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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 957
Photo of tzieser
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard pint glass.

a: black in color with a fluffy white head that settles into a thin lacing.

s: roasted malt. not much more to say

t: lots of roasted malt flavor with notes of burnt grain, bittersweet chocolate and hints of tobacco. finishes clean.

m: good mouthfeel.

a solid black lager. reminds me of Full Sail's Session Black Lager and brings back fond memories of Buzzards Bay Black Lager (though not nearly as delicious IMO).

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured chilled in large dessert glass

A: solid black; good sized head drops down pretty quickly; black; good carbonation
S: toasted grains, doughy malt
T: nice balance of (prominent) toasted grains, (prominent) malt, and (light) hops; semisweet; not bitter; not complex; very drinkable

Not bad; good sessionable beer

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Photo of Corpsehoagie
3.76/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After.being very disappointed with a magic hat variety pack.(my first and last magic hat experience) I was reluctant to try this one. Black lager was right up my alley but my previous magic hat scars were still there. It wasn't until the town drunk came into my work and insisted that I try it.
My first sip was a huge surprise, it didn't suck. Not only that but it was an excellent beer, I sucked down that six pack in no time.

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

You know, I think this might be my first Magic Hat beer. It seems that most of their beers are pretty good. A friend left a six pack of these so I took one for me to review. I used to not care for black lagers/schwarzbiers at all but over the past few years I'm starting to like them a lot. Locally, Rahr & Sons makes their Ugly Pug black lager and I think it's one of their best. I think what I like about the style is that it is easy to drink and has the roasty flavors I enjoy so much in porters and stouts.

This schwarzbier looks black, and it does look like that, but when held up to light it has more of a dark brown, slight ruby color to it. It's also a bit murky as well. I think there's some sediment in there as well. I hope that's not a bad thing. :P The head looked nice. It formed a little slowly with the surface looking pretty creamy and underneath it was more bubbly. It was about a finger and a half high and tan.

I get mostly mealy, malty, and nutty aromas. The roasted coffee and cocoa aromas are underneath, as is a sort of burnt sugar sweetness. The smell becomes easier to notice as the beer warms.

The roasted coffee and chocolate flavors are more pronounced in the taste than in the smell, although they show up in the middle and linger the longest. Up front is minimal hop bitterness and the mealiness I got from the smell. Sweetness is pretty strong, like caramel or brown sugar, and it stays on the tongue for awhile.

Carbonation is medium and it keeps alive what overall is a smooth beer that is just barely sticky at the end from the sweetness. It's definitely drinkable, as it should be. Nothing bad but nothing great.

This is another black lager I've enjoyed and now I can say that the only Magic Hat beer I've had is one I've enjoyed.

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Photo of Clowerweb
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Magic Hat's Howl last week for $1.49 at The Lager Mill. I haven't had a Black Lager in a while so I thought I would take a chance on this one from Magic Hat, this brewery can be hit or miss for me but I am hoping for the best, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a imperial pint glass.

A- I like the label on this beer, it looks good and has a cool dark Halloween look that makes it stick out. It poured a nice looking dark brown color that had some slightly ruby edges when held to the light and it had three fingers worth of fluffy tan head that died down to a thin layer that stayed till the end and left some nice lacing. This is a good looking Schwarzbier.

S- The first thing that I pick up in the aroma is loads of roasted dark malts that had a low amount of sweetness to it and imparted some roasty and grainy aromas. There was also a pretty noticeable nutty aroma, one reviewer said it smells like powdered cheerios and I would say that's a pretty good description. I didn't pick up any hops in the aroma of this beer. This beer has a nice roasty aroma and the nutty/powdered cheerios aroma gives this beer a pretty unique aroma for it's style.

T- The taste of this beer is very similar to the aroma. It starts off with loads of medium roasted malts that have a low amount of sweetness and impart a nice a grainy and roasty flavor and a slight sweet chocolate flavor. After that came a nice nutty flavor that really stuck out and it helped balance out all those roasted malts. I didn't pick up any hops in the flavor of this beer. The finish was slightly roasty, with a low amount of bitterness and it had an aftertaste that was full of roasted malts, grains, and some nuts, the nutty flavors seemed to stick around. This was a good an unique tasting Schwarzbier, the nutty flavors adds some complexity to this otherwise straight forward brew.

M- Smooth, crisp, on the light side of being medium bodied and it had a high amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was good and what it should be for a Black Lager.

Overall I thought that this was a good and solid Schwarzbier that managed to stick out from the crowd with some added nutty flavors and aromas that made it one of the more complex Schwarzbier's I have had to date. This beer has good drinkability, it has enough flavor to hold my attention, while going down very smooth and not being too filling, if I had another one I would drink it, I could maybe do four of these in a session without getting bored with it. What I liked most about this beer was pretty much everything, all aspects of this beer seemed to be right where they should be. There wasn't anything about this beer that I didn't like or would change, this beer doesn't need to messed with. I would buy this beer again when looking for a nice and sessionable Black Lager, this makes for a good darker beer to have with dinner and it paired nicely with a bowl of chili. I recommend giving this beer a try, the extra nutty flavors make this not your average Black Lager. I was impressed by this beer, I don't have the best history with Magic Hat beers, but this proved to be one solid Schwarzbier that proved to be pretty unique with the added nutty flavors, I know this beer isn't a traditional take on this style, but it comes together nicely and tastes good so I'm not holding that against them. IF you are leery about giving Magic Hat another try, man up and try this beer, it might change your mind about this brewery. This isn't my favorite Schwarzbier but it is one of the better and more unique ones that I have had.

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz into a DFH snifter.

Dark pour, darker than expected, with a full 1/2 inch of foam that stuck around for a while but leaves little lacing, just bubbles.

Rich malt aroma with a touch of powdered cheerios.

There really isn't much in the flavor. Which means there's little wrong as well. Flat, even malt with a touch of a wine aftertaste.

It's easy to drink. I find I only typically notice this style when there is a major flaw so perhaps my reviews aren't as kind, or as geared towards the style, as they should be. The mouthfeel here is a touch to the watery, but there is still a crispness to it.

Easy to drink. I know, I know not a true "session" but there is more here than meets the eye and, while not challenging, it is a nice darker brew to enjoy several of in a sitting.


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Photo of scootny
3.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not black as night but pretty close and near opaque which is quite a feat for a beer as clear as this. Smell is luscious with roasted grains, cocoa, coffee, burnt caramel and English style hops. Earthy and mild. A gentle fruitiness flows through. Taste is more of the same with a big charcoal bitterness. Dark roasted malt and smokey grains in the front with some mild sweetness. A touch of soap in the finish before more char and leafy hops and hop oiliness. Nice chewy feel that does not impede drinkability with an active carbonation. A very nice winter session ale that is begging for big smokey meats and cheeses.

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

Smells like it taste...delicious. If you like coffee/chocolate malty beers this is for you. Smells like chocolate but taste more like coffee with a slight, and I do mean slight, hint of bitterness at the end. An all around good beer especially during those colder seasons or after dinner when you just want a drink instead of dessert.

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Photo of jeffmart22
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours close to black but when up to light you pick up ruby and brown around the edge of the glass. Hardly any head emerges and what was there is gone quickly. Very little lacing, if any on this beer. There does appear to be a nice about of carbonation.

A - I get some roasted malt and nutty qualities as well as a slightly sweet malt undertone. Also I pick up a slight biscuit grain aroma, the is no hop presence in this one.

T - Starts with a nice nutty and roasted malt quality which is close to that of a porter. This even helps to give a very slight bitterness to the beer. A slight sweetness comes in but I'm getting more of the roasted malt flavors.

M - Thin, Crisp mouthfeel just as you would expect in a lager. Goes down smooth.

O - Nice beer. I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of Black Lagers.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown/black, tan trace head, ok lacing

S: roasted nuts, hint of chocolate, malt
mild coffee

T: mild sweet chocolate, malt, nuts,
hint of roasted bitter semi-dry finish

M: med/light body, smooth/hint of
bubbly mouth

O: WOW! 1st Magic Hat that surprised me.
Great session brew.


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Photo of Waltherpk380
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark ruby color in a pint glass, this beer really has a forward coffee aroma with some caramel in the nose as well. Taste is balanced but I personally feel like coffee comes to the forefront. Not as aggressive as Sam Adams black and brew as previously mentioned, the coffee is there but also some nice burnt malt finished by a nice slight bitterness. Delicious, very sessionable brew. The mouthfeel is on par with other Schwarzbiers, not thick like a stout, much thinner. Would drink this again, I enjoyed it very much.

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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 azdback
3.89/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Stone Imperial glass. Dark brown color. Highlights are a much lighter, transparent brown. Head is a small one finger, tan color that quickly dissipates. The lace is weak at this moment and does absolutely nothing to the bottom of the glass.

Smell is medium roasted malts. Light coffee and charred wood and just a bit of sweet milk chocolate. Quite nice.

Taste is much like the smell. Much like a watered down Wake 'n' Bake to me. Lightly charred wood or smoke, lightly roasted coffee and simple chocolate. Quite nice.

Mouth is smooth or silky. Carbonation is creamy with a medium/balanced body and an average semi wet finish.

Overall I liked this. I have been on a Black IPA search lately so it was nice to have this "Black as night Lager". Not an IPA or even an Ale but a tasty brew. Blows Guinness Black Lager out of the water. Thanks to SMason for this extra.

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Photo of CaptJackHarkness
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle, cap says " Undressing. Distressing or a Blessing?"

Pours a very deep shade of brown with large frothy beige/tan head. Head sadly reduces quickly though. Aroma of spiced coffee and Chocolate. Taste is Coffee and hops, perfectly balanced. Good feel on the tounge, warming and welcome.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.57/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into pint. Looks black until its held up to the light, then you notice a red hue. White lacing remains throughout the drink.
Smells of coffee and roasty malts. It tastes like it smells.
Its light and drinkable, slightly over carbonated, but a tastey brew.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark mahogany color with a tiny mocha head that fizzles quickly to nothing

S: Coffee, roasted malts, and some dark chocolate

T: Same as the smell, pretty much just roasted malts, dark bitter chocolate, and coffee. Maybe some hops as well, but not much in the way of the malts

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Pretty smooth

O: A solid schwarzbier that could stand in for a porter or stout on a cold night. Easily sessionable at 4.6% too

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Photo of chinchill
3.82/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A very dark brown, rather than black beer. Opaque, with a thin but durable tan head.

Aroma of dark roasted malts and spicy hops, with hints of dark fruits, chocolate and spices. Aroma is a tad too earthy. The flavor is a bit stronger than the aroma suggests, although there is little flavor from hops. Not unpleasant light hint of charcoal/smoke. Finishes with a long-lasting, roasted malt aftertaste. Taste improves and gets richer with warming.

M: Medium to medium-light body and carbonation.

O: good.

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Photo of Mit
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A. Pours a dark dark amber colour. Slight head that's fairly short lived.

S. heavy malts...slight alcohol odor. Dark fruit...

T. Smokey malt slight hops....a little thin in the finish

M. Thin... Thinner than I would have expected

O. Overall this is not bad at all. One Of the better offerings from Magic Hat.

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

Crystal clear, very dark, mahogany where the glass is thinnest and pitch black where it's thickest. A good two inches of head that makes a cola like sizzle and pop, sticks around for a good minute then dies down to a foam cap.

The aroma is sweet, dark, roasted grains, charcoal and tree bark. Very enticing and very much to style.

The beer is light and silky. The flavor is sweet, burnt and bitter. Dark roasted malt, burnt toast, sweet cream and charred grains. Very tasty.

A very drinkable beer. This is one of those where you want to have plenty on hand before you open the first bottle.

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

Poured into a mug.

A: Clear dark brown with two-finger, tan, creamy head that lasted a couple of minutes. Okay lacing.

S: Coffee and roasted malt.

T: Moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Nice roasted, burnt flavor.

M: Medium bodied with soft carbonation and silky smooth.

O: This is pretty good. Appearance left something to be desired, but it tasted good and had a great mouthfeel.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 13oz tulip glass. Pours a thin looking black, with one inch light tan head, minimal lace. Smell some dark malts, chocolate, hints of coffee, some piney hops, and a little biscuit. Taste is exactly like it's smells. Plenty of flavor for it's small abv, makes it's sessionable. Body is small for a winter beer, enough carbonation, and very easygoing down. Not what I was expecting this time of year, but no regrets.

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Photo of GarrettMD
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep brown, not black as night as the bottle indicates, but still essentially black. Not too much head, just a thin layer of brown bubbles that goes away pretty quick.

S - Coffee, bitter roasted malts, some slight sweetness, overall not entirely sure what I'm smelling... It's almost smokey.

T - Chocolate dominates here. Wow, was not expecting that. Tastes very much like a porter. Chocolate is the overarching flavor with coffee and roasted malts backing it up, slight hop bitterness following.

M - Very crisp, the only way I would know this was a lager-style. Thin to medium body, feels thicker than it is from the surprising amount of chocolate. Finish is sweet roasted malts and chocolate. Finish fades very quickly, giving even more of the crisp feeling.

O - I was skeptical from the aroma, but the flavor blew me away.

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Photo of brewcore
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a goblet glass.

A: Very dark brown. Not quite opaque. One finger light tan head with no retention.

S: Sweet roasted malts. A little coffee. Not a super fragrant beer.

T: Like the nose, sweet roasted malts and a little coffee. Slight bitterness in the middle. Finish like a light roast coffee.

M: Moderate carbonation. Medium to light carbonation. A light dark beer, appropriate for the style.

O: I get a lot of coffee notes from this beer. Odd to me for a Schwarzbier. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. I have not had too many Magic Hat beers that I like, but this one is something I would buy again.

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Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.24/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard pint glass. The beer is a coffee black, with brown coming through when held to the light. A smallish cream colored head dissipates to thin cream film, then nothing. Little lacing. The beer smells of burnt malts. Tastes of bitter chocolates, burnt malts, with a very slight smokiness. The mouthfeel is watery and light.

Overall, This isn't bad, but it just feels too watery. The slight smokey flavor is a nice finishing touch to the burnt, bitter chocolate, but I'm glad i bought only one bottle.

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