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Howl - Magic Hat Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

435 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 435
Hads: 954
Avg: 3.69
pDev: 21.14%
Wants: 35
Gots: 61 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  4.60% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Born of dark and cold and snow in the marrow of the northeast's longest night, Howl comes in on wailing winds with winter-weary eyes burning holes in sunless shadows. In its darkened depths our inner voids are warmed.

32 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 435 | Hads: 954
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A strong pour gets two solid inches of rocky burnt biscuit brown head. Retention is nice with a lacy wall left behind as the head slowly fades. Body is black as most stouts and about as thick as ink. Nose has notes of smoke crisp nutty malts and meaty tones. With first sip you do get some smokey feel but it is not over taking at all, but very mellow and enjoyable. The malts are woodsy and very romantic in this beer. sweetness is there but it stays rather subdued and in the background, which is just right. This beer cries for a piece of sausage pizza or a bowl of chili to go with it perfectly. Mouthfeel is almost creamy and very nice. Super drinkable stout.

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Photo of misternebbie
1.78/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.5

I want to like this beer, its a real tough style to get and this one is plentiful, but I cant enjoy it, too bitter for me with a very awful metal taste, not a fan

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Photo of HardTarget
3.91/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I held this one longer than I should

Appearance: Black as night, doesn't even give a ruby edge when back lit. Holds a white halo of foam and a thin cover.

Smell: Mild searthy hop, cleanly fermented malt, roasted barley, a hint of smoke.

Taste: Some stout flavors, the roasted barley in particular, a slight almost lactic milk stout sweetness, then goes very clean and balanced. Finishes with a light chalky dryness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, slick texture, firm but moderate carbonation.

Overall: A nice sipper! Good flavor kept in check, balanced, easy to enjoy.

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Photo of luis_dibiase
4.5/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

great beer my first time having it my friend brought me a case when i ran out of my usual beer I opened up a bottle and took a sip it was delicious. It has a nice cream flavor to it nice black charred look and taste. great for watching the game and sipping on a hot day haivng a b.b.q my review overrall outstanding. unfortunalty its not for sale in my town i have to drive a ways from here.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a dense black body with a thick rocky tan head that last a good bit.

S- The soft coffee roasted note has some raw grain silage in the finish but is otherwise pretty clean.

T- The nice roasted coffee malt has some clean lagered characteristics with a watery finish. The watery coffee flavor lingers with a bit of a green coffee bean note coming through as it opens.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a scrubbing fizz in the finish.

O- The nice clean coffee flavor turns thin and watery and there are no other flavors to support it or pick up the slack. Gets a little drab getting through 12 oz.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.67/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Magic Hat Howl is brewed in the style of a Schwarzbier, or Black Lager. It was their Winter Seasonal until 2012, when it was replaced by Heart Of Darkness. No bottle date, but I have seen a great deal of this lately, albeit in low-turnover stores. I wonder if this was brewed at all for this winter or if it's an old batch.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pint glass. Served north of 52º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a fizzy sudsy light brown head over a dark reddish-brown body with heavy sediment. Carbonation is moderate, retention is average at best and lacing is very light with no cling. Appearance is not much of a draw for this beer. 3

(Smell) Medium toasted grain, lightly roasted barley, a touch of coffee. Some mild earthy hop blends and a generally clean lager aroma with very mild acidity balances the aroma. Potency is medium. In terms of black lagers go, it's a very nice-smelling Schwarzbier, nothing super-deep but it doesn't go for that, either. 4

(Taste) Flavor is a notably less pronounced than the aroma with a very light malt profile. Some toast, a touch of roast, but mostly mild lager notes. Some mild residual sweetness for a slight hint of body doesn't really drain the palate. Drinkability is high, although I'd have preferred a beer more similar to the aroma. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Carbonation is very mild, some mild air and a drop of body gives this some substance without ravaging the tongue. The body is medium+ for the style and light/medium overall. Alcohol is well concealed. The textures work quite well for this beer, the limited carbonation profile does accent the beer without overshadowing the subtleties. 4.25

(Overall) This is a very drinkable but otherwise kind of ho-hum beer with limited pronunciation in roast and sweetness, but it kind of works well for it, and is appropriate for the style. You can go lighter body and heavier body from here, but this seems to be a pretty solid standard for the style. 3.5

Magic Hat Brewing Company's
Howl Black As Night Lager

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Photo of spinrsx
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from CJ's Potsdam NY for 2$

Appearance - Brown colour with with an above average size fizzy beige head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, grains, roasted notes

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and some roasted/toasted nuts. There is also a bit of a smokiness and a touch of coffee flavour. It ends with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall - Wow, this is surprisingly delicious. A great balance of flavours and a nice crisp mouthfeel. Magic hat has impressed me with a lot of their beers. Well worth trying, especially if you are a fan of the style.

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Photo of Treyliff
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours an opaque color, not quite black as night, definitely some light coming through with notes of brown hue. Foamy tan head with a bit of head retention.

S- Cereal grains, chocolatey roasted malts, smoky charcoal.

T- smokey chocolate malts with notes of the cereal grains found in the smell. Slight oily hop bitterness, finsihes smokey and dry.

M- med-low carbonation with a medium creamy body.

O- Well balanced beer, and the smokiness of the malts makes it a perfect seasonal. Many of this style lack enough flavor, but this one delivers. Good stuff!

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Photo of srv33
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A black lager. Pours, well, black, medium size bubbles a little lacing. Smell of molasses cocao, reminds me of a porter. Taste is much the same, strong chocolate and molasses tones, a bit of tobacco too. Leaves a clean aftertaste, fades quickly, very light mouthfeel for what it is. How light its mouthfeel is almost reminds me of an oatmeal beer, like The Poet, though this is a bit sharper. Solid beer for what it is, though a little underwhelmed overall.

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Photo of irishevans
4.02/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours super dark brown, almost black but when held to the light it lets the true root beer brown color show through at the bottom and sides of the glass. when poured it has a 1.5 finger thick light Tan head that settles to a film atop the rest of the brew.

N- Chocolate Malt, and coffee right away, and maybe the slightest hint of vanilla. no real hop scent to speak of, citric or floral. not much lacing going on, but I didn't expect much from this style.

T- Toffee, caramel, and Coffee. The chocolate malt comes out as the taste lingers, but not up front. there is also a slight floral hop bitterness to it, not overly dry or bitter though.

M- medium to light in viscosity, fairly high in the carbonation area, though I don't see that as a bad thing in any lager beer. it gets kind of dry in the early stages of the finish, but finishes without leaving you at all dry mouthed. it's actually kind of quenching.

O- A pretty fine example of the style. I have to say I'm kind of impressed. Magic Hat in my past experience is pretty hit or miss, and wasn't expecting this to be the fore, but it is. I could see myself drinking this as a session brew when it's actually out (as opposed to on the sale shelf by the single 12oz). good brew.

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Photo of jettjon
3.69/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle into my Sam Adams glass (thanks, guys!) this specimen is deep brown with reddish notes. Thin light brown head fades fairly quickly leaving a thin cap and a solid ring; no visible lacing. Nice nose up front with toated malt, yummy chocolate, and fresh, lightly burned toast. Wow! Great nose; makes me suddenly want a good BLT. On the palate, more burnt/toasted malt, molasses, slight hints of chocolate. There’s some malty sweetness in there mixed in for good measure. Dry, bitter finish. Mouth: A bit on the crisp side, and a bit thinner than I’d prefer.

Overall: You don’t see many schwarzbiers and this one could easily be mistaken for a porter. Great start ends up just pretty good, which means that I wouldn’t necessarily seek this one out again, though definitely would have another if the opportunity presented.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle

A- Pours a black color with light tan head.

S- The aroma is slightly roasted grains with a little bit of sweet chocolate notes as well.

T- The taste has a little bit of sweetness up front with some roastiness from the malt in the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is between light and medium bodies wih a good amount of carbonation.

O- Overall, not bad but not something I would purchase again. I would prefer more hops in a beer like this.

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Photo of bier_uber_alles
3.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle to pint glass.
beer is dark, but not heavy. a moderate head with decent retention. lacing present as beer is quaffed.

smell is typical of the style - coffee, toffee, chocolate, yeast and a little bit of something burnt.

tastes great and is identical to the scent of the beer.

kinda watery but in a good, refreshing way. light on the carbonation.

a swell offering from magic hat. not as good as Monchshof or Kostritzer, but very close

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Photo of jsprain1
3.37/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A- Calling it black as night (as their label does) is a stretch, but it sits comfortably in the very dark brown category. Head is one finger cocoa, retains at a slick, minimal lacing.
S- The aroma is pleasant and reasonably assertive with dark caramel, a bit of cocoa, and this aroma that is sort of earthy.
T- Taste is dark caramel, with aa bit of cocoa in the finish. The faintest of espresso in the finish.
M- I gave the flavor a four, but that is optimistically rating it for what it would be if the mouthfeel left it on my tongue long enough. Very thin and not much carbonation just makes the beer flow too quickly.
O- A good tasting and smelling beer that needs to add some body and/or carbonation for me to want to come back. Simply too thin.

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Photo of depechemode1983
3.47/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Black appearance, dark brown when held to the light. Head is tan and vanishes quickly. Lacing is splotchy and little.

S - Roasted coffee, roasted grains, caramel and a hint of chocolate.

T - Burnt coffee, a hint of bitter hops, toffee, and dark chocolate. Everything is there just seems a bit distant. Really gotta dig for em.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and with soft carbonation. Finish is dry.

O - Pretty good when I comes down to it. A lot better than most of the American interpretations Iv'e tried.

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Photo of Sharkophile
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a pint glass, appears black, but not opaque, with some brown and red showing through in the light. Big sticky tan head crowns the beer and doesn't budge much.

S: Heavily roasted aroma of coffee and charcoal and not much else.

T: Intensely roasty, with big espresso and ashy flavors building on a light caramel sweetness. Light herbal hop leads into a long dry and bitter roasty finish with a flash of alcohol.

M: Luxurious full body with light carbonation.

O: An excellent beer by Magic Hat. I can imagine enjoying this with a big fat steak on the grill.

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Photo of donmonkey1
4.97/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours black with a nice, thick tan head with nice lacing. The head receeded a little faster than I would have liked.

Smell: COFFEE. Really nice toasted smell. Regular toast, burnt toast, toasted nuts, toasted barley, unsweetened chocolate.

Taste: Sweet tree bark. There's a sweetness that's very noticeable in the taste that I didn't sense in the smell. There's a dark roasted flavor I can't describe.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, nice carbonation.

You can get different beer but you can't get better. I can't think of a way to improve this beer except for a little better head retention.
This is a world class beer.

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Photo of cmdmzmjm
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- rich creamy dark and ruby coloring. Not far from being Dark as night as they say. Pretty high head that is a off white color

S- Caramel, coffee and roasted malts. Pretty decent smell for a lager.

T- Coffee and roasted malt and bitter hop at the end.

M- Pretty light for the deep color and creamy pour. I actually think its a bit carbonated for me. However its still pretty decent

O- Great black lager from Magic Hat. I have not had a lot of their beer but im hoping to try more. This beer is a pretty good beer to drink a lot of. Its lower in ABV and its light on the Stomach.

Will buy again next time around.

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Photo of 160Shillings
4.25/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma: coffee-like roast malt with faint spicy floral noble hops
Appearance: Very dark brown with a hint of ruby. Pours a nice head of fine tan foam that falls into a small ring that follows the beer down the glass.
Flavor: French roast coffee-like roast malt, caramel, rounded melanoidin malt are all present without being excessive, they linger into a long finish. Medium hop bitterness with spice and floral flavors.
Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: A nice German-style lager that is dark without being burnt
Comments: Schwarzbier is sometimes called “black Pils”, Magic Hat Brewing Company shows why it is, not as hop dominant as a true Pilsner, but a great German-style lager that presents a full range of flavors without being burnt.

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Photo of NuclearDolphin
3.57/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Black in color not in an opaque sort of way, but in a murky sense. When held up to the light, it takes on a dark brown color. Not too much in terms of lacing though and the head disappears quickly.

Smell - Caramel, Coffee and Dark Chocolate. I'm also picking up on some burnt malts and barley. There's a very slight grassy/earthy aroma to this as well

Taste - Rich Dark Chocolate and coffee flavors backed up by some decent burnt malts. The grassiness from the smell is absent here. The taste reminds me more of a milk chocolate stout. Simple and straight-forward in terms of taste, but in a good way!

Mouthfeel - Very light in terms of body, but the carbonation levels are fairly high and can get in the way when trying to get a sense of taste if you are not used to it.

Overall - Had the carbonation not been so intense, this would be one the best dark beers that I have had in a while. If you can look past the high levels of carbonation, this is a simple yet good tasting beer.

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Photo of rangerred
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance is almost pitch black but has a slight ruby tint. A two finger head quickly fades to a thin layer.

Aroma is full of cocoa and dark chocolate. Some roasted malt as well. A very slight metallic scent sneaks through.

The flavor much like the smell with cocoa and dark chocolate taking center stage. A little bit of coffee and nuttiness too. Bitterness is light but comes in towards the end. No hop flavors at all. Mouthfeel is a little watery but not terrible.

Overall this is a really good schwarzbier. Better than SA black lager in my opinion. Good job by Magic Hat.

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Photo of biggmike
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark color, but not quite black as night as the name would suggest. Had a nice off-white head that dissipated slowly. Smell was of dark roasted malt and very pleasant. Taste was good and much like aroma and I enjoyed it. Mouthfeel was just a tad thin in my opinion. Still I enjoyed this very sessionable beer and would drink again.

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Photo of mercyfulfate
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 Oz Bottle Into a Kona Brewing Pint Glass.

A: Not quite 'black as night' as the label claims. Dark brown into a light black. Very little head, but stays around. Good amount of lacing.

S: Smells of roasted malts, faint hint of chocolate in the background.

T: Tasted a little lighter than I expected. Getting the tastes of some dark roasted malts and a wee bit of chocolate.

M: Once again pretty light. Makes it a pretty easy beer to drink.

O: Not a bad black lager. On par with some of the other darker brews from Magic Hat. Willing to buy again.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In spite of the subtitled name, Howl isn't quite a "black as night lager." Dark brown to black with ruby highlights around the edge that were apparent while pouring. Tan head bubbles up nicely, but dissipates quickly. In spite of being a winter lager, it seems a bit musty in the nose. Some nice roast malt, mineral, light off spice. Roast continues in the mouth, but lacks depth or a layered dimension to the taste and is a bit light and tasteless off the back. Not bad, but not one I would seek out as definitive for the style.

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Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "3/4 pint" bottle into a Samuel Smith nonic pint glass (thanks to ballmouse for the glassware!) at low altitude. After a good experience with my first few Schwarzbiers, I'm looking forward to this one.

A: Pours a translucent dark brown with an exceptionally-fizzy two-finger light tan head that fades rather quickly. Not much lacing, but I think this looks pretty good overall. Surprisingly, there's some sediment in the bottom of the glass.

S: Plenty of roasted barley, light toffee and caramel. A relatively light smell overall, but pleasant.

T: Roasted barley up front gives way to some sweet malt notes, followed by bittering hops on the finish. The flavors are light overall, but there's still plenty of roasty complexity here. The roasted barley stays on the palate for quite a while after the finish.

M: Light-bodied with a wet mouthfeel and plenty of carbonation. Matches the other Schwarzbier's I've tried so far, and I think it suits the flavors well.

D: This beer was a pleasant surprise for me. It's light in flavor, but still develops plenty of tasty roasty character. A good introduction to the style, especially for people who have a fixed conception of dark beers as "heavy."

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 435 ratings.