Beer review: Magic Hat seasonal and limited brews

  • Photos by Tessa Berg
By Columbus Alive
From the September 9, 2012 edition

The folks at Magic Hat were kind enough to send us three of their limited-release or seasonal beers — Hex, hI.P.A. and Hocus Pocus. In return, we were kind enough to drink them and take notes for you.

Hex

Type: “Ourtoberfest” amber ale

ABV: 5.4

Availability: through mid-October

What’s the story: Magic Hat’s fall seasonal Ourtoberfest takes a sharp left turn from summer’s Elder Betty weiss ale. The winter seasonal, Howl, a black lager, shows up in stores in mid-October.

First impressions: This crystal-clear brew was the sweetest of the three we tried and was awash in warm malt and toffee flavors that were alleviated by a clean, bitter finish. This should appeal a lot more when the weather turns chilly; it felt a little serious for a 90-degree day in August.

Try it with: A hunk of meat cooked low and slow

Grade: 3/5

hI.P.A.

Type: India pale ale

ABV: 6.7

Availability: through mid-October

What’s the story: hI.P.A. (pronounce it Hi-P.A.) is one of four India pale ales that Magic Hat has put “on tour” this year, releasing one each quarter. It doesn’t seem to be on tap anywhere in Columbus, but you can find bottles easily in grocery stores and carryouts.

First impressions: hI.P.A. has a far more assertive flavor punch than the other two bottles I tried. The cloudy, honey-colored brew was rife with bitter hops, jalapeno pepper and spices (Cumin, is that you?). The hefty flavor paired well with its substantial body.

Try it with: I took a clue from Magic Hat here; their recipes put hI.P.A. in mac and cheese and a fondue and that’s exactly where you should go with it, too.

Grade: 4/5

Hocus Pocus

Type: Summer wheat ale

ABV: 4.5

Availability: Sporadic; available in Participation variety packs, which also include the #9, hI.P.A. and Hex brews

What’s the story: Hocus Pocus hasn’t been brewed since 2008, but Magic Hat fans voted it in to this year’s Participation pack. It’ll also be available on tap in select bars; ask your favorite bartender about availability.

First impressions: Hops and citrus welcome your nose — it’s a promise of the grassy, pleasantly bitter beer inside the glass. Hocus Pocus pours clear gold, and the finish is just as crisp and clean.

Try it with: Anything on the grill — just take a pass on barbecue sauce.

Grade: 3.5/5