Magic Hat fall seasonal lineup: Hex Ourtoberfest, hI.P.A. and Odd Notion Green Apple Wit

The #9 is marketed as “a beer cloaked in secrecy, an ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers.” There is no secret here: its an apricot beer. It is sweet at first and has decent bitter bite in the finish, and its a very drinkable beer, but it is available year round (so it mostly serves as a filler to the 12-pack sampler).

The first of the seasonals from Magic Hat is the Hex Ourtoberfest Ale. This is listed in the Magic Hat press kit as a “celebration of the kindred spirits from seasons past in the form of a malty amber ale.” This beer pours a light orange color with a nice lingering head and has faint aroma. There is some maltiness to it, but not nearly what I would expect from a beer touting “five malts including Cherry Wood Smoked Malt”. The taste, unfortunately, followed suit. It is moderately malty, as one might expect, with no discernible hops and little body. By the label alone, one might assume this to be an Oktoberfest or Marzen, but it really is just a mediocre amber ale.

The second of the seasonals is the hI.P.A., part of Magic Hat’s “I.P.A. on Tour” series of season India Pale Ales. Described as a "breathtaking and bitter I.P.A.”", this was an eye-opening surprise. From the get go, this beer is all about the hops. A wonderful piney aroma and fluffy white head accompany a surprisingly light hazy golden color. The flavor is big hop taste balanced with nice sticky malts throughout and in the finish. I have to say, this is by far my favorite beer from Magic Hat and really brought me to that “Autumn feel” with the crisp and light bitterness that lingered on my tongue. Fortunately, this limited run I.P.A. is also available in 6-packs.

The final offering in the Night of the variety pack is another seasonal known as Odd Notion. Every season or so, Magic Hat concocts a new recipe that becomes their latest addition to this line. Previous styles have been things like Poppy Agave Pilsner, Ginger Golden Ale, and an English Dark Mild. The Fall 2010 release is a Green Apple Wit. There is no question about the apples in this one from the initial aroma to the final taste, the tartness is present at all times, but surprisingly never overpowering. However, this is one of those beers where you have to let the aroma come to you. If you bury your nose in the glass and breathe in deeply, you will get some unpleasant banana funk that is a bit off-putting. The flavor has a lemon-citrus middle with some of the clove-like aspects from the Belgian yeast and the ever-present green apple tartness shines through in the end. Overall a very enjoyable beer. This would be the perfect beer to accompany any parents taking their kids trick-or-treating -- you will be craving Jolly Ranchers by night's end!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the Fall selection from Magic Hat. The hI.P.A. is fantastic, and I will definitely be picking up some more soon. There are many fall seasonals out there, and I encourage you to try them and find the ones you like.

It is that time of year again. Trees are changing color, the air has the crisp hint of the cold to come, and the smell of fireplaces being lit wafts through the air — all in places far away from Florida. Here, it is still in the nineties every day with nearly daily rainfall and a seemingly endless parade of would-be hurricanes coming in off the coast of Africa. Autumn in Florida is really just an extension of summer that eventually gets around to being winter.

But no matter what the status of autumn, it does not affect the release of the fall seasonals in the craft beer world. Most prominent are the Oktoberfest beers and pumpkin ales, but there are many others as well. These are the preludes to the Winter brews. They should evoke images of Fall: falling leaves, kids going back to school, Halloween approaching and then Thanksgiving. For those of us in the Sunshine State, we should be able to feel what our friends up north feel, even if only in our minds while we enjoy these special brews.

The Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont, releases variety packs every season, showcasing their limited release beers. The autumn selection is called the “Night of the Living Dead” variety pack and features four different brews. Their flagship #9, Hex Ourtoberfest Ale, hI.P.A. (pronounced "High-P.A."), and the Fall Odd Notion. All bear the trademark “freak show” artwork that Magic Hat is known for and cryptic messages on the label that more often than not tells little about the beer.


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