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McSorley's Black Lager Tries Me

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.

mcsorleys irish black lagerThen 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.

6 comments to McSorley's Black Lager Tries Me

  • randy ray haugen

    beer is an acquired taste, for sure. and a taste for dark beer takes a bit more time to acquire, at least a six pack.
    if you didn’t make it through the first one you probably won’t get there. but, i’m sure at $4.99 a sixer they will find plenty who will. i’ve heard that dark beer carries quite a walop, so anyone looking for a cheap buzz, here’s your beer.

  • Jacob

    I have found that dark beer is different around the world. In America it is very bitter and burnt tasting. I cant stand it. In Europe dark beer is very sweet and contains more alchol. That beer I like a lot

  • Rufus Leaking

    ” I drank this beer out of a bottle on a hot day when any cold drink should have been able to bring me pleasure.”

    There ya go – that’s what Coors light is for.

  • Ja Rule

    Heaven help this man if someone offers him a porter.

  • Anonymous

    Go to McSorley’s pub (est. 1854) in New York and order a dark on tap, and you won’t be disappointed. It just doesn’t bottle well.

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