So Guinness has decided to get into the lager game by making a black
lager. What’s surprising is that this beer pretty much tastes and drinks
like all the fizzy yellow European lagers it’s trying to distinguish
itself from. If you’re expecting Guinness Stout in lager form you’re
going to be disappointed. If you’re new to beer and want to try
something a little different from the mainstream, then this might work
Appearance: Opaque black body with dark brown edges. Forms a large,
light brown, soapy head which slowly evaporates but not completely and
does leave some nice lacing on the glass.
Smell: Standard macro lager "beer" scent. Nothing skunky or sour, nothing inviting though.
Taste: The Schwarzbier style is an underutilized and underappreciated
style, so part of me is happy to see one of the world’s biggest
breweries bringing it mainstream. But on the other hand, Guinness Black
Lager doesn’t exactly conform to the style very well. In a (literal)
blind taste test I bet many people could mistake this for a "premium"
European pilsner, but with a cleaner taste. That might actually be a
selling point to some drinkers, however, "clean" isn’t really a
complimentary description when it comes to a beer.
Despite the label’s indication that the beer is "cold brewed" (whatever
that means) with roasted barley, there is little in the way of roasty
character in the palate here. If you’re expecting a stout flavor or iced
coffee taste you’re out of luck. In fact if you’re expecting any
distinct flavor at all you might want to look elsewhere. This palate is
bland - not bad - just bland. I really can’t pull anything memorable out
of it. A bit maltier than your average macro lager, and thankfully no
presence of adjuncts, but that’s about it. Mild bitterness through the
middle and brief flashes of sweetness in the beginning and middle. Meh.
Drinkability: While Guinness Black Lager may not look like a typical
macro lager, it drinks about the same. There’s noticeable fizziness
throughout the mouth which helps impart the bitterness. It’s a bit
smoother than most lagers, though the aftertaste isn’t quite as clean.
At only 4.5% ABV it’s a borderline light beer, and would probably
explain the mild palate.