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Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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976 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: 976 |  Reviews: 437
Photo of Pencible
3.06/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This poured a dark semi-opaque mahogany with moderate tan head. It smelled like bready yeast and cocoa powder, with some roasted barley and light lemon hops. It tasted like rusty copper hops with bready yeast and earthy chocolate, and a bit of burnt barley. It was watery with some carbonation, and had a metallic aftertaste. Overall this just wasn't a very good beer. Neither the scent nor the taste were clean at all or very enjoyable. The body was ok, but a bit weak. I don't have a lot of experience with this style, but I imagine this beer is a poorly executed attempt at it.

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Photo of Riccymon
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle a very dark brown with about half an inch of light brown head; not much going on here. Smell is full of peanut notes along with kind of a musty, earthy flavor that isn't as off-putting as it sounds. A decent if not bold start.

Taste is at first a bit of a lame duck, but it picks up as the beer warms. Tastes of lager yeast plus a very nice roasty character. Notes of grain, coffee, and light caramel malt reminiscent of a milk stout, but a solid hop presence brings the beer on home, reminding me of alts I've had.

Howl is quite light in body; very refreshing and drinkable. The beer finishes with a drying quality. I enjoyed drinking from this style, and Howl was a nice representation.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a cola black with a small white head that fades to a small layering and leaves no real lacing.

S: Nose is full of cocoa, chocolate malts, and a roasty flavor. Great nose.

T: The taste is huge with tons of chocolate/roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, and a bit of a roasty bitterness on the finish.

M: The feel is a bit thin but for the style it's not bad. Could be a bit creamier like other top notch Schwarbiers.

D: Great drinkability although the bitterness from the roasted malt catches up to you after a little while. Crazy that they can get so much flavor out of a beer like this with a tiny ABV.

I didn't expect much out of this one but it d

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Magic Hat Howl, winter seasonal

Dark brown color, ruby highlights, bubbling cocoa head, fizzles quickly.

Aroma: Sweet, cola-ish notes, some nutty tones...a bit of espresso down there. Bit creamy, too.

Taste: much the same from the nose. Fullish body, good balance, nice give and take between hops and malt, but not offering much different in flavor. A goodish winter warmer .(wait, fullish trips my spellcheck, but not 'goodish'?)...more like a dunkel lager. Not especially memorable, but drinkable.
don't think I would go for this one again.

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

C. Clear, for a very dark beer
H. Black
N. Strong Coffee, light smoke, and hints of chocolate

Well this is the second, Black Lager that I have reviewed for the site. The first was the Dixie Voodoo Black. So ill compare the two. If you read that review the Dixie it was clean, crisp, and water-like. Howl, has a TON more flavor. It is smokey as expected from a deep black beer, but has a great settling almost sweetness to it. If I could compare it to a person; remember that gothic chick that was in high-school. Well she seemed dark and probably smoked ciggs cause she thought it was "cool". Well then when you got to know her and passed all the black clothes and make-up, she was sorta sweet, but yet still dark. Yep that's this beer. So if your into all that dark stuff I would recommend this beer. It has grown on me throughout the month since I was shipped 12 of these bad boys from the "beer fairy" up north (they may make a special appearance some time soon...stay tuned!). Well you cant go grab this one, but if your nice I may share my final three with you! Check it out next winter season, for sure!

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Photo of billab914
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Sam Adams pint glass. Pours dark brown, slightly ruby colored around the edges when held to the light. Pretty decent head retention and a little lacing.

Aroma has a good amount of roasted malts with some coffee bitterness and a little burntness to it. The taste is roasty as well with all the flavors present in the nose, except it's has a little more chocolate flavor then the bitter coffee the aroma has.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly lighter then expected giving all the flavor that it has. It's light, smooth and pretty drinkable.

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Photo of stewart124
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown with a thin off-white to tan head.

A roasty note hits the nose with a hint of floral aromas.

Taste is full-bodied and complex. Lots of roasted notes and a deep milk chocolate bit with a smooth silky feel. This is very mellow with a finish that bites.

Lots of mouthfeel and a nice roasted chocolate character without an acrid character. Easy drinking and a nice take on this Munich Dunkel style.

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Photo of mynie
4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cute bottle with excellent artwork, but that's just par for the course with Magic Hat.

Nice pour. I'm judging this as something between a warmer and a schwarz and it's appearance doesn't disappoint as either. Big, thick purple bordering on black with a two-finger white head.

Smells like toasty, burnt malt and medium brewing spices. Gingerbread, roasted barley, caramel, and grass. Nice.

Starts off tasting like bread, moving into sweet ginger cookies and rounding itself off on bitter roasted malt and light, dry stout hops. Nice.

Tastes like it smells, only a bit more dry. The spices are present but not all that strong. Mostly it's the the malt that's in charge, sweet up front and bitter and roasted in the back. Nice thick body makes it go down like chocolate syrup.

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

So there are two new Magic Hats in the store as I pass through the other day, and I decided to grab one of each. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 02/13/2010.

The pour was darker then I would have thought. Nice dark brown in color with a medium reddish glow around the sides and the bottom of the glass. Nice two finger head rises quickly but then fades leaving behind only a small amount of lacing. Aroma is light at first but grows on me. Dark malts, roasted, hints of light chocolate and peat. Intresting, totally dark and forboding but light at the same time. Full feel for a lager for sure, and very nice as it rolls across the tongue and settles in. Rich, dark flavor, smokey with a cut of burnt caramel thrown in. Dark fruit? Something cutting it a bit for sure. Smooth, creamy and easily sessionable, no issues here at all.

Overall a very solid little lager and probably one of the better offerings I have had from MH recently.

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Photo of zoso493
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a straight-sided pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice, darker brown that lets in a fair amount of light. It has a pretty slim one-finger head that dissipates almost instantaneously and leaves no signs of lacing on the glass.

Smell: This one has a pretty decent smell to it. Lots of roasted malts, coffee, dark malts and toast are to be found in the nose.

Taste: The dark malts and buttery, toasty malts are the most pronounced flavors in this brew, along with a smaller tinge of the roasted malts. The coffee is less evident in the taste but the roasted malts provide some solid bitterness. It finishes a good burst of hops, the taste of which lingers around for awhile.

Mouthfeel: This one has a really thin body to it and is fairly highly carbonated. It's also pretty oily and has a really cloying sensation towards the end that is really holding it back in this department.

Drinkability: This is a lighter-bodied beer that's low in alcohol and has a decent amount of flavor to it, but the cloying sensation at the end would really not allow me to consider having another.

Overall, this is a good beer by Magic Hat's standards but is not so very well put together. It does have a lot going on in the taste and nose, but it lacks a smoothness to it. It's not a bad brew, though, and is definitely worth a try.

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Photo of FreshmanPour77
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 02-09-10
Reviewed cold from a bottle to a glass

A - Pours dark like coffee, 2 fingers of foam, very nice ½" ring of lacing on the glass. Can't really see if carbonation is present due to how dark the brew is

S - Roasted coffee mixed with hints chocolate

T - Medium bodied to light brew, very malty, slight sweetness to it but really can pick out the roasted coffee beans. Pretty smooth

M/D - Pretty good brew from Magic Hat. Big on the coffee malt flavor, really a smooth brew. I couldn't have more than a couple at a time though due to the strong coffee flavor. A good brew to have a couple bottles of and move on. I would get this again. A good one to try if you're new to the Schwarzbier style

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Photo of thedrewski86
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, almost black w/ ruby highlights. 1/2" tan head, reduces to a film that lingers. Fairly consistent lacing. Faint smell, earthy and roasty. Taste is raisin, caramel, malt in the front and a little hop in the aftertaste. This almost reminds me of New Belgium's enlightened black ale. This is nothing strong but it's very drinkable. I like it.

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

Poured into a Orval chalice and enjoyed with roasted chicken on an exceedingly cold evening. I didn't expect much from this beer, since I'm usually by Magic Hat being "over-flavored".

A: Deep, dark black (stout-like), with very little head, but what's there stays nicely.

S: I get a little coffee, but a significant amount of chocolate. Very sweet maltiness.

T: I enjoyed this - wasn't overwhelming, but exceedingly smooth, not like any magic hat I've had before. Definitely toffee, sweet malts, a little nutty.

M/D: Really light for its color (as is the Schwarzbier style), hits the tongue dry, but goes down easy.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.36/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A vigorous pour into a pint glass yielded two fingers of tan head that didn't want to hang around to long. It is dark brown with ruby highlights. The smell is a combination of sweet and roasted malts. Chocolate and coffee are easily discernible. The taste is amazing for a schwarzbier. It is rich with roasted coffee and bitter chocolate. Most schwarzbiers are pretty bland, this beer is quite impressive on the nose and the tastebuds. I was writing this beer off as another mediocre Magic Hat, but this beer is a winner.


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Photo of dmamiano
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

wow,,,poured very dark with a small head that does indeed last. Lacing also evident on the swirl and fading head.
Spicyness intertwined with thinly roasted malts. Not really picked more up.
Smooth upfront finishing a bit on the bitter side. Ashy...maybe a touch of astringence. Some how not unpleasant.
Mouthfeel pretty solid for this beer.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours inky black with a thick off color head with big bubbles that fall slowly, leaving a thick curtain of lace. The beer is so dark that it takes an intense light source to get any color through it (looks deep red in that case).

The aroma has that standard Magic Hat smell that I have never been able to put my finger on - grainy, a little off, slightly cardboardy - with a backbone of roasted malt . It smells like a decently advanced homebrew.

The flavor is dark, roasty, like a heavy porter or light stout. There's a little bread, dark rye-less pumpernickel. There is, however, a light, sweet note on the end of the tongue, almost a little flowery, like clover. I can't imagine it's hops, given the roasted malt character of the beer otherwise, but I am not sure where it is coming from.

The mouthfeel is fairly creamy, though lighter than one might expect from the color and taste. There is a coffelike bitterness on the finish, though it finishes a little sweet. I wish it were a bit drier - that might elevate the overall effect.

This is better than many of Magic Hat's recent offerings, which have become a progressive disappointment to me since their strong start, but it just feels strangely amateurish - advance amateur, to be sure, but amateurish nonetheless.

UPDATE, 12/2/2010: Decided to try the 2010 version and I find it somewhat improved. It is still nothing to get too excited about, but I now judge it a passable winter warmer.

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Photo of Vancer
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very deep oak brown pour, big ol' frothy tan head rises from the depths, and hangs around for the duration of the quaffing. A sheet of lace rings the Sammy Adams freebie glass.

Subtle hints of chocolate caramel climb out of the brew, and linger for the quaff. Toasted dough and a touch of wood resin show up until the light hops arrive and dominate in the finish. No winter spice at all, donno how they can state this is a winter seasonal.

Still, a decent brew, and quite session-able with the low alcohol,

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Muddy brown that is on the verge of being clear but doesn't quite make it. The edges of the glass have a splash of reddish walnut. The head is fluffy and thick and quickly rises two fingers above the beer. It dissipates to a thin layer of cappuccino colored foam that sticks to just about everything it touches.

The smell is lovely dark and malty. It's a fresh out of the box cereal scent that has notes of caramelization and coffee. This beer smells like something I'd like to pour on my cheerios.

Smooth and sweet the malts don't stop just at the nose. The fresh crushed malted grains are the strongest feature in this flavor profile. They range from toasted bread to coffee and a pinch of dark chocolates. A kiss of hoppy bitterness is a nice balance to the malt punch I've gotten from this beer.

Medium bodied beer with a moderate carbonation. For the most part it's quite satisfying and I can't quite figure how they got so much flavor into a low ABV beer. A very nice brew that is worth getting into on a cold day.

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Photo of BadBadger
3.69/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a moderately dark color. There was a pleasant, and rather subtle, aroma of fruity hops. The head was minimal, and what was there did not last for long. The taste was smooth, with a nice toffee (toffee not coffee) finish. Overall a rather pleasing beer which I would recommend giving a try.

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

Pours a 2 finger beige head, body is black with very dark brown highlights. Head retention and lacing are good.

Smell is of dark dried fruits like raisins. There is also some roasted, smoked malts. No hops or alcohol are detected.

Taste is the same as smell, very raisiny. There is also some chalky bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts. Slight smoke and oak are in there. Hops are pretty low and alcohol is obviously not present since its not even 5 percent.

Mouthfeel is good. Carbonation is well balanced and head has a nice presence that adds to the medium bodied consistency of the beer.

Drinkability is good. Very sessionable beer of a style that I wish more breweries would make. Would drink again whenever I want a light beer

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

Pours a black color. 2/3 inch head of a pale tan color. Good retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight roasted malt, slight coffee, slight hop, and oatmeal. Fits the style of a Schwarzbier. Mouth feel is smooth and slightly creamy, with a low carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, roasted malt, oatmeal, slight coffee, and slight hops. Overall, a nice blend, body, and mouth feel.

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

Pours black and opaque with a one inch light brown head. There is decent retention and a bit of lacing.

The aroma is decent. There's some nice malting with a bit of chocolate and toasted grain.

The taste is decent. There's a great malt profile with some nice chocolate tones and some nice toasty malt. It's not very complex, but I really enjoy it.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a high dose of crisp carbonation.

Drinkability is high. The flavor profile is nice and the ABV is easily sessionable. This combines to make a solid beer that's really easy to enjoy.

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Photo of Freshie
3.87/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

After a good portion of this Winter season, enjoying heavier porters, and stouts, this Schwarzbier really hits the spot.

Pours a dark and clear dark brown. Slight one finger head wisps on top.

Aromas of dark chocolate, and coffee. Grassy hops.

Taste is light but multi-layered. Hops are present from the get-go. Nice floral flavor, that segways in to the sweet malt backbone. Chocolate and dark coffee in the middle. Finishes clean with a carbonated bite.

Very drinkable and tasty. Always a fan of this style, and Magic Hat puts out a solid showing with this one.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into pint glass

A: Deep opaque brown with a hint of red. About one finger of tan colored head that disappears quickly. Very nice lacing on the glass.

S: Smell is lighter than most beers this dark. I'm getting chocolate, sweet caramel malts, a hint of smoke and coffee.

T: Starts right off with light chocolate and caramel malts, then there is a touch of coffee with a smokey burnt malt finish.

M: Medium to light bodied with moderate carbonation, crisp light feel with a sticky finish.

D: Low ABV with a lot of flavor, makes this one a winner. It is a very drinkable beer.

A dark flavorful beer that is lighter than it looks... not bad, give it a shot.

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

A - Pours almost black as night as the label says - very very dark brown with small red highlights when held up to the light. Decent tan head slowly fizzles down to a thin layer of foam. Small amount of lacing.

S - Roasted malts. Almost smokey. No hops that I can sense.

T - Taste is the same roasted malts from the smell. Again, almost a smokey flavor. Maybe a bit of raisiny fruit hinted at.

M - Medium bodied, carbonation a little heavy, but not overpowering.

D - Decent drinkability. Could probably kick back with a few.

Notes - Not quite sure I would classify this as a winter seasonal, cuz it just don't seem hearty enough for a cold winter night. A decent beer though and probably worth trying. I'm not that experienced with swarzbiers but it seemed like this could have been a bit more flavorful.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 976 ratings
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