Archive for August, 2012

Hex, Hocus Pocus. Magic Hat Brewing Company

Posted in Ale, Summer Ale, Wheat with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by bizzlepop

I’m going to try something different this time. Seeing as variety packs are becoming more and more popular these days, I’m going to do a double review based on the Magic Hat “Participation” variety pack. I’d like to start out by making it clear that the South Burlington, VT brewery is my favorite. Since 1994, they have been making their mark on the small batch craft beer map. They offer an amazingly tasty year round brew, #9, which is included in “Participation” pack. Along with two other year round choices, they also offer seasonal selections, a variety of different, rotating I.P.A.s, and random flavors based on seasonal ingredients such as apple pie, honey, and dandelion. Overall, their creativity is second to none, and the constant threat of any flavor being removed permanently at their discretion is enough to persuade one into trying every possible selection, maybe more than once. #9 and the current I.P.A. “HI.P.A.” are included in this pack. However, this review will focus on their Octoberfest “Hex”, and their back-by-popular-demand summer ale “Hocus Pocus.”

First up, “Hex.” Dubbed “Ourtoberfest” by the brewery, this seasonal selection rings in at 5.4% abv. Right away, its amber color is almost mesmerizing. It has a very full and changing flavor. It starts out crisp and smooth, then gives way to a slightly bitter finish. Not much of a hoppy after taste which is really a nice change of pace from some of the recent beers I’ve been trying. Personally, it brings me back to my first ever Sam Adams Octoberfest. I can imagine the cold, crisp fall weather and the leaves changing. Seasonal beers always seem to give me a great mental picture, and this one is no different. I’ve had it on two separate occasions, and this second time is proving to be much more enjoyable than the first. Overall, this beer has a great earthy flavor prominent in beers this time of year. You’ll have to keep reading to see what my overall rating was for this superb seasonal.


It’s time for something a bit lighter. The color, taste, and logo are all lighter now. “Hocus Pocus” is a summer ale that was at one point discontinued, then brought back at the consumers’ demand. I had this beer during it’s original tour (I’m estimating the summer of ’08 if my memory serves correctly), and was very upset when I couldn’t find it the following summer. This was how I discovered Magic Hat “retires” beers and rarely, if ever, puts them back into production. Fortunately for everyone, this one was given a second life. “Hocus Pocus” weighs it at 4.5% abv, right around the average for a summer ale. Like all Magic Hat concoctions, this has a very complex flavor that works together to create a delicious experience. It starts out light and wheaty (no, wheaty isn’t really a word, but it just seems to fit!) and finishes fruity. There’s a touch of bitterness in the middle, but doesn’t linger as a rush of citrusy fruits wipe the palate clean. Magic Hat offers a year round wheat called “Circus Boy.” As good as it is, it lacks the complexity and fruitiness “Hocus Pocus” has to offer. Personally, I would consider this one of my top 3 wheat beers I’ve had. If you’ve never had, I suggest making a move. This particular variety pack will be pulled from stores around October 15th, and once it’s gone, there is no telling when, if ever, these two choices will be available again. -BW

Hex Final Rating- (4 Pints)

Hocus Pocus Final Rating- 4.5 Pints  (4.5 Pints)



Victory Whirlwind Witbier

Posted in Uncategorized, Wheat with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by Steve

Victory Whirwind Witbier – Brewed by Victory Brewing Company out of Dowington, PA – 5.0%

First, I apologize and hope Victory doesn’t mind me stealing their picture. I took one and it seems like my phone deleted it along with all my other beer pictures. Bastard.

Whirlwind Witbier was voted 2005 Best of the Mid Atlantic / Southeast Belgian Wit (vit) at some competition or other. It smells like a wheat beer with its lemony citrus goodness and I guess that is to be expected since it is a wheat beer. Immediate thoughts after my first sup were that it’s not too bad, but I’ve had better. It’s a pretty light, sessionable beer and goes down quick, but I think when it comes to a wheat beer, I want more flavor or more, I don’t know, something. It’s lacking something that puts it above other wheat beers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Maybe I was just expecting more from Victory as a number of their other brews are downright delicious.

I see no reason most people wouldn’t enjoy this beer. It’s light, citrusy, and it doesn’t taste horrible. Just think it’s a little too light for my tastes. I almost wonder if there is too much citrus overwhelming any other possible flavors. Who knows, I’m no expert and my palate is suspect.

Final Rating –  (3.5 pints)

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager

Posted in Lager with tags , , on August 10, 2012 by Steve

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager – Brewed by Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, MD – 4.7% alcohol

Since I started getting into craft brews, I’ve always been a fan of Flying Dog. They were one of the first variety packs I bought to help get me started on the journey of my “beer-awakening” and I obviously could not have started off any better. I haven’t had all of their creations, but from In-Heat Wheat, Snake Dog IPA, Doggy Style Classic Pale Ale, it’s very hard to pick a bad choice, if any such choice even exists from Flying Dog. Plus, look at the artwork on their labels. It’s fantastic. **FUN FACT** Flying Dog founder George Stranahan lived right down the road from Hunter S. Thompson in Colorado. An artist by the name of Ralph Steadman had done many works for Hunter, including art for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and was introduced to George by Hunter in 1996, and has been doing the label artwork for Flying Dog ever since.

So now onto the brew. Once again, Flying Dog does not disappoint. Right off the bat it’s very very good. Has a real crisp, smooth, delicious taste with no real aftertaste which is to be expected of a lager. This beer doesn’t lack the hops, using both Perle and Goldings hops, but it doesn’t slap you in the face, and doesn’t leave that bitterness that so many people love or hate in ales. It isn’t heavy, but it isn’t light either. This may very well be one of my favorite lagers of all time.  If you’re looking for what types of food it would go with, Flying Dog suggests “salads, cheeses, seafood, and light proteins”.

As some of you know, often I’ll go to my local beer store, make my own 6 pack, and write reviews on that one tasting. This is one of those times I wish I had more. Not so that I could give it a better chance, take more notes, etc, but because it was so damn good, I almost finished it before I could even make any notes.  This beer goes down quick, so be careful. It’s perfect for hot summer days, or even just for the hell of it, because really, why not? What specific reason do you need to be able to enjoy a delicious libation of this magnitude (or any magnitude for that matter)? None. Exactly. Go out and try this stuff. You will not be sorry.

Final Rating – 4.5 Pints (4.5 Pints)