Great Northern Black Star Lager

Keeping in theme with my CANFEST trip 2 weeks ago, I’m reviewing a canned beer tonight. I’ve got a little something special in mind though…

The folks at Great Northern Brewery were kind enough to send me some of their new Black Star Lager. They sent a whole press kit, which included all kinds of loot, as well as a can AND a bottle of the beer. Part of the loot was a CD that included many of the pictures I’ll be including in tonight’s post.

The recent debate about canned versus bottled beer we recently had on LIBA really got me thinking about trying the exact same beer in both a bottle and a can and seeing if I can taste the difference. This Black Star came along at the perfect time!

So here we go. I’m totally giddy like a schoolgirl. I also happen to be dressed like one right now.

My wife did the pouring. She tells me that the difference in foam is definitely her fault, as her pouring skills are untrained. For descriptive purposes, “Beer A” is on the left and “Beer B” is on the right.

The brews are 100% identical in color. In fact, even though Beer B had a ton of head due to the wifely pour, in a matter of minutes the head has completely subsided and both beers look identical in that department as well.

Aroma – completely identical as well. Smells sweet and malty. Now the taste…

Beer A: Malty indeed. Caramel. An incredibly faint bite of bitter at the end.
Beer B: Malty indeed. Caramel. An incredibly faint bite of bitter at the end.

The only discernible difference, and it might be 100% in my head, is that I think Beer B might be slightly less smooth and more watery. I’m actually having my wife flip-flop the beers around while I’m not looking so I can do a re-check.

The re-check confirmed…one is just barely different in mouthfeel. Otherwise though, these beers are identical. I would say that Beer A with the thicker mouth feel is the “better” of the two. I put better in quotes because honestly the beers are so ridiculously close that unless you’re sitting here truly scrutinizing like I am, you’d never know the difference.

So now the reveal. I’m about to ask my wife which beer is which…

Beer A is from the bottle and Beer B is from the can.

Very interesting indeed. Honestly, the slight difference in mouthfeel could be due to pouring differences (Melissa says that the canned beer was the one she botched the pour on) or differences in the glasses, such as how clean or dirty each were.

At the end of the day, it’s really a tie. Very interesting comparison. I had hoped that something huge would jump out at me.


EDIT: I was so wrapped up in the can versus bottle thing that I forgot to give my impression of the beer! I like the brew. Right in my wheel-house in terms of being a nice sweet lager. It’s not over-kill in malt department; I’ve nearly finished the two 12 ounce servings and I’m not feeling sweetness overload, which is great. If I lived out west I could see myself getting this on draught regularly.

Author: Joshua Dion

I write about beer in an un-intimidating way, welcoming beer lovers of all experience levels.