1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.

Howl - Magic Hat Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

946 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 946
Reviews: 434
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 14.44%
Wants: 33
Gots: 50 | 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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2009)
View: Beers (33) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Howl Alström Bros
Ratings: 946 | Reviews: 434 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
3.23/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Howl begins with a solid to dark brown color, a quick lightly tanned head that fades to an intermitten film and holds true. Some lacing along the way. Fairly clear but with the dark color, hard to tell.

Aromas hold a good amount of roast and nuttiness. Maltiness goes from caramel to roast without a bridge between the two. Light coffees and burnt cocoa seem a bit agressive. No hops.

Flavors of caramel quickly turn to molassas and then to burnt molassas (over caramelized sugars), and eventually into moderate coffee notes and walnut nuttiness. A good mix of malt character gives good variety but still seems empty.

Body is medium with the roasty, toasty notes and lingering sweetness giving an impression of higher weight to the body. Medium-light carbonation also adds to the weight of the beer.

I'm not sure if a Schwarzbier is what Magic Hat is shooting for; the beer is too sweet and doesn't finish with the powdery dry, yet clean finish that make Schwarzbiers so great. This is a roasty Vienna lager that might be better suited for the Fall season- think Halloween.

Photo of jdhilt
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a five finger very light tan head that fades slowly, leaving some lace. Black color, no highlights. Roasted/burnt coffee. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is almost sweet burnt/roasted coffee. Burnt coffee after taste. Expecting spices with label saying this is a Winter seasonal. Best by Jan 31, 2010. $1.70 for a 12oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

Photo of cokes
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark and clear ruby twilight with a tight crop of beige suds. Lacing and retention are average.
The nose features a mix of char and caramel, ashier up front, then sweeter over time.
The taste follows a similar progression. Coffee grounds and cigarette ash, then opening towards sweeter notions of caramel and dough, and a tiny bit of liquorice as it fully warms. Hopping is dryish and slaking but not otherwise important.
Light bodied, though the trickling carbonation does support some sense of structure and weight.
It's a by-the-numbers Schwarzbier. It carries little in the way of depth or nuance, but it's strength is in its inoffensiveness and drinkability.
All in all its okay, but I doubt I'll see this again.

Photo of Wadsey
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my DFH signature glass.

A: Ruby to deep brown in my glass, difficult to confirm what I assume is nice clarity. Fluffy off-white head collapses quickly to a skim. No lacing, but some foamy lines remain.

S: Roasted malts with a bit of sweet malitness. Maybe some cocoa/chocolate. No hops or fruitiness are evident.

T: Roasted grainy malts. Not as sweet as smell led me to believe. A bit of cocoa/chocolate, a and a subtle, but surprising note of toffee/caramel before a dry, bitter finish.

M: Light, which is to style.

D: Swarzbiers are drinkable, if nothing else, and Howl is no exception. Simple, but interesting, and light. A good beer to throw into the wintery mix.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark walnut brown that should be see-throughable once the sun rises higher in the sky. Slices of burnt orange appear at the edges and an attractive chunk of oatmeal colored foam appears up top. Sudsy rings of lace decorate the glass in fine fashion.

The dark malty nose fits the style guidelines pretty well. It's probably hoppier than most, but isn't overdone. 32 IBUs worth of Apollo and Hallertau hops should turn this little lager into something to be reckoned with.

Howl is good beer considering style and ABV. Yeah, it could be bolder and more malty, but what do you expect at less than 10-proof? As expected, a moderate hoppiness balances what little sweetness is present. For those who care, the grain bill includes pale, crystal and carafa (which is a type of chocolate malt).

The flavor profile is dominated by bittersweet chocolate wafer cookies. Other participants include black coffee, caramel and citrus peel. This may be simple beer, but it's also nicely drinkable beer. The label indicates that it's best by the end of this month. Hmmm... tastes fresh as a daisy right now.

The body/mouthfeel doesn't quite keep up. All things considered, it's fine and dandy, but I'd need a fraction more heft, some light creaminess or better buried bubbles to go with the next highest number.

Magic Hat is one of those classic hit-or-miss American craft breweries. Howl is a hit that should appeal to just about everyone who likes good beer. Now watch them discontinue this winter seasonal in favor of a potato and licorice beer called Crazy Black Tater.

Photo of ProfessorHomer
1.5/5  rDev -59.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I loved their organic brand Orlio Black Lager, after it was "retired" me and a beer club buddy hoarded a case of it to enjoy over the past year. When one of Magic Hat's local reps told us this past summer it was being resurrected under the Magic Hat name, we were thrilled! Owing to its heritage, I actually bought a case of this, taste untested, for our beer club and personal consumption because I had that much confidence in its potential. I even bought the first beers being stocked by my local Beverage Mart. D'oh! Was I ever mistaken! My bottle had the distinct aroma and taste of dog poop. Not that I know what dog poop tastes like, mind you, but that frigging dog poop smell permeated this beer. I still can't get the stink out of my nostrils when thinking of this beer.

IMO, this is a completely failed beer. I gave away the entire case. I was that disgusted by its dog poopyness. I will bet that Magic Hat spent more time designing the label for this (alleged) beer then was spent in tending to its brewing. P-U - this beer stinks!

Photo of DerekP
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into 16 oz pint glass.

I read about this beer through a review in Beer Advocate Magazine. What struck my curiosity was the description that said it smelled like "old coins and fresh bloody steak." I also have had very little experience with schwarzbier's (black beer) so I wanted to try my hand on this one; the last schwarzbier I tried was in the Saranac Winter Pack, 2009.

The look of this beer is definitely black as night. A nice foam sits on top with pretty good head retention. The lacing is healthy. I smell toasted bread, possibly burnt. It also smells like a smoked beer. The taste is similar, with burnt coffee notes, raw meat, and smoky firewood.

The mouthfeel and finish is outstanding. Who would have thought that a brewery could develop a beer with this kind of smell and taste and still pull off a lighter, less offensive finish? And no I'm not that uneducated. I'm very much aware that that is the point of schwarbier: to offer dark notes and tones while sticking to a lighter body and overall taste.

This beer is just another example of why I'm really starting to fall in love with winter offerings. If you haven't tried this one, do yourself a favor and do so before it's gone. Cheers!

This review was originally posted @ http://thelightonbeer.blogspot.com

Photo of BMoney575
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 1-16-10
Best before February 2010

Pours a very deep red color, almost black. The head is thin and settles quickly, to a thin film.

Smell is very smoky and malty, with strong notes of vanilla and maybe even a little coffee. Very complex and better than I expected.

Taste is subtle, flavors match up with the smell. Nowhere near as flavorful as the smell would lead you to believe. The finish is slightly bitter and smoky, with a pleasant aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, but seems appropriate.

Drinkability is very good, light flavors and abv make it a great session beer.

Overall, rather thin and light, but worth a try.

Photo of northaustin
3.73/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a clean black with two fingers of rapidly disappearing brown head. some stringy and spotted lacing.

smells of mild roasted malts with a basic two row overdose in the back. pretty good

tastes awesome. full bodied and full of roasted malts. tastes kinda like a regular stout but thinner. the only black lager ive had that i liked.

mouthfeel: smooth and silky goin down and leaves your throat coated and your cheeks semi dry and sticky.

drinkability: highly sessionable. a tad light but still full flavored for what it is. worth a try.

Photo of horshack7
4.22/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: From a twelve ounce bottle with a label that has some eveil eyes over seeing the night itself. Wathcing your every move and the letter o in howl is a clock that is soon to strike midnight. It pours black that has deep mohagany hues around the edges. The head is about one finger thick of frothy goodness.

Aroma: Lots of sweetness from the malts. Little bits of carmelized sugar. A light hop nose that gives off tiny notes of sweet ripe fruit.

Taste: Nice carbonation to start. Maltiness shows up right up front. A little bit of hop bitterness but the hops are roasted dark. Way in the back ground is a little smokiness. A little bit of sweet fruits but mostly sugary notes.

Notes: This is quite a nice style of beer. I'ts nice to see a Schwarzbier. This is one is a nice winter brew. Cheers.

Photo of ianjsullivan
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving type: 12 ounce bottle poured into a standard glass.

Appearance: Decent thick head that does not last long. The color is dark, almost black, with a ring of brown toward the bottom. When held to the light red hues become prominent.

Smell: Nice smell, sweeter malts match toasted malts and smoke.

Taste: As is normally the case (since most of taste comes from smell anyway) sweet and toasted malts mash into one another leaving a smoky finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodies, not very heavy but with a pleasant acidity and creaminess that follows to the finish.

Drinkability: Since the beer is not very heavy it can be consumed fairly easily. However, the taste is still present of darker beers. It reminds me of a cross between a dark lager and a stout.

I was really impressed with this winter offering by Magic Hat, mostly because I went in with low expectations. I am not knocking on them as a brewer, some of their beers I enjoy quite a bit, some I dislike just as much. Howl offers some nice taste with a body that allows for consistent drinking. It could be stronger and the body could be heavier, however, it is a good beer for the price.

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Howl has a dark brown body that resembles cola. The tan head is a robust two fingers in height; the retention is pretty weak, but some nice lacing is left behind in sheets and rings.

The aroma impresses me since I was honestly preparing myself to be underwhelmed. Some sweet malts, roasted malts and a big whiff of smoke.

Howl tastes pretty decent also; sweet malts come up front followed by some roasted malts. The roasted malts are probably the strongest element of the flavor. The smoke is pretty weak though, poking its head through at the end and leading to a somewhat watery finish.

The mouthfeel is solid, with a medium body that is just a touch chewy; well carbonated.

Overall, Howl could use a little more punch in the flavor, especially in the form of smoke. Not bad though.

Photo of mtnbikerpa
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 ounce bottle with freshest by date of Jan 10 on back label Magic Hat style. Poured very dark with almost no carbonation leaving no real visible head. Some malts and a considerable amount of dark fruits in the smell. Pretty drinkable black lager. Malts profile flavor is pretty smooth. Nothing to exciting here. I could drink a few of these with no problem and enjoy them.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

At the Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell NJ: poured into an American pint glass, mahogany with less than a finger of beige head and spotty lacing. Smelled of raisins, orange, and malt. Tasted of raisins, dates, molasses, and orange peel, with a dry finish. Medium-bodied; more carbonation than expected. The taste mix just didn't do it for me, hence I wouldn't consider sessioning this beer.

Photo of whiplash3825
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Kinda confused... my bottle is marked "Black as Night Winter Lager" but the review page says duplicate listing and to review under "Magic Hat Howl". But listed as two different styles so who knows. From "Feast of Fools" winter variety pack.

Pours an almost opaque very-dark brown with a smallish 1-finger tan head that doesn't stick around.

Even in the midst of having a very bad cold, I can smell mucho dark ripe fruit... fig, raisins, cocoa, and coffee. Lots of roasted malt scents.

Taste is a little bit of a letdown; not as rich as the smell by any stretch, but still good. Pretty much the same flavors as those in the nose, just not as intense. Very warming for a 4.6% beer... I would have guessed a higher alcohol content. Definitely a good beer for this frigid January day!

Mouthfeel seems a tad on the thin side, and a little more carbonation would improve it imo.

The lower alcohol content helps in the drinkability department... I'd think it'd be pretty easy to knock back quite a few of these.

Photo of Bighuge
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly opaque. Thin and creamy light brown head. Lacing is quite full and intricate. Boy is this a thick smelling beer. Thick with earthy notes, like spent coffee grounds, dirt, mud, tar. I love it. The flavor has a smoothness associated with lagers to it but also a roastiness and chocolatey feel to it. A little underlying caramel. Some char. And a lingering dryness to it. Smells great. Taste decent enough. Goes down just fine.

Photo of plaid75
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at T.J. Finley's, Bayshore, New York.

Poured a medium brown hue with a one finger foamy off white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a light roasted barley and a touch of smoke.

The taste consisted of upfront roasted malts, charcoal and dry coffee. All subtle noted however.

The mouthfeel was toward the cleaner side of the style.

Overall a tasty black beer and a welcomed easy drinker for winter.

Photo of KOPBeerDrinker
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vigourous pour from bottle into pint glass yielded a short head that quickly disappeared. Color is deep black, with red tint when held to light.

Smells of roasted malt, kind of chocolately.

Tastes of roasted malt, followed by some coffee flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium with prickly carbonation. Easy to drink.

Photo of burnstar
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a medium off-white head. Smell is mild roasted malt with a faint chocolate note. Taste is again roasted malt. Not particularly heavy. Cocoa note in the back. Low sweetness. Some bitterness throughout from the dark malt. Medium to light bodied. Pretty easily drinkable. I haven't had many examples of this style but this is a solid beer overall.

Photo of Jwale73
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in a pilsener glass. Best by March 2010 indicated on the bottle. Poured the color of cola, with a loose, three inch, light tan-colored head. Head eventually settles into a fairly consistent quarter inch cap with a thick band of lacing exposed during the session. Nose is very subdued - a hint of chocolate malt, lactose and maybe dark fruit. Flavors are somewhat watery; a roasted/smokey quality comes out, as well as a touch of chocolate and lactic acid. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a very lively background effervescence. Not a bad session beer, but lacking some of the flavor representative of the style. However, one of MH's better offerings in my opinion.

Photo of Amalak
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had out of a 12 ounce bottle. IT's extremely dark brown, almost black. Good foamy tan head and excellent lacing. Nice smokey, burnt scent with a hint of cinnamon.

It's a very burnt tasting porter/stout. Thick. Hasa very mild chocolate taste. Rough on the tongue. Not smooth, a bit sour.

Photo of Jayli
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had at Not Your Average Joe's in Watertown, MA 1/4/10

A: This beer pours a deep almost opaque brown with slight mahogany edges. One finger of khaki colored head that recedes quickly sits on top. Nice sheets of lacing are left on the glass.

S: Nose is of chocolate, caramel malts, hint of smoke and coffee.

T: Taste starts with chocolate and caramel malts with the middle filled out by deep roasted malts. Touch of coffee, smokiness and burnt malts finish this beer.

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, crisp light feel with a sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easy, low ABV with a lot of flavor. This is a highly drinkable beer that you can sit with for an evening.

Photo of MTNboy
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It has a black opaque body with a brown hue. A dark tan almost brown head with very spread out lace. I thought the aroma was faint other than a burnt metal scent. It has a clean roasted malt taste with some mild hop tones. It is mainly like charred wood and grain with some spiciness that I can't quite place. The mouth feel is smooth but somewhat thin.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - looks black viewed head-on, but against some light it shows a caramel brown/burgundy color. Pale mocha head, not much but enough to put a few stray dots of lace on the glass.

Aroma - decent roastiness, some odd metal off smell too.

Taste - well this doesn't happen often enough, but when I tasted this beer tonight, I thought 'I don't know what style this is, but it oughtta be a schwarz if it ain't already.' And what do you know...

A good roasty, not quite smoky malt. A toasty but not charred aftertaste. A delicious black beer, a light bite of bitterness towards the end, good stuff.

Mouthfeel - a note of smoothness, crisp and light for a darkly colored brew.

Drinkability - excellent drinker. Bigger sips yield a more robust roast element, that's the way to go.

Photo of wingman14
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown, looks black until held to the light. Has a nice tan head that fades fast. The smell is weird, some malt, burnt characters. The taste starts malty and doesn't have much depth, and finishes with the burnt characters that stay through the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is light, I wish it were a bit heavier, but it still is smooth. This is an easy drinker, nice session beer, a decent beer.

Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 946 ratings.