Tag Archives: Magic Hat

588. Magic Hat Brewing Steven Sour

Magic Hat Steven SourPicked this beer up at the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier VT on one of my trips to Vermont. I usually wouldn’t buy a Magic Hat beer but this was a collaboration with Vermont Pub & Brewery and it was cheap. I believe the bomber was $3.89. Also the thought of a sour IPA was intriguing.

When I think sour beer I think acidic beer with a mouth puckering tartness but this beer was actually brewed using passion fruit juice to give it a lemonhead sour candy taste. Appearance is pretty typical for an IPA with a nice orange color and thin off white head. Aroma has plenty of sour fruit, usually the fruit smells would come from the hops but in this case it actually comes from the passion fruit juice.

Taste is interesting but dominated by the tart passion fruit juice and only a slight bitterness. Overall this was not a bad beer but not something I will purchase again. 
Pros:
Interesting
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: This sour, bitter, tantalizingly tart ale is brewed with Apollo, Bravo and Cascade hops along with a healthy addition of passion fruit juice. The result is 85 IBUs of Sour IPA, beautifully balanced with a big hop bite battling for supremacy against a tart passion fruit tingle.

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293. Magic Hat Elder Betty

This was last of the growlers from my trip to Vermont in July and I have to say it held up very well. As you can see from the photo the color is a nice orange color with a fair amount of white head, even after 4+ weeks in the beer fridge. Aroma is fruity and sweet – no idea what an elderberry is but I assume that is what I am smelling.

Taste follows the smell with a fairly basic beer that has quite a bit of berry taste/aftertaste. Beer is fairly simple and one dimensional but still refreshing and with a decent amount of alcohol it does the job. Worth a shot if you like this style of beer but I would not go out of my way to find a bottle or growler. 
Pros:
Refreshing
Cons: One dimensional
Alcohol Content: 5.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 13
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: A golden haze for a summer’s daze. Elder Betty is a weiss-style ale with a bready malt flavor balanced by a touch of hops and complimented by the tart berry flavors of elderberry.

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Vermont Beercation 7/4/2012

Last week I headed to Vermont for a 3-day trip with my wife, her sister and her husband. I spent a couple of days looking at reviews of places to visit and getting input from my Twitter and FB followers on places not to miss. After spending 3 days visiting 6 breweries and eating tons of great food I have to say the trip was as good as I have had.

We left Maine shortly after noon on July 4th and hit a micro burst just west of St Johnsbury. This was some of the worst weather I have ever driven in with huge amounts of rain, street flooding and multiple trees down. We had to detour several times and ended up many miles north before finally making our way back through Stowe to Waterbury. See photos and notes about the storm here.

After making it to Waterbury we were ready for supper and stopped at The Reservoir for dinner and drinks. At this point I had been driving for 4+ hours and needed a beer. Fortunately they had a great tap list as well as some great burgers. I had a Hill Farmstead Edward, then an Abner and ended with a Celia Saison from The Alchemist.

My brother in law opted for a sampler including; Lawson’s Knockout Blonde, Fiddlehead IPA, Harpoon Ginger Wheat and Hill Farmstead’s Abner. I tried each of these in addition to my 3 beers and enjoyed them all. I have reviewed Edward previously and will be reviewing Lawson’s Knockout Blonde in the near future. The others will have to wait for a future trip to Vermont as I did not take good pics or notes while drinking them. I can say the Celia Saison was different than anything I have had before. It is a Gluten free beer which may appeal to some people but for me the taste was a little too funky. The food was amazing with great chicken wings, sweet potato fries and burgers. After this stop we made our way to our hotel in Burlington for the night. It was a long drive and we needed our rest for the next three days.

On Thursday our first stop was The Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, VT just north or Burlington. They had a huge selection of beer, wine, glassware and pretty much anything else you would need. We ended up with 3 cases of Heady Topper, bottles from Dogfish Head, Founders (Double Trouble) and much more that we cannot get in Maine as well as some Lawson’s Finest Liquids glasses. They did not have a limit on the amount of Heady Topper which was great as I needed to bring home a bunch for my Maine beer drinking friends. After this we made our way back to Burlington and spent some time on Church Street for some shopping. This is a great little marketplace that has something for everyone. We came back to Church Street on Friday and I will post some info on the restaurant we went to shortly.

For lunch we made our way to American Flatbread which is within walking distance of Church Street and they have their own brewery. The food there was amazing with my wife and her sister getting a very nice salad and then splitting a couple of pizzas. The small pizza was enough for two people to share even though the waitstaff encouraged us to get a large. We also had several beers from their tap list and since they serve halfs we were able to enjoy a bunch of different styles without drinking too much at lunch. We also ended up taking home a growler from Zero Gravity (their in house brewery) which I will review soon. (Read more after the break)

After American Flatbread we did a little more shopping before heading to Magic Hat for a tour, tasting and the experience of visiting “The Artifactory”. The brewery had a great setup with a nice retail/tasting area however it was a little too touristy for me. I prefer the small breweries where you actually get to go out on the brewery floor and see the process. Magic Hat has a video for the history of the company (lame) and a loft that you can look down on brewery floor but you get no where near the actual process. Tastings were nice and I got to try a Honey Wheat IPA which is only available at the brewery. Not terribly impressed with this beer so don’t feel like you are missing something by not trying it. Also tried their Imperial Pilsner which was not too exciting. Of course I do not like pilsners so that should not be a surprise.

If you like brewery tours I have to say that Allagash in Portland probably has the best tour of all the breweries I have visited.

Unfortunately we missed Switchback Brewery as they close at 5:00 but that evening we went to Vermont Pub & Brewery for dinner. After a short wait we were seated outside on a beautiful evening and enjoyed some great food. I had the pulled pork sandwich, wife had a steak sandwich and we also got sweet potato fries and wings. You might start to see a pattern regarding the fries and wings by the end of this post. The beer was good but not excellent and again they had samples, halfs and full pints available so we sampled many beers. A few that stood out are the Green Tea Beer and Forbidden Fruit. Both were excellent and different than most other beers out there. I like it when brewers test the limits of beer and both of these certainly do.

Overall this was a great place for dinner and drinks and if you find yourself in Burlington you should definitely go there for lunch or dinner.

On Friday we started the day by visiting the Warren Store in Warren, VT in search of Lawson’s Double Sunshine. They had 2 bottles left so I bought both as well as a couple of bottles of Knockout Blonde, reviews on each coming soon. We also had lunch there which was great, homemade bread and top quality turkey. The store is certainly out of the way but worth a visit. They also have lots of clothing which is very expensive but great quality.

After the Warren Store we headed back to Waterbury with the intention of taking a tour at Ben & Jerry’s. We arrived at a very busy Ben & Jerry’s facility with more people than any of us could stand. Also the tours that were supposed to start every 30 minutes were not going to start for 45 minutes. We quickly left Ben & Jerry’s and headed just down the road to The Alchemist Brewery. The retail store was small but offered samples, t-shirts, stickers and glassware. There really was not a tour but you can enter a small viewing area near the fermentation tanks to look around. Not a lot going on the day we were there other than some bubbles in buckets from happy yeast. Unlike Ben & Jerry’s the brewery was almost empty which was a nice change after the mob scene down the road.

At this point it was Friday afternoon and our short vacation was more than half over.

We needed a place for supper so I polled my FB and Twitter friends and received many suggestions. We opted to head back to Church Street and see what we could find. Ended up at Sweetwaters which was excellent. Enjoyed a Switchback Ale and a Mountain Ale by Shed Brewing. Both were excellent and went well the wings, sandwiches and sweet potato fries. More great food and beer. After supper the wives went off to do some shopping and my brother in law and I headed back to American Flatbread for another beer. Tried their London Calling which is a very low ABV session beer. The place was packed and we never actually made it to the bar or table before finishing our beer, meeting up with our wives and heading home for the night.

Saturday morning we went to the Burlington Farmer’s Market which was excellent. Lots of vendors with fresh fruit and produce and several places selling wine and spirits. We found lots of stuff to buy and then headed out to Montpelier to visit the Hunger Mountain Co-op in search of more Lawson’s Double Sunshine. We arrived shortly before lunch and found a great selection of beer including all the Double Sunshine we could buy as there was a 2 bottle per person limit. We also ended up buying lunch and a few other things from the co-op. This is a great place and I wish there was something similar in my area. At this point the car was overloaded with luggage, purchases and lots and lots of beer but we headed north to Hill Farmstead.

This was a bit of a drive but so worth it. The brewery is about 3 miles down a dirt road in the middle of no where Vermont. However since I live in the middle of no where Maine we found it quite easily. The brewery was quite busy with cars from New York, Mass, Maine and other states. They had a small tasting area setup outside – any of the beers on tap – tasting for $1 and 2 of them you could buy a cup for $5. I went right into the brewery as I knew I was buying a bit of everything. Line was about 4 deep when we entered and remained at least that busy the entire time we were there. I ended up with 8 – 750 ml bottles and 3 stem glasses. Shaun (owner/brewer) and another employee were filling bottles as fast as the taps would allow. Everyone agreed that Hill Farmstead was the best beer of the trip and the total haul was 12 – 750 ml and a 2 liter growler.

You would think at this point we would be done as this was brewery #5 in 3 days and huge amounts of beer purchased and consumed but I had a gift card from Woodstock Inn & Brewery in Woodstock NH so off we went for one last stop. Again we ordered pub appetizers; wings, nachos, onion rings and some stuffed mushroom thing. We also had a sampler of beer and some pints but after our stop at Hill Farmstead the beer here seemed a bit of a let down. After our time at the bar we purchased a couple of growlers of beer, bombers of their 4000’er IPA and a couple of growlers of root beer for the kids. This was a neat little addition that I had never seen before and something fun to bring home for the kids we left behind with grandma.

That was our final stop of our beercation and we headed back to Maine via the scenic Kancamagus Highway. The car was so loaded down at this point the hills were rather difficult to climb. Total beer haul for the trip;

  • The Alchemist – Heady Topper – 72 (3 cases) / 16 oz cans
  • Hill Farmstead – Various – 12 / 750 ml bottles & 1 / 2 liter growler
  • Lawson’s Finest – 10 bottles of Double Sunshine & 2 bottles of Knockout Blonde
  • Magic Hat – 2 growlers
  • Zero Gravity – 2 growlers
  • Vermont Pub & Brewery – 2 growlers
  • Woodstock Inn & Brewery – 2 growlers and 2 bombers (plus 2 growlers of root beer)
  • Founders – 2 / 4 packs of Double Trouble
  • 5 other bombers and about a few 12 oz bottles

This was an amazing 3-day voyage hitting 6 breweries/brew pubs as well as a few restaurants with amazing tap lists. We had some great food and spent lots of quality time with my wife. Will certainly be heading to Vermont again soon. If you are planning a trip to Vermont you may be able to find a few places we did not hit in our three days but if you follow our path you will not be disappointed.

 

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240. Magic Hat Circus Boy

I enjoy beer from Magic Hat as they always seem to put a slight twist on a style to make it their own. Magic Hat also some of the best bottle artwork and a great website.

Circus Boy is Magic Hat’s Hefeweizen and pours a very clear pale orange. Their site states this beer is unfiltered but almost everything must have settled out of it. I prefer a nice cloudy Hefe like Widmer’s version (here). Very slight white head that disappears very quickly. Aroma is fairly typical of the style; lemon, wheat and a bit of banana. Taste is sweet with some spice and lemon. Very pleasant and refreshing although it may be a bit over carbonated.
Pros: Solid taste and easy to drink
Cons: Very clear for a hefeweizen
Alcohol Content: 4.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 15
Rating:  ★★★☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: Unfiltered and unfettered, Circus Boy is a unique and refreshing American-style Hefeweizen. Is he a who? Or a what? Or perhaps some of both? Be amazed by the flavorful haze of this wonderful wheat beer.

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112. Magic Hat Encore

When I started this blog I was not a fan of IPAs but I have come to enjoy them and since this is my 17th IPA review it is probably a good thing. This one barely qualifies as an IPA when you look at the IBU rating but it does have a fair amount of hop bite. Color is a beautiful orange with a small head that disappears quickly leaving a fair amount of lace on the glass. Aroma is sweet with some hops which you would expect from an IPA. Taste is sweet with a mild hop finish but minimal aftertaste. Not sure what is hiding the wheat but it is almost non-existent in what is supposed to be a “wheat IPA”. I enjoy Magic Hat and this one does not disappoint.
Pros: Color, plenty of hops without being overpowering
Cons: Wheat seems to be missing???
Alcohol Content: 6.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 45
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: A genre-blending mix of an American wheat beer and a traditional India Pale Ale. Encore is hopped and dry-hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo hops, and has a pleasant grapefruit aroma that compliments its subtly sweet malty backbone. Grab a lighter and get up front!

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111. Magic Hat Ravell

I know I have made the comment before that porters are good Winter beers and this is no exception. Ravell is a beer that is only occasionally brewed by Magic Hat so I was happy to see it included in this year’s Winter variety pack. Pours a very very dark brown with a thick head that lingers. Smell has lots of vanilla and spice, overall quite pleasant. Taste is not quite what I expected with a mix of vanilla, slight chocolate and some malts. Hops taste is minimal but still there in this very complex brew. Even with a slightly higher than normal ABV this beer is still easy to drink.
Pros: Color, Aroma, Complex taste
Cons: Only available occasionally
Alcohol Content: 5.8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 28
Rating: ★★★☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: An enormous play in one significant act, Ravell is a porter brewed with vanilla beans, once available whenever your William and father John deem it so.

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108. Magic Hat Howl

Nothing wrong with this offering from Magic Hat. Color is very dark but the taste is smoother than I expected. Lots of roasted aromas and taste with a bit of a sweet finish. Very easy to drink for a dark beer. As always Magic Hat artists have done a great job with the label and the portion of their site dedicated to this beer. Check it out at the link below.
Pros: Color, complex flavors
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 4.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 32
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: Born of dark and cold and snow in the marrow of the northeast’s longest night, HOWL comes in on wailing winds winter-weary eyes burning holes in sunless shadows. In its darkened depths our inner voids are warmed.

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63. Magic Hat Hex

Back on track today with another good beer from Magic Hat. This is their fall seasonal amber ale and I have to say it is one of the better amber/reds that I have reviewed. First thing you will notice is the very sweet almost candy smell coming from the glass. Beer pours a nice red color with minimal head that dissipates quickly. Taste is very smooth and leaves minimal aftertaste. As usual the bottle has great art work and the cap has the normal funny saying. This one was “Better living through alchemy” which I think I had on one of the previous reviews as well. Overall this is a very good amber ale and I would recommend you give it a try.
Pros: Sweet aroma, smooth to drink, color
Cons:  Seasonal
Alcohol Content: 5.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 25
Rating: ★★★½☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat
Brewers Description: A malty amber ale with hints of toffee and caramel and a slightly smoky finish.
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18. Magic Hat Single Chair

Single Chair is the last of the 4 flavors including the Magic Hat Summer Variety Pack. All 4 are solid beers with this being the simplest of the bunch. There is nothing complex about this beer; easy to drink and mid-level alcohol content would make this a good session beer. Under the cap sayings on the first 2 are; “Find the way through play” and “Don’t be a bore, play outdoors” which are appropriate since I am on vacation this week and will be headed to Baxter State Park later in the week.
Pros: Smooth flavor and easy to drink
Cons: Simple
Alcohol Content: 5.0%
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 17
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Magic Hat

Brewers Description: Single Chair celebrates the uniqueness of the Mad River Glen Cooperative Ski Area in Vermont. Medium bodied and ideally balanced for all tastes, Single Chair’s tempting light golden color, heady aroma and smooth liquid go down effortlessly and often!
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17. Magic Hat Blind Faith

Blind Faith is one of several IPAs brewed by Magic Hat. Each season they change the IPA offering and this one was not my favorite. Very little flavor compared to the Gritty’s and even the Kennebec River IPA previously reviewed. Not a bad beer and I will certainly finish off the 3 that came with my Summer variety pack but I had hoped for better. Another very well designed label from Magic Hat and the comments under the caps were; “Turn to your mate and seal you fate” and “Seize the cheese”.
Pros: Minimal aftertaste, high alcohol content
Cons:  Very little flavor
Alcohol Content: 6.2%
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 38
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Brewers Website: Magic Hat

Brewers Description: An ale of enlightenment created to aid in deciphering the puzzles along life’s road, and to interpret signs in the voyages of the spirit. Blind Faith is an extremely well-balanced India Pale Ale with a crisp, refreshing hop bitterness and a deep malt body to match

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