was minimal, with a heavy straw tinting to it and the lacing climbed, descended and clung beautifully as I swirled the beer. The smell came across strongly of roasted malts, perhaps roasted chocolate malt, with nice toasty whiffs and pleasant bits of sweetness. It was akin to a slightly overdone cookie. Upon the first sip, I was struck again by roasted malts, this time coming across like a nice toasty biscuit. As I swallowed I was hit with a pop of the star anise, producing a drop of black licorice on the tongue. There are very subdued, slight suggestions of vanilla and a refreshing aftertaste that could be construed as mint if one were so inclined. For all of the flavor elements involved, it is still a remarkably smooth beer. The lager wins out in the end in what is a crisp, clean and well made affair. The body is full and the beer finishes slightly dry.

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

12 oz. longneck bottle with no freshness/date stamp. Served at about 52F.

Force poured into my Ayinger Altbairisch stemmed tulip glass produced a dark mahogany brown liquid with a fluffy khaki 1" head. Clear blood red hilights when held up next to a bright light source. Some sporadic broken lace visible.

I could smell this immediately from 30 in. away upon the initial pour. From afar I smelled dark chocolate and freshly ground carob chips. Bringing the vessel under my nostrils (and after a few swirls) I get a crazy blend of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, dark chocolate caramel, a bit of coffee and anise.

The initial taste is slightly burnt fudge brownies. Then there's the mint. After that, the black licorice comes in. Mixed in with the mint & anise notes, a hint of vanilla surfaces. The blending of the dark malts, hops and these specialty fragrant ingredients somehow slightly remind me of the taste of an Old Rasputin in an odd way. I'm getting a little sweet basil at the bacl of my throat when this crazy barrage of unique flavors quell.

The mouthfeel is crisp, oily and lust a bit lighter than medium bodied. The hops make for a somewhat chalky texture with the carbonation being at a perfect moderate level with fine-medium sized bubbles. Zesty, spicy long flavorful finish.

Drinkability is very good for such a unique and wonderfully peppy beer.

Overall this is a perfect showcasing of what Short's can do with good quality ingredients outside of barley, yeast & hops. This whacky combination of ingredients really makes for a stunningly flavorful and pallet training experience. I'd love to pair this with some lamb vindaloo and some Nan bread with mango chutney. This beer is begging for a daring food pairing for sure. Although, it's doing quite fine on its own on this perfect 70F late-spring night.

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Photo of semibaked
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue Tulip.

A - Pours a very black with black highlights and a black hue that produces a very nice 1 inch dark brown head, it coats the glass well and produces great lacing.

S - A lot of dark roasted malts, some earthiness, slight black licorice and baking chocolate. Very deep smelling, definitely a lot of depth.

T - Wow this definitely tastes like black licorice, just the right amount too, also get the baking chocolate and the dark roasted malts, also has some acidity.

M - Almost medium bodied, I wish there was more creaminess and more body, definitely the most disappointing part of this beer.

D - Short's certainly nailed the flavor, it is also very easy drinking and wouldn't of guessed it was 8%. This has a lot of flavor and YOU should definitely try it!

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Photo of drxandy
3.9/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz to tulip glass, pours a dark deep black that no light passes through, creamy mocha head fades

smells of anise and mint, roasty malt

taste is heavy on mint first, followed by the anise and roasty malt, hops linger on in the back, i wonder how it would taste with a lighter hop bill, dry and roasty with a touch of smoke, lots of flavor, at first i served too cold so i waited for it to warm up

mouthfeel is bitter and dry, lingering hops, slightly sweet

i wouldn't really like to session this one, but very tasty - a nice treat with a meal i would imagine

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Photo of gordavidson
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- A very dark brown bordering on black liquid with a thin brown head that has some good retention.

S- Anise, mint, chocolate, and some coffee. Unique and enjoyable.

T- Anise and mint fight it out for dominance while the roasted coffee and chocolate qualities come up in the end. The mint is a little heavy for my tastes, but this is complex and enjoyable.

M- Smooth and creamy with lasting roasted and mint flavors.

D- The alcohol is well hidden, but it does catch up with you. The mint aspect is a bit overdone, but this is unique, tasty, and well worth a try.

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Photo of bierenutz
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a dark murky brown color with a mocha head that disappears fairly quickly leaving almost no lacing about the glass.
S-Burnt coffee, chocolate aromas overpower the softer smell of mint, caramel and licorice.
T-Licorice flavored coffee. Unfortunately, like the smell the sweeter and spicier elements are overwhelmed.
M-Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. The finish is dry with a smokey aftertaste.
D-I wanted this beer to give me more than it did. I was looking forward to this, but came away somewhat disappointed based on my apparently lofty expectations.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a pint glass. Thick and black with a only a slight head. Smells of a sweet mix of spices that really reminds me of Vernors, heavy on anise. Taste is initially sweet vanilla and caramel-like that slowly develops into a very smoky dark chocolate flavor. Anise is very prevalent throughout, with some other spicy peppercorn-ish flavors.

Alcohol blends in fairly well, but it is apparent this is at least a medium to high-strength beer.

This is pretty off the wall with an complex mix of flavors. I'm not sure if it really tastes like black licorice, but it does taste interesting. I love trying Short's beers because of stuff like this.

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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 largadeer
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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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 tpd975
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to jdubfl for bringing all the Short's beers in for a tasting.

A: Pours a flat blackish brown sort of hue. Small tan head with little retention or lace.

S: Vanilla forward with anise beneath. Almost craft rootbeer aroma. Light chocolate and some cream.

T: Lots of balance between the flavors. Fresh vanilla bean with notes of light anise, chocolate, and some roasted malt. A hint of fresh mint in the finish.

M: Medium in body, smooth, good carbonation to carry the flavor.

D: Good, damn these Imperial series brews are so good and so unique. The best Lager to ever pass my lips.

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Photo of gford217
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another gem provided by hoppymeal. 750mL bottle #403 poured into a tulip.

Pours dark brown out of the bottle and settles in completely black in the glass with a big billowy tan head that recedes fairly quickly but leaves tons of delicate lacing on the sides.

Well, there's definitely some licorice in this one! Sweet licorice just dominates the nose, much sweeter than the licorice I normally experience in beer. On top of that is the chocolaty mint aroma. I love this aroma.

The taste just picks up where the aroma leaves off. The first sip taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream, with some dark malts in there to remind me its a beer. The finish brings back the black licorice which lingers through the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is fairly heavy for a lager with good carbonation and tons of sweetness that sticks to the mouth after each sip.

Overall, this is a wonderfully crafted and very sweet dessert beer that's not fooling around when it comes to the licorice. Their imperial series has been a wonderfully creative mix of beers and this is definitely one of my favorites. An outstanding beer.

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

Pours a very dark brown in color, damn near black. Smell is obviously black licorice. Some nice mint and highly dark licorice. Taste is dark malts, some mint and some guess what, black licorice! How do you get dark licorice flavor in a beer? Very smooth and easy drinking. Short's can pull off stuff that you just don't see anywhere else.
Very smooth, and medium on the mouthfeel. Enjoyable and well done.

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Photo of hopdog
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
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 csmiley
3.87/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Much appreciation to prototypic for the chance to try this brew.

A - Pours dark brown with little light that is able to make it through at the edges. There is a garnet / cola color present when held to the light. The tan head is fairly minimal. Light lacing remians in the glass.

S - Nose is lighter than expected. Some chocolate and burnt caramel notes are present followed by vanilla. Gets a little metallic in the middle. Alcohol pops in midway to finish. There is something in the middle of this brew that I can't put my finger on exactly.

T - Strong flavors of cocoa dance around the palate throughout this brew. A smoother vanilla comes through and plays a nice compliment to the cocoa. Light peppery spice and alcohol are evident at the very end. Interesting...very interesting.

M - Fuller bodied with light carbonation. Finish is sweet with a hint of warm spice. It hangs out for a while.

D - Drinkability is good. This is one of the most interesting brews I've had for a while. The alcohol content is fairly high but does not hinder the beer in any way. Unfortunately, the flavor combination really does not work that well for me. Still not a bad brew though. As it warms the flavors start to smooth out a little better. Throughout, I had the nagging sensation that I was drinking sour milk but it never came through strong enough to really hamper beer overall. Just something that sits in the back of the mind and will not go away. Still, I'm glad I got the chance to try it out.

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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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3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

You eaisly achieve a three finger rocky carmel brown head with a decent pour. Scattered speckled lace is left behind. Body is as black as the name would suggest. Nose has noticeable black licorice, burnt malt and cola. Enters the mouth dark and rich as the black licorice feel is not big and harsh as I was fully expecting, yet it is mellow and effervesent all over the mouth. Burnt malt and black vanilla cognac are very evident in the flavor profile. Really coats the mouth completely and is almost a bit oily. Very well hidden alchol. Mouthfell is thick rich and overall sweet. This consistant thick syrupy feel kind of hurts the drinkability a bit.

Thanks to hoppymeal for this one.

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