In the last year or so I have been slowly but surely working my way through the selection of English craft ales available in my local supermarket. On New Year’s Eve being away from my usual haunt for buying beer and really short on options unless I wanted a tray of mass produced industrial rubbish I made a grab for a six pack of Magic Hat #9 that was hiding on the top shelf starting to gather dust!
I’ll be honest, it was a move of a desperate man, not willing to compromise on gassy generic but what I did get a pleasant surprise. Magic Hat is something I had seen in the US previously, both in bars and in supermarkets but had never sampled, all I knew about it is that it wasn’t from the mega breweries and would probably be a bit of a risk, but it was New Year’s Eve and if it did turn out to be terrible I could always get a resolution from it not to drink it again!
So what is Magic Hat?
Well, that’s actually a good question. The bottle carries the tagline “Not Quite Pale Ale” and strangely as vague as that sounds it actually describes perfectly what it is all about.
Like a pale ale, it is what I would describe as lightly sparkling, not gassy like a lager and is actually quite pleasant to drink, even disturbingly easy to drink. However, unlike a pale ale it has a really smooth citrus fruit finish, rather like a wheat beer but not quite as intense or syrupy. The flavour is hard to place and I can only best describe it as like Apricot and Orange. I am not usually a fan of fruit flavoured beer but in this case I have to make an exception, the fruit finish is delicate and doesn’t overpower the beer but adds a little to the experience and I really didn’t notice the 6 bottles disappearing over the course of the evening.
It is a slightly cloudy dark gold colour and pours really nicely and tastes as good from the glass as it does from the bottle, my preference as a bloke who doesn’t want the bother of the washing up however is to go straight from the bottle!
As I said, my choice was a little limited at the time of purchase and given another choice I possibly would not have chosen Magic Hat, however, it was my good fortune that my hand was forced a little and that I didn’t miss out on this! The beer was a really pleasant drinking experience, lightly tinged with an Apricot finish and almost soft in terms of texture and importantly no ill effects the morning after despite the quantity consumed, bonus!
I have to call it a very strong 4/5
Unfortunately coverage seems to be a little patchy in Dublin, I haven’t been able to get it in my local area whatsoever but hopefully that will improve with time!
I believe it was around €9.99 for 6 bottles which is a little on the pricey side for the quantity involved however given the general purpose it serves in terms of sociable drinking and certainly not unacceptable.
Definitely a beer for a Saturday night in when you have time to appreciate its quirkiness in your own time. Worth a shot, if you can find it!