Some times I revisit things I have reviewed in the past. Maybe I want to verify my thoughts, clean out my cabinet or just have a drink/smoke. This time, I am revisiting Guinness Black Lager because I want to put it up against another “Irish” Black Lager, this time – the beer from McSorley’s
I think most people recognize the classic Guinness name, established in 1759…it is a brewing Icon, but the McSorley’s Old Ale House is a piece of NY History and Americana.
Established in 1854, McSorley’s is the oldest "Irish" tavern in New York City.
Located at 15 East 7th Street in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, the Ale House has been immortalized in POEM ("the ale which never lets you grow old") and painting (by John French Sloan) and it was one of the last of the "Men Only" pubs, only admitting women after legally being forced to do so in 1970.
When the NY Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 94, it went to McSorley’s for a celebratory drink – leading to a dent that had to be repaired by the NHL.
A small list of patrons includes – Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe and John Kennedy, Woody Guthrie, Mickey Mantle, John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln.
Mass production has changed hands several times since the 90’s, and now distribution is handled by Pabst Brewing Company.
I would say this place has a little history itself, much like the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese in London.
Now that we know some history, how did these beers stand up against each other?
Appearance –An extremely dark brown, with a thin, tightly latticed head. The head doesn’t hold well and is almost gone in 2 minutes (as you can see when comparing this picture with the one above).
Nose- Warm bread out of the oven, with roasted malt – this was actually the part that surprised me the most. I almost thought I was pouring a pint of Guinness Stout, not comparing lagers.
Taste – Hints of chocolate are almost overshadowed by the malt. This light bodied beer has a smoky sweetness to it that I found pleasant, but not “Wow-ing”
Overall – Not a bad beer, but not great either. I call it middle of the pack, but definitely something I would buy again – especially if I am in the mood for a little dark (and considering that I can get this where I live remotely). Its funny that I should say this, but I found this to be a Guinness Stout Light. For all those people that say Guinness Stout is to heavy, or fills them up – give this a try. It’s not a “Steak in every glass”, but it will do ya.
I give this beer a solid 3 Stars out of 5.
Next up, we go to a beer that I have reviewed in the past – a beer that I did not give very high marks to-
Guinness Black Lager
Appearance – A solid black pour, the Guinness Black Lager kept it’s head a little longer than the McSorley’s – but not by much. I did notice that the foam was fairly inconsistant (as I previously reported) and actually had a faintly bitter taste.
Nose – Light grains, but not much to it.
Taste – This time I had my epiphany when trying to assertain the taste – it reminded me of Bud Light with less hops and more roasted malt. There just is nothing to this beer (Sadly).
Overall – An average beer at best (I would still like to try on tap), this is not a good purchase. As I have said before, it saddens me to say this, as I have the utmost respect for what Arthur Guinness started and is carried forth to this day – I just wish they would stick to what they know. A classic doesn’t need improvement.
So who won? – This is a no brainer -Not only do I stick by my initial review of the Guinness Black Lager as being a poor attempt of beer - but my opinion was also reinforced by my wife Debi. I had her blind taste test both beers. With no hesitation, she also picked the McSorley’s as the winner and I totally agree.
While McSorley’s isn't the greatest beer out there, but it is solid – and definitely worth a pickup if you are looking for something lighter instead of a standard stout. Definitely better than all the InBev products on the market.