I should have known better when I saw the sign showing a six pack of McSorley’s Irish Black Lager for just $4.99. I told myself that perhaps dark beers were just unpopular in the summertime. Maybe there had been a special problem with overstocking in the store.
Then I had a bottle of McSorley’s to drink, and I discovered that actually, it’s just a nonpleasant beer. I won’t say that it’s actually unpleasant, because that would suggest that it had particular bad qualities. I don’t want to go that far. What I can say honestly is that this beer does nothing good for me at all.
A good dark beer is rich and complex, and it plays in the mouth doing lots of yummy things. I want to hold a good dark beer on my tongue, rather than just swallow it down. I don’t want to do that with McSorely’s. I just find myself wishing the bottle was done with by the time I’m halfway done.
I’m not against bitter in a beer, so long as there’s something else to make it worthwhile. McSorley’s Irish Black Lager doesn’t have that something else. It’s just simple bitter, without anything redeeming.
The pretense of McSorley’s adds to the troubled experience for me. The label shows a pubkeeper from what looks like the early 20th century, with worn lines on the label… that are photoshopped on. Someone took the trouble to draw wear lines on the label graphic, to create a contrived sense of oldness.
And where is McSorley’s from? It’s an Irish Black Lager, and the label has shamrocks on it, but it’s not from Ireland. The label says that McSorley’s was established in 1854 in New York City, but it’s not made in New York City. It’s brewed in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania by Lion Brewery. Can we just end the charade and call it a Pennsylvania beer, please?
I’ve read reviews saying that this beer has “nice lacing”, and “faint chocolate finish”. To be honest, I don’t raise a glass of beer to the light to see how it slinks down the side, and if there’s any chocolate finish to this beer, I can’t detect it. I drank this beer out of a bottle on a hot day when any cold drink should have been able to bring me pleasure. I got no pleasure from McSorley’s at all. Beer snobbery aside, that’s what matters.