Smile Politely

Brew Review: Put on a Magic Hat

It’s Election Day in America and you know what everyone will be out to do: drink. You may have thought I was going to say vote, but everyone knows the best way to cure that polling-line rage or talking-point headache is a good brew!

Smile Politely recently acquired four beers from an eccentric brewery in Vermont, and by eccentric I mean it would fit nicely in Hogsmeade, although they do not brew Hogs Mead. Magic Hat Brewing Company refers to their creations as “elixirs,” which is fun, but also evokes the anxious feeling that you just bought beer from a hack physician.

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: #9 – “Not Quite Pale Ale”

ABV: 4.6

Gravity: 11.0

Bitterness: 20

SRM: 9.0

Yeast: English Ale

Hops: Cascade, Columbus

Malts: Pale, Crystal

Served from bottle

Appearance: This American Pale Ale has a vibrant, golden coloring with white head.

Smell: Woah! Strong fruit aroma, which almost immediately gives away the apricots.

Taste: Yes, definitely apricots. There is also a strong grain flavor which sort of balanced well with the fruit.

Mouthfeel: Extremely crisp. I enjoy a beer that lets you know you just took a gulp. The body is of medium thickness.

Drinkability: Definitely for the casual drinker. Ladies will love this one. I’d say more than two at a time would be too sweet for me.

Beer: Circus Boy – “The Hefeweizen”

ABV: 4.4

Gravity: 11.2

Bitterness: 14

SRM: 6.0

Yeast: Hefeweizen

Hops: Amarillo

Malts: Malted Wheat, Pale

Served from bottle

Appearance: Mediocre lacing on this one (lacing is the head residue left on the glass as you drink the beer). The color is pale gold and quite clear for a hefeweizen.

Smell: A tad too lemony fresh. Not as strong as Pine-Sol, but you get the idea.

Taste: The typical banana note from a wheat ale, with a hint of citrus. I did not enjoy the encroaching lemon in this beer.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium body, low to medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I would not have another one. When you make a beer called “the Hefeweizen,” it should be quintessential, not weird.

Beer: Jinx – “Fall Strong Ale”

ABV: 6.9

Gravity: 15.4

Bitterness: 20

SRM: 22.0

Yeast: English Ale

Hops: Columbus

Malts: Pale, Cara, Crystal, Peat-Smoked Whiskey

Served from bottle

Appearance: Pours a dark amber with little head.

Smell: This is a very complex beer. You can definitely smell that smoked malt immediately, but it is flanked by caramel and sweet herbs. This was the most enjoyable to figure out.

Taste: Wow! I think I found my favorite Magic Hat. They really did a great job with the pairing of sweetness and spicy, bitter flavors. This not only warms your heart with flavors of the fall, but will give you a good ‘ole beer blanket in no time!

Mouthfeel: Full body. Oh yea.

Drinkability: Absolutely delicious, but you may be the life of the party a little too soon if you have more than one or two. I suggest using it to warm up after a cold meeting with the fall weather.

Beer: Participation Lager – “Pre-Prohibition Lager” (fitting, eh?)

ABV: 5.0

Gravity: 15.0

IBU: 35

SRM: 6.0

Yeast: Lager Yeast

Hops: Columbus

Malts: Pale

Served from bottle

Appearance: Before we pour it, this wins for label excellence. Uncle Sam wants you to drink this. In the glass it has a golden yellow clarity true to the traditional German methods used in “Pre-Prohibition” lagering.

Smell: Much better than most American macro lagers. Citrus notes follow sweet malt and corn aromas.

Taste: Lots of malt at first, but then balanced with a sweet and dry finish. I tried hard to get a hint of hops, and only succeeded on the third taste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a surprisingly medium body.

Drinkability: Don’t go looking for a Bud Light here. It is definitely smooth, but a bit too heavy to be the choice for a good chug.

*Note: This beer is experimental, part of the on-going “Odd Notions” department of Magic Hat. Get it while you can!


Try the Participation Lager and #9 if you get a chance, skip the Hefeweizen and Cherish the Jinx.

Magic Hat beer can be found in several locations around Champaign-Urbana. Keep in mind that many pubs rotate their selection, so don’t expect all of these to be correct.

#9: Seven Saints, The Canopy Club, Mike & Molly’s, Jupiter’s, Cowboy Monkey, Friar Tuck, Piccadily, Schnuck’s

Jinx: Friar Tuck, Piccadily, Schnuck’s

Variety Packs: Friar Tuck, Piccadily, Schnuck’s

If anyone knows of these being anywhere else around town (especially on tap!), please leave a comment below.

Related Articles