Saturday, July 10, 2010

Don’t Forget Your Roots (Part 1): The Magic Hat Summer 2010 Variety Pack

As a drinker of Rolling Rock, the toughest part about trying to branch out to the world of craft beers is trying to determine where to start. I can’t go to the nearest brewpub or beer store and ask for a craft beer that tastes like sparkling water served in a dirty glass. This would probably just get me club soda in a dirty glass, which is not quite what I’m looking for. However, I do recall having a few Magic Hat #9 every now and again. A friend of mine drank it and looked cool doing it and I wanted to look cool too. So I put on a rodeo shirt, tousled my hair, and ordered myself a #9. After several failed attempts to look cool, I actually started to like the beer and so my craft beer journey begins with what could be the beer that started it all.

The Magic Hat Summer 2010 Variety Pack (South Burlington, Vermont):

Magic Hat #9 (5.1%ABV): This not quite pale ale is a good place to start. It has nice and easy slight sweetness with a mild ale taste. Neither side tips the scales heavily in either direction but the sweetness may have a slight edge. This makes sense; the label states that it is infused with apricot.

Very Drinkable but a little heavy on a warm day. Could easily take down six if it were a cool summer evening. It does have a very slight hint of spice that may be better suited for a fall or winter bender/variety pack.

Odd Notion Series Summer ‘10 (5.5%ABV): From what I gather this series is something that Magic Hat does for “the serious ale aficionados” and to allow their brewers to “set their creative impulses free.” I am not a serious ale aficionado and this was definitely creative. Per the label, this is brewed with ginger but that is not the taste I got. I asked Wife if she tasted ginger, as it is one of her favorite things, and she said “not really”. It was interesting. I didn’t like it as much as Wife did but I would drink it again. About the same thickness as a #9 but very different taste - it might go very well with certain foods if your into that sort of thing. Overall, the name is fitting because it is odd.

Regardless of the time of day or temperature I could do 2 of these at the most in one sitting. Maybe 4 if the needle on the old buzzmeter was already jumping.

This would be a good beer to have with a buddy so you can both quizzically look at the bottle after the first sip and go “Huh” and then take another gulp. In fact the more I think on it, I would like to try another.

Blind Faith IPA (6.2% ABV): Similar to the Odd Notion Series, Magic Hat has an IPA On Tour which they describe as a “revolving roster” of four feature IPA’s. The current installment for the summer is Blind Faith IPA. Before I continue I must say that I have become quite the fan of IPA’s since the purchase of this variety pack and will eventually write about several that I highly recommend. This one, however, is not on that highly recommended list (I even went back for seconds after sampling some other IPA‘s and that only lowered my opinion).

The Magic Hat people describe this as extremely well balanced and I beg to differ. The front taste of this IPA gives a flash of the bitterness associated with an India Pale Ale but quickly goes to this strange middle taste of pine-sol or gin. This middle taste is very puzzling and not very pleasant. The beer does finish nicely with the sweetness that most Magic Hats finish with. So that after-taste is good and the front end is nice but there is this god awful middle taste that after about 2 beers is unbearable. Perhaps a bad batch?

Wacko Summer Seasonal (4.5%ABV): Now this is a summer beer - something you could drink plenty of on a hot day! Crisp, not heavy, with a light sweetness that fades quickly. A true winner. Of the beers in this variety pack, this is the one I have been looking to buy in a six or twelve pack to take with me to different summertime events: picnics, ballgames, hole digging parties…. Of course, I’ve only seen sixes and twelves of the Blind Faith, Odd Notion, and obviously #9. And distributor has been out of cases the past 3 times I was there. Typical.

Overall, this was a good medley that offers something for everyone and was an excellent place to start my exploration of the world of craft beers.

For more info about Magic Hat, check out

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