Saturday, December 5, 2009

HOWL!

Happily, I'm not talking about Ginsberg's HOWL*, but about Magic Hat's. Howl is their winter seasonal, a schwarzbier, and I'm liking it just fine. There's a good head on it -- tan and fluffy -- and a black body underneath that promises chocolatey goodness and delivers. There's roastiness, too; not stout-level, but enough to put a dark edge on the chocolate and crimp the finish. This is not as glass-smooth as Kostritzer, but its got pleasingly more guts: horses for courses.

I wish there were more schwarzbiers. You may remember how much I loved Moonlight's Death & Taxes (drinking it repeatedly when the west coast's bounty lay open and willing before me). This stuff's 4.6% and I could drink it all night. Get on the lager beam, my friends, enjoy your beer!


*Call me a philistine, but that poem's crap; I'd parody it for the review --
Beer! Beer! Nightmare of Beer! Beer the wineless! Mental Beer! Beer the heavy judger of men!
-- but who needs it?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

agreed- schwarz is just about the best session beer besides a mild.. let's hope it sells well enough for Magic Hat to keep it in rotation and not retire it after 2 or 3 years as seems to be the fate of many of their better brews.

Lew Bryson said...

They have retired some of my faves, indeed: HiPA? Blind Faith? Damn, guys, come on!

Anonymous said...

Magic Hat makes good beer? That's news to me... I thought they were just a diacetyl factory masquerading as a brewery. Hmmmmmm....

Lew Bryson said...

I do have a well-known high threshold for diacetyl.

However...it is amazing what you can learn from a blind tasting. Oughta think about it.

Kevin said...

Half Acre Brewery here in Chicago has a limited release Schwarz called Magnus. Only available in 22 oz bombers. Excellent stuff. At 7% it's on the higher end of the alc. scale, but man is it smooth. I'm lobbying them to put it on full-time.

Glenn Kernanahan said...

Magic hat is fruity and crap, unlike Howl which is fruity and good.

Lew Bryson said...

Glenn, you do realize that Howl IS Magic Hat, right? Are you talking about Magic Hat 9, perhaps?

Glenn Kernanahan said...

Sorry, meant "Ginsberg's Howl" was fruity and good.

Lew Bryson said...

Oh. Well, I'll have to disagree with you on both counts. Although I'm not going to defend Whacko.

Anonymous said...

this might be unrelated, but i see Magic Hat catch a lot of crap on the beer geek forums for their beers having a touch of diacetyl which is a "flaw" in the technical sense..but don't they use Ringwood yeast, of which diacetyl is a major characteristic? sort of like slamming a beer as flawed b/c it has a hop flavor that you don't like?can it really be considered a flaw if it's done intentionally and consistently, and their customers voice their approval by buying the stuff?

Lew Bryson said...

You hear the same thing about Shipyard, and yeah, neither of them seem to be having any problem with sales. I agree: faulting Ringwood beers for having diacetyl is kind of like faulting a Bavarian hefe for having phenols.

Jeff Renner said...

As someone with a well known (locally, at least) very low threshold for diacetyl, I am tickled that one of our local brewpubs, Grizzly Peak, which has used Ringwood for its entire 15 year history, is switching over to WhiteLabs Essex yeast. Hooray! I am especially pleased since I brought that yeast from UK and provided it to Chris White some years ago. It's a favorite of mine, and it means that I can enjoy Grizz's entire lineup now.

Lew Bryson said...

Diacetyl and Ringwood is a matter of brewer competence and choice. If the yeast is used properly, and the fermentation regimen includes a proper diacetyl rest, beers with no noticeable diacetyl are easy to produce. Or so I've been told. Mike McDonald, at Red Brick Station outside of Baltimore, does a great job, for one.

Heathen said...

I enjoy a good schwarz too, and Howl is definitely one of those. I like to think of them as the lager version of a porter. Köstritzer Schwarzbier is probably my favorite, and Howl is now probably tied with Shiner Black Lager for second place. But I'd trade all of Magic Hat's current portfolio for a chance to taste their retired Saint Gootz (or Batch 371) just one more time.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately MH's beers don't have "a touch" of diacetyl, they reek of it. (And I, too, have a fairly high tolerance for it.) I don't consider it a choice on their part, but rather a flaw.

One of the most overrated breweries in the US IMO. I wouldn't shed a single tear if they disappeared overnight.