It's always interesting to see what up north Michigan brewery Short's has up it's sleeve. If being a black lager alone wasn't interesting enough on it's own (after all, it's not all that common of a style in the first place) the ingredients that have gone into it, which include Anise seed, Vanilla beans from Madagascar and chocolate mint leaves, are enough to make one think "Damn! What kinda crazy beer scientists are the up there" even more.
The color is an obvious black and when held to the light some dark red highlights can be seen. The pinky finger sized head had a coffee with double cream color to it that melted away fairly quickly but spotty lace continues all the way through the glass.
The smell is quite interesting. At first sniff it seemed all about the chocolate. Letting it breath for a little bit more time though different levels of aroma complexities came out. The chocolate still takes the lead but mellows out a bit giving room for the vanilla and mint properties to come out. Though the brew is over 8% abv the alcohol, in the scent at least, is hardly detectable.
Those multi levels of complexities really come out in the flavor. Dark Swiss chocolate flavors starts off in the sip. It then takes a quick turn to black licorice/anise with a hint of mint & herbs in the middle. It's got quite a bite up to this point but then takes another sharp turn where the vanilla softens up the finish. Just when you think that's it you get a warm feeling from the alcohol content that comes sneaking up.
The brew itself is not all that thick as one would expect. The mouth feel here is in the medium range with just the right amount of carbonation something like this should have which would make it fairly easy to slam back if someone is into that kinda thing but it's best to savor it in small sips to take in all the things the flavors have going on.