Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
972 Ratings

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: Schwarzbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.60%

Availability: Rotating

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 972 |  Reviews: 437
Photo of DerekP
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
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

 1,300 characters

Photo of Mosley1212
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my pint glass. This is one I've been excited for for quite a while. Glad I finally got it.

A--Pours like your average stout. Small, cream head that dissipated quickly. Opaque and very "oil-like." Not a whole lot of light coming through on this one.

S--I don't know how to describe it's smell without just saying it smells like a stout! It has a nice, crisp malt smell with a lot of barley undertones. There's a sweet smell to it as well. Either a coconut-like or marshmallow smell. I really like it.

T--Malt, chocolate, bitterness, and some sweet flavor on the tongue after the swallow.

M--Light, crisp, and not highly carbonated. Pretty good.

D--Pretty good, but not exceptional. I could see my girlfriend drinking a lot of these (huge stout fan), but I'm just not that big a fan of the style. It's a good-to-above good stout. I would recommend it if you can get it/like the style.

 920 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle.

Very dark maple syrup brown. Thin finger of creamy, tiny-bubbled, shady khaki head. Some lacing. Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some fruit, tobacco, and earthy peat notes. Very nice.

Toasty roasty malt notes up front. Light metallic twang. Dark chocolate and coffee bitterness sits over faintly sweet vinous malts. Hops become woodier and slightly tannic. Roasty, dry finish. Moderate body. Pretty tasty and sessionable to boot!

 447 characters

Photo of beerman207
4.12/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got a great deal on a case of this beer at one of my favorite new beer stores.

A: Darker than expected - nice tan head leaving some lace on the glass after it dissipates.

S: Cocoa, expresso, malt, maybe some chocolate.

T: Mmmm - not trying to compare this to any other beers out there but it has some notes that hit similar to the Edmund Fitzgerald which is never a bad thing. It has some good malt backbone and the lager style is there but the flavor is fantastic - cocoa, malt,

M: Very smooth - carbonation is pretty high but it's just like most lagers where the carbination always seems higher for that style.

D: Easy to drink - glad I have a case. I will polish this one off in the next few weeks.

 710 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears dark black with cola brown edges when held toward the light. Large tan head rises above the rim of my glass, nice chunks of lace spread evenly around the sides of my Weihenstephan glass. Aroma is filled with dark roasts with semi bitter notes. Herbal grassy mildly citrus notes of hops in the bacground, with upfront coffee and dark bitter chocolate. Flavor has creamy chocolate and bitter coffee grinds blended nicely a really nice experience. Like drinking a big stout with a light body and alcohol content herbal hops blend in the mix as well. Heavy on the dark bitter roasts in the finish I like it minimal herbal hops are flowing with persistance. Mouthfeel is medium to lighter bodied with a nice even level of natural carbonation flowing creamy overall with a nice roasted malt bitterness left on the palate with each sip. Drinkability is great especially in the cooler months, I could love on a sixer of this whilst tailgating in the Burgh before the Steelers play down at Heinz Field. I could mix a few lighter beers into the mix and have a black and gold sampler this would be a good staple for the schwarzbier category.

 1,138 characters

4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A strong pour gets two solid inches of rocky burnt biscuit brown head. Retention is nice with a lacy wall left behind as the head slowly fades. Body is black as most stouts and about as thick as ink. Nose has notes of smoke crisp nutty malts and meaty tones. With first sip you do get some smokey feel but it is not over taking at all, but very mellow and enjoyable. The malts are woodsy and very romantic in this beer. sweetness is there but it stays rather subdued and in the background, which is just right. This beer cries for a piece of sausage pizza or a bowl of chili to go with it perfectly. Mouthfeel is almost creamy and very nice. Super drinkable stout.

 673 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The final bottle to review of my winter 12 pack.
Pours beautifully into my Sam Adams glass. One inch tan head that's both dense and showing larger bubbles. Black with red and brown tints. Nice looking.
Aroma is very reminiscent of August Schell beers, so I assume similar yeast is used. Nice dark malt hinting of roast but not too dark. Also chocolate. Good.
Chocolate stronger with taste and roast in background, until the mid to finish in which it contributes to a pleasing drying and soft bitterness (that really adds to the flavor nicely).
Fully carbonated, maybe a bit much, yet it adds more softness.
This is a good beer and at 4.6% abv makes it an easy drinker. Well done.
I'd like to compare it to the Schwarzbier that Schells did a few years ago.

 756 characters

Photo of gordavidson
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- A deep, slightly murky brown that has some ruby highlights around the edges. The mocha head rises and falls fairly quickly, but leaves some splotches behind. About right.

S- Roasty malt, caramel topping, milk chocolate, and some oatmeal. Smells pretty rich and appealing.

T- Rich, roasted malt with flavors or caramel, milk chocolate, coffee, toffee, smoke, and oatmeal. Very flavorful and unique for the style and ABV.

M- A little thin and dry with a slightly cloying aftertaste. the sweetness fixes a lot, though.

D- A very nice beer that drinks great. A great, richly flavored beer that isn't too heavy... if that makes any sense.

 640 characters

Photo of beefnbarley
4.16/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Certainly a nice beer that fits the style. From a bottle, it poured a nice tall light brown head that persisted some time. It was dark cola in color. The aroma was dominated by dark grains giving it a coffee and low chocolate nose. No hop aroma in this beer. It was well balanced with just enough bitterness to offset the malty backbone but certainly weighted toward the malt. Finished dry and was well carbonated. Overall a very drinkable and enjoyable schwarzbier. I'd like another please.

 497 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.16/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The color is a nice cola bron and ruby mix. Very quick one finger, tan head, and no bubbling.

The aroma starts with a mild roasted character, but smokes up a little. Teh roasted malts turns a little campfire-like, but not overbearing by like some smoked German beers. This beer has a smokey aroma that invites you to have another.

The taste starts smokey, then gets a little more roasted as the smokiness settles. Theres even some earthy peet mixed in with the smoke. Just smooth, roasted and definetly smokey all the way through the palate.

This is an awesome session beer. I want this beer on tap sooo bad.

 613 characters

Photo of Misfit138
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass

A- Nice dark chocolate color with a fizzy head that went away quickly

S- Sweet toffee and caramel malt with hints of roastiness

T- Nice flavor, more roasty than the nose-perhaps almost like coffee, with some hints of toffee and caramel

M- Medium in body with fair carbonation

O- Solid black lager, certainly enjoyable.

 358 characters

Photo of GregSVT
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a cola black with a small white head that fades to a small layering and leaves no real lacing.

S: Nose is full of cocoa, chocolate malts, and a roasty flavor. Great nose.

T: The taste is huge with tons of chocolate/roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, and a bit of a roasty bitterness on the finish.

M: The feel is a bit thin but for the style it's not bad. Could be a bit creamier like other top notch Schwarbiers.

D: Great drinkability although the bitterness from the roasted malt catches up to you after a little while. Crazy that they can get so much flavor out of a beer like this with a tiny ABV.

I didn't expect much out of this one but it d

 686 characters

Photo of JMOvechkin
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A: Very dark and inviting, with a decent head. Made me want to light a fire.

S: Kind of malty and toasty. Hops were a mildly herbal.

T: As winter lagers go, I thought Magic Hat did a great job. Very balanced.

M: Medium thickness, good level of carbonation

D: I like my beer a bit hoppier then this, with that being said, I could slam a six pack around a campfire any day.

 413 characters

Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark brown color that is on the edge of blackness. Supports a big, frothy, tan head that leaves some lacing in splotches and lines

S- Dark rye bread is the first thing I am reminded of with the roasted bitterness. There is also a dark caramel sweetness drizzled over the dark rye bread. There is a bit of off-putting metallic twang

T- Flavor is very smooth and extremely balanced with a bit of what makes every beer special. Solid bread and grain flavors set off by twangs of bitterness from hops and roasted malts. The caramel sweetness sticks around and keeps the tongue satisfied

M- Light body somehow manages a smooth, silky feel usually found only in thicker beers

D- Delicious

 694 characters

Photo of Clowerweb
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Very dark brown, almost as close to black as you can get. Completely opaque, though not quite "black". Single finger of light brown/tan head, although I always pour slowly down the side of the glass to prevent too much head from forming. Head lingers for about a minute, and then dissipates with a decent lacing that will hold for a good 5 minutes or more.

S: Doesn't have a very strong aroma, the scent was a very light hint of roasted malt, with just a touch of fruit. I thought I might have smelled a bit of blueberry. I thought the smell was a bit too mild.

T: As another commenter pointed out, it tastes just like it smells. Roasted malt, almost coffee flavored, smoky with a touch of fruit. No bitterness. Finishes with a sweeter, nutty flavor, with the smoky flavor lingering in the aftertaste. Nicely layered, complex, but not overdone. Definitely has more of a smoky/roasted flavor than anything else.

M: Has both a crisp and creamy feel, medium carbonation, goes down very smooth.

This is overall a very good beer, worthy of drinking a 6-pack easily in a sitting. It won't leave you wishing you had something better, but I wish it had a little stronger aroma, because what's there smells amazing.

Give this beer a try, I doubt you'll have any regrets.

 1,315 characters

Photo of mynie
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cute bottle with excellent artwork, but that's just par for the course with Magic Hat.

Nice pour. I'm judging this as something between a warmer and a schwarz and it's appearance doesn't disappoint as either. Big, thick purple bordering on black with a two-finger white head.

Smells like toasty, burnt malt and medium brewing spices. Gingerbread, roasted barley, caramel, and grass. Nice.

Starts off tasting like bread, moving into sweet ginger cookies and rounding itself off on bitter roasted malt and light, dry stout hops. Nice.

Tastes like it smells, only a bit more dry. The spices are present but not all that strong. Mostly it's the the malt that's in charge, sweet up front and bitter and roasted in the back. Nice thick body makes it go down like chocolate syrup.

 778 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.19/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle with freshness notches of Jan 10. Pours a dark brown color showing some ruby highlights around the edges. Head is a frothy tan color and displays below average retention. Lacing is decent though.

Nose is pretty nice for a Schwarzy...plenty of roast, bit of licorice and some sweet malted milk. Fits perfectly within the style.

Taste is very pleasant as well; balanced roast and milk-chocolaty sweetness. Low on the fruit and a nice bready characteristic from the yeast. Medium-full for the style and there is a nice kiss of hop bitterness on the finish. I was not expecting a whole lot with this one, especially given that the freshness dating is 4 months past, but this is a pretty damn nice Schwarzbier. One of the better American brewed versions in fact. I will most certainly purchase a sixer of it next winter as I do love a good black lager, could easily down this by the liter full. Well done Magic Hat.

 925 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Magic Hat- Howl

A- Dark deep black with a thick frothy head, good lacing.
S- Smokey roasted malt with a hint of chocolate and molasses.
T- Sweet molasses and brown sugar, mild dark roasted smokey malt, buttery, and an earthy ashy light sweet green pine hops.
M- Sweet, ashy dry, smokey, and a thick maltiness. Nice sweet hop finish.

Overall- This is much better than I was expecting. Solid.

 392 characters

Photo of Ryanpro
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of stevecee2003
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got the bottle at a local Supermarket that started selling exceptional beers. I had actually never heard of this beer, so I took a chance.

App: Dark colors abound, with only a hint of light through the bottle.

Smell: INstant smell of coffee and chocolate. May be too much coffee for my taste but I certainly appreciate it.

Taste: Definate coffee very strong, but the chocolate seems to balance it out. With a hint of caramel.

Feel: With all that coffee I would not have liked it, 'cept fore the smoothness of it all. Damn good.Very smooth to drink.

Overall: I agree with most a damn good beer. What a find! This is why I love the world of beers. You can walk into a supermarket, try sometning and discover a taste you never had before.

 744 characters

Photo of WholeLottaTricks
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of wac9
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another great dark beer is here .a roasted , coffee taste and smell but not too much , make a nice drinking beer . enjoyable night when is beer is around. a jet black in color which is the only color beer should be. everybody writes better review then me but try this beer you may like it. it another dark black beer to add to your list to drink . join me in drinking this beer tonite

 384 characters

Photo of Patlee3324
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of latackbeer
4.2/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Very dark, but black as night not so much. I saw some reddish colors at the edges. Decent tan head.

S- little smoky, Had some toffee notes

T- Dark chocolate, some spicy hops but a great balance

M- What I liked a lot is it's lighter than your typical porter but you still get some the characteristics with the malt.

I enjoyed this would get it again!

 356 characters

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It is a deep burnt umber with a light brown head. More brown than black but definitely dark.
Cap reads "no rain, no rainbows."

In the nose is roasted oats and sweet cereal.

The fullness of the grain coats the palate followed by the slight sweetness, then finnishing dry with a slight bitterness. This has balance and complexity - quite delightful.

 349 characters

Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 972 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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