To start things off, I do apologize for being absent in the past month or so. If you may recall, I was unemployed from around mid-April 2016 until just recently in mid-May 2016 where I was just re-employed by a different company and in between that time, I had to put a stop to my liquor reviews.
Anyway, now that I’m employed again and just received my first paycheck, I can resume my liquor reviews again. Today, instead of another liquor review, I decided to deviate away from that and towards building my “beer reviews” section instead.
So rather than stop by my usual spot to pick up a bottle of liquor, which has been my local CVS pharmacy store in my area previously, I decided to go to BevMo and check out their wide selection of beers for a change. The BevMo that I visited was the one in the city of Pasadena. Of course, there was also one in Glendale, CA as well but I happened to have been in Pasadena so that’s the store I ended up at. (It’s a retail chain for those of you that don’t know. I personally like Total Wine and More Co as they seem to have a much wider selection and are willing to carry off brand booze of all kinds from all locales but alas, there wasn’t one near my area and I cannot justify driving further to go those stores so BevMo it was!) Craft beers and micro brews are a thing in the West Coast, especially in Southern California. So many craft beers and micro brews to choose from and that has popped in just this past decade. It’s absolutely amazing when you think about when this started and why it was started in the first place. (That, unfortunately, deserves an entry all on its own). And so many reviews have been written about them already. Rather than go through these popular craft beers, I decided, like I did with my liquor reviews, to go through all the bottom shelf beers that no one has likely heard about.
You might be thinking, “So what did you do exactly to choose these bottom shelf beers?” Well that’s a simple and straightforward answer, my dear booze reader. Here’s what I did. I go through aisle after aisle noting all the under $5 beers and made a mental note where those beers were. Then, as I saw increasingly lower priced beers, those became my new benchmark for bottom shelf beers until I couldn’t find anything else that isn’t a domestic beer and that wasn’t lower than the previous lowest priced beer I could find. I was faced between three beers at the end of all my searching aisle after aisle. One was a Russian beer whose name escapes me but I know that the label had a bright white text with a red background with the letter “Z” as the beginning letter of the name. That one was priced at $2.19. Secondly, the beer I’m writing about today is the Black Lion Lev Traditional Czech Beer, a premium dark beer as the label calls it, which was also priced at $2.19. Then, thirdly, there was a African beer that was priced the same as the previous two and lastly, another Czech beer called Primator that was also priced at $2.19 as well. Of the four, I ended up choosing the Black Lion Lev and the Primator Dark Lager because both were in a pint sized bottle while the previous two were in 12 oz bottles and were light lagers as opposed to dark lagers.
And just to throw this out there right now for all of those beer connoisseurs, I’m not terribly familiar with my beer terminologies. I call it like I see it. Dark beer and dark lager to me are pretty much the same thing but I’m sure in the beer world, there’s a much finer distinction between the two but for this review, I’m treating them like they are one and the same.
Moving on. Since I’m not terribly familiar with dark beers or dark lagers in general, my only experience drinking dark beer being just Guiness, Negra Modelo, and perhaps a handful of craft beers whose name escapes me, clearly, I can’t really tell what’s good dark beer and what’s bad dark beer. In my experience, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dark beer where I was totally turned off by it. As in, I didn’t like the smell, I didn’t like the taste, I didn’t like the tongue feel or mouth feel, and I didn’t like the overall flavor. My experience so far with dark beers have been pretty neutral and depending on the micro brew, I tended to like the “darker” nature of these beers than when they weren’t so dark. Now, the thing about describing dark beer is that it’s a lot like trying to describe coffee. There’s a “light body,” “medium body,” and “dark body” in the coffee world. Even though the color itself may be off putting, I’ve found that this Black Lion Lev beer probably falls somewhere in between the medium body and dark body.
On a scale of 1 to 5, so far as the body is concerned, I’d say it’s like a 3.5. Guiness is definitely dark but ironically light in its mouth feel. Black Lion Lev, however, is dark but in a medium sort of way, I suppose. It’s not a syrupy texture but it’s also not a light lager, watery texture either. There’s definitely a slightly thicker mouth feel than your typical light beer. There’s also this sweetness to this beer that’s odd for a dark beer (except for craft beers/micro brews). Fairly unique taste. Also, once it hits the back of your palette, for some odd reason, there’s this distinct sour flavor to it. I can’t quite put my finger on what this sour flavor is but it’s not entirely unpleasant. And surprisingly, despite its initial strong fizziness when you first pop open the bottle, it’s quite easy to drink even with its semi dark body with sweet notes at the beginning and sour notes at the end. The smell on the other hand? Goodness gracious. It. Is. Skunky. Whether you first popped it open when it’s cold or when it has been sitting on the table for the past hour. It also leaves this strange film of ickiness on your lips after each sip. Personally for me, it’s not that big of a deal but for those who may want to kiss their lovers after a sip, it might be a good idea to wipe your mouth before you do so. Aside from that, there’s almost no hop flavor this beer. That’s about the only thing that this beer lacks and that’s that characteristic “bite” when you sip on a hoppy beer combined with a high alcohol content. This beer doesn’t have that bite and it doesn’t seem to be all that high on the alcohol content either. It’s about the same as your garden variety domestic beer.
All things considered though, I would buy this beer again, if it was a cheaper alternative to Guiness.