3.6AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 15/20
If ever there was a dark beer specifically made for light beer drinkers, Samuel Adams Black Lager is it. Here is a beer that is as dark as Guinness in appearance, but drinks as smooth as the most watered-down “lite.” And, oh yeah, it’s very tasty too!
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This is one of the few beers that is dark across the board: it pours to a nearly opaque black complexion. However, upon closer inspection we realize it’s actually very dark maroon, not black. Even its head is darker than most, which I would describe as light brown, not just tan. The head is very high, creamy, lively, and has great retention power as it never completely dissipates and leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.
The aroma is fairly mild, as it smells very malty – not unlike an English brown ale, but not nearly as strong nor as sweet.
The bottle tells you to look out for its chocolate and caramel malts and they are quite evident in every swig. This is definitely a sweet beer, but not to the point of being gimmicky. This is not dessert in an alcoholic, liquid form; rather, it’s a robust, finely-crafted niche beer.
It should be noted that the flavor to this beer improves dramatically when consumed at a cooler temperature of about 50 degrees, instead of the right-out-of-the-fridge temperature of 40-something. Drinking it too cold locks up the flavor and makes the beer drink like a really dark, flat alcoholic beverage. At the warmer temperature the true flavor comes alive and dances on your palate. Trust me, waiting a few minutes to drink the beer will make a world of difference.
An easy finish is typical for beers of low quality, but higher-class brews tend to be strong in flavor and a bit coarser in the finish. Black Lager’s silky-smooth finish compliments its taste perfectly. It seems to be very lightly carbonated which might account for the ease of its finish. Whatever the reason is, I can honestly say it’s one of the smoothest beers I’ve ever drank.
Lagers are usually party beers because of their light weight and ease of drinkability, but Black Lager is bit heavier than your typical brew of the style. It is perfectly medium bodied in terms of weight and potency (190 calories; 4.9% ABV – but I cannot confirm these numbers). It would accompany a meal or work well as an after-dinner treat because of its sweet flavor, but I don’t envision this being a beer you’d want to binge on.
My only complaint would be that the taste is not strong enough. As something of a connoisseur I’m looking for a flavor explosion, but Samuel Adams Black Lager isn’t quite that powerful. This is why it would appeal to Joe Six Pack, but us beer snobs consider it only good instead of great.