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 Bierguy5
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Date appears to be 042011. Pitch black color, with a great tan, rocky head. Very good head retention, and some nice lace. Good looking beer so far.

Anise strikes first in the nose. Mint leaves weave their way through next. Roasty notes from the malt are washed away quickly with the earthy and spicy notes. Faint vanilla. Certainly a lot going on here for a dark lager.

Some sweetness up front. Roasty malt falls in next. The vanilla comes through a bit, as well as the minty flavor. Anise is much more restrained than in the nose, as well as earthy and spicy notes, but there is a small amount in the finish. An almost cocoa-like feel flashes in for a second as well.

Lighter body, with a good feel from the carbonation. Some alcohol is felt, but still hidden well. This is the most complex dark lager I have had. Certainly unique, with many layers. Well done, and this is from someone who doesn't like black licorice much.

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4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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 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 AgentZero
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Black, looks a bit like a schwarzbier. Small tan head, not much retention.

S - A lot of licorice, some anise, a bit of mint. A bit of lager yeast.

T - Herbal and licorice notes with some toasty and malty notes. it really is a licorice lager, and not a bad one.

M - Medium bodied, with moderate carbonation.

O - Not a bad beer, the anise and licorice aren't so overpowring as to wreck the beer like often seems to happen here. Good effort by shorts.

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Photo of J0E
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle just a few hours ago, seemed like something I just had to try once.

Poured into a snifter, this is a nice dark brown lager. A couple fingers worth of a tan head. The smell is very strong on the mint, but i also get hints of the vanilla and anise - maybe even some chocolate. It is a really interesting smelling beer. The taste is a little heavier on the anise and vanilla. Then it finishes with a nice mint and chocolate. It is a little thinner than I'd like, but it isn't a style I drink very often. Overall it is a very interesting brew from shorts. I'd drink it again if it was offered, maybe even pick another up if I see one at one of the shops I go to. As someone who isn't too fond of licorice flavor, I was surprised with how subdued Shorts made the anise flavor. It is just in the background with the vanilla, adding complexities and making this a really good beer.

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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 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 martyrthisthat
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

After having the horrific experience of having the PB & J Ale by Short's I was kind of turned off by the company. But I am so glad that I tried this. This is one of the best beers I've had in a long time. I didn't find the anise flavour to be very strong. To me it tasted more like mint chocolate chip ice cream. a beautifully crafted beer.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split two ways with the wife. Poured from a 12oz bottle into Perfect Pint glass.

The body is dark brown/black that does allow light through when held at eye level. A small layer of cream colored head settled on top of the body and vanished rather quickly, leaving zero lace behind.

This one has a powerful nose! Tons of mint and anise almost burn your nostrils. Not much else can be detected through that wall...

Mint and malts pretty much dominate the palate from start to finish. You can get a little bit of the anise flavor in the middle and a tiny peek of chocolate roasted-ness at the finish, but, like the nose, the mint is king.

Medium bodied, light carbonation and slick...just how the MF should be.

I went into this knowing that this beer would not be my cup of tea, so I kept an opened mind when reviewing. It is tasty and denying that...but I think the mint keeps it from tasting like the namesake...

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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 trappistlover
3.92/5  rDev +1%
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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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 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 DannyDan
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours out a dark brown, almost black body with a thick tan head. Has very good lacing and retention, and moderate carbonation.
S. Has a minty licorice chocolaty smell
T. Taste licorice, followed by some coffee and vanilla and finishes off with some chocolate mint. yummy yummy.
M/O. mouthfeel is a nice medium body that has a slight dry feel to it and is very relaxing and enjoyable to drink after a nice meal.

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Photo of BlondeBeerLover8
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first review ever. My beer drinking partner, my boyfriend, ALWAYS reviews while we have a few beers so I might as well too..

A - Poured into a Sierra Nevada tulip. Very dark brown in color with a light brown head.

S - Smells very minty, first time every smelling that flavor in a beer. Can smell licorice/sweet flavor on the back end.

T - First thing that hits you is the mint taste. The mint comes through very nicely with some chocolate undertones. Those are definitely the two big flavors. Think a chocolate mint cookie or candy. Don't taste too much vanilla. No licorice taste either as the name might suggest.

M - Very thin. I almost wish it was a little thicker.

O - Very good beer. I would definitely like to have it again. Considering I love chocolate mint foods, etc., this beer was a very good drink for me.

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Photo of OddNotion
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
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 mikereaser
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shorts Brewing Black Licorice Lager
A - Pours an almost pitch black with 2 inches of tan foam that slowly faded leaving lost of sticky lacing
S - There is licorice up front but quickly fades to let the chocolate come through. I am picking up the mint as well in the background. It smells very good and is quite unique.
T - Bready malts along with some dark fruit, that quickly fades to allow the licorice and mint to come through. It all finishes with some dark chocolate. It is something I have never tasted before and I do like it. 4
M - medium bodied, with crisp carbonation, it has a dry finish but the flavor sticks around for awhile. 4
D - I am intrigued by this one. The flavors all take their turn and meld nicely. I can't say its something I would drink often, but it was nice to try. 3.5

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Photo of gnemesis
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter on 05/16/2011.
The body is black with a creamy tan topper. Head dissipates quick and leaves little lace. Shorts has created an interesting beer once again! Nose is of mint, anise, and vanilla. The taste follows with more mint and chocolate. Tasty if you like mint. Medium body and low/medium carbonation. Very smooth and extremely drinkable. Everyone must try this beer- not everyone will like this beer.

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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 alleykatking
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
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 kdiggidy
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A - thinner consistency than I expected. Very little head despite an aggressive pour.

S - I picked up chocolate and a slight bit of mint and vanilla... Believe it or not, no smell of licorice.

T - mint chocolate right away. A little bit of vanilla and anise, but mostly like a thin mint cookie.

M - very thin and watery. Not much carbonation to speak of.

O - an interesting beer from Short's, as usual. Probably not something I would buy again, but I'm glad I tried it.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
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 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

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got a bottle of Black Licorice Lager for a $1.79 at The Lager Mill. I am usually not a fan of black licorice but I do enjoy some jager and absinthe so I thought I would man up and give this offering from shorts a try. To my surprise this one actually has a bottle date, April 26, 2011. This was the first bottle from shorts I have had that was dated, I hope more of their bottles are like this. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a imperial pint glass.

A- The label on this beer looks ok but it's a little plainer then most shorts labels. It poured a deep dark brown color that almost looked black till I held it to the light and it brought out a dark brown amber color. It had two fingers worth of off white head that died down to a thin layer that stayed the rest of the time.

S- Wow, the first thing I think of when I smell this brew is those chocolate mint cookies that the Girl Scouts sell, pretty much smells like a liquefied version of that cookie. The anise is there but is quickly overpowered by the chocolate and mint aromas that are at the forefront of this brew.

T- At first sip I find this brew to be very roasted and robust, I like that. There is a lot of flavors going on here, everything from roasted dark malts, bitter chocolate, coffee, vanilla, anise, mint, dark fruits, molasses, and a hint of smoke, just a lot of different things going on that somehow come together nicely and make this beer pretty damn complex. The mint seemed to stick out the most out of all the flavors. Alcohol was hidden well, there was a little bit of earthy bitterness on the finish and the anise showed up the most in the aftertaste.

M- Smooth, creamy, medium full bodied, and it had average carbonation for a shorts brew.

Overall I thought this was pretty good and interesting beer. I have to admit I came into this beer thinking I probably wouldn't like it, but I came away pretty impressed with the way shorts took the black ale base and infused all these different flavors to make a pretty damn tasty brew. Only shorts can take a food I don't like and model a beer after it that I do like, thats some serious skill. This beer isn't that drinkable, I think one is enough for the night, I don't think I would buy a six pack of it but I would pick up a single when in the mood. If you like black licorice or those mint chocolate cookie then you should give this brew a try. Another solid and unique offering from shorts.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black Licorice Lager pours a very dark and shiny brown color with an attractive deep tan head. The head has great retention and leaves a good amount of lace. When this beer is held up to a bright light, it shows through a wonderful deep garnet color.

The aroma is not as pronounced as I had expected, but the anise aromas are front and center. They mingle with some vanilla, mint, sweet dark malt character and just a touch of that signature Short’s aroma that all of their higher gravity brews share.

The flavor is much more robust with a crazy amount of stuff going on. Bitter cocoa, mint, anise, vanilla, coffee, molasses and a dry earthiness are all present. These flavors all seem to work quite well together to create a very interesting taste. As the beer warms, the mint seems to come through a little bit too much for my liking, but it is still a pretty solid tasting beer.

The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium with just about the perfect amount of carbonation. It is smooth going down, yet dry on the palate with a minty and bitter finish.

Overall I found this to be a pretty enjoyable brew given that I am not a huge fan of licorice. I think that the anise and mint pair well together and also go great with the chocolaty notes. I am not sure if this is something I would get all the time, but it is a pretty interesting treat if I am in the mood for something very different, but well executed.

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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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