I’m a huge Monty Python fan and I’m beginning to think the lads from Guinness are as well. In fact, the motto for Guinness’ new Black Lager should be, “And now for something completely different.”

At first glance this beer does appear to be related to the iconic Guinness Draught. It pours a deep black color, just like its bigger brother; utterly opaque and begging you to dive in. A rich two finger head crowned the beer after a strong pour into a dry pint glass. However, in the brief time it took me to carry the beer upstairs the foam had almost completely dissipated, leaving behind nothing but a spotty lacing. Oh well, glass bottles can’t compete with the Draught’s nitrogen dispensing can, so I decided not to hold that against it.

The aroma of the beer is clear and faint, bringing with it just a hint of Spring grains. By this time the fact that this is a thoroughly different beer is just beginning to dawn on me. My first mouthful washes away any comparisons to the classic Draught.

I remember being shocked to read that the second best-selling beer in Ireland was Guinness, with the first being – wait for it – Bud Light! After further research, I found that this was perhaps a Mark Twain-ish exaggeration of the facts. Bud Light is simply the best-selling lager in the country – not the best-selling beer – big difference. With Black Lager, Guinness is trying to win back their lighter beer drinking countrymen. And viewed in that light the whole thing works.

The beer is thin but refreshing. Despite the dark color the roast taste is incredibly subdued, giving you just quick hint as it first enters your mouth. It is rounded out by a well-balanced hop presence that make the aftertaste just slightly dry. So if Guinness was looking for a beer that could stand face-to-face with American lagers, they succeeded. However, if they were looking for a beer that die-hard Draught drinkers would enjoy for a change of pace on a hot summer afternoon – they failed miserably – tarnishing the fine Guinness name in the process.

Although I am not normally a stout drinker, I still tend to fall into the latter camp. Although it certainly is a drinkable beer, it is not remarkable in any way. So unless they start selling $3.00 pitchers of it the next time I throw darts, my first Black Lager will also be my last.

By beer loving husband – Eric


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