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

Very dark! Beautiful head.

Smells like nice burnt wood

Tastes the same. Kinda odd. Not too bitter.

Mouthfeel of jello. Soft. Dry finish.
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Photo of zander4dawin
3.28/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A black beer with a thin head that dissipates rapidly. Smells like black rye bread and chocolatey. Roasted malt taste and a light body. Aftertaste lingers, chocolate and roasted malt coats the tongue. Stings the palette a little bit. Easy to drink. Overall a good beer, not disappointed.

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Photo of jhartley
3.46/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a clean tumbler. Not too much of a head, and it did dissipate quickly.
Dark brown to black coloring
Smells of a roasty malts and slight coffee.
Minimal carbonation and drinks very easy, after warming a little more chocolate notes seem to come out and are inviting to drink more!
I had to have another one as it did go down too easily! Slight sweet aftertaste.
I would recommend this if you are a fan of porters.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 11/24/11 notes. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black color, with one finger of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, toasted malts, and some burnt malts. Roasted notes dominate, but pretty nice.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, light coffee, very light fruit, and some toasted malts. Again, pretty nice.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a decent schwarzbier; had this right after the Guinness black lager and this was very slightly better. Worth checking out, would probably have it again.

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Photo of jtierney89
1.65/5  rDev -55.3%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pours pretty dark, but not black, more a very deep brown. Head retention has been amazing. Smells heavily of charcoal, leather and bitter coffee. Not the most appetizing of scents. Medium to light in body with some toffee caramel and chocolate tastes present but coffee flavor dominates the beer once it finishes. I don't know what to pin point about the beer exactly that I don't like, but im not liking. It might be the flavors, possibly if they were a bit subdued it'd be alright but the flavors present in this beer aren't the flavors I wanna be punched in the face with.

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

This is like most Shwarzbiers I've had... but probably on the good end of them. It had a nice rich color, dark, and a nice head. Creamy bodied with just enough carbonation. It smelled nice, toasty and caramelized. Taste was similar. Sweet and a little bitter coffee-like. Overall, this is just good. Great in the winter.

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Photo of bpw28
4.37/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Clear deep brown (about a 35 SRM), three finger tan shaving cream head, very nice lacing.

Smell: Clean cocoa notes, coffee undertones, pipe smoke, wood fire, very pleasant earthiness, burnt sugar, light herbal scents.

Taste: Delicious clean roasted malt, clean coffee comes in stronger on the taste, light cocoa, earthy, slight wood smoke, caramelized sugars, light nutmeg & clove, piney hop backbone on the end. A medium body, great carb.

Final Thoughts: After having some magic hat brews in the past, I've don't think I've ever been more then "eh" with them. This is is great, but the body might be a little too heavy for the style (but I don't mind one bit.). I really lucked out for this one, it was just being put up on the shelf when I got it, and it is perfect for this deep fall very early winter time. Magic hat impressed me with this one, tons of flavor and you'll be able to drink a couple no problem. You've got to give this one a shot.

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

Poured a 1" light mocha head with moderate life. Dark burnt umber brown color, black enough. Smell is very mild, just a little roasted malt. Taste is like a very weak porter: roasted malt, coffee, chocolate. Body is quite light, I'd even call it watery. To me this is OK but it's not a standout.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an coffee color with a nice tan cap; the retention was solid and it left a few strands behind

Smell: Roasted malt, with black bread and coffee elements

Taste: Opens with a roasty, burnt bread character that is joined by charcoal as well as some sweeter caramel elements by mid-palate; after the swallow, the flavors balance out, bringing on a hint of chocolate in the finish, though there the charcoal lingers in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Although this is a little sweet for the style, I really enjoyed the balance in this beer and it is one of the few beers from this brewery that I would seek out again

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Photo of WastingFreetime
3.12/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours out jet black, one finger tan head that fizzled out into nothing in less than a minute, body is somewhat thin and watery, smells of roasted malt notes first and foremost, mild weak bitter chocolate tones and that's really all I get out of this one...tastes of mild roasted malt tempered with a finish of spiced hop tones, overall I just wish the body was a bit more robust on this one for my taste...it comes across as only a forgettably average schwarzbier, there are worse and there are better brews than this one.

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

First had: bottle from Pinocchio's beer garden, Media, PA

Poured into a Klokke Roeland globe, coffee brown and nearly opaque with a pinky-finger of tannish head that receded to a patchy layer; small blotches of lacing here and there. Light aroma of dark roasted malts and grains. A little on the metallic side. Up front, the taste is a mixture of sweet molasses and roasted malts, turning mid-palate to a bitter coffee with lots of graininess, and a bit of smoke. Medium mouthfeel, and quite dry. Nothing great, but not too bad overall.

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Photo of zdk9
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours black as night- funny coincidence that...half a finger of head and not really any lacing.

S- The bottle smells deeply of soy sauce, teriyaki, and smoked meat. The beer...not so much. Some of those same things but not nearly as strong. So not too bad. Quite complex for such a low alcohol beer.

T- Wood burning, heavily toasted nuts, bread crust, and dark sweetness on the outside. Very nice.

M- This has some heft to it- I was expecting it to wash down easy, but not really.

O- Complex and flavorful, this is a great fall session beer.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head. Head retention is decent, but there isn't much lacing. Aroma is roasted malt, coffee, bittersweet chocolate and a bit of nuts. The brew tastes like roasted/burnt malt, coffee and bittersweet chocolate. Maybe I started drinking this a bit too cold, as it tasted better the warmer it got. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, it's a bit coating and has good carbonation. I liked this brew, it was better than I was expecting it to be. Pretty decent for $1.79 a single bottle. Worth a try, and I'd buy this again.

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Photo of bourbonbock
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this into a clean pint glass from a 12 oz bottle from a mix pack.

A. Dark brown to black body with a brown head about a finger thick that recedes quickly to a cap.

S. The nose leads with chocolate and roasted nuts and a sweet body.

T. Dates and raisins with a sweet malty body. Chocolate and bunt pie crust.

M. Light and full and creamy. Slides right down with nice viscocity and carbonation.

I was very surprised with this beer since I don't always enjoy magic hat but they must have used a different yeast on this beer. Overall I wish they sold this by itself.

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Photo of misterlimey
4.04/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Very little head appeared, just a bit of beige foam.

A- As advertised, this is "black as night." Pours a very dark brown, not a lot of light gets through, just a bit of red shadow.

S- The smell is accurate to the taste, with bold caramel and distinct coffee tones dominating the nose. There's also a bit of chocolate and some hint of winter spice.

T- Somewhat sweet and crisp for such a dark lager, with a great emphasis on caramel. The coffee introduces a bit of bitterness to the palette, and the spices are otherwise lost. A really soothing and cooling overall beer experience.

M- I'm a bit lost by the mouth on this beer, as it's a bit syrupy and the carbonation is pretty delicate. It succeeds, however, in leaving a clean feel in the mouth afterward, especially considering how thick it seems.

O- A well balanced and sufficiently unique beer. If you're looking for something dark and you don't plan on drinking more than one or two this is a great choice. I could imagine pairing this with a savory winter stew or chili and being delighted by the complimentary flavors.

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Photo of Jesse13713
2.65/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - A very opaque black. No head and it laces poorly to the glass.

Smell - Smells a bit like a black lager. Light coffee and espresso notes.

Taste - More stout-like than I expected. Carbonated coffee and espresso notes. Heavily carbonated. This beer seems very artificial-tasting to me, though it does match the category quite well.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability - A decent offering for a lighter winter option. A bit hard to swallow because of the carbonation despite its light body.

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Photo of kbuzz
3.79/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a fresh 2011 bottle into my trusty snifter...

A: Beautiful dark, fairly opaque beer, although not completely. A frothy two finger head appeared from an agressive pour. Lacing is undeniable.

S: Pork and charcoal. This is a schwarzbier without doubt. I get burnt pork, some roastiness and tons and tons of smoked malt. Barely any hop presence at all.

T: Follows the nose to a T. Heavy duty smoke, pork and char...tastes like the outer rim of a rotisserie pig. Burnt and flavorful. I dig. A dark coffee aftertaste if you wait for it...definitely a lingering bitterness at the end. Again...I dig.

M: Medium-thin...average mouthfeel...nothing to brag about. But not disappointing. Leaves a thin coat behind to scrape with the tongue. Definitely a bit "sticky".

O: A pretty solid American rendition of a classic style if you ask me. I know Magic Hat gets a bumb wrap from the craft brew "crowd"...but for a 4.6% brew, this thing packs some roast and smoke flavors. I will session with this every year if it's made available...and so far, it's been two years in a row. Rock on howlers!!!

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

12oz brown bottle with a freshness date.

The color is not like they state "Black as Night" but it is pretty dark, good head retention like most of the Magic Hat beers. Hints of coffee, dark chocolate and charcoal in the nose. Big on smoothness with a light to medium body, roasty from start to finish though stays mild. Mild charcoal character is pleasant, maltiness lands dry. Hops a leafy and a little oily with a even bitterness. Dry end with a linger of roasted grain.

This does not make up for the fact that they killed of Heart Of Darkness a while back but I'll take this for now. Damn good stuff here.

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Photo of claspada
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rather dark brown body with a half inch of khaki head leaving minimal lacing on the way down.

Aromas are predominatly earthy nose with equal notes of roasty coffee, toasted breadiness and baker's chocolate.

The tastes begin with roasted graininess with a light sweetness and some slight a roasty/chicory flourish to it. Lesser hints of unsweetened chocolate and toasted breadiness. Spicy hop were a nice addition with just a touch of dried citrus lingering there as well. Earthy, drying finish with a sustained taste of toasted maltiness.

The mouthfeel is medium-light bodied with medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall this is a a decent, if average Schwarzbier. Slightly hoppier and more "American" in the flavor than other more treaditional German examples, but a decent take on the style. Nothing to seek out and definitely not a must try but decent enough if it's all you find in your friends fridge during a holiday party.

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Photo of kindestcut
4.38/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Magic Hat Howl pours midnight black with a tan head. Malty aroma with a faint metallic smell, not so much that it is unpleasant.

The beer is roasty, not unexpected for a schwartzbier. There is very little graininess that I have found in some black lagers. The mouthfeel is nice, with a slight creaminess and active carbonation.

I really like this beer. It's light yet dark and flavorful. One of the better schwartzbiers I've enjoyed.

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Photo of 9InchNails
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has a very dark body with some ruby crimson-like color in the middle.
Light brown head that fizzled out to a creamy film. Some noticeable carbonation when I held it directly to the light.

Chocolate, caramel, brown sugar and some noticeable cereal grain. A surprisingly nice sweet aroma from a very bland, as of late company.

The taste is also pretty nice. Cocoa, brown sugar, roasted coffee, caramel, faint dark fruits and that cereal grain that I detected from the aroma is barely noticeable. The flavors aren't too in your face but the flavors work well together.

Light silk-like-water fills the mouth nicely. Creamy but not heavy at all. Carbonation is there but over-the-top. Very easy going down.

I was recommended by two people to try this. Something finally worth trying from Magic Hat. As of late, they really have been putting out some mediocre brews, except for this dark lager. Even if you feel you have been screwed over by Magic Hat and turned your back away from them; give this beer a try. It reminds me of a porter but not bitter.

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Photo of fsvan
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

A- Black, with dark red around the edges. A finger of smooth creamy head.

S- A lot of dark roasted malts. Dark chocolate. A bit of coffee grounds in the background.

T- Dry, roasted malts. A coffee like bitterness.

M- Heavy of medium. Coats mouth well.

O- A good schwarzbier. One of Magic Hat's better offerings.

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Photo of wedge
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"I'm exactly where I want to be"

Pours a nearly black chestnut color with a head that initially crests the top of my glass before settling to a fluffy cap. Mild roasted malt aroma with some lager yeast and a clean sweetness. Smooth, mellow malty lager flavor. Nutty with a bit of dark bread, but very simple and clean. Light bodied. A decent, inoffensive stab at the style...

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Photo of bobhits
2.53/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This is a style I really REALLY like, but I don't care for magic hat. It has been good to give their seasonal pack a try though, certainly they make an effort.

Blackish yes, and for them low carbonation...I can't complain but it isn't going to get high marks.

Roasted and toasted notes with some sour ale like notes, hops are coming into play but not as well as they could.

Toast comes out front but a good amount of subtle hops follow. This is a touch off putting at this late stage of the night but I also started the night here so I can safely say this works well. It however lacks the malt back to really finish. I love this style because it blends ales and stouts without ever getting too big, but a touch more malt would really add to the finish and push this beer to something special.

Once again Magic Hat makes a beer that gets close but fails before the finish.

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Photo of Scourge07
3.56/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Not quite black as night, but pretty dang close. It is completely opaque and poured with a rich tan head. Minimal carbonation.

Smell: I'm detecting a slight hint of chocolate and coffee beans. It has a hint of roasted malt, but not as much as you'd find in a stout or porter. It does indeed have an interesting chalk-like smell to it as well.

Taste: Quite similar to the smell. (coffee, chocolate, slightly roasty) There is a touch of bitterness from the hops, but it is rather mild. The chalky smell is also present in the taste. It's a unique flavor and actually adds some character, in my opinion.

Mouthfeel: Not too thick, not too thin. Very pleasant and creamy.

Overall: This is the first Schwarzbier that I've had, and I do like the style! You wouldn't expect such a dark beer to have both flavor and easy drink-ability. It's like the best of both worlds. I would definitely pick it up this winter if you get the chance!

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