Archive for the 'Magic Hat' category
Every now and again, the nice folks at Magic Hat will send us a sneak preview of a beer we may or may not wind up having access to here in North Carolina. Frankly, I’m unsure if this particular brew will make it here or not, but I can tell you that it’s the Magic Hat beer that I’ve been most excited about in quite some time. I like a good stout. I don’t necessarily *love* a good stout, but I like one. And, almost without fail, I prefer the Belgian takes on this particular genre, as they often have a fruity/tangy/yeasty tinge that you just won’t find in the more popular Irish, English, or American varieties. So, I’m pretty happy to see what Magic Hat has done with the genre.
This pours a motor oil syrupy black with a thick and luscious caramel head that looks just delicious. In the nose, there is a ton of chocolate here, with some interesting bitter and dark fruit hints that are reminiscent of a black forest cherry desert – very fine indeed. In the mouth, this beer is a blast of flavor that I haven’t had in some time since I’ve been focusing on summer beers lately. Initially, there is slightly cloying sweetness that is redolent of a Belgian yeast flavor that you Belgian fans will recognize. This flavor quickly moves to a bittersweet chocolate flavor with an earthy backbone that rides down the tongue before moving to the more sugary flavor of dark cherry and maybe some red grape. The combination of the earthy chocolaty tones and the dark fruit persist down the throat and stick around in an aftertaste that just won’t quit.
Really, this beer tastes so much bigger than its 6.2% abv would give away. The flavor here is so huge, and it has such a yeasty presence and blaze of flavor through the mouth, that I’m tempted to call it Imperial. However, it turns out that, considering what it’s doing to the tastebuds, this stuff is practically sessionable for a stout (though don’t session too hard). I must say that this is the most impressive Magic Hat beer that I’ve had in a long time – maybe ever. Hats off to a company that, previously, had only won me over on their lighter beers like the #9. This brew is proof that these guys can play in the ballsier dark beer arena.
Honored with at least a press release. Magic Hat named their distributor of the year, or should I say “Pouring Partner of th Year Award”, recently and it was Mims Distributing of Raleigh, North Carolina. From the press release:
Pouring Partner of the Year Award
This year’s coveted Pouring Partner of the Year Award goes to Mims Distributing of Raleigh, North Carolina. Some of the scintillating numbers from Mims include growing overall Magic Hat volume by 32% and the brewer’s IRI market share to 7.5%. Mims also increased on- and off-premise distribution by 14% and 27%, respectively. Says Chuck Bassford, Divisional Deputy of Ales and Sales for the Mid-Atlantic region, “From senior management, sales personnel, inventory control, accounting and merchandising, Mims Distributing has displayed an unwavering commitment to excellence.” In other words, they really rock.
You go N.C.!
The nice folks at Magic Hat, as their apt to do, have hooked us up with a couple of their summer seasonal beers. Now, as we’re apt to do, we shall review them. This first one, the Wacko, is a summer ale “with beet juice color”. Frankly, that sounds a bit strange. But, hey, I love a good summer ale, so let’s give it the benefit of the doubt. Here are some thoughts from Matt, Dave, and I…
This brew pours an interesting hue. Frankly, it looks like some sort of fruit beer, though we know that not to be the case. It’s a light strawberry colored, fairly clear, with a just-slightly-off-white head. The aroma is fairly non-descript to me – there are some light yeasty notes, and I’m getting some aroma from the carbonation itself, but nothing major. In the mouth, the beets (thankfully) don’t take much of a role in the flavor. In fact, this is a fairly generic summer ale. I’m not entirely sure if this is a wheat ale, but it does have a light and fresh flavor that makes me think some wheat may be involved. There is a light hop profile, some good grainy flavors, with just a light sweetness that tastes like it may come from the yeast. All in all, not a bad summer ale. It isn’t as weird as I expected, which can be good or bad, but this would taste good on a hot day.
Horribly late once again with this review. Lets just get right into it. Well… its red. Not as disconcerting a red as the Bud Light Chellada, but still a rather weird red. On the red body sits a white head which dissipates quickly to a light webbing covering. The nose is almost purely malt. With some searching I also found caramel, and a hint of rose pedals. In the mouth, malt, unsurprisingly, with a grape-nuts characteristic to them. The feel is light, almost watery, with a first sip that was mildly harsh. The beer went pretty quick, and, minus its red color, was not very memorable. Easy to drink on a spring or summer day, but that is about it.
Next up from our Magic Hat shipment is the Odd Notion offering for Summer ’09. This one appears to be a hefeweizen to me, which is usually a good thing. However, let’s let the taste speak for itself. Here’s a word or two from Matt, Dave, and I:
This one pours a slightly cloudy light golden color with a dense white head. The aroma is very nice, carrying hints of banana and a wheaty/yeasty sweetness. In the mouth, this is certainly a hefeweizen. There are heavy notes of banana here, and the yeast complement is strong enough to be noticed, but well-balanced enough to not be overpowering. It is extremely flavorful, with a solid wheaty backbone, but washes relatively clean, leaving the palate refreshed but with some solid banana notes in the aftertaste. Frankly, this is one of the best Magic Hat beers I’ve had. I love a hefeweizen, and this is a tasty one – perfect as the weather begins to heat up in NC…
Alright another Odd Notion! I have really enjoyed the Odd Notion line in the past. They tend to be a little different, opening one’s pallet to different things, but enjoyable too. The Odd Notion pours almost champagne in color, if not a little richer in amber-golden color. Continuing along the “champagne” characteristics, the white head dissipates quickly to nothing, but large bubbles continue to course through the beer’s body. In the nose I am reminded of sweet white wine, along with a mixture of wheat and yeast. Intriguing combination to say nothing else. In the mouth the beer is slightly syrupy feeling on the tongue. A light pilsner like malt grabs the tongue to being with, with a flavor progression to banana sweetness, wheat and yeast. Washes clean with little aftertaste. More complex then the Wacko and I like that. Again another good spring or summer drink. I would reach for this one over the Wacko.
Magic Hat Brewing is officially unveiling its new expansion and “Artifactory” reconstruction on Saturday, May 16th from 12 PM to 6 PM. If you are in the area I would definitely recommend a visit. I mean how can one go wrong when “Philomena Bindlestiff will attempt to shatter the World Record for walking on broken bottles to cut the inaugural ribbon”? Full press release below.
MAGIC HAT ARTIFACTORY GRAND REOPENING ON TAP
Gala Celebration To Feature Secret Ales! Amazing Acts! Charity! Spectacle!
South Burlington, VT, May 5th, 2009- The Magic Hat Brewing Company announced today that it is making final preparations for its most extraordinary brewery Grand Reopening and Performance on Broken Bottles Ribbon Cutting Extravaganza. After a year of architectural scheming and constructional pandemonium, the brewer is at last ready to officially unveil its new expansion and Artifactory reconstruction- including a brand-new growler bar and brewery tour- on Saturday, May 16th from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
“The banging has stopped, the buzzing has subsided, and our new brewery and Artifactory are ready to shine. We’re proud to have created one of the finest breweries on the East Coast and are happy that we finally have the chance to show it off to our local and extended community,” says Conductor of Cosmic Symphonies, Alan Newman.
The Grandest Grand Opening In All Of History
• A heart-poundingly momentous 12:00 pm Ribbon Cutting Extravaganza in which circus artisan Philomena Bindlestiff will attempt to shatter the World Record for walking on broken bottles to cut the inaugural ribbon (and hopefully not a foot- though an EMT will be on standby).
• An all-day barbecue to benefit the Committee on Temporary Shelter’s (COTS) efforts to aid the homeless.
• An outdoor beer garden whose incredible tour of tastes will feature old favorites like Bob’s First Ale and Hocus Pocus, and the astonishing new summer seasonal, Wacko!
• Mind-expanding music from some of the region’s most aurally appealing soundsmiths.
• A full day of visual trickery and thrilling stuntography from The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.
• Very special brewer-led insider tours of the expanded brewhouse floor departing every half-hour.
• Rare brewer-guided beer tastings at 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm.
• Free samples of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and Mad House Munchies chips for all!
• Free parking at the GE Healthcare parking lot (40 IDX Dr., South Burlington) with a free shuttle to and from the Magic Hat brewery.
The public is urged to attend this historic event. Come one, come all to the Magic Hat Brewery Grand Reopening and partake in an experience that will soon be legend. For more information visit www.magichat.net or call Krissy Leonard at 802-658-2739.
Magic Hat Brewing Company and Performing Arts Center®, creators of #9®, Circus Boy®, Lucky Kat™ and four seasonal offerings, supports the arts community and reminds you that safe sex is great sex. “Get tested, Get a condom, Get it ON.”
This is the 2nd brew in the shipment from Magic Hat. Now, I know I’ve had this beer before, but we’ve somehow never reviewed it before, so good for Magic Hat for keeping us on task here.
Ben: This one pours a deep golden color with dense cloudiness and a mildly resilient white head. The aroma here is all IPA, full of bitter hop with a decent malt backbone. In the mouth, this is an instant winner with me. There is definitely more malt here than I’m accustomed to in my IPAs, lending it a bready sweet backbone. However, Magic Hat didn’t forget the hops in this one. About midway through the mouth, a powerful hop bitterness rears its head, along with the fresh floral notes that I especially look for in an IPA. This hop character persists all the way through the mouth, sticking in the throat and kicking up into the nasal cavity for a persistent aftertaste. This is probably my favorite Magic Hat brew to date – an excellent interpretation of a West coast IPA.
Matt: That’s what I’m talkin’ about, a normal beer that smells delicious. The hop profile of this beer rips the nasal cavity apart and in my mind that’s a good thing. The aroma is wrought with floral goodness and at his point I’m excited about this beer. I can feel the folks at Magic Hat smiling a bit right now because I generally don’t say the nicest things about their beers. The taste isn’t as bold as the smell but it still very flavorful. The hops and malt are well balanced and the mouthfeel is very soft. The aftertaste is earthy but mild and overall I’m really diggin’ this beer. Magic Hat has created a very good beer here, I will drink this one again.
Dave: I pop the bottle’s cap, read the cap’s underside (“Land your ear to someone who’s dear”), and pour the beer hard into a pint glass, which creates a nice big, frothy white head. Emanating from the massive head is an all hop aroma of blended citrus, and earth. Though the smell is all hop, I would not consider it overpowering… this would not be mistaken for an Imperial IPA. Below this mass of head is a slightly hazy liquid with a golden-orange color. As the massive head recedes it leaves a near wall of foam along the sides of the glass. In the mouth the hops come through once again, with a hop -> malt -> hop procession. Starting with a bitter, orange rind hit at the tip of the tongue, the taste segues to a light bread flavoring in the middle and finishes with a dry and fairly strong freshly cut orange and tilled earth hop taste. The beer has a medium density on the tongue, which allows you to notice the beer, but it’s presence does not stick around for too long after the swallow. I have had HI.P.A in the past and it never seems to disappoint, and once again… it does not (at least for me, I still need to read what Ben and Matt have to say).
The folks at Magic Hat were nice enough to send us another preview of some upcoming beers, one of them being the Odd Notion Agave & Poppy Seed Pilsner. Granted, this may no longer be a ‘preview’, as these have been sitting in the fridge for a while. However, we do appreciate the contribution, and I’ve been looking forward to tasting this one for quite a while. Thankfully, my travel schedule has allowed me to be home this week long enough to drink some brews. We’ll do this one the way we’ve done recent Magic Hat brews, with opinions of Matt, Dave, and Myself….
Ben: This thing pours a crisp golden color with no debris and ample carbonation, culminating in a stark white head that floats around in little islands on the surface of the beer. In the nose, this is mostly carbonation and malt aromas with just a light fruity tint to make it interesting. The flavor here is crisp and refreshing, and you can definitely see the Pilsner contribution. It has that trademark Pilsner malt flavor, with some lighter hop bitterness and a very subtle fruit sweetness. Frankly, I can’t tell what the poppy seed is doing for this, but I think that the agave adds a nice component in contrast to the pilsner flavor. Overall, I really like this. I find it to be very refreshing and quite thirst quenching. There are a lot of great Pilsners out there, but this one is just different enough to make it stand out from the crowd – an excellent experimental beer.
Matt: I’ve got a different take on the aroma. In my mind it is exceptionally sour, almost farmhouse ale-esque. In addition there is a slight toastiness that evolves at the back of the smell, kinda weird to say the least. This toasted sourness carries over into the taste creating a burnt twinge over the tongue. The light, crisp pilsner characteristics do shine through at times and I’m digging on those but the overall taste is not very palatable to me. The good news is the flavor does mellow a bit over the duration of this experience, but the sourness doesn’t completely disappear. Magic Hat has made an interesting brew, I’ll give them that. Maybe if I drank a few more the taste would grow on me.
Dave: I poured half of this beer in a pint glass and the other half into a pilsner glass. Both pour a clean golden color with a white, tight head. From the pint glass I receive a rather straight-forward cereal grain aroma. The pilsner glass does not deviate too much from this, but I do notice the ever subtle hints of agave. The beer from both glasses goes down light and smooth, with barely any aftertaste. The taste during the swallow is a different matter however. From both glasses, the taste is quite surprising for me. I was expecting a good hit of grain throughout the mouth, and that did not happen. There is definitely some grain, but there is also a nuttiness character, light buttery note, and essence of agave. The agave gives the beer a real spin and definitely helps peg this beer as “odd”. Quite frankly, I wish I had another bottle of this beer, so I could get a better feel for it. I did not find anything off about the beer, I just think my expectations were so skewed from the initial cereal grain aromas, my taste buds did not know what hit them. Congrats to Magic Hat on another interesting creation and if you are looking for something different in a pilsner, I would definitely recommend picking this one up.
Magic Hat sent Ben, Dave and I 2 more beers to review from their winter line up. I’ll begin with the Braggot, the winter offering from the Odd Notion line, and then proceed to the Roxy Rolles. The second sounds like a bad roller girl name.
The Braggot pours a hazy golden color into the 6oz tasting glass that Ben handed me. Right from the beginning I’m having difficulty understanding why this is a winter type brew. It actually smells pretty good, it has a smokey, toffee/coffee-like aroma. Smell and appearance aren’t jiving right now. I made the mistake of reading the description on the MH website and thus the rest of my review is tainted. I hate mead and since this beer supposedly has certain mead characteristics I can’t help but think I won’t like it. It has a clean mouthfeel but I can’t pick out a lot of flavor. There seems to be a roastedness to it at the beginning but then it gives way to a warming alcohol flavor, almost like taking a shot. There are some sour notes towards the end but mostly just clean liquid. It is thicker than I normally prefer but maybe I’m thinking this because I can’t shake the word mead from my mind. I’ll let Dave and Ben give you their opinion on whether to try it due to my lack of objectivity.
Next up we’ve got this Odd Notion Braggot. Frankly, I don’t really know what a braggot is, and I was informed to not read about this beer before reviewing it by Matt so as not to taint my impressions. So, I reckon we’ll just taste it and see what happens. This pours a rather lovely color – golden and hazy and just glowing in the desk lamp with a pillowy white head. The aroma is light and sweet with lots of honey. In the mouth, this is certainly a unique beer. The first thing I notice is that this is sweet and syrupy with a viscous mouthfeel for such a light-colored beer. I can tell right away that there is a lot of honey here, and it seems that some mead characteristics are coming in to play. I can tell you straight off that I am NOT a mead fan, so this is a demerit in my book. However, as the beer travels through the mouth, more beeriness shows up in the form of some light malts and maybe even just a tad of hop profile towards the back. Down the throat, we’re left with a weird amalgam of honey sweet and mild bitterness. To be honest, this isn’t for me – reminds me too much of a honey mead. However, if you like a good mead and attend renaissance festivals regularly, then enjoy!
(NB: I wrote my review off-line before reading either Matt’s or Ben’s reviews and I definitely have a different take on the beer. Interesting to see the three different takes on the beer right in a row. By the way, I have had home brewed mead, not my own, which I did enjoy, and I do not attend renaissance festivals.)
I am definitely looking forward to this brew. I have enjoyed past Odd Notion beers, and I know I am in for something at least different.
Brewed with honey and it has a honey color… nice. Not sure if it was from my pour but the head is pretty non-existent, with minimal bubbling. An enticing mixture of fruit (apricot), honey, caramelized sugar, chamomile, and slight alcohol vapors all reach out and tickle my nose. Whoa, was my first reaction on sipping the beer. All of the aromas, except the alcohol, come out in the taste. The beer is smooth through out the mouth, with a medium mouthfeel, which allows the tastes to have a good presence. The beer is on the sweeter side of the scale, with the honey and caramelized sugar tastes. The chamomile definitely comes through and provides a very different aspect to this beer. I personally have never had chamomile in a beer. Actually besides tea (I was getting over a cold, so I have been drinking a bunch of chamomile tea recently), I can not think of anything else I have had with chamomile in it. If you do not like chamomile, you will not like this beer. Not to say it overpowers everything, or anything, since I think it is balanced with the other flavors, it just is “there”. This chamomile is rounded out by a hint of vanilla.
This Odd Notion did not let me down… interesting, and good. This beer definitely gets a thumbs up from me, especially if you are looking for something different in your winter beer.
Once again, Magic Hat has graced us with a couple of bottles of their seasonal hits for this winter. We always love getting prizes in the mail like this, we love seeing the latest that brewers are coming up with, and we’re more than happy to write down a few thoughts. This time around, we received a bottle of the Roxy Rolles, a hoppy amber ale that we’ve seen on shelves lately, but haven’t until now had the opportunity to try.
This beer pours a lovely deep amber color that is just slightly hazy, but not what one would call messy. There is a thin caramel head that starts off dense and fairly thick, but eventually settles into a very thin film. In the nose, there is substantial hop here – the hop isn’t especially floral, but smells rather more metallic and noble in nature. In the mouth, this is just what it claims to be – a hoppy amber ale. I’m impressed by the high levels of both hop and malt that tend to play together fairly well. The beer has enough carbonation to shock the tongue a bit initially, and the flavor then immediately flows into a melange of bitter and sweetbread flavors. These flavors intermingle and last into the aftertaste, the hop being the last to disappear. Overall, I think this is a pretty well-executed beer. As you folks may know, I’m a bigger fan of the floral West coast hops, which these are not. For this reason, I can’t give it the highest personal marks, but that’s just a matter of opinion. All in all, I’d say Magic Hat has done decent with this one, and it should find a few fans out there…
This beer pours a murky copper, almost amber color. Hmmm, I just saw this beer’s genre “hoppy amber ale”, I guess it is more amber than copper. This is one of the mustiest smelling beers I’ve had in a while. WOW! It goes way past floral and earthy. The hoppiness is quite apparent the moment it hits your lips. The floral flavors ease onto the tongue and then suddenly jump to the top of the mouth. Here they hang as the toasted malt emerges and then they let go and tumble down the throat. This beer has a crescendo-decrescendo quality to it. There is a mild metallic aftertaste but nothing offsetting. I’ve been pretty critical of Magic Hat in the past but this beer isn’t half bad.
The beer pours a rich, deep amber and the smells of hops hit me right off the bat. Pine sap is quite present but there is a milder sweet, tropical fruit note to the aroma’s finish. The beer has a medium, smooth mouthfeel with a pretty big hop profile in the taste, with the pine notes taking center stage. Initially the malt provides a good counter balance to this hop profile. However, there is a definite aftertaste of pine and the pine taste seems to grow through out the tasting. This growing of the pine leads to the malt being over powered, leading to a slight unbalancing by the end of the drink. I enjoy a good hoppy drink, so I had no issue with this beer, even with its unbalancing act at the end, but other people’s mileage may vary.
I think I pointed this out in my review of the Circus Boy but those folks at Magic Hat are some weird people. Very rarely can you pick up one of their brews and know right off hand what in tarnation you are drinking! The Jinx is a Fall Strong Ale for those that are wondering, I know I was.
Magic Hat sent Ben, Dave and I two brews to taste and review, the Jinx and their new Participation Lager. I’ll give you a quick what for of the appearance and then each of us will offer our opinion with respect to smell, taste, and the most important thing, do we actually like it. It pours a deep copper with a thin, frothy head. It sits cleanly in the glass with no sediment to speak of.
It smells of toffee and smoke, not ashen but heavily roasted. The taste is powerful, smokiness dominates the palate at first taste and then this flavor is washed away by a creamy toffee-like sensation. There is a slight bitter aftertaste reminiscent of floral flavor of hops that re-evolves into mild and smokey chocolate undertones. In short it begins as a robust beer, then mellows, then takes a miniature of its original self. It’s not my favorite tasting beer but I have to hand it to Magic Hat for its uniqueness.
As you can see from the above picture of the mini-glass, this beer pours a dark brown that is only slightly cloudy and has a pillowy caramel head that sticks to the side of the glass. In the nose, there are hints of smoke, a bit of toffee, and a touch of pork – it smells similar to some dunkelweizens I’ve had, minus the malty sweetness. In the mouth, this beer is strong and smoky. There isn’t a large dose of carbonation, giving this a heavy and coating mouthfeel. Through the mouth, the beer transitions from smoke to a sweet toffee to pork and back to smoke. It’s not a bad beer, really – some interesting flavors are involved and it leaves you with a solid smoky aftertaste that may not be ideal for a summer day, but is fairly tasty. This IS after all a ‘fall strong ale’, apparently. And, incidentally, I hate to be persnickety, but what IS a fall strong ale? I can’t decide how I feel about breweries making up genres. It gets a bit confusing to simple folk like myself. Regardless, this isn’t a bad beer – not exactly my cup of tea right now, but an adventurous and passable brew.
I’m the late one on reviewing this beer, with my schedule being quite hectic recently. Anyway enough with the excuses, on with my thoughts. Since the head dies pretty quickly, I give the beer a good swirl in my pint glass to open up the aromas. I get good hits of toasted bread, and toffee sweetness, with slighter hints of fruity hop. In the mouth the beer is a bit lighter then it looks but still provides a bit of heft to it. The beer progresses from slightly sweet to a nice bread-toast character to a finish of mild bitterness with some astringency and smokiness. Nicely complex but not over the top. A good sipper for a cool fall day.
Dave - September 21, 2008
Hey guys. Magic Hat recently gave us at SevenPack the opportunity to review a couple of their newer brews. They sent a couple of lovely packages to both SevenPack Central here in Durham and our satellite office up in Boston, including both this, the Participation Lager, and their Jinx ale. To thank them for their generosity, we’re doing a couple of joint reviews from the whole SevenPack crew. Enjoy!
I gave this beer a nice steady pour into my pint glass and I was rewarded with a clear, golden bodied lager with a solid finger of white head. Lots of small bubbles coursed through the beer’s body, which meant during the majority of the tasting there was close to a quarter of an inch of head, that seemed to climb the glass walls. Only towards the very end of the beer did the head recede to a thin covering.
The nose of the beer was of grain and cereal. Really not much going on in the aromas for me. The mouth was a slightly different story. Though the grain taste was prominent, I noticed some light malt sweetness, and hints of black pepper at the back of the mouth. I also noticed a subtle fruit note as the sampling progressed.
I would not qualify myself as a big lager drinker but I could definitely see myself picking this one up. It was not overly complex but it was nicely balanced with some interesting characteristics and I was sad to see the bottle finished.
I poured this brew gently into my miniature British pint glass (had to leave enough for Matt to review it), presenting me with a slightly cloudy golden color and a very thin ring of head around the sides of the glass. In the nose, this is mostly malt, slightly sweet and very bready. The taste of this brew is pretty by-the-book lager. There is a lot of bready malt flavors, and a decent hop backbone. I’d say the hop presence here is slightly more than I’m accustomed to in most American lagers, and that’s not a bad thing. There is also a musty flavor that, combined with the fairly high carbonation of the beer, makes for a nice mouthfeel – it’s peppy but coats the tongue well, leaving a good hop bitterness for quite some time after the beer has made it’s way to the gut. All in all, a pretty good lager, and one of my preferred Magic Hat brews. A bit bigger than something like, say, Moosehead, and along the same price points. A well executed brew, indeed.
I won’t bore you with the appearance, I haven’t read the Ben and Dave’s post but I seriously doubt I would have anything to add. It smells semi-sweet, bready and clean. There is nothing outstanding about the taste. The “flavor” seems to wash over the front of the tongue without initiating a taste response. Maybe my tastebud synapsi (?) aren’t firing on all cylinders but I got nothing until it crossed the middle. Here the malt takes center stage giving way to a bitter, hoplike encore. This is a crisp, clean brew; could be enjoyed at length if the mood hits you just right. It is certainly a step above the macrobrew lagers but don’t expect this to knock your socks off. Also, keep in mind that this is just my opinion, again I haven’t read my counterparts’ reviews so they may think I am way off base. In the end it comes down to who’s opinion you respect more, but let’s be honest, we all know it is mine.
Hocus Pocus stands as the final beer in a mixed 12 pack from Magic Hat. The three other beers in this twelve pack were: Odd Notion Summer, Circus Boy, and #9. The beer cap read “Just Beyond The Whales Tails Await For You Exquisite Ales”. I am not sure where the “whales tails” is but lets hope this is an “exquisite ale”.
Poured into a pint glass the beer possessed a white pillowy head on top of a clear, very light golden body. Aromas were subtle but I got hints of white grape, sugar syrup and wheat. The wheat was tough to nail down because I was not expecting it, quite honestly. I was expecting a more cereal grain aroma to the beer. I think this was a case of trying to ‘judge a book by its cover’, and I failed miserably.
This wheat characteristic plays a rather predominant part of this beers aftertaste. The wheat sticks around for quite a while, which I found especially interesting for such a light in the mouth beer. Before all of this wheat however was a light sweetness and some hints of grape.
I think the best way to summarize this beer, for me, is a case of mistaken identity. I was not expecting a wheat beer, so this threw me off. The beer is subtle in all aspects, with a slight sweetness bent. I preferred the other three beers in the 12 pack over this one. Interesting, but there was something a little off about this beer for me.
As mentioned in my July 4th post, I picked up a Magic Hat variety 12 pack for the 4th festivities. Two of the beers present in the 12 pack had already been reviewed here at sevenpack: Circus Boy and #9. For the remaining two beers, Odd Notion and Hocus Pocus, I saved a bottle of each for ‘proper’ reviewing purposes. No time better then the present for those ‘proper’ reviews.
Three things tend to be a given when dealing with Magic Hat beers. First, original label artwork. I have always been impressed by the labels Magic Hat produces. They tend to be colorful and ‘interesting’. Second, bottle cap words of wisdom. OK ‘words of wisdom’ might be a slight stretch, but underneath each cap is a statement or saying, which I look forward to reading – “Don’t Eat with your feet”. Lastly, lack of style information, at least on the label. I never quite know what I am getting into when I first pop the cap of a Magic Hat beer. Sure it might be labeled as an “ale”, but that is a rather broad category of beverage. Nonetheless this seems to increase the ‘adventurous’ factor a bit.
The beer stands a clear brown with a slight red hue in my pint glass. A finger of white head graces the beer’s top, but it quickly fades to a paper thin layer, leaving no clues of its former presence on the glass walls. The first aroma to hit me is of fruit. Apricot to be precise. The more I sniff however, the more this aroma fades into a light presence of sweet caramel. I place the beer down for a minute or two and then start sniffing again. The same progression happens.
I take my first swallow and a completely unexpected taste hits my tongue. Smoke. Its not a strong smoke, more in the realm between toasted and smoked, but its sheer unexpectedness, seems to exaggerate its presence in my mouth. This flavor progresses to an enjoyable brown sugar and caramel sweetness as it traverses the rest of the mouth. This sweetness was a bit more expected due to the beer’s aromas. Though the beer is light in the mouth it leaves a rather pronounced after taste of sweet bread and malt. The aromas of fruit do not seem to amount to much within the taste.
This beer definitely struck me as odd. First, the starting taste of smoke came out of left field for me. Second, the aromas of apricot which faded during every session of sniffing, but would then resurface back to original strength at the start of the next, but amounted to nothing within the taste of the beer. Odd stuff.
I found the drink light and refreshing and was sad to have finished it. The beer has a pretty good chance at being a session beer, with its 4.2% ABV, but the sweetness might grow to be too much for some people. Even with the odd characteristics of the beer, I would definitely pick up Odd Notion again.
It seems a “letter of intent” has been executed where Magic Hat Brewing Company & Performing Arts Center, Inc. of Vermont will acquire Pyramid Breweries Inc. of Washington. Magic Hat beer is a staple around my parts (if a bar does not serve Sam Adams, or Harpoon, they probably serve Magic Hat as their microbrew offering) but Pyramid is non-existent (the closest distributor is in PA). Unfortunately Matt did not enjoy Pyramid’s Imperial Hefewezien, but Pyramid did win two gold medals (Crystal Wheat Ale: American style wheat, and MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale: Classic English-Style Pale Ale) in the 2008 World Beer Cup. Hopefully this merger makes both breweries stronger and allows them to reach even a wider market.
P.S. I find it a bit ironic both companies offer an apricot flavored beer (Magic Hat #9 and Apricot Weizen), since apricot is not your average beer flavoring.
[First seen on beeradvocate.com]
The folks at Magic Hat are a weird bunch. I think there is more going on at that brewery than just brewing. I mean you have to be on some serious drugs to come up with the beer names and design both the labels and the website. Of course this is just speculation on my part but if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck…
Circus Boy is the American version of the covetted hefeweizen style. This looks like a weizen on all accounts, yellow and unfiltered, but it doesn’t boast the citrusy taste and aroma that I have come to love from this genre. The smell is bitter and there appears to be a deeper, nuttiness that mixes with a bitter lemony zest. While I can appreciate Magic Hat’s desire to put their own spin on this style, I can’t say I am entirely fond of the changes that were made. In terms of the American Wheat style I think it pales in comparisson to its Bavarian counterpart. The Circus Boy is crisp and thirst quenching but not nearly as appetizing as, say, Franzsikaner or Ayinger. Altough this certainly isn’t my favorite weizen sometimes you need to choose the road less traveled so give it a try when you want to shock you tastebuds out of a funk.