Number 9, Number 9

Magic Hat Brewery

It’s a shame that the only Magic Hat beer you typically see is their #9, Not Quite Pale Ale. #9 is reportedly the brewery’s best seller, but I don’t know if that is because it is the most popular or because it is the beer that is most widely distributed. It’s a little hard to buy the beers that aren’t on the shelf.  But maybe they’re not on the shelf because no one buys them.

This is clearly the kind of riddle that would confound Buddha; what is the taste of a beer not drank? We could meditate on this eternal puzzle, or we could take a pilgrimage to the Magic Hat brewery in South Burlington, Vermont and judge for ourselves. This was obviously a tough call: meditate in hope of enlightenment or drink beer.

Well, after indulging in a tasting of Magic Hat’s full lineup, we did indeed find enlightenment. We also learned that #9 isn’t their best beer.  It’s probably not even in the top three. That’s not to say #9 is a bad beer. We actually like it a lot. It’s certainly a far, far better beer for Magic Hat than it was a song for the Beatles (not exactly high praise, I know). But we just like some of their other offerings better.

The surprise standout was Circus Boy, their Hefeweizen. I say surprising because neither of us typically likes wheat beers, but this one struck us as just right. Blind Faith, one of their original IPAs, and Single Chair Ale were also extraordinarily good. A beer that we probably owe a second tasting to is Encore, an interesting blend of an American wheat beer and a traditional pale ale.  It has tons of flavor and a terrific mouth feel but just hit the wrong chord somehow.  It is a unique enough beer to warrant a tasting, or in our case, a second chance; so give it a try if you see it.

The brewery offers self-guided and guided tours free of charge. Beer tasting is also served up at the delicious price of zero dollars. They do ask you to kindly refrain from stealing their glasses.  If you want a souvenir, buy a growler. You’ll enjoy it more, anyway. And don’t forget to tip the bartender. Remember, you are drinking for free . . . cheapskate!

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4 Comments on “Number 9, Number 9”

  1. Larry August 10, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    I just clicked on you this morning and really enjoyed your review of Magic Hat. Wow, neat, another brewery to visit! And another beer drinker who is not locked on coors Lite. I bookmarked you. Cheers, Larry


    • Brian August 10, 2010 at 6:45 am #

      Welcome aboard, Larry.

      If you didn’t see the earlier posts, we also stopped at the Red Hook Brewery in Portsmouth, NH, and a botched attempt at the Harpoon Brewery in Boston. As long as I’m driving, we’ll be hitting more breweries, vineyards, and distilleries in the future.

      So stay tuned. And in the meantime, bottoms up!



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