Smile Politely

Brew Review: New Magic Hats

Back on Election Day, I was able to celebrate Barack Obama’s win with some choice brews from Magic Hat Brewing Company, an eccentric brewery located in Vermont. Their beers are flavorful and creative, although I liked some more than others.

In that review, I tasted their #9 Pale Ale, Circus Boy Hefeweizen, Jinx Strong Ale, and Participation Lager. My feelings were mixed, but the Jinx and #9 received good marks.

Magic Hat has decided Smile Politely should have a go at two more of their brews. In their “Odd Notion” for Winter 2008, the brewery opted to make a braggot style beer. This is perhaps one of the most interesting styles around, dating back to at least the fourteenth century.

Chaucer mentions the bragget in his Canterbury Tales, specifically in the Miller’s Tale. Via the Oxford English Dictionary Online (free to use if you are a UIUC student): “Hir mouth was sweete as bragot [v.r. braket] or the Meeth.” I can only assume “meeth” is old English for “meed.” The brew is made by combining mead and ale, with the option of adding spices. Point is – people have been making this beer for over 600 years, so you should probably try it.

The other brew sent our way is their winter amber ale called “Roxy Rolles.”

For the review, I graded these beers with the typical criteria: Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel, and Drinkability. It is important to note a rather obvious point before taking any review to heart – everyone has different notions of what is desirable in each of these categories, therefore, I urge you to always try a beer yourself before drawing any serious conclusions.

Beer: Odd Notion Winter ’08 – Braggot

ABV: 6.0
Gravity: 16.0
Bitterness: 20
SRM: 5.0
Yeast: English Ale
Hops: Centennial
Malts: Pale, Malted Wheat

Served from bottle

Appearance: Chaucer’s ale comes out looking like honey from the bottle (but faster)

Smell: The honey smell wafts just above the surface. Hops are hard to detect.

Taste: A Winner! The taste is sweet, but the body is medium to light, so it comes off as balanced instead of overpowering. Definitely a great beer to have in the wintertime.

Mouthfeel: Medium to Light Body.

Drinkability: Smooth as honey – sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’d say this brew could keep your attention for at least three or four rounds.

Beer: Roxy Rolles – Amber Ale

ABV: 5.1
Gravity: 14.5
Bitterness: 20
SRM: 23.0
Yeast: English Ale
Hops: Brewer’s Gold, Simcoe
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Caramunich

Served from bottle

Appearance: Beautiful amber with excellent clarity.

Smell: You can smell the Simcoe hops from about ten inches away. It’s not as strong as an IPA, but they definitely went heavy on the aroma end of hopping the wort.

Taste: Bitter, with a hint of caramel and spice. Pretty good for winter, but the holidays call for a bit more spice.

Mouthfeel: Light body with a crisp bite.

Drinkability: This is not a session beer, but it’s mild enough to have two or three.

I could definitely get used to both of these Winter brews from Magic Hat, but I sincerely hope they decide to make the “Odd Notion” braggot into an annual treat.

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