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 pezoids on 10-03-2001

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 1,385
Photo of Brent
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Don't mock a Soul hundreds of years Old." I'm sure that cap quote will keep me up at night, pondering the meaning (as will the creepy staring eye on the label), but, all MH funkyness aside, this is a really interesting brew. Great chocolate malt flavors with a bit of coffee mocha, flavors you would expect from a sludge-brew, yet this beer is quite light and almost airy and somehow avoids being watery. A lighweight stout with lots of flavor - a description one would normally find mutually exclusive.

 504 characters

Photo of silks636
3.4/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz. brown bottle. Freshness date marked. Cap quip urges, “Be a winner, share your dinner”.

Appears opaque brown. Thin taupe head which quickly dissipates to a ring around the glass. Light and spotty lacing. Aroma of roasted coffee and black licorice. Very faint traces of dried fruit/raisin scents present as well. Taste begins a touch bitter then gives way to a deep roasted/burnt malt flavor over a mild underlying creamy sweetness. Some hop twang is present momentarily toward the finish, and provides a nice contrast to the semi-sweet burnt coffee taste. Aftertaste is dry with a touch of smoky grain. Mouthfeel is more watery than I would have liked.

Not a bad stout, but one I feel is a bit on the timid side. Allowing it to warm slightly definitely helped the cause. A drinkable brew indeed, but there are much better stouts to be had.

 865 characters

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

Another stand out for Magic hat. This very dark concoction with a caramel tasting creamy head
and chocolate notes made this oatmeal stout one of my favorites. This beer goes down so smooth, theres no problem drinking several of these, a great finish.
I believe this is a seasonal for the end of the year holidays but
I could sip and savor all year. Exceptional taste and one to find.

 387 characters

Photo of pezoids
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark mahogany brown color, which the light just barely shone through. Nice rich and creamy head. Roasted chocolates and coffee in the aroma. Not much body. A watery stout here. The roasted grains leave a bitterness in the back of the throat. Some perfumey and toasted flavors come out as you drink. This is a nice light stout. Not very rich, but enjoyable.

 370 characters

Photo of beergeek279
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was black, with a great head. Smell was of sweet roasted malt. Taste was very sweet.....with a coffeeish taste. Mouthfeel was smooth. Drinkability-wise, as many as I could get down.

Probably my favorite Magic Hat brew of the ones I've had so far. A solid stout that stands up well to some of the British ones, and one I definitely hope to have again!

 392 characters

Photo of oberon
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black with a medium off white sticky head,the aroma is chocolaty and kinda smoky smell was not that great to me.The taste is chocolaty and nutty with some definent hoppy bitterness in the finish.Not a bad beer but average compared to alot of standards.

 265 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears completely dark opaque until held up directly toward the light in order to unveil deep ruby edges around this brew with scattered lacing formed by a thin tan moccha colored head. Aroma contains deep notches of chocolate, coffee, tones along with a slightly burnt fruit tones caramelized down to a reduction. The flavors a reminscient of a dry Irish but with so much more character and flavor the deep dry roasts are present, but in addition a cocoa infused cappucino with a sour acidic tone finishes out the robust flavor of this stout similar to an Imperial but lacking body and alcohol to label it so. Flavors are there including the fruit tones mouthfeel is full but by no means chewy which adds to the drinkability of this outstanding session stout no cloying carbonation or flavor profiles here just a well made true to the style stout.

 849 characters

Photo of 86MonteSS
3.48/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nothing but meat and potatoes.

I bashed Guinness so I guess I can't sing the praises of a basic stout like this. But I guess Heart of Darkness just seems a little more refined. I'm wasn't born a stout man, and unless there's more than just the basic elements in them, I can't say they're something I thoroughly enjoy. I'm not going to get this again, but I can't say I'm disappointed. It's good for a stout, but a plain ol' stout ain't nothing special.

 456 characters

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

Solid black, light just gets sucked in like a black hole. Thin, then faded tannish head, lacing minimal and stringy. Faint aroma of roastyness malts and crispy with maple and nut notes. Taste is mildly roasted malts, lightly mixing with chocolate and nuts, but barely there. It has a moist, thick mildly luscious start then goes into a bit weak hoppy dryness and twingy bitterness thats muted in woodyness, smokey, toothpick, bark, cardboard maybe? Tastes are a bit too light and short lived. Full, rich, creamy, medium bodied and medium heavy with a slight carbonation feel and a thin dry finish. All around good effort. Kalamazoo has to make a trip to the New England area. I know I'll probably catch hell for this one. All around good effort. Like the label too. Still not up to top notch though.

Thanks to jeffboo for the bottle who got it from a traveling buddy.

 870 characters

Photo of taez555
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Don't Rely on those who won't Try"

Truly words of wisdom.

Anyway. This beer poured a dark dark black/brown body with a lovely white head that died down quickly, but no quicker than your average beer.

The nose was a beautiful sweet, malty, roasty, chocolate mesh with what I could have sworn to be even a few hints of smoke or meat.

The intintial taste was very very smooth and clean. Lots of dark roasted flavors. With a dark stout bitterness brought on more by what tasted to be a dark roasted barely more than hop bitterness. It just had a very roasted barely flavor, like a fresh roasted coffee bean or something.

What was really amazing about this beer, as well as other magic hat's in general, is how smooth and clean it is. Maybe it's the Vermont water, the secret yeast or something but if you close your eyes you'd be hard pressed to tell this is a stout if it weren't for the roasty flavors.

A great beer. Another gem from Magic Hat. I'll be sad if I ever move out of New England.

 1,010 characters

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

Light brown/khaki head. The beer itself is jet-black. Great lacing. Smells incredibly smoky. I heard the bartender tell someone this was a "smoked porter", and it's easy to believe. It tastes pretty light, and heavily of toasted oats. Great, tingly mouthfeel. Feels light, and is highly drinkable.

 297 characters

Photo of aaronh
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a thin tan head that displays decent retention. It eventualy fades to a thin ring around the edge. The color is a very deep brown, tinged with burnt mahogany. The aroma is delicious, with caramel, molasses, coffee, bourbon malts, and a bit of sweet fruit. Maybe even a touch of smoke in there. On top of all that aroma, there is still a "freshness" to the nose. The first sip is all about the coffee, actually more like a double espresso. Then a bit of dark chocolate creeps in, followed by the caramel. Each sucessive sip, the flavor profile changes slightly. A nice bitterness is found on the finish, with lingering notes tat intermingle all the previous flavors in an ever-shifting kaleidescope of taste. The mouthfeel is decent.

This is actually a good drinking stout, reminiscent of some of the lighter dry irish stouts. Taken in that context, with the dryness of this beer, both the mouthfeel and drinkability are right on. I just expected a bit more body in the mouth. This beer may be the 'Heart of Darkness', but it really lights up my heart. A very enjoyable brew that I look forward to enjoying again. A dual thanks goes out on this one. One to Deb for Beering this Forward to me, and a second to Loren for providing a few more to enjoy later. Can't beat great BA's. They make every beer more enjoyable.

 1,329 characters

Photo of far333
3.34/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After having written the review just below for the bottled version, I went to my favorite beer bar and found the draught version, and immediately asked for a pint. I have to say (and the rest of the draught reviews seem to agree) that the draught version is similar in all respects except the flavor and aroma. The flavor is milder and smoother, and the hop flavor takes over. The hints of chocolate and coffee seem to be lost in both flavor and aroma. The head also seemed to run away too quickly. Still a very drinkable and enjoyable stout, but the bottled version really stands out in the crowd, where the draught version is just another oatmeal stout.

 655 characters

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

Pours a dark, almost black with just a hint of red color with a small creamy tan head. A bit of vigor is required to get much of any head. The head settles to a bit of lace that remains nicely. The smell is dominantly of roasted chocolate malts, with just a hint of caramel. The taste is a nice complexity of the roasted malt flavors giving an almost smokey character to the brew, yet there is just a touch of hops for balance. The mouthfeel is pleasant and each taste finishes with a nice roasted flavor. I would almost call this a medium body stout; it really isn't heavy at all. Very pleasant, interesting, and drinkable.

 624 characters

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

Had this bottled. Pours to a very dark black. No light coming through this beer. Small, stoutish head, even after a vigorous pouring, though it suited the beer just fine.

Taste is dominated by smoke and chocolate malts. A very smooth finish, not too heavy. Though it is new and seasonal, if it were around longer/more often, I think this could become a benchmark for American Stouts. Not terribly complex but well handled and very smooth, hearty. As close as I reckon a good stout could get to being sessionable.

My favorite Magic Hat to date, though I hear good thinks about Blind Faith.

 595 characters

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

My first Hat! A memorable experience, indeed...

It had a black body, with a khaki tan head that went quickly to a wispy lace.

The aroma reminded me of wet autumn leaves, expresso, and chocolate.

It tasted of expresso and tangy citrus, with a hint of dark chocolate as it warmed. The finish was bitter hops and citrus peel that faded to a malty sweetness. The mouthfeel was a bit thin, IMHO, for a stout, with light carbonation.

Not my favorite stout, but a good one. We all need to get in touch with the dark side sometimes. Drink enough of these, and the eye on the label starts to follow you around the room...

 624 characters

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

I was eagerly anticipating this and while it was very easy drinking, it seemed to lack the weight of some of the better stouts I've had...Pours a charcoal black with a little tan head...nose is soft and small...some java tones and some cocoa....body is thin for a stout...maybe medium at best..let's call it on the thin side of medium...taste has some coffee notes and dark cocoa notes but overall it isn't a powerhouse of flavor...finishes on a dry note which is a nice close...overall this certainly isn't bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase this one..My first Magic Hat experience rates slightly above average....

 629 characters

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

It was two dollar pint night, and I spied this on tap. Poured a nice dark color, a pretty good head. Smooth, a taint sweet, and just a hint of coffee. It went down quickly, leading me to question, is it a stout? Maybe a sub-stout, bordering on a porter. Regardless, this was an excellent beer.

 293 characters

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

A thoroughly dark stout, pouring with a deep black color and a quickly fading caramel head.

The aroma is that of a good stout, with the chocolate malt tones coming through strongly, and a good amount of roasted malt. A *bit* of coffee smell, but on the "sweet" end of the coffee spectrum, not harsh.

The mouthfeel is very full and rather sweet. Unlike most stouts, while there is definitely that bitter flavor characteristic of stouts, this bitterness is rather mild, resulting in a very smooth stout. And it's lightly carbonated, so you don't have much of the acidic sting from the carbonation.

Overall, a very respectable stout, one of the best that I regularly have the pleasure of drinking.

 703 characters

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

Color is fully black, with a big, tan head. Aroma is full of all of the things I enjoy and expect from any stout worth it's salt: rich, roasty espresso notes. Mouthfeel is full, sweet, rich, with loads of beautiful, sweet notes, and bitter ones, too. Tasty, toasty, roasty, with a long, luscious finish. A fine and tasty stout, with a slightly sweet aftertaste, and just a touch syrupy. An excellent, but ordinary, stout, and I give up props to UncleJimbo and purplehops, my twin EastCoast providers. Though, I may suggest, that Joseph Conrad might have something more sinister in mind.

 586 characters

Photo of SixpointJMH
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep black with a thin head that quickly dissolves yet never completely disappears. predominantly smells of coffee with hints of chocolate. there is a definite roasted flavour here as well as smoked malts and coffee as mentioned above. though certainly not light, much easier going down than would appear. not nearly as heavy as other stouts. overall, one hell of a stout and one hell of a beer in general. my favourite in the magic hat family.

 452 characters

Photo of Thrasher
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow, a lot of people have reviewed this beer in the past few days. Opaque black with ruby edges. Head was small but did not vanish. Appealing aroma of roasted barley, chocolate, coffee, grasses. Sharp tasting, like many of MH's brews, with a bold assertive flavor that informs the drinker, hey we are not dicking around here. Roastiness takes a while to settle in, very warming and invigorating. Some light smokiness in the background, a little bit of greasiness too but not repugnant. Hops are grassy, drying, and refresingly bitter. A perfect balance between bitter and sweet. Other reviews have talked about creaminess but I'm not getting it. I would say this is a bit slick for a stout, maybe even a little thin. Stickiness is appropriate and delightful. Each sip requires another, a very drinkable beer. An exquisite beer for a snowy winter's day.

 852 characters

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is just like the Conrad novel. Dark! Really dark with a thin tan head. The smell was the best part of the beer because it reminded me of one of my favorite things to do. Take a big whif from a bag of freshly ground coffee. There were also some smells that made it smell a little like damp earth too. Excellent smell! The taste had little hints but wasn't quite as good, but the thickness made up for that. Magic Hat has a winner here.

 439 characters

Photo of waughbrew
2.87/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

true to the darkness claim, but had a small, short-lived head: after a few seconds the top of the beer looked strangely like an oil slick. Decent aroma mostly made up of roasted and burnt malts and a wee bit of oatmeal. The flavor is too one-dimensional for me (and too much black patent bitterness). It seems to start very similar to how it finishes, with little change in between. I prefer more complexity in my oatmeal stouts, but being Magic Hat the brewers were probably going for a session-style oatmeal stout. And for that, it is fine. An average beer in my book.

 570 characters

Photo of jeffboo
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Heart of Darkness, thanks to Kunzbrew for sample. A black beer with some red glow while backlit. The aroma is huge, lots of chocolate,roasted grain, and raisins in this tan foam. The flavors are of espresso,and bitter chocolate that lingers on when the glass is set down. Unfortunately the body is too thin and flavor too dry to get the maximum flavor out of the ingredients.A little more sweetness and the body filled out and this one could stand out. But until then..........

 477 characters

Heart Of Darkness from Magic Hat Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,385 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.