I know some people will look upon a licorice infused beer with apprehension, if not actual dread, but not I. Since having stumbled across Imperial Megadestroyer Imperial Stout from Howe Sound a while back, I have lamented the fact that my friends who like beer dislike black Licorice emphatically, while those I know who like licorice are not beer drinkers.
Even at 7.2% ABV, Lighthouse Brewing's Black Sam is a lightweight compared to Megadestroyer (at 10%), but maybe there is room on the licorice beer spectrum for something moderately less intense, eh?
Black Sam pours out an appropriately dark, rooty brown, but is dark enough in the glass to appear black. In fact, the kitchen light fixture has three bulbs in it, but the inky blackness of the glass is impenetrably Stygian. Plenty of licorice for the nose to enjoy right off but the modest head effervesces away far too quickly, possibly a victim of the high alcohol content.
This licorice beer has a much thinner mouthfeel than my previous experience, which is a bit disheartening for a stout of any disposition. The licorice presence continues to assert itself through the initial tasting, but not unpleasanty; at least, not to a blackroot fan. There are lingering afternotes of coffee and bitter chocolate, but the licorice dominance continues unabated, concluding with a relatively smooth finish and a subtly acrid aftertaste.
All in all, not an unpleasant ale, but Black Sam can't help but remind me of its bigger, bolder cousin, and I think that Megadestroyer is by far the better of the two licorice stouts. Still, as someone mocked for their love of allsorts, licorice flavours have tremendous holiday associations for me, so this is definitely a worthy addition to the Advent Beer Calendar as far as I'm concerned.