Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

435 Reviews

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.60%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-18-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 957
Photo of ProfessorHomer
1.56/5  rDev -57.7%
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!

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Photo of jtierney89
1.65/5  rDev -55.3%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pours pretty dark, but not black, more a very deep brown. Head retention has been amazing. Smells heavily of charcoal, leather and bitter coffee. Not the most appetizing of scents. Medium to light in body with some toffee caramel and chocolate tastes present but coffee flavor dominates the beer once it finishes. I don't know what to pin point about the beer exactly that I don't like, but im not liking. It might be the flavors, possibly if they were a bit subdued it'd be alright but the flavors present in this beer aren't the flavors I wanna be punched in the face with.

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Photo of crhensel
1.75/5  rDev -52.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

(Bottle into mug) It looks nice! Poured a deep black with a half finger light brown head that hung on for quite a while. After that, well... nothing redeeming about it at all. The nose was reminiscent of an ashtray. All I could smell was smoke, and not the nice campfire kind.. the week old Marlboro kind -- it almost seems as the roasting went a little too far. I battled through and took a taste, but again, the burnt smoky flavor was too much. Let this one sit for a few minutes to let the air hit this and hopefully mellow some flavors and draw out others, but to no avail. Took another drink and that was it, I had to pour the rest. Bottle was dated 1/2010 and perhaps this was part of it, or I got a bad batch. I might have to try again next year to see if that was the case.

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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 austinhensley
2.34/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2

Bottle poured into mug. Didn't know what I was getting into, I don't like black beers. Just saw winter seasonal and snagged it. Poured black with 1/2in light brown head. Smells alright, but the coffee taste just doesn't sit well with me. Exceptionally smooth mouthfeel. For folks who enjoy this kind of beer I would recommend it, but I don't think I will be having another.

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Photo of bobhits
2.53/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a style I really REALLY like, but I don't care for magic hat. It has been good to give their seasonal pack a try though, certainly they make an effort.

Blackish yes, and for them low carbonation...I can't complain but it isn't going to get high marks.

Roasted and toasted notes with some sour ale like notes, hops are coming into play but not as well as they could.

Toast comes out front but a good amount of subtle hops follow. This is a touch off putting at this late stage of the night but I also started the night here so I can safely say this works well. It however lacks the malt back to really finish. I love this style because it blends ales and stouts without ever getting too big, but a touch more malt would really add to the finish and push this beer to something special.

Once again Magic Hat makes a beer that gets close but fails before the finish.

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Photo of bonbright7
2.56/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I had this on tap at Bobbique in Patchogue, NY and was served this with a platter of ribs. I thought it looked fine with a small head and its aroma was okay with coffee tinged malts, but nothing fancy for a winter ale. When I got the first taste, I thought it must be the bbq ribs, so I had water and bread before trying again. It may have needed a little time to warm up after coming through a cold tap. It tasted like a black version of Euro- pale lagers with nothing in body or taste. Not bad, but no substance to it. I consumed half the pint and then moved on to something else.

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Photo of Jesse13713
2.65/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - A very opaque black. No head and it laces poorly to the glass.

Smell - Smells a bit like a black lager. Light coffee and espresso notes.

Taste - More stout-like than I expected. Carbonated coffee and espresso notes. Heavily carbonated. This beer seems very artificial-tasting to me, though it does match the category quite well.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability - A decent offering for a lighter winter option. A bit hard to swallow because of the carbonation despite its light body.

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Photo of shanecb
2.65/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - This beer has a fantastic appearance, and has just about everything I look for in a brew. Some nice foamy, light tan head that retained itself quite well. The color is rather magnificent. Rather dark with a nice burgundy/red wine color where light penetrates. Lacing is moderate and certainly there. It's very visually appealing! The only thing that might make it better to me is some light carbonation floating up, which I always like to see.

S - I don't know, but I could pull out almost no smell. At first I was able to get some toffee-like or caramel hints out of it, but a couple minutes after pouring I didn't detect any of that. There seemed to be a little maybe malty-sweetness or maybe fortified wine aroma, but that was about it. This smell really doesn't impress me, since there's hardly anything there.

T - Again, I'm pretty let down by the taste. It seemed to match the nose rather well, with some light roasted toffee/caramel flavors. There's a little malty sweetness as well. Aftertaste was sort of non-existent. Only thing that stayed with me was a little bit of bitterness. There aren't any bad flavors, but there certainly isn't any flavor I'd right home about.

M - Not bad. Very mildly "syrupy", but otherwise sort of light and thin. Not really any carbonation present, just sort of an average mouthfeel.

D - Good drinkability in that it's refreshing, and doesn't feel so substation (carbonated, thick, etc.) that you feel like you're drinking a meal. If this beer is enjoyable to you there likely wouldn't be any problem throwing a few back.

Overall, this is probably my least favorite offering from Magic Hat that I've had. It's not BAD, I just don't think it has a whole lot behind it that's GOOD. I'll probably give it another try sometime just to see if I have a new perspective.

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Photo of jsh420
2.68/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

pours dark brown almost black with a 1+finger head that left rings of lacing down the glass

smells of roasted chocolate malts

taste is a bit thin - some spice some roast but in the end a terrible bitter funky aftertaste i hated

mouthfeel was good light very carbonated that made it very crisp

drinkability is below par - i am glad i bought a single

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Photo of jneiswender
2.68/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a perfect pint. Served cool.

Pours a reddish black body and a thick beige head. Clean lager yeast smell. Faint chocolate and metal. Light herb and flower. Smoked malt surprises you. Burnt toast. Very subtle chocolate. Faint hop flavor in there too. Well carbonated. Somewhat dry. Complex. Interesting. But I kind of like this style being smooth. Have more of a chocolate feel to it. A bit too coarse for me.

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Photo of kralmatej
2.68/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer is unique among the winter seasonals that I have tried. For me, it is not unique in a good way.

I found the tastes of tobacco and liquorish to dominate the other flavors. The same is true for the smell of the beer. Drinking the beer almost became a chore.

The texture is nice, it is velvety and smooth, and the appearance is nearly black and appealing.

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Photo of sisuspeed
2.82/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a pint glass. Dark brown body with two fingers of foamy white head that quickly fades to a few suds. No lacing.

Lager yeast and somewhat roasted malt on the nose. Little bit of burnt caramel and a hint of dark fruit. Not much going on. I haven't had too many schwarzbiers, but the nose seems a bit dull.

Grainy and slightly malty on the tongue. A little bit of roastiness and sweetness comes through, but the finish is very clean, leaving little on the tastebuds. Touch of caramel.

Mouthfeel is watery, somewhat crisp on the finish with just a hint of alcohol. Slightly sweet.

Drinkability is sub-par. Getting down a glass wouldn't be tough, but it would be boring. Not much going on here. I wish Magic Hat would focus more on brewing than on advertising.

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Photo of Dadoftwogirls
2.86/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Saw this at the store and figured I'd give it a try. This beer was just plain weird to me. It almost had a taste like artificial ingredients or some sort of flavoring was added. For lack of a better term, it taste like it was over processed if you can even say that about beer. Pours dark and looks great. But drinking it makes me want to howl for my money back. I had several other beers from this brewer in a 12 pack sampler-offering. None of them impressed me nor will I waste my time rating them. I know I won't be trying anything else from this group for a while.

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Photo of cdizinno
2.88/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown with a thin tan head and minimal lacing.

S: Fruity sweetness with little or no hops.

T&M: Roasted molasses and caramel are prominent in the tast. Light to medium body with toasted caramel finish.

Better than most Magic Hat's, but weak in substance.

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Photo of BobThomas
2.92/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Looks very dark, but looks translucent and granite colored when held up to the light. 3/4 foamy off white head.

S: Cocoa at first, some coffee, diarrhea (off putting to say the least), chalk dust.

T: The flavor is led by roasted malts, hints of cocoa, chalk, earth, and a vague hint of citrus.

M: The beer is light but feels full in the mouth with a good amount of carbonation.

D: Alcohol isn't at all noticeable, and I would be able to drink a bunch of these if it actually tasted better.

This was my first magic hat beer in almost 3 years. I probably won't have another for at least that long.

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Photo of bubseymour
2.93/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Sam Adams glass.

Appearance - very nice pour, dark as night (as advertised) and a great 2 finger head with solid tiny bubbled carbonation

Smell - to me this is where it throws the beer off. The aroma to me smells like a burnt coffee pot or food that fell onto a hot stovetop and turned to char. THis was something I just can't get over and holds this beer back for me.

Taste - Surprisingly this beer tastes a little like a Guiness but with hardly any noticable hops and the burnt smell. It is smooth and flavors are mild througout.

Mouthfeel - very rich and creamy. Nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability - seems like a very drinkable beer if you can get over the smell.

Overall - A decent effort from Magic Hat and most parts of this beer seem to work, but the smell alone keeps me from wanting to return to this beer.

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Photo of thekanna
2.94/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a thin dark brown with a decent tan, foamy head.

S: Aroma is of faint sourness, roasted malts, and medicinal hops.

T: Sour, roasted hops with a slight herbal medicine quality, capped off by a strong bitterness.

M: Strong, biting carbonation.

D: Interesting style, but I can't say I'm a huge fan of this Schwarzbier.

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Photo of Kooz
2.97/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams pint glass.

Not quite black as night--more of a dark brownish-amber. Tan head that starts out pretty thick and stays for the length of the beer.

Smells of malt and molasses. Fairly nice.

Tastes a bit bitter and burnt, but has a mildly sweet aftertaste that fades into a mellow maltiness.

Mouthfeel is a bit harsher than expected. Sharp at first and has a very sharp (not crisp) bite. Somewhat creamy and thick on swishing, but not enough to outweigh the overbite!

Overall, this beer is a bit too much for me to drink regularly. It's not bad, but I'll pass next time.

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Photo of tehawful
2.98/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Magic Hat's Howl pours just short of pitch black with a nice light-tan head. Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate are all present upon the smell.

The roasted characters come out more in the taste, supported by the strong presence of bitter coffee. There is a little bit of chocolate in there, but it struggles to compete with the roasted malt/coffee. There is also a smokiness which is pretty pleasant, probably my favorite part of the experience. Howl finishes pretty dry, as the bitter coffee lingers into a mildly dry, leafy hop finish. I enjoyed the smokiness of this Schwarzbier, but I feel like the roasted flavors overpower some of the more subtle qualities. Overall, it has decent drinkability, but I don't know if I care for it enough to try it again anytime soon.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle into a dimpled mug. Pours a deep black color with a tall, small bubbly head. Aroma has a clean lager smell with notes of chocolate malt and a deep toasted and roasted malt presence. Flavor has an early dark roasted bite moving into a lightly sweet chocolate malt followed by a very nice coffee smoothness and finishes with full combo of roasted and toasted malt notes. Body is moderate with a creamy feeling. This brew wasn't anything special when it was cold but as it warmed up, the deep roasted and toasted malt notes really brings about a barrage of flavors that really do work well together. Going against the grain on this one and don't think this brew reflects the high rankings as portrayed.

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Photo of BeerKangaroo
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Into a pint glass:

A: dark mahogany colored body with a tiny white head that dies fairly quickly

S: coffee, almost overbearing

T: coffee comes back with light hops, almost barely noticeable

M: medium/heavy, not that sessionable at all, thick coffee aftertaste and finish

O: decent for the style, however this is a "meal" beer, too heavy for me and with the low ABV, I was confused why it felt as heavy as it did

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Photo of JMforman
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- A dark brown body with a toasty tan head. Very good retention and excellent lacing throughout.

S- Musty, toasted malt, very faint hops.

T- Burnt bread, toasted malt, raw cocoa, lager yeast (don't really know any other way to describe it)

M- Medium mouthfeel. Nothing special.

D- Fairly drinkable. I had it ice cold like most lagers, but I'd be interested to try it at a warmer temperature to see what flavors come out.

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Photo of KajII
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Best served in a Dimpled Mug]

The pour was a dark brown with a mahogany hue and an average sized (1-2 finger) creamy light beige head that was mostly diminishing and had decent streaky lacing.

The aroma was of s roasted bread malt and a dark doughy yeast with notes of milk chocolate, coffee and mild scent of milk.

The taste was very lightly sweet and malty with a touch of milk chocolate at first and then became mildly bitter with a decent dose of coffee and cream at the end. The flavor lasted a little longer than average with a mild bitter coffee ending.

Mouthfeel was right between light and medium in body with a slightly oily texture and a soft carbonation.

Overall a decent light bodied dark brew with a nice milky feel to.

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Photo of mgbickel
3.01/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass. Slowly formed a 2 finger light tan head that had some surprising staying power and lacing. The body is a deep chestnut with dark amber edges. Starting off great!

Has a grainy, malty aroma with some organic undertones...apples and earth come to mind.

No where near as flavorful as the appearance would suggest...bummer. Malty and woody to start with a slight coppery, bitter kick at the finish.

Pretty thin mouth feel with lots of carbonation...again not what I expected based upon the pour.

Not a bad beer, but not what I wanted/expected...lacking in the flavor and mouth feel departments.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
3.69 out of 5 based on 957 ratings.
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