Magic Hat Brewing Co., Vinyl

Grade: A-
Magic Hat Brewing Co.

It’s a little odd to walk into my local bottle shop from the frigid cold and snow to find a spring beer on the shelf. However, with the recent success of Howl, I was intrigued. Magic Hat hasn’t treated me particularly well in the past (I’m looking at you, Circus Boy), but I was willing to see what this new brew was all about. I’m glad I did too, because I think I’ve discovered my new spring go-to beer. I’m sad to see the Hi.P.A. go, but the crown has been passed to a worthy successor.

Pours auburn and very clear, with a slightly tan head that falls to a thin coating. The aroma has the sulfurs that are common with all lagers. Bread, caramel, toast, and some very slight herbal notes are there as well. The mouthfeel is light, but still has enough body to carry the malty flavors. Toast, bread, and some caramel are the main flavor components. There is bitterness there, the herbal hops carry into the flavor but play second fiddle to the malts. The finish is dry, with some of that lingering bitterness that cleans the palate and makes you instinctively go for another sip.

While Magic Hat can be a little hit or miss with their recipes, the recent seasonal brews have been spot on. The new winter beer, Howl, is a great black lager and this spring offering is cut from the same cloth. Like Howl, this lager is both refreshing but packed with flavor, balanced more to the malts than hops. It’s nice to see a brewery try to achieve a lot of flavor with malts, instead of just throwing as many hops in as possible. If Magic Hat continues this trend, we might see them advance beyond the “college beer snob” label that they have long been equated with. I have to admit, I had a bit of a prejudice against Magic Hat. But with Howl and Vinyl on the menu, I’m starting to come around.