Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

957 Ratings

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.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 957 |  Reviews: 435
Photo of angelmonster
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
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 +7.6%
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 +8.4%
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 +4.9%
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 -3%
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 -4.3%
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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Photo of MNJR
3.03/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Kind of a boring beer with not too much going on. Thin, lifeless carbonation, sweet maltiness with a prune or raisin-ish flavor resolving to a sticky, caramel aftertaste. For a dark lager it covers all the bases, but offers nothing special or rewarding enough to merit much consideration. It's drinkable, low ABV, plainspoken dark beer. Not bad by any means but needs a bit more attention to detail and less of a generic flavor.

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Photo of cdizinno
2.88/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown with a thin tan head and minimal lacing.

S: Fruity sweetness with little or no hops.

T&M: Roasted molasses and caramel are prominent in the tast. Light to medium body with toasted caramel finish.

Better than most Magic Hat's, but weak in substance.

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

On tap in a pint glass.

A: Dark, dark brown with some ruby. It looks sort of like watered down molasses. Not as black as a porter, but certainly close. One inch of head.

S: Earthy hops, sweet malts.

T: Sweet malts, toffee, bittering hops on the finish.

M: The mouthfeel is medium-light and briskly carbonated.

D: Definitely a session beer.

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

12 oz (or as they say, 3/4 pint) bottle poured into a pilsner glass. 4.6% ABV, Best before end of month notched; January '10.

A - Almost "Black as night", Howl pours a very dark ruby mahogany brown with a loose tan head. Three fingers and moderately retained, it left a lacy vail all over the glass.

S - Black coffee and cocoa with a little unsweetened chocolate. Dry, roasted malts flood the nose with a coffee stout aroma but not as thick. A bit of graininess comes across the finish.

T - Dark and dry roasted malts give off that lightly smoky, burnt coffee, cocoa dryness. No hop flavors come out. Very roasted and lightly bitter.

M - Dry, dry, dry. Medium-bodied and crisp with a fair carbonation bite. Lightly bitter to the end.

D - A very flavorful beer that's great all around and nicely drinkable for it's flavor and feel. The smoothness helps too.

"it's Easy to Talk and Say nothing at the Same" under the bottle cap.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a BBC pint glass.

A: Poured a dark, ruby-brown color; almost like a root beer. Formed a two-finger head of tan foam with bits of bottle sediment which clung to the webby lace.

S: Smells nice, sweet and roasty. Hints of carob and coffee blended with a little cocoa powder and dark, herbal hops.

T: Flavor is a little watery at first, giving mostly sweet, dark bready malts and a little roasted black malt almost with a dry stout quality. A little smokiness and that bittersweet, weak coffee flavor builds towards the middle and finishes mellow with a little lingering roasted malt flavor. lighter than I expected, but still fairly tasty.

M: Mouthfeel is medium-bodied but watery for the most part, with a little clingy sweetness around the middle and finish.

D: Magic Hat kept the ABV really session with Howl at 4.6% which adds to the drinkability, but maybe flavors aren't rich enough for hose seeking shelter from the cold in their pint glass.

Not quite a schwartz, not quite a brown and not quite a stout. Howl is an interesting choice for the winter party goer, and I'd be glad to take it in a mix winter pack but would be reluctant to buy a 6 or 12 myself.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Howl begins with a solid to dark brown color, a quick lightly tanned head that fades to an intermitten film and holds true. Some lacing along the way. Fairly clear but with the dark color, hard to tell.

Aromas hold a good amount of roast and nuttiness. Maltiness goes from caramel to roast without a bridge between the two. Light coffees and burnt cocoa seem a bit agressive. No hops.

Flavors of caramel quickly turn to molassas and then to burnt molassas (over caramelized sugars), and eventually into moderate coffee notes and walnut nuttiness. A good mix of malt character gives good variety but still seems empty.

Body is medium with the roasty, toasty notes and lingering sweetness giving an impression of higher weight to the body. Medium-light carbonation also adds to the weight of the beer.

I'm not sure if a Schwarzbier is what Magic Hat is shooting for; the beer is too sweet and doesn't finish with the powdery dry, yet clean finish that make Schwarzbiers so great. This is a roasty Vienna lager that might be better suited for the Fall season- think Halloween.

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

Pours a five finger very light tan head that fades slowly, leaving some lace. Black color, no highlights. Roasted/burnt coffee. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is almost sweet burnt/roasted coffee. Burnt coffee after taste. Expecting spices with label saying this is a Winter seasonal. Best by Jan 31, 2010. $1.70 for a 12oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

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

Dark and clear ruby twilight with a tight crop of beige suds. Lacing and retention are average.
The nose features a mix of char and caramel, ashier up front, then sweeter over time.
The taste follows a similar progression. Coffee grounds and cigarette ash, then opening towards sweeter notions of caramel and dough, and a tiny bit of liquorice as it fully warms. Hopping is dryish and slaking but not otherwise important.
Light bodied, though the trickling carbonation does support some sense of structure and weight.
It's a by-the-numbers Schwarzbier. It carries little in the way of depth or nuance, but it's strength is in its inoffensiveness and drinkability.
All in all its okay, but I doubt I'll see this again.

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

Poured into my DFH signature glass.

A: Ruby to deep brown in my glass, difficult to confirm what I assume is nice clarity. Fluffy off-white head collapses quickly to a skim. No lacing, but some foamy lines remain.

S: Roasted malts with a bit of sweet malitness. Maybe some cocoa/chocolate. No hops or fruitiness are evident.

T: Roasted grainy malts. Not as sweet as smell led me to believe. A bit of cocoa/chocolate, a and a subtle, but surprising note of toffee/caramel before a dry, bitter finish.

M: Light, which is to style.

D: Swarzbiers are drinkable, if nothing else, and Howl is no exception. Simple, but interesting, and light. A good beer to throw into the wintery mix.

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

Dark walnut brown that should be see-throughable once the sun rises higher in the sky. Slices of burnt orange appear at the edges and an attractive chunk of oatmeal colored foam appears up top. Sudsy rings of lace decorate the glass in fine fashion.

The dark malty nose fits the style guidelines pretty well. It's probably hoppier than most, but isn't overdone. 32 IBUs worth of Apollo and Hallertau hops should turn this little lager into something to be reckoned with.

Howl is good beer considering style and ABV. Yeah, it could be bolder and more malty, but what do you expect at less than 10-proof? As expected, a moderate hoppiness balances what little sweetness is present. For those who care, the grain bill includes pale, crystal and carafa (which is a type of chocolate malt).

The flavor profile is dominated by bittersweet chocolate wafer cookies. Other participants include black coffee, caramel and citrus peel. This may be simple beer, but it's also nicely drinkable beer. The label indicates that it's best by the end of this month. Hmmm... tastes fresh as a daisy right now.

The body/mouthfeel doesn't quite keep up. All things considered, it's fine and dandy, but I'd need a fraction more heft, some light creaminess or better buried bubbles to go with the next highest number.

Magic Hat is one of those classic hit-or-miss American craft breweries. Howl is a hit that should appeal to just about everyone who likes good beer. Now watch them discontinue this winter seasonal in favor of a potato and licorice beer called Crazy Black Tater.

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Photo of ProfessorHomer
1.56/5  rDev -57.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

I loved their organic brand Orlio Black Lager, after it was "retired" me and a beer club buddy hoarded a case of it to enjoy over the past year. When one of Magic Hat's local reps told us this past summer it was being resurrected under the Magic Hat name, we were thrilled! Owing to its heritage, I actually bought a case of this, taste untested, for our beer club and personal consumption because I had that much confidence in its potential. I even bought the first beers being stocked by my local Beverage Mart. D'oh! Was I ever mistaken! My bottle had the distinct aroma and taste of dog poop. Not that I know what dog poop tastes like, mind you, but that frigging dog poop smell permeated this beer. I still can't get the stink out of my nostrils when thinking of this beer.

IMO, this is a completely failed beer. I gave away the entire case. I was that disgusted by its dog poopyness. I will bet that Magic Hat spent more time designing the label for this (alleged) beer then was spent in tending to its brewing. P-U - this beer stinks!

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Photo of DerekP
4.12/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into 16 oz pint glass.

I read about this beer through a review in Beer Advocate Magazine. What struck my curiosity was the description that said it smelled like "old coins and fresh bloody steak." I also have had very little experience with schwarzbier's (black beer) so I wanted to try my hand on this one; the last schwarzbier I tried was in the Saranac Winter Pack, 2009.

The look of this beer is definitely black as night. A nice foam sits on top with pretty good head retention. The lacing is healthy. I smell toasted bread, possibly burnt. It also smells like a smoked beer. The taste is similar, with burnt coffee notes, raw meat, and smoky firewood.

The mouthfeel and finish is outstanding. Who would have thought that a brewery could develop a beer with this kind of smell and taste and still pull off a lighter, less offensive finish? And no I'm not that uneducated. I'm very much aware that that is the point of schwarbier: to offer dark notes and tones while sticking to a lighter body and overall taste.

This beer is just another example of why I'm really starting to fall in love with winter offerings. If you haven't tried this one, do yourself a favor and do so before it's gone. Cheers!

This review was originally posted @

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Photo of BMoney575
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled on 1-16-10
Best before February 2010

Pours a very deep red color, almost black. The head is thin and settles quickly, to a thin film.

Smell is very smoky and malty, with strong notes of vanilla and maybe even a little coffee. Very complex and better than I expected.

Taste is subtle, flavors match up with the smell. Nowhere near as flavorful as the smell would lead you to believe. The finish is slightly bitter and smoky, with a pleasant aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, but seems appropriate.

Drinkability is very good, light flavors and abv make it a great session beer.

Overall, rather thin and light, but worth a try.

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Photo of northaustin
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a clean black with two fingers of rapidly disappearing brown head. some stringy and spotted lacing.

smells of mild roasted malts with a basic two row overdose in the back. pretty good

tastes awesome. full bodied and full of roasted malts. tastes kinda like a regular stout but thinner. the only black lager ive had that i liked.

mouthfeel: smooth and silky goin down and leaves your throat coated and your cheeks semi dry and sticky.

drinkability: highly sessionable. a tad light but still full flavored for what it is. worth a try.

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Photo of horshack7
4.25/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: From a twelve ounce bottle with a label that has some eveil eyes over seeing the night itself. Wathcing your every move and the letter o in howl is a clock that is soon to strike midnight. It pours black that has deep mohagany hues around the edges. The head is about one finger thick of frothy goodness.

Aroma: Lots of sweetness from the malts. Little bits of carmelized sugar. A light hop nose that gives off tiny notes of sweet ripe fruit.

Taste: Nice carbonation to start. Maltiness shows up right up front. A little bit of hop bitterness but the hops are roasted dark. Way in the back ground is a little smokiness. A little bit of sweet fruits but mostly sugary notes.

Notes: This is quite a nice style of beer. I'ts nice to see a Schwarzbier. This is one is a nice winter brew. Cheers.

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

Serving type: 12 ounce bottle poured into a standard glass.

Appearance: Decent thick head that does not last long. The color is dark, almost black, with a ring of brown toward the bottom. When held to the light red hues become prominent.

Smell: Nice smell, sweeter malts match toasted malts and smoke.

Taste: As is normally the case (since most of taste comes from smell anyway) sweet and toasted malts mash into one another leaving a smoky finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodies, not very heavy but with a pleasant acidity and creaminess that follows to the finish.

Drinkability: Since the beer is not very heavy it can be consumed fairly easily. However, the taste is still present of darker beers. It reminds me of a cross between a dark lager and a stout.

I was really impressed with this winter offering by Magic Hat, mostly because I went in with low expectations. I am not knocking on them as a brewer, some of their beers I enjoy quite a bit, some I dislike just as much. Howl offers some nice taste with a body that allows for consistent drinking. It could be stronger and the body could be heavier, however, it is a good beer for the price.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Howl has a dark brown body that resembles cola. The tan head is a robust two fingers in height; the retention is pretty weak, but some nice lacing is left behind in sheets and rings.

The aroma impresses me since I was honestly preparing myself to be underwhelmed. Some sweet malts, roasted malts and a big whiff of smoke.

Howl tastes pretty decent also; sweet malts come up front followed by some roasted malts. The roasted malts are probably the strongest element of the flavor. The smoke is pretty weak though, poking its head through at the end and leading to a somewhat watery finish.

The mouthfeel is solid, with a medium body that is just a touch chewy; well carbonated.

Overall, Howl could use a little more punch in the flavor, especially in the form of smoke. Not bad though.

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
3.23/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from 12 ounce bottle with freshest by date of Jan 10 on back label Magic Hat style. Poured very dark with almost no carbonation leaving no real visible head. Some malts and a considerable amount of dark fruits in the smell. Pretty drinkable black lager. Malts profile flavor is pretty smooth. Nothing to exciting here. I could drink a few of these with no problem and enjoy them.

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

At the Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell NJ: poured into an American pint glass, mahogany with less than a finger of beige head and spotty lacing. Smelled of raisins, orange, and malt. Tasted of raisins, dates, molasses, and orange peel, with a dry finish. Medium-bodied; more carbonation than expected. The taste mix just didn't do it for me, hence I wouldn't consider sessioning this beer.

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