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Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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969 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
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Ratings: 969 |  Reviews: 436
Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, black as night color with a one-finger, tan head of thin foam. It left little to no lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malts, coffee and hints of chocolate.

T - Very good roasty flavor with touches of coffee, chocolate and caramel. The was also a floral/citric hop flavor.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light-bodied beer that is very easy-drinking.

D - This is a pretty fine schwarzbier. Great roasted flavor.

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Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Mad thanks to Josh N. for bringing this back from out East for me! 12oz brown pop top; cool label, clearly marked drink-by date.

Appearance: Almost black until held up to the light, then this turns dark walnut with ruby highlights. A firm pour produces a nice light tan head, but it soon fades to a medium-film.

Smell: Nice warm, dark roasty grains. Touch of dark caramel as well. Very simple, but pleasant.

Taste: Nice roasted and toasty grains predominate. Bitterness levels are medium, and seem to come more from the roasted grains than from any appreciable hop presence. The taste here is quite similar to how freshly-crushed roasted barley smells. Again, very simple, but nice. A nice, quaffable dark beer you don't have to think too hard about. No lack of flavor here, either.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium

Drinkability: Pretty high.

Conclusion: Nice, simple, flavorful Schwartzbier. I'm not crushed that I can't get this around here, but if it was a local brew, I'd probably pick it up from time to time.

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Photo of fitzy84
4.44/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had in the holiday pack. Black appearance with some amber in the light. Small, patchy lacing with a very thin head. Aromas were quite good. Burnt coffee smells mixed with some sweet malts. Really delicious, milky taste to the drink. Burnt bitterness follows, but the malts really made this an incredibly pleasant drink. Mouthfeel aids in the taste sensation by giving a creamy texture and light, slightly airy feel to the drink. Overall, a fine drink for my New Years.

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Photo of Minotaur
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Recently purchases so if retired - only recently as of 12/1/10

It pours - predictably - opaquely black but it is still think in appearance. A lingering tan head recedes to a ring and center cap of foam.

The aroma is roasty and just slightly sweet on the nose.

The flavor is dense, coffee-ground like and stout like. There is a stronger smoke and hop flavor than a traditional dunkel lager. There is bitter chocolate note with very little sweetness.

This is not the as smooth as it should be due to the lingering burnt malt taste. however it is offset by a creaminess that allows it to be quite drinkable and have a medium to thick mouthfeel.

I believe this is an interesting beer but not overly representative of an English dunkel. It leaves a stronger coffee or smoked porter impression.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this black as night brew into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was bready smelling and had a big tan bubbly head. The beer had a slight roasted coffee hit with a tad of maltyness. Very nice beer and great lacing. I will buy again for sure.

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Photo of crhensel
1.75/5  rDev -52.2%
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 imaguitargod
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice black color with edges of brown, poured to a medium head that dissipated quite quickly. Some malty sweetness up front which fades into a roasted malt taste. Very small hop bitterness and most of the rest of the bitterness is from the roasted malts. Slight hint of coffee. Goes down smooth and is quite tasty. I would definitely drink this again.

~Jonathan Passow

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Photo of RedSpecial1
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark roasted color, and a small off white head which dissipated quickly.

S: Slightly roasted coffee notes, and a caramel maltiness, maybe even toffee.

T: Light coffee flavors with caramel and faint hint of vanilla.

M: Smooth as you first sip, but more bitterness comes out as it warms up.

D: Very smooth, could definitely be a good session beer in the winter months.

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Photo of vpipkt
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is one that, as they say in the UK, does what it says on the tin. It is definitely black-as-night and it is definitely a lager.

Color has a bit of a deep dark brown tinge in the light. Pour was nice with a decent tan head. The color of the head is far lighter than you would think looking at the near black.

Smell is very much the lager when the head is up. Reminded me of a Grolsh, a more robust lager to be sure. After the head dies down it is a bit more coffee-like. The taste is alright, about what you would expect with this style of beer. But it is actually somewhat unremarkable, malty and smoky, and there is even a hint of bitterness and alcohol to the finish. This surprised me because the ABV is only 4.6%.

Mouthfeel is actually fairly nice and I'd say one of the nicer aspects. Like the dark color, it is reminiscent of a much bigger, darker beer in that it is substantial and smooth.

Drinkability gets a lower score due to the weakness in flavor and the somewhat awkward overall character. Other schwarzbiers I've had may surprise you, but they are winning with taste and drinkability. Some tinkering needs to be done to figure out the sharpness and resolve alcoholic taste.

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Photo of Sweasty
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Howl pours a nice deep brown, almost black. Two fingers of khaki head tops things off. Some lacing is left down the glass. All and all, a solid looking schwarzbier.

The aroma is classically schwarzbier. Some roast quality shows up first. Plenty of earthy coffee, and unsweetened chocolate as well. Not the best black lager aroma, but nothing to find fault with either.

The taste continues along the same lines as the aroma. Much more defined coffee notes. Chocolate is also more prominent. Some dark malt twang flows throughout. Overall this is sweeter than most schwarzbiers. The finish is lightly dry. The beer is on the heavy side of medium, with adequate carbonation.

Overall this is an ok beer. Not the best schwarzbier in the crowd. Nothing off putting about this brew. In the end its a fairly forgettable brew.

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Photo of mntlover
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black looking but really dark brown with ruby notes small thumb sized light tan head falls quick to ring some sparse lace.

Aroma is roasted wood, er malt i guess but smells like burnt wood. Lightly astringent lightly sprinkles of coco maybe, coffee hints after it sits for a while.

Taste is good lightly roasted malts some woody notes, light coffee, dry coco. Nice flavor clean finish on the dry side hops lean toward the woody herbal side. Seems spot on for style.

Mouthfeel is good almost medium little light with carbonation that is spot on.

Drinkability is outstanding, favorable but easy drinking and low alcohol so great session brew with tons of flavors couldn't go wrong with this one.

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Photo of kzoobrew
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Would you be interested in selling?" another peculiar quote located beneath a Magic Hat cap.

Body could be easily mistaken for black especially in a poorly lit environment. When held to direct light the body is a clear deep mahogany. Head is a malted milk white, retention is decent a nice little cap is left perched atop. A thin sheet of very tight lacing encompasses the glass. Very nice looking brew.

A very pleasant roasted aroma is picked up first. Majority of the roasted notes are identifiable simply as roasted malt smell though a slight coffee present. Slight fruitiness and subtle hop presence picked up. Overall the aroma seems muted and subdues, very pleasant just leaving you with a desire for more.

Underlying sweetness through out. The roasted flavor is incorporated well without being overwhelming. Very subtle chocolate and toffee. Hops provide a combination of earthiness and citrusy flavors. Flavors are all very complimentary of the others, good deal of balance through out.

Light bodied rather crisp mouthfeel. Carbonation is moderate, finish is just less than dry.

Drinkability is excellent. This is not a beer I would normally reach for but is extremely easy to drink and rather enjoyable. Very smooth going down and there is nothing offensive about Howl at all. Solid session beer.

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Photo of m1ked
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From a gift out of the "Feast of Fools" 12 pack.

A- Pours a near black. Pours a very dark browm. When held up to the light, you can see some cocoa ruby coloted edges. A 1 inch off white foamy head. Minimal lacing.

S- Nothing very strong. I can pull out some cocoa, burnt coffee, wood, smoke. The strongest or most consistent note would be the sweet cocoa grain.

T- Smoky woodiness, almost like cured meats, smoked meats. Some coffee flavors. There is some bitter notes at the end and lingering.

M- Medium bodied with low carbonation throughout that allows the flavors to shine.

A- I really enjoy this style and I feel like this is a good effort by MH. Especially for these cold dreary post xmas days.

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Photo of Nipitato
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark mahogany hue. Nice buff moussy head with good retention. Stick lacing. Very dark - opaque.

S: Earthy and malty with plenty of grainy character. Slightly roasted but not overpowering or bitter. Floral hop bouquet adds additional layers of complexity.

T: Caramel malt with well balanced notes of roastiness and earthiness. Only slightly bitter. Some grainy character. I nice tasting beer.

MF: Moderate carbonation with medium mouthfeel. Slightly dry and just a touch of astringency.

D, notes: A nice well made, well balanced beer. Very drinkable with enough complexity to keep things interesting.

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Photo of July2Nov
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The label says, "Dark as Night" and there is truth in that advertising! Only wish the foam on the head was a bit bigger, but it did retain a slight lace around the lid, which is always a plus in my book.

Smell: If you like coffee, (and i would gather there are many out there who do) then this beer is probably made for you! Deep scents of coffee are all throughout this one. Also has sweet caramel notes in it as well. Very nice!!!

Taste & Mouthfeel: The nose is never wrong, because this one indeed has a big coffee taste to it, along with a chalky bite and some dry-roasted maltiness. The mouthfeel on it tends to be a bit acidic which brings this one down a notch.

Drinkability: If you like your beers dark and with a coffee flavor, then run for this one. The upside on this one, far outpaces the weaknesses....so buy with confidence, but beware: the howl sometimes bites back!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a rather dark brown body with a half inch layering of ecru foam that left a modicum of thin lacing on the way down.

Smell: Predominately earthy nose with notes of roasty coffee, oven-toasted nuts, and baker's chocolate.

Taste: Roasted grains with a light sweetness and some slight a chicory flourish to it. Lesser hints of unsweetened chocolate and chopped walnuts. Spicy hops with just a touch of dried citrus lingering there as well. Light bitterness. Earthy, drying finish with a sustained taste of walnuts.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: All in all, it's a decent, if average Schwarzbier. Nothing to Howl about, but nothing to thumb your nose at, either.

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Photo of Dodt
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

enjoying one at the Christmas party.

Poured into a tall glass from the bottle.
appearance : dark almost coffee, with light lacing
smell of roast coffee
taste of dark roast and chocolate
mouth feel and drink ability nice balanced beer.
another wonderful beer from the people at magic hat.

 289 characters

Photo of whtguitarguy
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one of the better Magic Hat brands out there. Pours to a dark reddish brown, very little head. Nose is like an amber ale with hops and roasted malts. Mouthfeel is medium and slightly coating. Flavor includes notes of coffee, chocolate (roasted malts), and nuts with a slight barley character.

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Photo of Walken
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Magic Hat: Howl, Schwarzbier (Tasted 12/24/09)
12 oz. Bottle, poured into a dimple mug.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown colored beer, lots of bubbles, big tan/eggshell flat head that fades down quickly, leaving a healthy coating of froth over the beer and solid patchwork lace.
Odor: Faint aroma of pumpernickel crust, maybe a bit of caramel and fruit, possibly some spicy hop.
Consistency: Smooth. Body is light, some perception of girth comes from the dry cracker/butter yeast.
Taste: Bittersweet chocolate and clean bitter hop up front, chocolate flavors become richer in the middle with some butterscotch and ale-ish fruitiness around the edges. Finishes with some malty dark bread and chocolate flavors lingering.

The use of MH's house ale yeast makes this more along the lines of a UK porter/schwarzbier hybrid, though it's definitely cleaner than most MH beers. Interesting addition to the lineup.

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Photo of ZAP
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

drinks like a schwartzy...this is going down fast....good hits of dark cocoa and coffee on the taste and aroma...lighter bodied but doesn't feel watery...just easy drinking and flavorful...exactly what a schwartzy should be....Not tremendously complex but also has hints of caramel....very well done.

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Photo of Drazzamatazz
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured in SA Perfect Pint.

A: Poured a dark brown with a clump three finger head that quickly faded to a small cap. A little bit of hang on the glass.
S: Malted oats as well as a little bit of chocolate. I know it's not my glass....but it almost a vague soapy smell.
T: Smooth smokey-ness along with burnt sugar. Very malty and seems to be getting a bitter chocolate bite as it warms up. Again, is that lavender? What's wrong with me.
M: Decent body, I'd say medium to low carbonation.
D: Pretty easy drinker for a winter brew. Maybe a little bit lower ABV then I'd like on a cold winter night, but nothing too challenging here.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This 12-oz bottle pours out a dark brown-black beer with a small offwhite head that fades after a minute or so. The aroma is malty, lightly roasted. Clean, though slightly grainy, roast malt flavor dominates. Hop bitterness is moderate, but no hop flavor. Malty finish. Neutral texture and mouthfeel.

 300 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with the label clipped at March 2010. This beer is still brewed or at least it has returned for the 2009-2010 season. It pours black with a quarter-inch creamy beige head. It carries a nice aroma of chocolate malts and hops. Medium to bold mouthfeel. The taste is smoked coffee with a nice bitter finish. It is very much like a Porter really and enjoyable.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: From the bottle poured a deep caramel brown with dark cranberry highlights for trim, while in the glass it appeared a dark chocolate coloring with a 1 finger foamy, tan head. Retention was short-lived leaving a thin ring lacing around the glass.

S: The nose upfront was soft roasted of dry chocolate with supporting dried cherries added in. There is an earthy bitterness of fresh wet coffee grounds that was light overall strength-wise.

T: The flavor comes off a bit watery at first upon the initial sip, like weak coffee. Fortunately it does appear to add a bit of fullness flavor wise later on with slight hints of charred wood and malt as well dark dried fruit of dates. The flavor was fairly simply in execution leaving just enough of a roasted malting to give you an impression without filling you up body wise just like a Schwarz should. I was a bit confused as to why this was called a winter warmer on the label, it neither has the alcohol warmth (4.6%abv) nor spicing of a winter warmer and is truly a Schwarz flavored beer by nature.

M: light with a smooth creaminess and texture. A pretty active feel of carbonation is detected especially on the tip of the tongue.

D: Drinkability was good, perhaps its strongest point, light bodied with just enough roasted character to give it some flair. I could easily drink several of these as a session beer and at 4.6%abv is fairly easy to handle. Six pack worthy.

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Photo of bnes09
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An interesting offering from Magic Hat and a great winter seasonal. It has some solid roasted malt flavors and some good hoppy bitterness that coexist in harmony, neither being overpowering. Pours an opaque midnight black with a tan head that recedes to patches of foam on top of the beverage. What really impresses me about it though is its smoothness and supurb drinkability. It is a lighter beer but still maintains lots of flavor. Not quite as bold as a porter or stout but still very satisfying. I would recommend this one to those who are tried of the macro piss-water and would like to venture into the darker realm of beer.

 631 characters

Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 969 ratings
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