Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guinness Black Lager

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 for you.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (762) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 29, 2012
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a lager glass.

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.
 Grade: 5/10

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