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 robwestcott
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured cold and black from the bottle to a surly darkness 10oz goblet with a 1/2 finger small bubbled, foamy tan head with nice retention and lace to the rim.

aroma of molasses, smoke and indeed, black licorice.

sweet overripe dark fruits, raisins as figs, black licorice and a bit of smoke.

light bodied, overripe sweetness, big carbonation.

drinkable - yep.

overall - another nice idiosyncratic brew from shorts.

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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.

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Photo of BeerAndBourbon
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Review from sometime before Thanksgiving.

A. Pours an opaque brown / black with a one finger creamy tan head that dissipates leaving no residual lacing.

S. Roasted malt / coffee, strong licorice, chocolate

T. Coffee and black licorice dominate the flavor with some chocolate and subtle mint on the tail

M. Fairly thin with a high level of biting carbonation - a lot thinner than I expected / wanted

D. I don't detect the Madagascar bourbon vanilla on the nose or tongue. A unique beer - interesting enough to seek out more Short's

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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.

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Photo of B0bD0bbselbock
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into glass tumbler.

A- Pours a deep, dark, reddish-brown color with nice head large head that reduces to about medium height. Nice medium-ish lacing.

S- Sweet aroma with the bourbon vanilla coming out very nicely, along with notes of chocolate and anise, and almost a kind of marshmellowy hints in the background.

T- A very nice sweetness that covers the palate, with roasted/caramelized malts, tasting kind of like roasted chicory or burnt coffee, maybe, which lingers pleasantly in the aftertaste. I also detect the anise and vanilla in the start. Somewhat bitter and slightly sour hint, with the vanilla coming out a bit more in the finish, and the anise reemerging in the aftertaste, as well. Also, the alcohol is well hidden.

M- Smooth, creamy, silky, somewhat tart, and full-bodied.

D- Drinks really well. I find the flavors really mesh well together, making for an curious experience for the palate. I could easily drink several of these.

Another great brew from the Short's crew. I found the nose very inviting, and the bold, dark, sweet flavors mingled well on my palate. Although i didnt find the overall flavor to taste be quite like black licorice, this did not deter my brain from enjoying this charming, flavorful, dark brew. Its really something unique, to my mind, and i will definitely buy this again to savor next to a roaring fire during this cold Michigan winter season.

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Photo of Brenden
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

Pour a brown with a bit of head the disappears quickly. Smells strongly of licorice but not too overwhelmly strong. Tastes a bit bitter but overall fairly smooth. A lot of black licorice on the palette but well balanced with the rest of the malt profile. Fairly drinkable for a bitter herbal 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 flexabull
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of mikesgroove, thanks again!

Pours a dark black color, with a decent white head.

Aromas are of anise, roasted nuts, and light spices.

Taste is really dry, light sourness, roasted malts, and mild sweetness. Finish is crisp, with a hint of anise.

Mouthfeel has good crispness and nice carbonation.

Drinkability is nice. This is pretty nice dark lager with good subtle hints of black licorice.

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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 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 dfillius
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint
A: Aggressive pour yields 1/3 finger of tan head with so-so retention. Almost opaque dark brown liquid. I'd like to see more head.

S: Dark malt, some licorice, vanilla, some bourbon. Very nice and complex

T: Clean, dark bitterness, black licorice, chocolate, coffee, fruity. Very tasty. At the end, mint gives a fruity, bright lift to it. Complex and nice, but a tad boozy.

M: Clean, biter, round, slightly warm

D: Good. I bought it again so i could rate it because I liked it so much. I may not buy a six-pack, but I'd definitely order a second pint.

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Photo of readbaron
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours nearly black with very limited mocha colored head. Dissipates pretty quickly, but leaves nice lacing along edges.

Smells good- black licorice and malty with a hint of sourness

Taste is exactly as it's described - starts of with an initial fairly light lager flavor that finishes with a healthy dose of licorice. Occasional sour notes.

M - medium body, with more carbonation than you'd expect given the pour.

D - not too shabby - all in all a fine and very creative concoction.

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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 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.

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Photo of klikger
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip - thanks, frankenbrew!

A - Dark brown, small brown head which shrinks quickly, leaving decent lacing

S - Roasted malts, licorice, and grassy herbs.

T - Vague taste of coffee, plenty of lemon juice --> dark malts, a little vinegar, a lot of licorice --> chocolate, piny hops, and more licorice converge in the end, resulting in a hearty, uniquely bitter (but not overpoweringly so) finish.

M - Medium-bodied, good carbonation, kind of sticky, but not horribly.

D - One is enough for me, but I enjoyed it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of rtepiak
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

really 8% abv. Glad i didn't look this one up before have it. Felt like 5.5 at most. Had it at hop cat in grand rapids.

The pour is like a decently formed schwarts beer. Black dark brown clear with an off white head of about two fingers. Nose was a very brisk lager apple fruit with a hint of molasses and a lot of black licorice. Palate was a savory brew of a tad bit of tang acidic quality of leathery malt. Not particularly smokey just an accent to the digestive aid quality of the beer. Licorice blends fantastically. Not chocolatly malt but on the fruit plum side. Great beer...great brewery. Fantastic food beer broad palate range with a jean feel.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First off, a big thanks to erikkoppin for this great extra I've been saving for the right night. Cheers!

Appearance - Pours just an utter black viscosity with zero light showing through or around the edges of the glass. About two fingers of mocha colored head are achieved that dissipates relatively quickly leaving little lacing.

Smell - Chocolate, slight earth funk, licorice, vanilla, oak. Smells quite good.

Taste - The initial taste reminds me of Old Viscosity to be honest. Molasses at the forefront followed by definite black licorice, bittersweet dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, and alcohol.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied (though on the lighter side), lower carbonation, finishes a hint bitter.

Drinkability - I'm not sure what a "Euro Dark Lager" is, especially since there is no description on this site. However, I will does not blow me away. Short's, in my opinion, has done better with other beers. This is decent, but honestly, when they give a description of how the beer "should" taste (i.e. licorice) one normally cannot deny that the beer indeed does taste exactly like it (i.e. Imperial Spruce India Pilsner...holy pine trees). Here, I do not get the same. The licorice flavor is lackluster, though it is noticeable. Overall not a bad beer, but short (pun intended) of what I expected from Short's.

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Photo of jera1350
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black body with a decent tan head of suds that shrinks down pretty fast, but leaves a little lace.

Very RIS like nose. Smells sweet with some light black licorice, oak, vanilla, raisin and almost a sour cherry presence. Pretty complex nose.

Unique tasting for certain. Pretty sour up front with notes of oak and raisin. As it warms the black licorice becomes more prominent in the finish along with toasty malt. Getting some boozy bourbon and vanilla in the finish. Kind of interesting.

Smooth and lightly creamy with a dry and sticky finish. The anise leaves a weird tacky feel like black licorice does.

Fun to try and one of the most unique beers I've had. Can't see myself having more than one of these and I wouldn't need to try it again. Worth trying, but I can see how people could get turned off by this one.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Urbancaver for sending this one.

A-Pours jet black with almost no head. A thin ring of khaki-colored bubbles around the perimeter of the glass.

S-The nose is intriguing. Anise is present, but there's also a pleasant touch of vanilla, and something else. Milk chocolate? A touch of bourbon sweetness.

T-Wow. There's the anise, right up front. I really dig this beer. There's a delicate acidity at play beneath the light flavors of vanilla and anise. It's mouth watering, and makes me want to keep drinking. The carbonation is light and spritzy, which plays nicely against the roastiness mid-palate..

M-Light bodied, with pleasantly light carbonation.

D-Pretty high. This is one elegant beer. I'm gonna get another one of these as soon as possible.

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