Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

Liked This Beer
3.66 w/ 961 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.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 961 |  Reviews: 435
Photo of ianjsullivan
4/5  rDev +9.3%
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 -4.4%
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 -11.7%
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 -5.7%
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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Photo of whiplash3825
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Kinda confused... my bottle is marked "Black as Night Winter Lager" but the review page says duplicate listing and to review under "Magic Hat Howl". But listed as two different styles so who knows. From "Feast of Fools" winter variety pack.

Pours an almost opaque very-dark brown with a smallish 1-finger tan head that doesn't stick around.

Even in the midst of having a very bad cold, I can smell mucho dark ripe fruit... fig, raisins, cocoa, and coffee. Lots of roasted malt scents.

Taste is a little bit of a letdown; not as rich as the smell by any stretch, but still good. Pretty much the same flavors as those in the nose, just not as intense. Very warming for a 4.6% beer... I would have guessed a higher alcohol content. Definitely a good beer for this frigid January day!

Mouthfeel seems a tad on the thin side, and a little more carbonation would improve it imo.

The lower alcohol content helps in the drinkability department... I'd think it'd be pretty easy to knock back quite a few of these.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nearly opaque. Thin and creamy light brown head. Lacing is quite full and intricate. Boy is this a thick smelling beer. Thick with earthy notes, like spent coffee grounds, dirt, mud, tar. I love it. The flavor has a smoothness associated with lagers to it but also a roastiness and chocolatey feel to it. A little underlying caramel. Some char. And a lingering dryness to it. Smells great. Taste decent enough. Goes down just fine.

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Photo of plaid75
3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On draft at T.J. Finley's, Bayshore, New York.

Poured a medium brown hue with a one finger foamy off white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a light roasted barley and a touch of smoke.

The taste consisted of upfront roasted malts, charcoal and dry coffee. All subtle noted however.

The mouthfeel was toward the cleaner side of the style.

Overall a tasty black beer and a welcomed easy drinker for winter.

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

Vigourous pour from bottle into pint glass yielded a short head that quickly disappeared. Color is deep black, with red tint when held to light.

Smells of roasted malt, kind of chocolately.

Tastes of roasted malt, followed by some coffee flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium with prickly carbonation. Easy to drink.

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Photo of burnstar
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with a medium off-white head. Smell is mild roasted malt with a faint chocolate note. Taste is again roasted malt. Not particularly heavy. Cocoa note in the back. Low sweetness. Some bitterness throughout from the dark malt. Medium to light bodied. Pretty easily drinkable. I haven't had many examples of this style but this is a solid beer overall.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in a pilsener glass. Best by March 2010 indicated on the bottle. Poured the color of cola, with a loose, three inch, light tan-colored head. Head eventually settles into a fairly consistent quarter inch cap with a thick band of lacing exposed during the session. Nose is very subdued - a hint of chocolate malt, lactose and maybe dark fruit. Flavors are somewhat watery; a roasted/smokey quality comes out, as well as a touch of chocolate and lactic acid. Mouthfeel is light-medium with a very lively background effervescence. Not a bad session beer, but lacking some of the flavor representative of the style. However, one of MH's better offerings in my opinion.

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

I had out of a 12 ounce bottle. IT's extremely dark brown, almost black. Good foamy tan head and excellent lacing. Nice smokey, burnt scent with a hint of cinnamon.

It's a very burnt tasting porter/stout. Thick. Hasa very mild chocolate taste. Rough on the tongue. Not smooth, a bit sour.

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

Had at Not Your Average Joe's in Watertown, MA 1/4/10

A: This beer pours a deep almost opaque brown with slight mahogany edges. One finger of khaki colored head that recedes quickly sits on top. Nice sheets of lacing are left on the glass.

S: Nose is of chocolate, caramel malts, hint of smoke and coffee.

T: Taste starts with chocolate and caramel malts with the middle filled out by deep roasted malts. Touch of coffee, smokiness and burnt malts finish this beer.

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

D: Tasty, goes down easy, low ABV with a lot of flavor. This is a highly drinkable beer that you can sit with for an evening.

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Photo of MTNboy
3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It has a black opaque body with a brown hue. A dark tan almost brown head with very spread out lace. I thought the aroma was faint other than a burnt metal scent. It has a clean roasted malt taste with some mild hop tones. It is mainly like charred wood and grain with some spiciness that I can't quite place. The mouth feel is smooth but somewhat thin.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.86/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - looks black viewed head-on, but against some light it shows a caramel brown/burgundy color. Pale mocha head, not much but enough to put a few stray dots of lace on the glass.

Aroma - decent roastiness, some odd metal off smell too.

Taste - well this doesn't happen often enough, but when I tasted this beer tonight, I thought 'I don't know what style this is, but it oughtta be a schwarz if it ain't already.' And what do you know...

A good roasty, not quite smoky malt. A toasty but not charred aftertaste. A delicious black beer, a light bite of bitterness towards the end, good stuff.

Mouthfeel - a note of smoothness, crisp and light for a darkly colored brew.

Drinkability - excellent drinker. Bigger sips yield a more robust roast element, that's the way to go.

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Photo of wingman14
3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown, looks black until held to the light. Has a nice tan head that fades fast. The smell is weird, some malt, burnt characters. The taste starts malty and doesn't have much depth, and finishes with the burnt characters that stay through the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is light, I wish it were a bit heavier, but it still is smooth. This is an easy drinker, nice session beer, a decent beer.

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Photo of natelocc787
3.42/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Black body, light tan porous head. Chunky sections in the foam covering the body, think the United States with 17 random states colored vanilla bean, the other 33 colored root beer. The nose contains very burnt malt notes, again not roasted but burnt. Espresso in the aroma as well as the taste with a small vanilla backing and blackstrap molasses without the sweetness-only a burnt character. Bitter from the semi-sweet malt flavors and the espresso. Mouthfeel is crisp, dry and reminiscent of a plsner-doesn't stick very well.

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Photo of twaddlac
3.36/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Dark maroon, brown, with fawnish tan head that dissipates from a small head to a somewhat sticky lace. The bubbles are normally graded.

S- Strong toasted malt, dark coffee, slightly smoky. Overbearing toasted malt smell.

T- Bitter with strong toasted malt. Speculatory cascade hops, add a slight bitterness instead of floral quality. Aftertaste of dark cocoa.

M- Medium to heavy body, medium carbonation.

D- Good beer, may be able to drink a sixer in one sitting. A bit bitter, but nothing that takes away from enjoying this beer.

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Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out an opaque, black as night color with a one-finger, tan head of thin foam. It left little to no lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malts, coffee and hints of chocolate.

T - Very good roasty flavor with touches of coffee, chocolate and caramel. The was also a floral/citric hop flavor.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A light-bodied beer that is very easy-drinking.

D - This is a pretty fine schwarzbier. Great roasted flavor.

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

Presentation: Mad thanks to Josh N. for bringing this back from out East for me! 12oz brown pop top; cool label, clearly marked drink-by date.

Appearance: Almost black until held up to the light, then this turns dark walnut with ruby highlights. A firm pour produces a nice light tan head, but it soon fades to a medium-film.

Smell: Nice warm, dark roasty grains. Touch of dark caramel as well. Very simple, but pleasant.

Taste: Nice roasted and toasty grains predominate. Bitterness levels are medium, and seem to come more from the roasted grains than from any appreciable hop presence. The taste here is quite similar to how freshly-crushed roasted barley smells. Again, very simple, but nice. A nice, quaffable dark beer you don't have to think too hard about. No lack of flavor here, either.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium

Drinkability: Pretty high.

Conclusion: Nice, simple, flavorful Schwartzbier. I'm not crushed that I can't get this around here, but if it was a local brew, I'd probably pick it up from time to time.

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Photo of fitzy84
4.44/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had in the holiday pack. Black appearance with some amber in the light. Small, patchy lacing with a very thin head. Aromas were quite good. Burnt coffee smells mixed with some sweet malts. Really delicious, milky taste to the drink. Burnt bitterness follows, but the malts really made this an incredibly pleasant drink. Mouthfeel aids in the taste sensation by giving a creamy texture and light, slightly airy feel to the drink. Overall, a fine drink for my New Years.

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Photo of Minotaur
3.11/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Recently purchases so if retired - only recently as of 12/1/10

It pours - predictably - opaquely black but it is still think in appearance. A lingering tan head recedes to a ring and center cap of foam.

The aroma is roasty and just slightly sweet on the nose.

The flavor is dense, coffee-ground like and stout like. There is a stronger smoke and hop flavor than a traditional dunkel lager. There is bitter chocolate note with very little sweetness.

This is not the as smooth as it should be due to the lingering burnt malt taste. however it is offset by a creaminess that allows it to be quite drinkable and have a medium to thick mouthfeel.

I believe this is an interesting beer but not overly representative of an English dunkel. It leaves a stronger coffee or smoked porter impression.

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

I poured this black as night brew into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was bready smelling and had a big tan bubbly head. The beer had a slight roasted coffee hit with a tad of maltyness. Very nice beer and great lacing. I will buy again for sure.

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Photo of crhensel
1.75/5  rDev -52.2%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

(Bottle into mug) It looks nice! Poured a deep black with a half finger light brown head that hung on for quite a while. After that, well... nothing redeeming about it at all. The nose was reminiscent of an ashtray. All I could smell was smoke, and not the nice campfire kind.. the week old Marlboro kind -- it almost seems as the roasting went a little too far. I battled through and took a taste, but again, the burnt smoky flavor was too much. Let this one sit for a few minutes to let the air hit this and hopefully mellow some flavors and draw out others, but to no avail. Took another drink and that was it, I had to pour the rest. Bottle was dated 1/2010 and perhaps this was part of it, or I got a bad batch. I might have to try again next year to see if that was the case.

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Photo of imaguitargod
3.96/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice black color with edges of brown, poured to a medium head that dissipated quite quickly. Some malty sweetness up front which fades into a roasted malt taste. Very small hop bitterness and most of the rest of the bitterness is from the roasted malts. Slight hint of coffee. Goes down smooth and is quite tasty. I would definitely drink this again.

~Jonathan Passow

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Photo of RedSpecial1
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark roasted color, and a small off white head which dissipated quickly.

S: Slightly roasted coffee notes, and a caramel maltiness, maybe even toffee.

T: Light coffee flavors with caramel and faint hint of vanilla.

M: Smooth as you first sip, but more bitterness comes out as it warms up.

D: Very smooth, could definitely be a good session beer in the winter months.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 50.9% out of 100 with 961 ratings
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