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Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 956
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.61/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A new 6-pack for winter '09 The black as night lager has a rather demonic lable with some dark images.

A very dark brown color, not black, not opaque but very dark indeed. A deep, chunky tan colored head, clumpy, sticky dissipation.

The aroma is rather unique, it has a big sesseme seed aroma, roasty wheat and dried corn husks. There is an earthy lager yeast aroma underneath all that.

This is a full and heady look with a refreshing medium body feel. roasty wheat and smokey malt flavors abound, pretty complex. Hearty flavor's dominate, mixed nuts and a musty yeast add further depth. Refreshing with a dry bite, it drinks easy with a nice balance of dark malts and herbal yeast, dry earthy hops keeps it grounded.

Magic hat was long overdue for a new and interesting seasonal.

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Photo of dasenebler
3.82/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Though not quite "black as night" like the bottle claims, this beer pours a very dark brown with reddish highlights.

Aroma is quite good: solid malt presence with chocolate notes.

Flavor is nice. Emulates a Schwarzbier or black lager pretty well. Dry and dark, woody notes suggest darker malts such as patent. Not a whole lot of hop flavor, but there is some almost roasty bitterness going on. Mouthfeel was light for a dark beer. Good marriage of flavor and drinkability.

A pleasant surprise from Magic Hat. Nothing offensive about the flavor. Eminently sessionable.

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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 adamette
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Review from notes. Enjoyed by me 11 28 09. Poured from the ¾ pint bottle that I was offered at a Birthday party last night by my friend Chuck. Thanks Chuck. No observed "best by" date. Price sticker on side of 6 pack was $7.99. Poured into a tall, clear weizen glass.

A Dark brown body that has a mahogany glow in front of direct light under a light brown, creamy head that actually had better retention than I thought it might. 4.0

S Dark roast malt and even some chocolate notes. Good smell. 4.0

T Dark roast malt carried right over into the taste which has many qualities in common with a light porter. It lacked depth but a pleasant taste none the less. 3.5

M Light which I am sure is on par for the style but not much to my liking. 2.5

D Pretty good. I could see having a few of these. 4.0

Notes: A nice surprise from Magic Hat and the first one of their beers that I find myself actually recommending to others. Bravo!

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Photo of tjd112
3.99/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got with a pack of microbrews

Appearance - Pours an almost black colour with a good retained off-white head
Smell - Very sweet chocolate aroma with some roastiness and some cornhusks
Taste - Follows the smell, but more of a roasted nuts
Mouthfeel - A semi-dry, yet smooth finish
Drinkability - Very sessionable

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Photo of jwc215
3.44/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best by end of January '10 notched on label.

Pours dark brown - not black - with a light brown/tan head that vanishes rather quickly to thin wisps. Minimal lacing sticks.

The smell is a bit pungent at first - with some roast, some fruitiness, some coffee and grainy notes.

The taste is of semi-sweet dark malt and grainy notes with roasted coffee. The light roast gives balance to the semi-sweetness. Tingly carbonation lends a dryness in the finish.

The carbonation is on the aggressive side - tingly/prickly, yet the body holds up to reach medium.

Not as dark or rich as it could be. Not as smooth as a lager should be either, and carbonation is too pushy. Yet it does have potential. Calming the carbonation and pushing up the malt character might help.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle a dark brown with a thin tan head.

Aroma of roasted malts, black coffee, and grains.

The taste matches the aroma. Black coffee, roasted malts, dark fruit, and a hint of citrusy hops. Finishes quite clean.

Medium bodied, slightly dry, and a ticklish carbonation.

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Photo of bob3701
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a fizzy white head that did not linger long with minimal lacing. Very clear very dark brown in color but could see through my glass. Nice roasted aroma a little more bitter in taste then I was expecting. I think the are better black lagers out there but this one will do and I thought the lable was pretty cool.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I didn't know this winter seasonal was a schwarzbier until I sat down to review it. I thought I was drinking some kind of porter. In a pint glass the beer was a very dark brown/black color with a small tan head. Sweet, roasted malt, and floral aroma. The taste showed some dark fruit, coffee, and late hops kick. Medium bodied, moderately enjoyable.

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Photo of Gavage
3.42/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: dark brown in color with a 1" head that falls apart quickly.

Smell: roasted malts, smokiness, and sugar sweetness.

Taste: very grainy roasted malts, mild smokey flavor, mild bitterness, and hint of dark fruit sweetness lingers in the background.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp throughout with some dryness late. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: kind of a slow drinking beer and it has little refreshment. One bottle was more than enough in the session.

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Photo of u2carew
3.47/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle. Consumed Thanksgiving 2009.
A- pours with a thin wispy head. Lacing in weak nearly nonexistent. Dark brown in color.
S - Roasted grains. Caramel malt sweetness. Subtle smokiness.
T - Caramel malt. Coffee. Maybe just a hint of smoky grains. Some noticeable hop bite.
M - Fizzy. Medium body. Light dryness. A bit of grittiness.
D - A decent brew. A nice winter-ish beer. I'd have another.

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Photo of weasbri
3.67/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark beer with red highlights and a thin head that fades quickly.
Lots of roasted malt aroma.
Plenty of chocolate malt in the flavor which pretty much takes over. There is some hop bite trying to break through, but it gets smacked down by the chocolate roasted malt.
A tad thin on the mouthfeel, but that keeps it on the lighter (drinking, not color) side of things.

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Photo of Suds
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I like a good Schwarzbier, they're often a refreshing change to dark ales. This one is pretty good, but not exceptional in my book. It's an essentially black color with reddish hues when held up to the light. Very slight tan head. The aroma is of roasted grain and malt. No real hop smell. It's a bit more roasty than necessary, though. The taste is moderately dry and a little more toasted than expected. It's also a little slick on the tongue. Very smooth and satisfying, however. Flavorful and very enjoyable. Overall, it's easy to drink and could be a good session beer.

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Photo of droomyster
4.06/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a very tasty schwarzbier, with a broader array of flavors than almost any other of its style that I've tried. It also looks amazing: pours a very dark brown with some interesting carbonation cascades that gradually form a craggy grayish head. Aromas are understated given the power of its flavors, which start out very sweet and chocolately before releasing a smokey, burnt bitterness. Finishes long and sweet. A very gratifying brew. I plan to stock up on it this winter.

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Photo of FickleBeast
3.28/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Smuttynose pint glass

A - Pours black, with a brownish tinge around the edges when held up to the light. Head is massive and fills the pint glass

S - some malt sweetness, roasted malts, slight vegetal hoppy aroma.

T - husky, grainy, decent amount of sweetness. Lingering bitter aftertaste is a bit off-putting

M - astringent roasted black malt bitterness, moderate body

D - not bad, but not particularly noteworthy either. Could be good to have a few of these tailgating

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Photo of kshankar
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with some ruby streaks, and a tan head that is thick..but probably due to an aggressive pour. Recedes quickly, and leaves a cap

Aroma is of roasted malts.

Taste is of roasted malts. And its not a bad taste, its like a porter, except much lighter. Which isn't necessarily bad, but this is a schwarzbier. I sense very little in terms of hops (which I would consider a component of the style).

Mouthfeel is light and smooth

Drinkability is fine. It tastes fine (even if it deviates from the style), and its smooth.

Ultimately, I'm unsure how highly to rate it just based on the limited hop profile, and a roasted malt flavor that reminds me more of a porter than a schwarzbier. But its good, so I won't be exceedingly harsh..

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Photo of mnrider
3.87/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. Brown bottle. Pilsner glass.

A: Pours an almost moonless night black. Thin brown head with very little lacing.

S: Roasted malts with coffee and chocolate.

T/M: Roasted malts. Tastes like a porter but much thinner and watery. Don't taste much hops, but this brew is smooth. Finishes on the bitter side.

D: It's a good brew for sure. I'd get it again. Although it's nothing remarkable, as it's a little light on taste. Still very drinkable.


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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 micromaniac129
4.35/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Magic Hat Howl is Schwarzbier. It's a combo beer in my opinion though.
It starts off pouring a deep brown/black with some ruby tints. A dense smooth head fades quickly to a lingering bead around the edges.
It smells of roaste malts with some hops coming through slightly at end.
It tastes of roasted malts, smokey like a porter or stoudt finishs with a lager bitterness, dry.
Like an Octoberfest style.
It feels thin in the mouth like a lager but not watery.
I could drink this beer all day no problem.
Take it to the mountains in fall with the leaves changing with crisp air and sunshine.

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Photo of NJBeerguy
4.8/5  rDev +30.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! There are few beers I start a review with Wow, but this is one that deserves it. Howl took me by surprize. While I've enjoyed beer from Magic Hat in the past, I've found some to be just so-so but not this one. This beer, poured into a standard pint glass looked just like a still winter night, black, with a head of light brown/beige sky. The head dissipates a bit as one drinks down but still remains till the bottom of the glass,(trust me it's so good each sip will invite you back the bottom of the glass arrive quickly). The nose is a faint roasted grain aroma with a hint of coffee. The taste is velvety chocolate and the suttle aftertaste of a sweet mild morning coffee. The finish lingers in such a way as to invite another sip (that I just had to have right away!). The ABV at just 4.60% make Howl my new sessions beer. If the boys at AB want to really know what the meaning of drinkability is, this is drinkability with flavor. I think I'll Howl but, not at the moon, all night.

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Photo of jlindros
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Take the world for a spin, don't let the world spin you" the infinite wisdom of the Magic Hat caps. Well, I'm starting to go through and review the Magic Hat beers, since it was the company that got me into craft beers. Next up is the winter seasonal, a schwarzbier!

A: A nice frothy 1 finger head rises up like it's lording over the glass. It's a pretty dark colored head but fades pretty quickly. Super dark brown roasted malt color that doesn't let any light through. It almost looks black except the touches of color shining through. This beer is NAAAATTT blAACCKKK!

N: The nose hits you right away with smoked malt, but not overly smokey. Some light roasted and chocolate malts hit you as well. I get some charred wood and light smoked porter aromas. There's even a slight fire roasted log aroma, they should patent that.

T: Wow, taste starts right away with smoked malt as well, almost bacon fat like taste. Actually pretty tasty. It quickly adds some roasted malts and caramel sweet malt flavors. Perhaps some maple flavor would really add here, but it's not there. It's still a little lighter than I would expect for the flavors, almost as if it was watered down, even though its not. Slight creamy dark malts and a little bitter spicy hop flavors round off the taste.

M: A little spicy perhaps from hops, medium body with good carbonation.

F: Finishes very smoky and pretty dry. The lingering smoke doesn't go away, it really gives you the feeling that you were sitting around a campfire all night trying to eat the smoke. Slightly bitter as well, but its hard to tell if that's from some random hops added or just the charred quality of the roasted/smoked malts.

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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 Cagden
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I liked this Schwarzbier style from Magic Hat. MH just refers to it as a "black-as-night Winter Lager" on the label. First Magic Hat beer I have tried, btw. I first sampled this at a Brewpub, but I am reviewing it after having a full pint. Had about an inch of head at the beginning, but after the first sip it started to dissipate until it just became lacing. The beer is a dark, black Lager, not Ale, with roasted, chocolate-esque & coffee-like overtones. It seemed like a Porter, but the aftertaste, body and finish is very much Lager. I liked that it was smoother than a Stout or Porter, not as heavy. My regret is that I only bought one bottle because this single pint left me thirsting for more.

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Photo of Mavajo
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly opaque black with obvious ruby highlites. Average tan head that retains reasonably well and leaves light to moderate lacing.

Nose is mostly roasty with subtle coffee. Taste brings the same as the nose with a certain earthiness. Not a particularly strong taste. I actually found it a bit boring at first but it got better as it warmed. Mouthfeel is probably medium overall but lighter than it looks. Medium carbonation. This beer actually tastes and feels a good bit like a porter, but with a bit more carbonation. Fairly drinkable.

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Photo of WesWes
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a solid pilsner and patent malt scent along with a dry lager yeast aroma. The taste is decent. It has a light and easily quaffable patent malt flavor that's earthy and coffee-like with a smooth, dry finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a pretty good beer. It's basic, but highly drinkable. It could use some crystal malts to round out the flavor more, but it's fine regardless.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
3.69 out of 5 based on 956 ratings.
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