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Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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972 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: 972 |  Reviews: 437
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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Photo of atsprings
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a DFH Signature glass pours a not quite opaque dark brown with a thin diminishing off white head that leaves a slight amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is a slight amount of dark malts, not much else. The taste is dark malts with a nice accompaniment of bakers cocoa and slight caramel and fresh ground coffee. The beer is quite light, crisp and smooth with decent carbonation. This is an enjoyable beer, while it wouldn't be my first choice for a cold winter night, it does do the trick.

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

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass, this beer is pretty dark brown in color and has a lighter brown, close to reddish color highlights when held up to the light. It has a pretty thick creamy looking head that goes away after a few minutes, only the slightest bit of retention to it.

The smell is pretty good, I would say unique is a better term though. This beer has a very malty smell. The issue with it is that the roasted malts almost smell a little too burned than roasted. You can also smell notes of dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

The taste is much like the smell, again the malts taste a little overly burned. When the beer is left to room temperature there is a slight taste of hops, but even after waiting you still really have to look for them, the taste isn't very strong.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are above average, but I wouldn't say anyting to write home about. This was a pretty interesting, I wouldn't have ever classified it as a schwarzbier, but who am I to argue? It has some of those characteristics and also those of a porter or brown ale.

I don't regret trying it and may get it again in the future. It seems as if this brewery is going down hill, I feel this is one of the better beers left behind Roxy Rolles.

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

A: Pours a deep, dark, nearly opaque brownish-black. The tall, light brown head has a dense, frothy texture and very nice retention. Lacing is rather attractive.

S: Sweet, roasted black malts for the most part. Hints of dark fruit and molasses. A mild herbal hop background is also present. Light nutty and cocoa notes.

T: Roasted, moderately sweet black malt flavor up front. A bit of creamy/lactic character. Light notes of dark fruit, herbal hops, nuts, and cocoa.

M: Medium bodied, with fairly creamy carbonation. Just a touch watery, with a medium-dry finish.

D: A pleasant, somewhat surprising schwarzbier from Magic Hat. Easily drinkable and nicely flavored. A solid representative of an underrated style.

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Photo of Ezone024
3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

never been big into magic hat i've only ever liked the HIPA but a friend brought over some of the black as night. it's pretty legit.

pours out black as night, you can't really get anything from the look because it's so black.

it smells metallic with hints of carmel

the taste gives off a good balance of toffee and a light hops background.

light alcohol content makes it a good beer to drink alot of. it has a really good warming feeling.

apparently this beer has been retired but this is from a new pack, so they must have just discontinued it. but you can still get it at your local beer spot.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

A - black, close but not quite impenetrable, some crimson highlights shine through, a finger of tan hed sits atop with decent retention

S - roasted malts dominate and lend nutty and smoky aromas, some earthiness and peat finish the nose

T - the nutty flavors take center stage in the taste, roasted malts follow, with a slight hint of coffee beans, the earthy/peat element is diminished from the aroma, but present in the finish

M&D - thinner than expected, but smooth and highly sessionable, especially at less than 5%, would be great on tap, nice brew MH

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Photo of tone77
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of malts, some notes of coffee. Taste is rather mild, roasted malts and little else. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has average drinkability. Overall not a bad brew, but less flavorful than other beers of this style.

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Photo of Gmann
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a near black, almost cola like color, with a wispy tan head that settles into a sparse cap but left some lacing. Light aroma of roasted malt, caramel and perhaps some chocolate. A nice light roasted malt flavor, some brown sugar, caramel, hints of metal and some herbal notes. Some light tea like characteristics in the end. Very nice flavors, a touch sweet. A light to moderate feel with fizzy carbonation, nice balance between sweet and roasted malt bitterness. I thought that this was a very enjoyable schwarzbier, nice light roasted malt flavor, fairly light body, easy drinking.

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Photo of aaronh
3.1/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark chocolate body with a thin off white head. Body is very clear. Aroma has a hint of bittersweet chocolate but is otherwise very clean. Flavor is roasted malts backed by light biscuit note. A slight bitter edge appears on the finish and it gradually dries the back of my throat. Body is on the lighter side. Carbonation is a litle agressive and combined with the dry finish actually starts making me feel parched. I need a heavier beer after this! The flavor is nice - the finish is not.

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Howl from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 972 ratings
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