Hats for the Summer

Magic Hat Brewing Company

The Magic Hat Brewery has been putting a performance into every bottle of beer since 1994. Today, the South Burlington, VT-based brewery puts out upwards of 175,000 barrels each year, and the brewing process, in all its strange and satisfying glory, has never been more accessible.

If summer is the time for easy living, then it’s time for easy drinking beer. I’ll never turn down a good stout, but it’s not my first choice this time of year. I notice that each of these five brews has very moderate alcohol. I wouldn’t call them “sessionable” but they’re not far from it. This was last week’s tasting at Growler & Gill.


Here’s their summer seasonal, a wheat beer brewed with ginger. It pours gold with a brief white head. The nose gives some ginger but also a grape quality like a white wine. The flavor is like a shandy with ginger and malt. It has a medium mouthfeel with silky effervescence and a long ginger ale & malt finish. Very refreshing. 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU

MHT_ELECPEEL_12oz3D_2014Electric Peel IPA

From spicy ginger to tropical fruit, this starts with an intense grapefruit nose. The flavor is of grapefruit and malt with citrus hops reinforcing the grapefruit. I can see this would be very refreshing by the pool or ocean, especially once tired of notorious Mexican beer with slices of lime. It has a gentle finish of grapefruit and hops. 6.0% ABV, 65 IBU

MHT_DRMACH_12oz3D_FINALDream Machine India Pale Lager

Summer dreaming can use a Dream Machine. This pours amber with a white head. It has an interesting lagery nose with some nice malt and a lot more hops delivering spice with maybe a hint of floral. The flavor is of bakery malt with a slight sour citrus note and a certain roastiness. The finish is gentle and alternates between hops and sweetness. I suppose that IPL is cleaner and easier drinking than IPA, but usually I’ll take the IPA. 5.7% ABV, 50 IBU

MHT_9_12oz3DMagic Hat #9

Their flagship, this is light amber with an off-white head, dissipating to a ring around the top of the glass. It has a light yeasty nose with hardly any hops at refrigerator temperature, but some floral hops emerge almost immediately. The flavor is very malty with just a bit of sweetness, then some hops come in on the end to dispel the sweetness and dry things out a little. The hops are very restrained. A little stone fruit comes in and persists in the malty finish. There’s more caramel as it warms. Last year, the presenter described #9 as a gateway drug to craft beer. I guess so, but it’s a bit bland for veterans, with just a hint of apricot fruit and spice and a touch of hops. I’ve heard it recommended for IPA virgins so maybe it can be a first step on the slippery lupulin slope. 5.1% ABV, 20 IBU

MHT_WILHELM_SCREAM_12oz3D_2014Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin

Looking back to last fall, a movie reference? It leads with pumpkin on the nose, but more ale than pumpkin in the flavor–not a complaint–with a nice spiciness to it. It spreads foamy on the tongue, almost chewable and I like it. It has an aftertaste more than a finish, but quite nice. 5.4% ABV, 20 IBU

Images courtesy of Magic Hat Brewing
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