Review: Guinness Black Lager

Heresy? Guinness is launching a brand new brew that is a massive departure from its typical fare: a black lager with a far lighter style than its usual offerings.

What’s a black lager? First off it is indeed just about black: a coffee-dark shade of deepest brown that blocks out all light. But it is also a lager, made with roasted and malted barley, Saaz and Cascade hops, and lager yeast. The alcohol level is a mere 4.5%, and Guinness suggests it is best served “ice cold straight from the bottle.”

Sure enough, this is a lively lager-style brew, full of flavor but also quite clean and refreshing. On the palate it offers light bittersweet chocolate character, graham crackers, and just a touch of hops on the finish. A roasted, molasses-style aftertaste lingers, not unpleasantly. It’s so incongruous: The dark color and light body are striking, yet the results are quite delicious. It’s a beer style that agrees with me especially. Those who love Guinness in its natural state, however, may find it to be a bit of a culture shock.

A- / $8.50 per six-pack / guinness.com


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6 Responses

  1. Bob Siddoway October 31, 2011 / 12:12 pm

    I really have mixed feelings about this new Guinness brew… but then again, black lagers have never really been my style.
    But is this selling out? Or just messing with a classic?

  2. Christopher Null October 31, 2011 / 12:35 pm

    Guinness has paid its dues for long enough to merit a couple of new brews. If you want to see what selling out really looks like, I’ll direct you to the flavored vodka aisle…

  3. Bob Siddoway November 5, 2011 / 7:16 am

    True enough, Christopher, true enough. Flavored vodkas have gotten a bit out of control…

    This kind of reminds me of Makers Mark’s new bourbon, not the product mind you, but the fact that like Guinness they’ve really only had one main product for a long time and now they’re branching out.

  4. Steve November 9, 2011 / 11:50 am

    “The alcohol level is a mere 4.5%.”

    Which is actually higher than that of Guinness Stout.

    And like Makers Mark, Guinness has long made minor variations on its core product. (MM did it with proof through the years; Guinness has sold “Dry,” “Draught,” “Original,” “Extra,” “Foreign Extra,” etc.m stouts for ages. Plus a 250th anniversary version.)

  5. Stephen April 30, 2013 / 10:52 pm

    I just simply think it is one of the easiest drinking beers ive almost ever had, I also really love extra stout. so so tasty.

  6. mike June 11, 2015 / 3:25 pm

    Never tried guinness Xtra stout thought this would be similar.paid $10.99 for a 6 pack. This has has got to be in the top 3 of after work beers. Just to name the 3 smithwick an Irish ale kostritzen a dark German beer and now the best Is guinness black lager. The Irish know how to brew beer!

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