Magic Hat, Hex

Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Grade: C+

It wasn't my intention to have a string of Oktoberfest beer reviews, but seeing as how it is fast approaching the German festival season (Oktoberfest begins in September, those guys know how to party!) I figured I'd just keep the ball rolling. So I'll focus on American breweries, mostly because all the authentic German stuff is pretty old and beat up by the time it gets to these shores (and I'm pretty sure they keep all the best stuff for themselves anyway). Seeing as how almost every American brewer is putting out an Oktoberfest, I took it upon myself to weed through and expose the pretenders.

If you'd like to see some reviews of different Oktoberfest beers from last year, check out the Harpoon, Sam Adams, Blue Point, Ayinger, Clipper City, and Hofbrau Munchen writeups. Popular style around this time of year, isn't it?

A thin white fizz comes up from an aggressive pour, then dissipates into literally nothing. The beer itself is perfectly clear, and the color is a deep golden with amber highlights. There's not a whole lot in the aroma, I'm actually getting a little green apple amidst the lager sulfurs. The mouthfeel is a sturdy medium, big on the palate but not thick or cloying. Carbonation scrubs the tongue, which highlights some of the hop bittering. Unlike Heavy Seas, this beer has much more hop flavor, highlighting some more spicy, earthy hop varieties. There is a fair amount of toast and bread, with a little bit of caramel thrown in too. There's a bit of a roast flavor in there as well, almost a small acrid note. It seems that after just having the Prosit! that this beer is muted. It shares many of the same flavors, but just dialed way down.

While Magic Hat surely isn't known for adhering to styles, I have to say that this beer pays homage well. This isn't quite an Oktoberfest (the label does say "OURtoberfest" after all), but the basics are all there. Where they seem to have deviated is in the hop profile, giving it a bit more of an American edge. It's not perfectly brewed however. There are a few off notes, mostly the acrid roast and the green apple aroma. Not to mention the non-existent head. To say that it's out of style I think is correct, but to say it's a bad beer I think isn't quite accurate either. Say rather, that it was a good first attempt, and worth brewing again with some tweaks. But knowing Magic Hat once they perfect this recipe, they'll retire it like all the other good ones in their lineup.

Speaking of which, be on the lookout for the resurrection of HI.P.A., formally their spring seasonal now coming back as a fall release. I was a big fan of this beer, and naturally they mothballed it. Gladly, enough people were of like mind and bugged Magic Hat to bring it back around. Hopefully it will live up to my hazy memory of it.