Skip to main content

Beer Review #217 Elder Betty

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The other new beer that Magic Hat sent me as part of their summer sampler was Elder Betty, a elderberry weiss. I’m generally not a big fan of fruit beers, but I am a fan of Magic Hat #9 which is an apricot beer, so I know that they know what they are doing with it comes to fruit beers. The big key with fruit beers is not making them too sweet. Many times a beer will have a great flavor, but the sweetness to get the desired flavor overwhelms the beer. I don’t think that I have ever had elderberries in a beer prior to this one.

Elder Betty pours a nice light orange color. It is very cloudy and has a nice white head. The nose is super fruity with the elderberries taking center stage. Behind the fruit there are some bits of bread and toasted oats, but the main character in the odor of this beer is berries.

On my first taste I was surprised that the berries didn’t show up right off the bat. Rather, a nice honey malt flavor took center stage at the opening. A mild berry flavor comes in, but it is not nearly as strong as the nose promises, which is a good thing. There is some slight bread at the finish but no signs of hops. This beer finishes a bit too sweet for my liking, but as I have said before, I think that a lot of fruit beers finish too sweet. There were no hop flavors present to help dry Elder Betty out.

This isn’t a bad fruit beer and I would actually consider it one of the better ones that I have ever had. The berry flavor is mild enough to not totally kill this beer. I think my favorite part about this beer was that I wasn’t burping berry flavor for the whole night. If they could just find a way to dry this one out a bit more it I would enjoy it much more. For a guy who really doesn’t like fruit beers, this one was rather drinkable. (more…)

Beer Review #215 Pistil

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The nice folks at Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me another sampler of beers, this time for their summer line-up. Later this week I will review the other beer they sent me, but today’s beer is Pistil. Pistil is a beer brewed with dandelions, that’s right dandelions. They have always been a strange beer ingredient to me, but my buddy Pete has brewed a few beers with dandelions with varying degrees of success. According to Magic Hat’s website, there are a number of other ingredients that are used in this beer that make it a bit strange.

Pistil pours a light golden color and it is super cloudy. A thick white head comes out of the beer but quickly fades back into it leaving just a trace on top of the liquid. The nose is sweet with hints on honey. I got a light toasted smell on my second whiff. There were no hops to speak over and nothing that would alert the drinker that they were about to try something brewed with dandelions.

On the front end of the beer you get some light malt flavor; raw and grainy. It then carries into a light fruity flavor. A slight spicy hop kicks in right at the end to help finish out the beer. I found the end of this one to be slightly grassy. Along with the all of the other flavors, this beer is slightly sour which really works well with everything else going on. I don’t know what dandelions taste like in beer, but I’m not sure if I could detect them even if I did.

This beer isn’t bad and would make an excellent light summer beer. It’s a bit different than your typical summer beer which is nice. I would give this one another one a try when the summer decides to turn the outside thermostat up a few degrees. Generally these types of beers I find to be a bit “gimmicky” but this one was actually very drinkable. This is a perfect transition beer for someone just getting into craft beer or someone who has never had a craft beer before. (more…)

Beer Review #201 Demo

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample
The final beer of my Magic Hat Brewing Company sample pack is Demo. Demo is labeled as a Black IPA and comes in at 6% ABV. According to Magic Hat, Demo is, “a deliciously dark lick of an India Pale Ale. It’s medley of roasted malts and heady hops will have your senses dancing to the beat of a different I.P.A.” Black IPAs and/or Cascadian Dark Ale and/or Cascadian IPAs have been increasing in popularity in the past few years. I believe that they even added a category to the beer styles to fit it. I have not tired many of these beers so I’m still a bit fuzzy on what a good example of this style is.

Demo pours a black color (shocker) and has a light tan head to go with it. The nose is nice and roasty. There are some hints of chocolate and deep caramels in there as well. Surprisingly I didn’t much if any hops on the nose of this beer. For something labeled as IPA, I would have expected there to be more hop aroma. It could be my lack of knowledge of the style, but I was hoping for more hops on the nose.

On my first taste I really loved the solid roasty flavor to this beer. There are some hints of chocolate and coffee, but mainly just a robust roasty flavor. The roastiness is not sharp, but smooth and round. The hops come into the picture on the back half of this beer. They mix very nicely with the roast and provide a good contrast of flavors. I was hoping for some stronger hops, but what was there worked well.

Of the three beers that Magic Hat sent me this is probably my favorite. It is super drinkable and it only comes in at 6% ABV. While I was expecting much more in the way of hops, the lack of a strong hop flavor allowed the malt to shine. If you are a hop head this beer is probably going to disappoint you, but if you like balanced beers (like I do) this one should be right up your alley. (more…)

Beer Review #200 +/- (Plus Minus)

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The second beer that Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me is called +/- or in English, Plus Minus. Plus Minus is an English style beer that Magic Hat classifies as a Dark Mild. Sorry no intro video to share for this beer, but their website does have this to say about the beer, “Brewed with the tradition English style in mind, +/- aims to bring drinkers a truly sessionable craft beer experience.”

Plus Minus pours a deep copper to ruby color with a thin off-white head. The nose is very rich with caramels. There are also some roasty components to the nose, but overall there really isn’t a lot happening. I didn’t get any hops or any other notable odors from this one up front.

This beer has a very interesting flavor combination. It starts out bready but then a dry caramel flavor comes in and dominates for awhile. Right when you start to get tired of the caramelĀ  some nice clean bitterness kicks in. The hops are not super strong, but they do their job of cutting the bitterness and drying out the beer more than it already was. Like the last beer I tried, Plus Minus is very clean tasting. There is a slight dry roastiness that sits with you for awhile and I thought it added a nice touch to the ending of this beer.

At 4.2% this is a beer that you could drink several of and not have many problems. I really liked the interesting mix of flavors but I do have to warn you that this beer isn’t for everyone. I have found that a lot of U.S. beer drinkers do not care for many of the dry English styles of beer, and this one falls right into that area. If you dig dry English beer with flavors that are more dull than bright, this one is right up your alley. I would really like to try this one on cask and see how it changes in that setting. (more…)

Beer Review #199 Vinyl Lager

Disclaimer: This beer was sent to me by the brewery as a promotional sample

The first beer that I opened from my spring samples of Magic Hat Brewing Company beers was Vinyl Lager. This lager comes in at a respectable 5.1% ABV. According to Magic Hat’s website this beer is classified as an amber lager. I would also suggest that you check out the page previously linked for the weird intro video for the beer. I don’t think that I have ever seen a intro video for a beer before, but the weirdness works.

Vinyl Lager pours a nice amber color with a thin, off-white head. It is crystal clear as expected from a lager. The nose has lots of nice caramels with a touch of sweetness. There is some nice bready flavors in there as well. I didn’t get any hops, but there was a slight fruity spiciness that I can only assume came from the hops in the beer.

On my first tasting I was surprised at how clean this beer tasted. There are plenty of caramels and some slight toffee but the sweetness is controlled. Once the sweetness fades a bit there are some really nice bread/biscuit flavors that come in. Just as you start really enjoying the bread/biscuit the hops come in and help dry the beer out. This is not a hoppy beer by any means, but the hops do assert themselves in a positive way.

I really liked how clean tasting this beer was. Each component had its time to shine and then was cut by a new flavor. When I first smelled this beer I felt like it was going to be a sweet, malty lager. What I got was a balanced beer that was not overly sweet. I can see myself enjoying this beer during a spring sunset when the cold air is pushing the warmer air out for the night. While there is nothing super special about this brew, it is solid and drinkable. (more…)