Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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980 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: 980 |  Reviews: 437
Photo of July2Nov
3.64/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: The label says, "Dark as Night" and there is truth in that advertising! Only wish the foam on the head was a bit bigger, but it did retain a slight lace around the lid, which is always a plus in my book.

Smell: If you like coffee, (and i would gather there are many out there who do) then this beer is probably made for you! Deep scents of coffee are all throughout this one. Also has sweet caramel notes in it as well. Very nice!!!

Taste & Mouthfeel: The nose is never wrong, because this one indeed has a big coffee taste to it, along with a chalky bite and some dry-roasted maltiness. The mouthfeel on it tends to be a bit acidic which brings this one down a notch.

Drinkability: If you like your beers dark and with a coffee flavor, then run for this one. The upside on this one, far outpaces the buy with confidence, but beware: the howl sometimes bites back!

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

Appearance: Pours a rather dark brown body with a half inch layering of ecru foam that left a modicum of thin lacing on the way down.

Smell: Predominately earthy nose with notes of roasty coffee, oven-toasted nuts, and baker's chocolate.

Taste: Roasted grains with a light sweetness and some slight a chicory flourish to it. Lesser hints of unsweetened chocolate and chopped walnuts. Spicy hops with just a touch of dried citrus lingering there as well. Light bitterness. Earthy, drying finish with a sustained taste of walnuts.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: All in all, it's a decent, if average Schwarzbier. Nothing to Howl about, but nothing to thumb your nose at, either.

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Photo of Dodt
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

enjoying one at the Christmas party.

Poured into a tall glass from the bottle.
appearance : dark almost coffee, with light lacing
smell of roast coffee
taste of dark roast and chocolate
mouth feel and drink ability nice balanced beer.
another wonderful beer from the people at magic hat.

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Photo of whtguitarguy
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is one of the better Magic Hat brands out there. Pours to a dark reddish brown, very little head. Nose is like an amber ale with hops and roasted malts. Mouthfeel is medium and slightly coating. Flavor includes notes of coffee, chocolate (roasted malts), and nuts with a slight barley character.

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Photo of Walken
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Magic Hat: Howl, Schwarzbier (Tasted 12/24/09)
12 oz. Bottle, poured into a dimple mug.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown colored beer, lots of bubbles, big tan/eggshell flat head that fades down quickly, leaving a healthy coating of froth over the beer and solid patchwork lace.
Odor: Faint aroma of pumpernickel crust, maybe a bit of caramel and fruit, possibly some spicy hop.
Consistency: Smooth. Body is light, some perception of girth comes from the dry cracker/butter yeast.
Taste: Bittersweet chocolate and clean bitter hop up front, chocolate flavors become richer in the middle with some butterscotch and ale-ish fruitiness around the edges. Finishes with some malty dark bread and chocolate flavors lingering.

The use of MH's house ale yeast makes this more along the lines of a UK porter/schwarzbier hybrid, though it's definitely cleaner than most MH beers. Interesting addition to the lineup.

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Photo of ZAP
4.42/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

drinks like a schwartzy...this is going down fast....good hits of dark cocoa and coffee on the taste and aroma...lighter bodied but doesn't feel watery...just easy drinking and flavorful...exactly what a schwartzy should be....Not tremendously complex but also has hints of caramel....very well done.

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

Poured in SA Perfect Pint.

A: Poured a dark brown with a clump three finger head that quickly faded to a small cap. A little bit of hang on the glass.
S: Malted oats as well as a little bit of chocolate. I know it's not my glass....but it almost a vague soapy smell.
T: Smooth smokey-ness along with burnt sugar. Very malty and seems to be getting a bitter chocolate bite as it warms up. Again, is that lavender? What's wrong with me.
M: Decent body, I'd say medium to low carbonation.
D: Pretty easy drinker for a winter brew. Maybe a little bit lower ABV then I'd like on a cold winter night, but nothing too challenging here.

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

This 12-oz bottle pours out a dark brown-black beer with a small offwhite head that fades after a minute or so. The aroma is malty, lightly roasted. Clean, though slightly grainy, roast malt flavor dominates. Hop bitterness is moderate, but no hop flavor. Malty finish. Neutral texture and mouthfeel.

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

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle with the label clipped at March 2010. This beer is still brewed or at least it has returned for the 2009-2010 season. It pours black with a quarter-inch creamy beige head. It carries a nice aroma of chocolate malts and hops. Medium to bold mouthfeel. The taste is smoked coffee with a nice bitter finish. It is very much like a Porter really and enjoyable.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: From the bottle poured a deep caramel brown with dark cranberry highlights for trim, while in the glass it appeared a dark chocolate coloring with a 1 finger foamy, tan head. Retention was short-lived leaving a thin ring lacing around the glass.

S: The nose upfront was soft roasted of dry chocolate with supporting dried cherries added in. There is an earthy bitterness of fresh wet coffee grounds that was light overall strength-wise.

T: The flavor comes off a bit watery at first upon the initial sip, like weak coffee. Fortunately it does appear to add a bit of fullness flavor wise later on with slight hints of charred wood and malt as well dark dried fruit of dates. The flavor was fairly simply in execution leaving just enough of a roasted malting to give you an impression without filling you up body wise just like a Schwarz should. I was a bit confused as to why this was called a winter warmer on the label, it neither has the alcohol warmth (4.6%abv) nor spicing of a winter warmer and is truly a Schwarz flavored beer by nature.

M: light with a smooth creaminess and texture. A pretty active feel of carbonation is detected especially on the tip of the tongue.

D: Drinkability was good, perhaps its strongest point, light bodied with just enough roasted character to give it some flair. I could easily drink several of these as a session beer and at 4.6%abv is fairly easy to handle. Six pack worthy.

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Photo of bnes09
3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An interesting offering from Magic Hat and a great winter seasonal. It has some solid roasted malt flavors and some good hoppy bitterness that coexist in harmony, neither being overpowering. Pours an opaque midnight black with a tan head that recedes to patches of foam on top of the beverage. What really impresses me about it though is its smoothness and supurb drinkability. It is a lighter beer but still maintains lots of flavor. Not quite as bold as a porter or stout but still very satisfying. I would recommend this one to those who are tried of the macro piss-water and would like to venture into the darker realm of beer.

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Photo of mempath
4.39/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

dark as coal. some lacing.

sweet, smokey, sticky nose right off the bat.

some true chocolately malty hoppy art going on here in true balance. my second favorite non-hopbomb MH offering.

for all the suggestive notes going on, this isn't thick and sticky in the mouth. tastes great. a very drinkable winter brew.

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

355ml bottle poured in my fluted pilsner glass.

Pour yields a fluffy 2 finger that dissipates at a moderate rate into a soapy lacing that clings to the glass. Color is black in the middle and very dark brown around the edges.

Aroma is faint, but yields chocolate, biscuit, and roasted malt. Very light toffee and vanilla bean.

Taste is mostly of roasted malt and hints of caramel and chocolate. I mostly got a roasted malt flavor from this beer and not much else. Which made for a beer that was as not as clean as I was expecting for a lager.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side and carbonation is average. Absolutely no bitterness.

A pretty simple Schwarzbier or Black Lager. Heavy on the roasted malt which gives a slight perception of a stout, though lighter and cleaner. Still one could be fooled since this isn't a particularly clean lager.

So overall it tastes good even if its un-complex and not terribly interesting, thus making it well suitable to many types of cuisine. Light enough and low enough in ABV to be extremely sessionable. A good winter offering from magic hat and suits the season quite well.

Other looks of popular Schwarz's are Sam Adams Black lager and my personal favorite Saranac Black Forest.

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Photo of Boto
3.83/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draught @ Headkeeper: This one poured a dark, opaque brown color. There was as small tan head that dropped off quickly. The nose is good. First off you get some chocolate, then roasted malts. The taste is chocolaty, and a bit roasty and a bit dry. Nice.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours the deepest of dark reds with a fluffy tan head that sticks itself to the glass all the way down. Smells of cocoa and milk chocolate, grainy with some roast and dark fruits. Taste is cocoa powder with some dark fruits. Grainy malts with a hint of roast in there as well. Finishes kind of dry with a lingering roasted malt finish. Carbonation is high, very prickly and annoying. Mouthfeel is creamy and the body is medium. I'm confused by this one. Its a decent enough beer, although a bit less carbonation would have helped this out. Its labeled a Schwartzbier, but it reminds me more of a porter. Its a lot better than some of the beer Magic Hat has been trying to pass off lately. I'd enjoy another, but I wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Twelve ounce single serving...
An aggressive pour yielded a dark, hazlenut-brown hue... Nutty roasty aroma evident on both the tongue and in the nose... Taste could've been a bit richer and thicker... slightly watered-down... Evident malts provide a strong backbone to an easily drinkable beer... Doesn't sit well with me as a winter lager with the flaccid 4.6% abv... Not bad, just not my ideal choice for a Winter-seasonal brew...

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Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle from Abe's Cold Beer. It's always good to see more schwarzbier. The Magic Hat website also lists the malts as pale, crystal 80, and carafa. And it's also good to see more carafa getting used.

Anyways, there's an inviting toasted dark chocolate aroma that carries over into the flavor. There's also a surprisingly big kick (for MH) of herbal and citrus rind hops. Dark chocolate, a touch of toffee, and a heathly helping of noble hops - very tasty. I wish this was a regular beer. I'd drink lots;.

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Photo of ThaBobfather
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is retired? When did that happen, I still see six-packs of this stuff all over the place!
It's also better than half their stuff available here in Cinci, but I digress.
Pours nearly perfectly. It's pure blackness with a nice topping of medium brown head. Basically exactly what I want in a Dunkel.
Smell has a weak toasted malt/coffee element which is solid.
Taste has some good roast notes, again with the weak coffee flavor which adds depth to the taste.
Mouthfeel leaves a good sampling on my palate with a decent roast malt after-taste.
Drinks very well but perhaps ramping this up a notch will make it more impressive.

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Photo of taigor
3.21/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap poured into pint glass.

A - Poured black, almost non-transparent color with medium head that slowly dissipated leaving a lot of lacing around edges of the glass.

S - Malts predominate right away, with hints of caramel, dark chocolate and oatmeal.

T - Malts and caramel sweetness upfront followed by dark chocolate, coffee bitterness later on.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

D - Ok, very good for winter season and abv is low.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.61/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The latest seasonal from Magic Hat, a schwarz for the winter. 12 oz. bottle (notched at 'please drink by end of month: J 10'), emptied to a standard pint glass. Thanks Jeff/metalmonk for sending.

'Black as Night Winter Lager'. Beneath the cap: 'Have faith in Blind Faith'. O-kayyy...

A:Pours with a massive head, a solid 3-fingers of vanilla yellow-ish cream. An audible pop-and-crackle, drops as a spongy mass over several minutes. Darker in the glass than as pouring; an abvious ruby-red glow when held to light, but otherwise downright darkness.

A: A simple aroma: grains huskinesss and a whiff of smoke. Bone-dry aroma, could be mistaken for an Irish Dry Stout. Light spices, raisin-y fruit, vague sweetness amidst a smoky/charred roast.

T: An obvious smoky/husky grain, heavily spiced with a dry, almost 'black pepper' zeal. Very dry, a saliva-stripping malted roast, blackened nutshells. Acrid coffee in the lightest sense, acrid pumice at its worst.

M: Crisp and tangy, a melding of roasted malt, bright hops and a pronounced smokiness, all the while melding to a medium body and pleasantly carbonated feel.

D: Not so bad, easy enough to drink at well under 5% ABV. Big flavor, just not necessarily a flavor that's desirable, unfortunately. Possibly over-roasted, but a bolder flavor benefits from it. A good beer for a try, be your own judge whether you seek more.

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Photo of shanecb
2.65/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - This beer has a fantastic appearance, and has just about everything I look for in a brew. Some nice foamy, light tan head that retained itself quite well. The color is rather magnificent. Rather dark with a nice burgundy/red wine color where light penetrates. Lacing is moderate and certainly there. It's very visually appealing! The only thing that might make it better to me is some light carbonation floating up, which I always like to see.

S - I don't know, but I could pull out almost no smell. At first I was able to get some toffee-like or caramel hints out of it, but a couple minutes after pouring I didn't detect any of that. There seemed to be a little maybe malty-sweetness or maybe fortified wine aroma, but that was about it. This smell really doesn't impress me, since there's hardly anything there.

T - Again, I'm pretty let down by the taste. It seemed to match the nose rather well, with some light roasted toffee/caramel flavors. There's a little malty sweetness as well. Aftertaste was sort of non-existent. Only thing that stayed with me was a little bit of bitterness. There aren't any bad flavors, but there certainly isn't any flavor I'd right home about.

M - Not bad. Very mildly "syrupy", but otherwise sort of light and thin. Not really any carbonation present, just sort of an average mouthfeel.

D - Good drinkability in that it's refreshing, and doesn't feel so substation (carbonated, thick, etc.) that you feel like you're drinking a meal. If this beer is enjoyable to you there likely wouldn't be any problem throwing a few back.

Overall, this is probably my least favorite offering from Magic Hat that I've had. It's not BAD, I just don't think it has a whole lot behind it that's GOOD. I'll probably give it another try sometime just to see if I have a new perspective.

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Photo of obywan59
3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours thinly into my weizen glass (closest thing I have to a flute or pilsner glass) A moderately hard pour gave me a 2 1/2 finger faintly brownish head which recedes rather quickly leaving minimal lacing. The beer is dark brown with ruby highlights.

Smell of dark chocolate, coffee and some sweet malt.

Minimally sweet, almost tart, but really more of a metallic taste--not unpleasant. Burnt malt and roasted coffee. Some light hop bitterness in the end. A drying sensation on the tongue. I wouldn't say the taste was exceptional, but it's pleasing.

Being a winter brew I expected more thickness, so at first it seemed watery, but I'll call it medium bodied lightly coating the tongue.

Very easy to drink. I could have had a fourth, at least.

Overall, not what I was expecting from the name "Howl" and from the winter theme. Previously, all the winter brews I've tried could be described as "substantial". Compared to them, this one was pretty subdued, but it's a fine beer nonetheless. However, if I was in the mood for a winter brew, this probably wouldn't be one of my "go to" beers.

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Photo of ozzyCobblepot
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I dont know what a Schwarzbier is, but this seems like nothing more than a less bitter American Porter.
A: Pours a very dark brown beer, with red on the edges. The head does not cling well but forms a nice, foamy ring around the glass. S: Doesn't smell particularly distinguished, but I do pick up coffee beans and dark chocolate notes.
T: More coffee, bit of a nutty flavor. Deep toasted malts follow off a slightly sweet note. Not much of a hops or bitter taste to speak of.
M: Good carbonation you don't exactly expect given how opaque the beer is. Smooth, medium bodied. Nothing wrong, but nothing memorable about it.

A fine winter brew. Nothing particularly great about it, but there are no real problems with it either. Basically a safe bet, and I one I'll forget tomorrow.

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

On-tap 12/13/09 at Doherty's East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted malts, coffee, lager yeast, some dark fruit and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a dark roasted malt character followed by flavors of coffee and dark fruits. The sweetness isn't too heavy despite the maltiness and there's a decent balance. The hops presence is mild but complementary. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, slightly filling, mild kick, good representation of style, if you're in the mood for the style this is a good beer to drink for a while.

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Photo of JRed
3.46/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black in body topped by off-white head that sticks around for a while. Smells of grains, sweet malt, little spice. Lager flavors of some sweetened cereal, dark malts, faint chocolate note toward the finish and then a vague butterscotch aftertaste. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. A lighter winter seasonal than most. A nice crossover for people who wish to reach for something other than macro brews and SA Winter Lager.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 980 ratings