Heart Of Darkness | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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Heart Of DarknessHeart Of Darkness
Very Good
Heart Of DarknessHeart Of Darkness

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: English Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our inky-black stout had a smooth, round palate with a dreamlike undercurrent of bittersweet chocolate. This dense liquid-silk summoned hope from hibernation and balanced winter's endless white snows with a rich swirl of creamy black rapture.

30 IBU

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 344 | Ratings: 1,453
Photo of GuyFawkes
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Unknown vintage; drank 10/18/14 @ the Yarchives.

Brown/purple hue.

Dark khaki head; decent lace.

Fresh earth, raspberry & cream nose. Interesting!

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Fresh earth, oatmeal & mild baker's chocolate flavors up front; a cream finish with a hop bite on the lips.

Not as good as the nose promised, but enjoyable.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

BOTTLE: Brown glass. 12 fl oz. Standard pry-off crown cap. Nabbed as part of the Magic Hat variety 12 pack at Argonaut Liquor in Denver, CO.

5.7% ABV. "Stout."

APPEARANCE: Standard for a stout. Opaque black body. Khaki colour head.

AROMA: Brewer's chocolate/chocolate malts, dark malts.

TASTE: Chocolate malt and dark malt sweetness lend this its malt backbone. Faint roasted barley/carafa imparts subtle bitterness. Malted milk balls.

No overt hoppy or yeasty notes. I'm surprised this isn't a milk stout; usually stouts this sweet have lactose sugar.

TEXTURE: Silky smooth, medium-bodied, well-carbonated, creamy, slightly sticky, a biteen chewy.

I'd like more dryness and coarseness to accentuate the roasted barley flavour, which is too faint in this stout for my tastes.

OVERALL: I confess I didn't expect much from Magic Hat, but this is a solid stout that never strays too far from style conventions. Sweet without needing to be one of those pastry stout monstrosities that plague the marketplace these days. I'd like more roastiness and maybe even some coffee or chicory bitterness to bring it into more careful balance, but it's enjoyable fare overall and will please fans of the style even if it doesn't dazzle.


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Photo of flaskman
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 16 ounce tulip glass from a 12 ounce bottle. Looks like it was bottled in June of this year. Came from a 7.99 Halloween 12 pack in the bargain bin. Pours black with a decent brown head that dissipated quickly into an 1/8 inch ring around the glass. Smells roasty and slightly sweet as it should. I find it quite inviting. The first sip is a slightly bitter chocolate roasty taste with a slightly hoppy finish that is sweeter than the taste up front. It is creamy and has a great mouthfeel for a 5.7 abv stout. I am getting little to no lacing. I enjoy my stouts and most of the time am enjoying the big stouts but find this one very enjoyable and well balanced. This is a very good beer. I will enjoy it again if I run into it and the price is right.

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Photo of CTHomer
3.54/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: opaque; very dark brown - appears deep mahogany when held to the light; 2 finger light brown head that receded to a wispy cap; nice lacing;

S: deeply roasted grain, milk chocolate;

T: follows the nose from start to finish; mild bitterness at the end;

O: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; lightly dry finish;

O: easy drinking;

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Photo of Smcavoy
3.79/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A solid English stout. roasted malts, caramel and chocolate up front, followed by very slight lingering hop bitterness. A great representation of the style.

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Photo of JDeCook
4.74/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

Can definitely taste the notes of chocolate upon swallowing. Very full bodied taste an very eye appealing. Highly recommend giving it a try for being a stout!

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Photo of feuematt
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black colored beer with a slowly fading tan head. Taste starts out as chocolate and finishes as coffee. Velvety smooth it goes down like liquid silk. A very good stout in my opinion.

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Photo of drtth
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The black liquid pours out into a Shaker Pint class with a 1/4 light tan head that persists fairly well and leaves small patches and specks of lacing on the side of the glass when sipping.

The aroma is mostly from the chocolate with just hint of coffee and dark roasted malt in the background..

The flavors are mostly about the chocolate from the malts with some sweetness and a hint of coffee and only a light earthy bitterness showing. There's also just a hint of roasted malt.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and fairly smooth with it's gentle carbonation. The finish is mostly about the fade away of the chocolate without any real bitterness in the fairly dry, slightly earthy ending.

On the whole this is a nicely drinkable stout that I'd be happy to have another of or to have with a meal. Although this is not a particularly complex beer it is tasty and enjoyable.

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Photo of HoppingMadMonk
3.81/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Muddy dark brown color,above average carbonation which took away from a medium bodied beer. Aroma Was roasted malt ,roasted coffee and some dark butter chocolate. There was a little bit of a sweetness which balances it well. Overall a good decent beer,May not be among the best but still a good beer

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Magic Hat Brewing Co. "Heart Of Darkness"
12 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, coded "DESUTED ON 101117 6 0948 0566"
$2 @ Giant, Havertown, PA

Notes via stream of consciousness: Heart Of Darkness used to be my favorite Magic Hat beer and then it disappeared, but now it's back in a limited run so let's see how it is. It's poured an opaque black-brown body beneath a finger-thick head of frothy dark tan. At the base of the glass I can see some slightly hazy mahogany brown highlights. The aroma is chocolatey and softly roasty, almost smoky but not quite, and perhaps a little bit grainy, but there's not much else going on. It's clean though. The flavor follows and I'm a little bit disappointed, I remember it having a little bit more of a caramel character to it. And, I could be mistaken about this, but I recall it having more body. It was never the brightest beer as far as stouts go but it was full and rich and this seems rather thin, vapid, and boring. Back to the taste, there's something there with the roastiness, a little bit of harshness. I don't find it astringent, but there's something about the roastiness that's not that pleasant. Oh well, at least it's not too bitter, it's nicely balanced in that regard and it finishes dry and roasty, very coffee-like. There's also some fruitiness to it that I can't really put my finger on. My initial impression was dark skinned fruit but now I'm finding some apple as well. Onward... I'd call it medium-light in body and gently crisp. The head has now dropped but it's kept a mostly solid surface covering and left some nice craggy lace behind. As it warms it gets a little better, showing of more of its character and becoming smoother, and in the end that makes sense as this really is very much an English-style stout.

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Photo of jjamadorphd
3.12/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I had some high hopes for this brew...Oh well...

Out of the glass it was very impressive - dark liquid, tannish head, and good lacing - very appealing to the eyes. But the rest of the brew was middle-of-the-road. The smell was a tad malty, but that was about it, the mouthfeel was light and watery, and the taste was uninspired. Nonetheless, it wasn't a bad stout, just not one of the better ones I have had.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

When I recently saw this in the mix-'n'-match cooler at the FGBS, I had an acute feeling of deja vu. This beer has been on this site since 2001 & I could swear that I had previously reviewed it, but no evidence exists to support this supposition! How very odd. Well, no time like the present!

From the bottle: "Limited Run"; "Diabolically Delicious Stout"; "Heart of Darkness is a diabolically delicious stout with a silky, full-bodied mouthfeel swirling around a dreamlike undercurrent of bittersweet chocolate from deep roasted malts."

Having Pop!ped the cap, I decided to go with an aggro, heavy-handed pour just to shake things up & see what's shakin'. I watched as it performed a pseudo-cascade that formed two fingers of dense, foamy, light-tan head with decent retention, leaving sticky lacing in its wake. Color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing light penetration only at the edges where cola highlights could be seen. Nose had a rich, dark chocolatey roastiness with a light amount of smoke. Mouthfeel was medium, but slick on the tongue. The taste was odd - chocolatey, but muted or somehow off, like carob or a weird not-quite-chocolate flavor. Hmm. Finish was dry, but it left an odd aftertaste of something akin to chocolate, but not exactly. It was not bad, but it just did not scratch the itch as I had hoped.

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Photo of darth_punchbowl
2.8/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Purchased from the state liquor store in Draper, UT in a 12 oz. brown glass bottle and chilled. Served in a goblet. Half an inch or so of beige foam head that disappeared quickly without lacing. Aroma was all roasted malt with a touch of wet apples. The flavor was quite underwhelming and I thought the carbonation was way too aggressive to be described as "silky." It could benefit from a nitro treatment instead. I had a hard time differentiating the caramel, coffee, and chocolate dimensions, probably due to the carbonation. There are many better stouts. I'm not understanding the glowing reviews, and will have to try it again.

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Photo of ichorNet
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very glad this brewery finally brought back the only beer I have ever truly loved from them. I have long been a Magic Hat detractor... their tasting and tour reeks of being paid by external capital (though they deny and deflect from such questions if asked, interestingly enough) and most of their brews are pedestrian at best. Though some have good ideas behind them, the end result tends to have everyday-drinkers in mind. Not a bad thing in and of itself, but they are owned by FIFCO via NAB as of 2012. Interestingly enough, that's about when I last saw this very beer in stores! HOD has since been re-booted into their "limited run" lineup, and I am glad to support such a move. From what I remember, this is a truly great beer.

I fondly remember this beer as an early favorite in my craft stout-loving days... it pours with a a very deep brown color, bordering black, except around the edges where it seems to retain some slight bits of brown and ruby. The head is quite retentive and sits at about a finger-and-a-half at its highest point. Lace is fairly consistent and decently-tiered but also a little cobweb-like in appearance. Overall, a good looking English-style stout.

Nose is full of strong notes of roasted barley, chocolate, black patent malt and dark fruit. There's a bit of light caramel that comes out here, but this is essentially the most explicitly "to-style" English stout made (in my market at least). Notes of herbal hops, treacle, slight dark fruit (cherry pits, plum and raisin) and damp earth. A true treat to the nose. Super well-constructed.

Flavor leans heavily on the caramel and darker, sweeter malt without going too bitter. Some fruity notes pop out around the mid-palate, lending notes of plum and red apple, but I mostly get English toffee and herbal flavors upon first sip. Heady roast from black malt towards the finish, but there's also a balancing sweet note that definitely speaks of a solid combination of crystal malts. Pretty complex dry Belgian dark chocolate toward the end of the palate in each sip. Finish is earthy, leafy and hoppy with moderate-to-high bitterness, mostly as a balance and foil against the chocolate-y and caramel-forward malt elements.

Feel is quite adequate for the strong flavors present here. I like the fact the carbonation is essentially just a helpful aspect here; it could easily get in the way, but it's dialed-in in such a way that it helps carry some complex roast and cocoa flavors without intruding on the palate. Overall, this remains an excellent choice for an everyday-stout, and seems to be one of the only beers Magic Hat has ever fully-succeeded at. If they keep making this, I will keep buying it. It's that good!

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Photo of MichaelProcton
4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Totally opaque inky black, with a thick, chocolate milk-hued head that fades pretty quickly. Sweetly bitter chocolate is all I pick up on the nose. There's a lot more going on in the flavor. You immediately get the roasty coffee and chocolate bitterness, but there is also a good bit of sweetness to balance things out. The back end gives you a bit more bitter to mellow out the whole experience. Mouthfeel is just right; substantial without being bitter. A strong beer that I enjoy.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

More sweet towards chocolate and little roast. Some yeast notes too. Black body snd full dense light brown head. Thick snd sticky.
Quite bitter and surprisingly so to me. More roast here and less chocolate. Wow is this dry on the finish & with the bitterness that's a flavorful and long finish. Full for a smaller beer. I like thi style and this is done nicely.
Thanks Sparky.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It pours a pitch black giving the same color body. A full lumpy white one inch head appears and lasts for a good five minutes. The body is too dark for any carbonation to be seen rising. The smell has some coffee and chocolate up front but in good balance with a nice roastiness to it. The taste is basically the same with a dry bitter aftertaste and finish. The palate is about a medium, fairly creamy with nothing harsh on the tongue. It is mostly drinkable, probably could have several of these in a session. Overall, this is good for the style and good for me.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.26/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25


Bottle to pint glass
LOOK: dark black, light head with lacing.
AROMA: barley, hops, a touch of coffee on the nose.
TASTE: Coffee, toast, chocolate. A touch of bitter citrus/rind in the aftertaste.
FEEL: not very smooth for a stout, chalky, rough.

Good beer, not great. A bit disappointed as a fan of stouts and magic hat.

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Photo of Kendo
4.04/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a Duvel tulip. Body is black, maybe dark, dark brown when backlit. Small tannish head on top.

S: Roasted barley malt, coffee and chocolate. Nice nose.

T: Follows the nose, with roasted barley, coffee and chocolate all noted, pretty much in that order. Finishes fairly dry and with a light bitterness.

M: A little on the thin side, though for an English Stout that may be about right.

O: Quite good. I believe someone left this in my garage fridge last winter, making this one a bit past prime, but it's still drinking nicely. Curious as to whether it would be much more improved when younger.

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Photo of Offa
4.52/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent, full-bodied well-rounded stout. It is almost fully black but not quite with big dark tan head slowly shrinking.

Aroma is rich burnt marshamallows, caramelised prunes, hint of graham cracker, toast, coffee. It's wonderful and full-bodied.

Taste is similar to aroma but dryer than aroma implies, excellent caramelised coffee candy and dark toast, singes prunes, some sweetness to balance bitterness.

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Photo of UPMD_Bill
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into glass

A: super-dark, almost black
S: definite chocolate aroma on the nose. maybe some dried fruit. smells Interesting.
T: citrus notes on the finish (grapefruit?) Some roast/char. The late bitterness good for balance.
F: heavy, with mild carbonation
O: enjoyed and would get it again.

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Photo of Joe_
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I generally don't like Magic Hat, but this is my favorite chocolate stout. It's widely available in the winter and incredibly smooth. Every time I see a six-pack I buy one.

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Photo of bmeehan
3.13/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Admittedly, I'm not a stout drinker, so when I do drink a stout, I'm doing it more for the sake of seeing if my taste has changed than I am just to pour a beer into my mouth. That said, I didn't like this beer very much and thought it was too strong/bitter, but don't take my word as gospel regarding anything stout-related. Don't do it! Stop reading this!

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Photo of kim_thayil
4.75/5  rDev +22.4%

hadn't heard of this until my cousin offered me one when i was visiting.

i was knocked out by how good it is. unbelievable. coffee, sweetness. excellent.

immediately one of my favorites.

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Photo of arlo19
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Pours black. Aroma is roasty, bitter chocolate, coffee. Taste is biscut, dry and bitter with a light mouthfeel. No booze. Aftertaste is coffee. My guess of 6% abv is close to the actual 5.7, so no surprises there but it is still balanced. Overall, this is very good and an easy drinker.

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Heart Of Darkness from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.88 out of 5 with 1,453 ratings