So here we are again, approaching the week of St. Patrick’s Day which means some Irish and Irish-themed beer reviews! You can’t really call McSorley’s Irish Black Lager an Irish beer can you?
Last year we reviewed McSorley’s Ale, and while it isn’t an Irish beer per-se, one might think it was by looking at its shamrock-laden label claiming that it’s brewed with ‘Irish Spirit’. Well, this year we’re checking out the 5.5% ABV (and newly labeled) McSorley’s Irish Black Lager.
The newer label tries to invoke images of the famous McSorleys Old Ale House that was established in New York City in 1854. The history is actually quite interesting, but its unfortunate that the beer has gone from being brewed on-site in the basement, to being brewed today in Wilkes-Barre PA. Hardly a NYC crafted beer as the label suggests, and even more dubious might be the ‘Irish Spirit’. Still, lets see how the beer is!
This is a new beer for me in the sense that I don’t think I’ve had a domestic ‘black lager’ before. I did try Negra Modello and San Migual dark lagers, and looking back it seems I enjoyed them both of them enough to give 3-star ratings!
The McSorley’s Irish Black Lager pours an almost black color, (really?) but when held up to the light one can see its really a nice and clear ruby red. The head is on the large side as you can see in the picture, but its very foamy and dissipated rapidly. In the glass, a nice looking beer.
The smell is not ‘lagery’ in the typical sense, and I suppose I should try and purge my impression of lagers while trying to do this review. Its not hoppy or crisp, but rather more ale-like with sweet malt and a hint of caramel in the aroma. Nothing special, but so far so good.
The taste is interesting and follows the aroma very closely. Its malty and has a caramel sweetness, but there’s something of a metallic thing that comes through in the finish. Perhaps its the hops finally making themselves known? I don’t know but it was the one thing that sort of turned me off on this beer. The other odd thing I noticed is that as the beer warmed up it seemed to get sweeter – like syrupy sweet. It wasn’t bad, but I think this beer (being a lager) is perhaps better tasting when its colder.
McSorley’s Irish Black Lager has a decent mouthfeel that is almost creamy and also doesn’t have a watery feel to it either. This characteristic also surprised me because I’m mentally referencing watery lagers as I drink it. I’ll admit, I need to get some more lager reviews under my belt!
Overall, its a drinkable brew, but its one of those beers that you can either take or leave and be no better or worse for trying it or not trying it. I’m curious if anyone who reads this review has had this beer on tap and has been able to compare it to what’s in the bottle?
So, based on The Brew Club’s beer rating system, I’m going to give the McSorley’s Irish Black Lager a 2 star rating. “Drinkable, and not unpleasant, but not something I’d take to a friend’s house either.”
What about you? What do you think of the McSorley’s Irish Black Lager, or any of their beers? What do you think of the marketing? Is it cool to look like grungy NYC when you’re from Pennsylvania?