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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 hosehead83
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a twelve ounce bottle into a standard pint glass
Black/dark brown in color, with short, tan head of foam
Aroma-Roasted malts,subtle coffee and chocolate
Taste-More of the same: Roasted malt, chocolate and coffee notes-Porter-like
Overall,tasted like a weak porter, but enjoyable-certainly sessionable at4.6 ABV.

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Photo of wac9
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
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

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Photo of UWDAWG90
3.14/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Purchased as part of a mixed 12-pak. Serving from a 12oz bottle.

A - Jet black typical of German black lagers. Good carbination with an aggressive poor recieved a two finger tannish head. Bubbles tight and good lacing lasting throughout the glass.

S - Definitely smells like coffee and the malts come through nicely. However, there is something in the background that smells sour. Did not discern this immediately but grew as the beer warmed.

T - Roasty... is the best word to describe this beer. Like roasted coffee beans and malt. Not heavy at all. Bitterness at the start, finishing smooth.

M - Appearance hints at something heavy but very light. Carbonation keeps it crispy and very nice.

D - Could drink this all night and seems to get better as it warms except for the sour smell.

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Photo of albern
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is indeed a German Black Lager. It looks good, coming in with an inky black, impenetrable hue, and an off white somewhat creamy head. There's a good bit of lace, some retention. The nose is quite nice with liquorice and roasted malts.

The taste is quite light, a tad watery, a bit more carbonated that I was expecting. There is a slight cocoa powder dryness and malty chocolate flavors. There is also a very noticeable hop bitterness on the back end that is very complementary to the dryish malts. This is a very refreshing beer, suitable for all seasons. This is not a thick winter warmer by any stretch, although the labeling could fool you. There are definitely mild roasted notes, maybe a touch of molasses in there too from the dark malts. The mouthfeel is light the aftertaste lingers a bit with some dry nutty flavors and some charred roast. This is a decent beer. There is a slight chalky flavor popping through in parts that the beer could do without.

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Photo of scottbrew4u
4.01/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Out of the bottle, this beer pours a black color with some light coming through clearly and a dense tan head. Good lacing as this beer is consumed.

S: Dry grains, bitter and burnt malted barley, with some ashy and nutty tones and molasses. Faint herbal hop aroma noticeable.

T: Roasted and burnt malt bring it on full force and a hearty nuttiness and caramel sweetness play in nicely. Light coffee bitterness with a creamy undertone. The crisp grains of a lager are in the finish setting it apart from a porter.

M: Medium body with tight carbonation and a smooth dry finish.

D: I loved this beer for its flavor and drinkability which is in great combination. Not heavy or strong but very solid in flavor and it begs you to drink more because it goes down easier than a heavy stout. I was very pleased by this one from Magic Hat and I hope they keep it going.

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Photo of MrHurmateeowish
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle purchased as part of a 6-pack at Shaw's in Derry, NH. Pours a pitch black body with slight brown-red highlights around the edges and nearly an inch of somewhat short-lived light tan head that clings to the side of the glass. Smells roasty, somewhat nutty - coffee comes to mind - with slight fruit and vanilla notes. Tastes roasty too, with a definite cappuccino-like quality, with some nut, hints of milk, vanilla, and a tinge of butter (I'm guessing from Ringwood yeast?), but not enough to overwhelm the rich sweet roastiness. Medium to full in body with moderate carbonation. This one is somewhat of a sipper, despite the low ABV and lack of viscosity, due to the complexity of the flavor. Not the best Schwarzbier I've had - I'm guessing this was made with ale yeast? Could stand to be cleaned up a bit leaving it with less-no diacetyl (which is another thing hurting the drinkability of it for me), but overall a pretty good beer, and one of the best that I've had from these guys by quite a wide margin. Glad I bought it!

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

R.I.P. Jinx, hello Howl. Cap says, "the Real Scene can not be Seen."

True to labeling, Howl is indeed "black as night." Tan head with a few lacey diversions.

Roast malt, coffee, and chocolate with an English porter type sourness. Taste is similarly roast malt, iced coffee, a tad char, and brown ale type nuttyness. Clean.

One of those beers I may not rate high, but could drink all night long.

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Photo of BeerPhan86
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Excited to see a new seasonal from Magic Hat this year. However, since Howl replaced Roxy Rolles and Roxy Rolles replaced Jinx, I am sad to see Jinx go. It was a great, smoky, sit around the fire kind of fall beer and one of Magic Hat's better offerings. In my opinion the brewery has gone downhill quite a bit these past few years so I am hoping this new beer can help redeem them a little bit.

A - Pours a very dark blackish brown with a one finger light brown head. Good retention and lacing.

S - Very strong coffee and chocolate presence. Sweet malty smell and an interesting tart or sour hint.

T - Intense chocolate flavor, coffee, and some dark fruit. It has a tart aspect to it that you could detect in the aroma, almost like fresh berries. Roasted malts. More like a good porter than a shwarzbier. Has a smoky flavor to it that would be perfect for sitting around the fireplace on a snowy day.

M - Creamy and good amount of carbonation for this style. A tad watery.

D - Pretty flavorful with low alcohol content. Surprisingly sessionable though.

Overall, this suits the winter seasonal category much better than Roxy Rolles did. I can see why they did not want to have two dark beers back to back for Fall and then Winter but I am still sad to see Jinx go. It was however still on tap at the brewery a few weeks ago so it doesn't seem completely retired. They could have at least revamped Roxy Rolles to fit the fall season a little more, perhaps even put a pumpkin twist on it. Overall Howl is a solid winter beer but reminds me more of a chocolate porter than a shwarzbier for sure. Let's see what the Vinyl spring lager has in store this spring, and I really hope they aren't axing HIPA permanently!

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Photo of wahhmaster
3.2/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a 0.5L Krušovice-branded pilsner glass.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color with a medium-sized tan head that dissipates slowly leaving spotty lacing.

Smell: Has a sweet malty smell to it with a bit of a strange tea-like smell in the background.

Taste: Starts light with a bit of sweetness balanced by a touch of hops. Finishes with a strong roasted malt flavor. Interestingly balanced.

Mouthfeel: Has nice body to it but way too much carbonation.

Drinkability: An average schwarzbier. Makes sense for their winter pack though. It's got that full-bodied roasted taste you expect from most winter brews but is also light, crisp, and refreshing.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into 19oz pilsner glass.

Appearance: Black with some cola coloration showing through on the edges, with a small, but thick tan head that leaves heavy lacing.

Smell: Chocolate malts and an interesting, tart smell about it.

Taste: Roasted chocolate malt all the way throughout, with only minimal bitterness toward the end- a sweeter scwarzbier.

Mouthfeel: Balanced, natural feeling carbonation with a smooth, medium body and a finish that sticks to the palate.

Drinkability: A nice schwarzbier, could be better if it had a bit heavier of a flavor but overall I like it. Sweeter and less bitter than most of the style.

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Photo of beer2day
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark brown to near-black with an ambitious 2-finger head. Laces well and decent head retention.

Nice roast and toast chocolate malt aroma. Faint anise presence. Tiny bit of vanilla as well.

Smooth and creamy on the front of the tongue. Bitters kick in towards the middle, with chocolate. Slight fizziness detracts from the overall presentation. More cream in the finish and a decent hop profile.

Mouth is decently robust, but that slight fizzy appearance gets in the way.

Easy drinker on a cool winters day.

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Photo of riversider76
3.56/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours almost black with a fluffy tan head. Excellent retention and a very nice lacing. Aroma is of smokey chocolate malts,and coffee. Body is medium with light carbonation. Taste has a smokey presence throughout. Hints of coffee and dark chocolate,with a bit of spice. Not bad,but the Sam Adams Black ale was better in my opinion.

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Photo of Bung
3.64/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Blushing Monk Asheville. A very nice near black pour with a highly contrasting white head. Aroma is mild, roast/burnt malt and nut. Taste has the same, with some dark chocolates, smoke and ash. Thinner body than I would like, just a tad on the watery side. Finish is quite clean and dry. Drinkability is very high, especially with the abv. Aroma and flavor is a bit subdued compared to ones I've had that I liked more. But, I'd say this stuff was pretty good, especially for Magic Hat, which has some pretty mediocre brews.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.91/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful label design, one of the best in recent memory. Great name too--inspired by the Ginsberg poem, perhaps? An enigma on the outside, this Howl. Let's see if the scrawl under the bottle-cap holds any revelations: "I Have What I Want." Hmm...fair enough.

Label claims "Black as Night" and there's no false advertising here, as this thing is incredibly dark...maybe not pure ebony, but maybe the darkest brown the human eye can decipher. Ah hell, it's black. The head is a healthy two fingers thick, rocky and foamy, with lots of lace clinging to the sides as it slowly recedes.

Smell is all roast and smoke...like smelling charred meat in a smoky bar. That's about all that's here too, except for a nutty element (also roasted). A bit one-dimensional maybe, but considering what kind of beer this is, it does the job.

Plenty more roast and char on the tongue, and there's a light chocolate-and-anise layer giving more depth to the flavor than what the aroma had. Milky sweetness also comes through. A tart touch in the finish throws unripe dark berries on top of the flavor pile. Nice!

Creaminess in the flavor also shows up in the texture, it's medium-body being round and smooth, although ample carbonation acts as an offset. It's just right (that's for all you Goldilocks & the 3 Bears fans out there).

One of the better new Magic Hat beers in quite some time. They needed one of these to renew my faith, as the Winter '09 Odd Notion was a disappointment and they have, in general, been playing it safe (ie. boring) lately. Seek out Howl, especially if you're a fan of dark German-style lagers.

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Photo of mtstatebeer
3.33/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle. Pours an opaque black color with a decent fizzy light brown head, decent lacing. Aroma is caramel and roasted malts, coffee, and a hint of earthiness. Flavor is roasted malts, wood, nutty, and earthy hops. Mouthfeel medium, well carbonated, kind of chalky at the end. Pretty good beer, good for the style.

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Photo of far333
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rumor has it that this is a repackaging of the now defunct Orlio dark lager. Deep chestnut colored, nearly opaque, with ruddy highlights. Nice oatmeal colored firm head that settles out slowly to a fine tight cap. Aroma of roasty malt, some cocoa and root beer.

Flavor is initially roasty malt, some cocoa and smoke, hints of leather and coffee. Mild bitterness.

Semi-thin mouthfeel, a little slick upfront, very bubbly, finishes too tingly. Could be more full. Tasty beer, could be more complex, but pretty drinkable.

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Photo of drawbackwards
3.39/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Nice pour...little head. i smell burnt & licorice. not too happy to start. nice mouthfeel pretty smooth. wow...this is some light stuff for the color. good taste though. i have to hand it to magic hat...they packed some flavor into this really light beer. you can drink this all night long, but i doubt you will hand one to your bud and say"bro, you gotta try this, it will knock your socks off". it's pretty good, not great, but good. the abv is appropriate for the feel on this one. i had this back to back with avery's new world porter. not a good move, cuz that one packs a whollop. if you pair this with a bad ass beer it will not stand. on it's own, you should have a pretty good time...

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Photo of Duhast500
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pored from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a dark black with some light brown foamy head and some slight lacing.

The smell is malty but not very strong. Some hints of toffee and a little coffee bean.

The taste is of burnt malts and some slight coffee flavor. There is a spicy/sweet flavor to this beer that does have a slight bite. There is some brown sugar flavor as well.

The feel is pretty good for this winter beer. It has a great medium body and goes down better than expected.

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Photo of FuzzyGuy84
3.94/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a shaker pint

A - Deep chocolate brown with a thin, dark head.

S - Toffee, cocoa, and coffee are all pronounced and very balanced. Great smell for a winter seasonal.

T - Tastes like it smells, lots of roasted malt notes along with candy and coffee.

MF/D - Easy drinking and surprisingly thin for the deep taste. Would go great with ice cream and brownies.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a sixer on a whim for a Halloween party. Pours into my glass a deep dark brown bordering on black with a solid khaki head on top of the brew. Aromas of dark roasted malt with a burnt black coffee undertone. Toasty and a bit of cocoa. Rather mellow overall.

First sip brings roasted malt with a bit of a chalky aspect to it. Burnt coffee rolls in with a bit of a cocoa undertone. Mild hops roll through on the way down. Overall, an easy drinking, tasty schwarzbier.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light with an edge of graininess to it. Solid carbonation throughout. Pretty easy to drink. Overall, it's a little heavy on the burnt coffee for me, but is still probably one of my favorite beers I've had from Magic Hat. Sessionable.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an almost blackened brown and settles even darker still with a deep mahogany cast at the edges and a khaki hued thin capping of firm tight foam. A dusty skim stands the top of the liquid as well as coats the glass as a fine lacing.

Solid aroma of sweet black malt with a slimming roasty element that reminds me a bit of a what burnt croissant kind of gets like when left in the oven a bit too long.

Flavor is mildly quick and lowly sweet with a bit of burnt roasty tint to it in the finish with some very slight coffeeish dryness and crispy, fire burnt husks. The sweetness is mostly front ended and underscored well within the roast for a decent balance but just doesn't stick on the palate long enough nor does it really have a complexity intriguing enough for a better expression of taste.

Feel is just under medium and perhaps a tad weakened with a watery center that has a light tender sweet tone in the front and about the same kind of impression in its finish with some roast and burnt flecks that do help carry it thru to something worthy of drinking a couple more of.

I can see drinking alot of this, but perhaps getting a bit boring after two or more. A decent enough Schwartzbier for what it is, being that it's a fairly difficult style to really nail down.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a blackish body with a tan head that died slowly on top of a malty aroma of roasted/coffee malts along with some bready/herbal sweet malt smells. This beer has a mediumish body that goes down smooth and finishes slightly dry. Has a mild taste that mixes roasted/coffee malts along with some sweetness. Goes down easy although a little dry/rough for a schwarzbier.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Beer pours a very dark cola color with a brown color head that is very thin and gives way quickly with very little lacing present. The smell is of coffee and roasted malt notes. The taste has a big coffee flavor with a slight hint of coco and a roasted malt backbone. The mouthfeel is a little thin and watery. Overall it is a very drinkable beer, it has good flavor, and you could have a lot of these because it is not heavy.

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Photo of Eiik
4.52/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: it's a lager but it doesnt pour like a lager, it's a little bit lighter. and the head on it has a really nice dark brown color.

S: Has a very nice roasted almost coffeish smell to it.

T: Very good taste, coffey, carmely taste at the begining the at the end it goes to that good roasted flavor.

M: Just melts in your mouth.

D: Not as heavy as normal lager. so it makes it quite easy to just enjoy and drink along.

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Photo of Beejay
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep brownish color with some dark red where the light shines through. A little bit of tan head, but that dissipates to a ring.

S: Molasses, and possibly some nutty aroma as well.

T: Some nice roasty flavors, burnt almost. The aftertaste is interesting, but I can't seem to put my finger on what it is...

M: Nice and clean. Fairly light in body, and appropriately carbonated.

D: A taste was enough for me, but in general it is a fairly good beer, just not amazing. Fine job, now bring jinx back.

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