Heart Of Darkness | Magic Hat Brewing Company

very good
326 Reviews
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

Added by stirgy on 10-03-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 1,387
Photo of Foxman
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a deep murky brown, though it could be easily mistaken for black in the rightn light. A sparse and quickly ebbing finger of light brown head peeks in and out.

The aroma delivers the coffee and chocolate notes of roated malt, along with a sherry/soy undertone. A vague hops air flits on the periphery.

The first sip conveys the dusky, tart flint of roasted malt and oatmeal, along with the mentioned chocolate and coffee earth tones. Sherry appears here as well, along with a distant cherry fruitiness. An almost vinegary tang carries through toward the finish, then gives way to a lightly lingering hops bitterness. The flavor, while multifaceted, comes across as thinner than it should.

This is suprisingly light bodied. While not watery, it does not have the presence on the palate that a stout generally delivers.

The tart character that over-emotes in the flavor takes away from what might have been a nicely complex beer. I seem to be going against the grain here, but there are other oatmeal stouts out there, Samuel Smith's springing to mind, that I think way outdo this one. It's a bit out of balance, and that doesn't settle well with me. That's not to say I'd turn one down if offered it by someone, but you can rest assured that I will not be the one doing the offering.

 1,306 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This brew comes to me through sulldaddy and clvand0. It pours a deep dark brown color with a finger of head that falls to coat the beer. The nose is really nice, withsome nice chocolateyness and a somewhat lacto creamyness. the flavor is a little more thin than the nose would say. The chocolate is there, with a bit of roasty goodness, but I wouldl like to see more in there. The feel is moderate, maybe a little watery for me. Overall, this is a nice brew. The flavor could be more robust and the feel could be a bit thicker. Other than that, good brew.

 555 characters

Photo of mentor
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Good fricking lord. This was a fantastic beer. Thanks to Sulldaddy for the opportunity. Poured a single finger brown head over a pitch black liquid. Smelled sweet. Of licorice and molasses, roast grains, some Fuggles hops, and a hint of alcohol. Tasted chocolatey delicious. Very caramel and toffee flavored with mild roast. A hint of vanilla and a hint of chocolate-covered-cherry (like the fine candies that have a cherry liquor. Gentle and nice with a somewhat dry, but highly refined chocolate flavor. Medium body and mildly carbonated. Could use a bit more evervesence, but I'm really reaching to find *something* to complain about. Gimme a 6er and I'll give you 6 emtpy bottles. Really a fantastic beer.

 709 characters

Photo of arguemaniac
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have had a lot of Magic Hat before and on the inside of all the caps there are these little sayings. But underneath the cap from the bottle that I used in this review was the best one so far: “Pull my finger but do not linger.”

Appearance: Black, almost entirely opaque, with a short-lived, tan head which leaves a thin, wispy lace.

Aroma: Heavy roasted aromas with chocolate and coffee (mostly the latter, though). Some floral hop aroma too.

Taste and Mouthfeel: A very deep roasted coffee flavor, with chocolate, espresso and even a smooth hint of vanilla. Some hoppy bitterness but mostly coffee roastiness in the finish. The mouthfeel is slightly oily but somewhat thin for a stout. Mild carbonation.

I have to say that while this was a very enjoyable beer it really doesn’t taste like most of the stouts I’ve had. It’s more like rich, earthy porter. The questionable style-classification not withstanding, this was a very good beer: smooth, roasty and very tasty. Highly recommended.

 1,007 characters

Photo of isubsmith
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pretty dark, nearly opaque. Thick, rich, tan head and plenty of it.

Smell: Typical stout nose -- dark, roasty chocolate and coffee dominating with a goodly amount of hops.

Taste: Roasted barley. Plenty of malt sweetness. Coffee and chocolate as well. Hoppy finish. Slight earthy/musty taste. A little light in body, but perhaps I've just been drinking too many Sam Smith Oatmeals lately.

Drinkability: This is an extremely drinkable beer. I think it might be the lighter-than-expected body coupled with the well balanced malt/hops that make this a very drinkable beer. Too bad I only have one more bottle of it.

 633 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Barely opaque dark walnut; certainly not the light eliminator that I would expect from a beer named 'Heart of Darkness'. The head is the color of cork and is several fingers of quality. Dense, lumpybumpy and coarsely pitting, it throws up thick chunks of foam that look as if they'll stick around for the duration.

The nose is a wonderful combination of fudgey chocolate brownies and chocolate pudding sprinkled with ground coffee beans. That reminds me of the only joke that I've ever made up. Q: what do you call a brownie with nuts? A: a cub scout. This one is positively oozing with roasted barley and is, by far, my favorite Magic Hat nose. Other than the hoppy beers of course.

Lovely flavor; still firing on all cylinders on the palate. For some reason, bittersweet chocolate and coffee have traded places and the java is now in charge. I prefer chocolate, but this is such tasty stuff that I'll let it slide. The oats provide some measure of sweetness, but Heart Of Darkness is primarily a bitter, dry stout. Or, to be more exact, it's on the bitter-dry end of the oatmeal stout continuum.

I love hops to contribute flavor to my stouts and that's exactly what happens here. There's a subdued, but real, bitter citrus zest presence that is most noticed on the finish. The mouthfeel is as smooth and as lightly silky as possible given the relative lack of heft. As with most (all?) Magic Hat offerings, the body/mouthfeel could stand to be filled out a bit.

Heart Of Darkness is a flavorful, hugely drinkable (dare I say session?) stout and is one of the best offerings that I've run across from this particular brewery. Thanks to far333 for providing.

 1,670 characters

Photo of alexwag
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark, but not inky, with a medium-density head of about one finger which dissipates fairly quickly. Some lacing with swiss-cheese type holes that sticks around for a bit.

Smell, as has been noted, is not overpowering by any means. You have to really get in there to get much impact from it aside from background.

Taste is malty up front, but not terribly so. Then the carbonation, which is moderate, kicks in quickly after that with a dash of hoppiness which becomes more central towards the end of the taste. A grainy, but not unpleasant, nuttiness comes on the back of the tongue along with some roasted notes. At the very very end it almost tips back to some light sweetness, which is quite pleasant when you stick with it. Finishes with an invitation to come back for more.

Though I prefer the more elusive Ravell porter from Magic Hat I appreciate Heart of Darkness' pleasant drinkability, smoothness and medium complexity. I'd get it again, but not when the stronger Ravell is about.

 1,006 characters

Photo of mbatley
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Maybe I just don't want to like magic hat because of the funky naming of their beers, but this was quite nice. Smooth, caramelly (sp?), fully black--just how you like it, and just enough body to make this a nice stout worthy of the $3.99 a six-pack I paid for it on sale. I would buy it again even at full retail. Enjoy--I did.

 327 characters

Photo of UncleJimbo
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on-tap at The Sunset in Boston.

This stout poured a dark, black color with creamy, tan foam that settled but left some lace on the glass. The smell was rather minimal but some dark malty aromas, including a touch of coffee, could be detected. The taste was full of dark malt with a bit of coffee and chocolate. The mouthfeel was dry and smooth with medium body and moderate carbonation. Malty but on the clean side. This was a nice stout which seemed to be leaning towards a dry, Irish stout, more than an oatmeal stout.

 531 characters

Photo of Shiredave
4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a very black beer. Tall brown head leaves a caramel lace glued to the glass.

Aroma is negligable- it may just be this bottle but I dont ever remember the nose of this beer being anything special. A slightly sweet, smokey/ roasty aroma.

The flavor on the other hand, is quite special. Lush and smooth up front flavors of coffee and burnt sugar, creamy mouth feel from the oats which also provide a little bit of mouth feel and texture to an otherwise light bodied stout. Ok... light middleweight. Lots of roasted barley flavor as I like it - none of the heavy chocolate malt flavor that so many American stouts have these days.

Finish is clean and roasty with a lingering bitter from both dark grain and hop. A very nice, easy drinkin Oat Stout.

 764 characters

Photo of Dithyramb
3.57/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased on the north side of Baltimore at Pinehurst liquors. Said that I was looking for something different, this was their only porter/stout that I hadn’t tried just yet. The typical catch your eye promotional marketing that you see with the Magic Hat line. They don’t produce the most awesomest beer out there, but they definitely look different on the package than the rest of the pack.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark black. There is not much head without a hard pour and very little carbonation evident
Smell: Soft, sweet malts on the nose with a touch of bitterness
Taste: The usual stout flavors with a bit of tangy flavor on the middle and end of the flavor profile that was decidedly different. A friend was claiming that this was due to the oats in the brew. Tasted very fruitlike, almost like a currant with bitter chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Slightly creamy and smooth, it had a light to medium mouth feel. Appeared to lack a bit of oomph. The currant flavor was different, but the brew appeared to lack qualities in several other areas. I’ll finish the sixer eventually, but this might not be one I’ll be coming back to.

 1,142 characters

Photo of jed
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: Comes in a brown, 3/4 pint bottle with a maccabre eye on the front label. Best by the end of March, 2005. Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep, oily black. Very uniform coloration, with no light getting through. Head is on the small side, about one finger, with weak retention. As the head dissipates, it leaves behind a trail of white lace.

Smell: Sweet oatmeal and roasted malt mixed with caramel and some raw alcohol esters. No hop precense in the smell.

Taste: Smooth, initial sweetness is hit by a mild wave of toasted malt. Some caramel notes, along with coffee flavors. Initial taste fades to a mild hop bitterness, again balanced by the malt. As the beer warms, more assertive bitterness and a more distinctive roast malt flavor. Finish is slightly dry, with lingering bitterness punctuated by some caramel.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, but surprisingly thin for such a complex, tasty stout. The mouthfeel is the only really disappointing element of this beer.

Drinkability: Solid. Lacks the huge alcohol content of something like Storm King, but too flavorful and heavy to be a session beer. Still, it's nice to have a stout with a relatively low ABV other than something like Guiness or Beamish.

Without doubt the most impressive Magic Hat beer I've had. I realize that Magic Hat takes some heat from the craft beer community for offerings like #9, but Heart of Darkness is an excellent oatmeal stout. This beer, along with Ravel, are definitely worth purchasing. Highly recommended.

 1,529 characters

Photo of nvsblman
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark with a light head. The aroma is full of roasted malts, along with some toffee and coffee. Tastes of coffee, smoke, malt, very nice together! Detected almost no hops in the aroma or taste, just enough for some balance in the taste. Medium bodied with some nice carbonation. Great beer to enjoy over the evening.

 326 characters

Photo of maltedmilk
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pitch black pour with no head to speak of.

Smells of chocolate ,malt and coffee with some trace sourness which I guess comes from that yeast..

The taste is malt with a little bitterness at the end.

It has a watery thin consistency and a chalky finish.

Not a bad brew though, very tasty in fact. I enjoyed it and would definitely have it again.

 356 characters

Photo of yeagerbm
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours deep black with ruby highlights on the edges. Nice brown head but doesnt persist. Nose is roasty with a distinct nuttiness from the oatmeal. The taste starts off sweet and malty with a nice smooth and creamy flavor of oatmeal followed by a sharp roasted malt flavor in the finish bitterness is average and most hop flavor/aroma if any is there is covered with the roasted malt.The body is a little thinner than I like for a stout, medium bodied but smooth. Overall a good drinkable stout with lots of flavor.

 514 characters

Photo of theo871
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ah, my favorite Magic Hat seasonal is back again!
Picked up a sixer of this one. It didn't last the weekend.
Appearance: first of all the label is awesome. It really catches your eye.
Pours a dark as night black, with a tan head. Smells of chocolate, coffee. Tastes of coffee, malt, and hints of chocolate. Smooth mouthfeel, a great session beer. Highly recommended!

 369 characters

Photo of warriorsoul
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

What a country....Heart of Darkness in my Stop & Shop! Goes in the cart next to the english muffins. Bottle requests I enjoy by April '05. I could normally care less about the appearance of a brew's bottle, but this label is awesome!

This beer is incredibly dark...dark at night w/ no light passing through. Almost a full finger of head after a moderate pour...cocoa in color.
Chocolate, coffee, raisins....this beer is packed w/ aromas.

Taste is less than exciting...a decent flavor, hint of cherries and java but it has no distinctive flavor jumping out at me.

I need to assume this beer was once cold, sat at room temperature, and then chilled again. It gets a little better once it warms up, but it is a bit too bitter on this serving. The aftertaste is ok...I would prefer the mouthfeel to finish a bit more dry. I'm not craving another after this pint...drinkability will have to suffer a bit.
I have had this before (bottled) and should have reviewed it then...I would have been much more kind. I have a 5 pack now and will enjoy them as much as I can.

 1,072 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap @ The Field in Cambridge, MA.

Pours out as black as night with a small head. The aroma brought about some burnt and roasted malts with slight hops as well. The flavor was slightly bitter and really gave attention to the hops. The roasted malts were still present as well. Slightly bitter finish to it. Not bad overall.

What a treat to have this on tap. One of the more hoppy stouts I've had, but a good representation of an oatmeal stout.

 451 characters

Photo of WesWes
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is awesome. It has a rich malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and some black malts along with a very good hop aroma that actually gives it a refreshing quality. The taste is awesome as well. It has a very smooth malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes a bit bitter and hoppy in the aftertaste. The oatmeal adds a slightly dry texture on the tongue. It is rich and creamy; very nice. The mouthfeel is great. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a great stout. It has everything; a great drinker.

 643 characters

Photo of Gavage
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Black in color with a 1/2" tan head that quickly fell to a spotty surface residue. Flat looking. The aroma was of roasted malt, coffee, and a chocolate sweetness.The flavor was on the sweet side as roasted malts, coffee, and mild bitterness didn't cut through the sweetness. Some chocolate and caramel tones are evident.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Finish contains coffee and chocolate tones that linger briefly on the tongue. Drinkability is OK, but there was something about this brew that did not excite me at all to have another.

 541 characters

Photo of shippos
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap at the chapter house in ithaca.

poured with a tin chocolatly tan head and a black as night body.
oily aroma with walnuts?, had a nutty wiff there for a bit then faded away. smooth first sip, creamy mouthfeel followed by a prickly bit of carbonation around the inside of your mouth and smoothes out at the end. bit of roasted grain in the finish. very very drinkable, very excellent oatmeal stout. IMO.

 412 characters

Photo of Hefe
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted on 12/22/04 at R.F.D. from tap.

Appearance: Inky pitch black, with a thin (but sticky) brown head.

Smell: RoOoasty! ( coffee, bittersweet chocolate )

Taste: Chocolate malt, smoky, roasty, with notes of plum and an underlying sweetness. A slight bite on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and medium bodied.

Drinkability: Great after dinner sipper.

 364 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearence: Pours the normal black stout color. Thin (very thin) chocolate head.

Smell: Smells chocolatey. Mostly bittersweet chocolates with a nice oat background. Smells better than most otmeal stouts do.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Tastes nice and sweet. A suprising amount of espresso notes rise up, eventually dying into a well balanced hop ending. The oatmeal tastes great and doesn't overpower the rest of the brew. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy.

Drinkability and Overall: So far I've been unimpressed with the beers my friend brought me from Magic Hat. This one is the best I've had, and definitly doesn't follow the trend of the other beers from this brewery. A solid, strong, and very drinkable oatmeal stout that is one to try.

 743 characters

Photo of LarryKemp
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This stout poured what appeared to be pitch black until held up to a light an then a slight redness can be detercted. The tan to brown head was not particularly creamy but was quite persistent and lingered on the side of the glass.

The roasted aroma filled my nose the moment I removed the cap and the smell lingered for some time. It reminded me of a drink from Starbucks. Rich and creamy.

This beer is on the sweet side of balanced. Just when I was about to say very sweet, the roasted bite kicks in and moves the balance of the beer toward the middle, but not quite.

The mouthfeel was not as creamy as I had hoped. It is medium bodied and does have a smoothness without being oily.

This is a beer that Malto brought down to Dallas and is a damn fine stout. I particularly like its sweetness and wish I had a couple more. Hey Malto, I will trade you a couple Texas Tornados for a few more of these!!!

 914 characters

Photo of ybnorml
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very dark brown/black beer with ruby highlights. Has a small dark beige head that leaves quickly. There is a tasty sweet malt aroma with a good coffee background. The flavor starts with a strong bittersweet chocolate character and that slips nicely into a sweet licorice finish. The mouthfeel seemed a little thin for what I expected.

 336 characters

Heart Of Darkness from Magic Hat Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,387 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.