Howl | Magic Hat Brewing Company

435 Reviews

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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 957
Photo of schlimenhaumer
3.85/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "3/4 pint" bottle into a Samuel Smith nonic pint glass (thanks to ballmouse for the glassware!) at low altitude. After a good experience with my first few Schwarzbiers, I'm looking forward to this one.

A: Pours a translucent dark brown with an exceptionally-fizzy two-finger light tan head that fades rather quickly. Not much lacing, but I think this looks pretty good overall. Surprisingly, there's some sediment in the bottom of the glass.

S: Plenty of roasted barley, light toffee and caramel. A relatively light smell overall, but pleasant.

T: Roasted barley up front gives way to some sweet malt notes, followed by bittering hops on the finish. The flavors are light overall, but there's still plenty of roasty complexity here. The roasted barley stays on the palate for quite a while after the finish.

M: Light-bodied with a wet mouthfeel and plenty of carbonation. Matches the other Schwarzbier's I've tried so far, and I think it suits the flavors well.

D: This beer was a pleasant surprise for me. It's light in flavor, but still develops plenty of tasty roasty character. A good introduction to the style, especially for people who have a fixed conception of dark beers as "heavy."

 1,210 characters

Photo of Rantingfury
3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured from a bottle into a glass. It took three bottles to get enough of a head of foam to say it's tan colored, thin at best, and disappears rather fast... With some lacing. The color isn't solid black, but as dark as some stouts and porters. The nose was sweet, with caramel and perhaps brown sugary notes to the aroma. There wasn't any discernible hop aroma at all. The taste fell in line with the aroma, caramel and sweet malts. There was some carbonation and medium mouthfeel. It tried to cling to my palate.

Overall I gave the beer a 3.5 because the lack of foam, plus it was terribly sweet and not complex in taste. I expect more from something marked seasonal. It is a drinkable beer. I could drink these in lieu of the dessert course after a dinner.

 763 characters

Photo of zimm421
3.6/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a shaped pint glass. Appears a nice brown, but not quite black, color with a nice dark tan head. Head doesn't have great staying power, but does leave some decent lacing.

Nose is very sweet. Lots of caramel and toffee, with some good roasted flavors. Some coffee, but not a lot. Smell surprisingly has some good staying power. Taste is very similar to what I'm getting in the nose. Not overly impressed with the lack of complexity, but there's some decent things going on.

Mouthfeel is medium-to-heavy bodied with high carbonation. Overall, not too bad, not too impressive, but it will do.

 624 characters

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

Bottle dated 01/16/12; Poured in a pint glass.

A - One inch light tan carbonated head with decent retention; Very dark brown in color and not quite black; Some, but not a lot of lacing left behind

S - Notes of wet grassy/earthy hops, roasted coffee beans, and a touch of chocolate; Earthy aroma is the dominant characteristic here

T - Good dose of earthy and grassy hops up front that give way to roasted coffee beans, toasted grains, and caramel flavors afterwards; Very mild bitterness present towards the end of the taste with subtle hints of chocolate as well

M - Very carbonated and a touch under medium bodied; Smooth and somewhat chalky mouthfeel that has a semi-dry finish

O - This is the first Schwarzbier that I can remember trying, and I found it to be pretty solid. The balance of hops and roasty malts, in combination with plentiful carbonation and a lighter body, make this a tasty and very drinkable brew. I've been in the mood for some lighter, more sessionable beers lately, and this one certainly satisfies.

 1,030 characters

Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Moncshof schwarzbier pokal a deep chocolate color with a ruby tinge,a thinner but well sustained light tan colored head atop.Chocolate aromas really stand out with a roast uderneath.Earthy and dry on the palate with some roasted coffee notes intertwined with unsweetened chocolate,again not much sweetness to be had here.Much dryer and more earthy than most I have had of the style but I like it.

 411 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: single finger head with nice circumferential lacing on a very black body with light passing through

S: sweet, little roasted malts. Nothing overwhelming here.

T: More roast in the taste which is semisweet and very smooth. Cocoa notes.

M: medium to full body and moderate to high carbonation. very smooth

Overall this one is very drinkable. The taste isn't amazing but its a nice beer to enjoy without any off-putting flavors.

 432 characters

Photo of RTEdmunds
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured from 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

very dark, with a nice creamy looking (albeit smallish) head.

smells malty and roasty. can't really detect hops in the aroma.

tastes smokey and sweet. light on the hops

feels a bit thin, with average carbonation.

overall a pretty good brew.

 289 characters

Photo of kaufmaal
4.03/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not as black as the bottle claims, but it is still a bit darker than some black lagers. Light tan head that fizzles to 1/8", plenty of carbonation. Deep red hues. Some coffee, a bit of vanilla on the nose and a hint of smoke. Grainy, smokey metallic taste; woody charcoal, toffee, coffee - all really interesting.

 313 characters

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

Had this on tap and liked it, picked up a bottle in a craft pack to review.

A- Black but not opaque. Appears light in body, not very much carbonation.
S- Some light lager yeast character, mixed with sweetness and some light chocolate and roast. Not a big aroma, but wouldn't expect a big aroma out of this style.
T- The roast hits first, its a very smooth roast, definitely not overpowering, but nice. There is some chocolate right after that. I get a bit of hop bitterness in the back of the tongue. Very, very drinkable.
M- Medium to medium-full mouthfeel, not very carbonated, has some body too it, definitely not filling though.
O- This is a nice, drinkable beer, not mindblowing, but easy to drink. I can have a few of these no problem. A find this to be a good example of this style, I've definitely had worse schwarzbiers.

 832 characters

Photo of jneiswender
2.68/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a perfect pint. Served cool.

Pours a reddish black body and a thick beige head. Clean lager yeast smell. Faint chocolate and metal. Light herb and flower. Smoked malt surprises you. Burnt toast. Very subtle chocolate. Faint hop flavor in there too. Well carbonated. Somewhat dry. Complex. Interesting. But I kind of like this style being smooth. Have more of a chocolate feel to it. A bit too coarse for me.

 441 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a half of an inch of brown, soft, dense, head that has great retention. The nose smells of roasted malt and faint coffee. The taste is similar to the nose. Tastes primarily of deep, roasted malt and coffee. There are very faint chocolate notes in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth, and rich, and the carbonation gives it a little crispness.

This is a solid beer. It's definitely one of the better offerings from Magic Hat. I have this beer every winter.

 494 characters

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

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a DFH Snifter:

A-Black, a bit of head that's gone quickly, no lace

S-Roast, a touch of hops, a bit of cocoa

T-better than the nose, it started out as pretty mild, but finished with some good hops and malt

M-maybe a bit too over carbonated, but it was decent overall

O-it's ok, just not memorable, which I should have remembered from when I had it before

 391 characters

Photo of burnerfinger
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet:

A: pours dark as cola - builds up a cafe colored head that settles all to quickly.

S sweet, malty to the nose

T and the taste follows the nose, with a hit of bitter hops at the end

M - a bit on the lite side, but not too bad.

D - VERY drinkalbe, owing to the lite body and slight sweetness.
not bad at all but not as hi -end as I expected....

 405 characters

Photo of McNealc31
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

black as night, just like it boasts. With the creepy eyes of Bela Lugosi's Dracula on the label. Roasted malt and licorice dominate the aroma. A creamy smoothness starts the flavor, but it's quickly cut with a reasonable amount of hops and a dry finish. The roasted malt and anise flavors continue with the addition of wood and grapes. It's not a big and bashing beer, but it's got plenty of flavor.

Pretty nice schwarzbier here. Complex and balanced flavors, smooth to drink, and at only 4.6% ABV, it's nice to have a few on a long winter's night. The best thing I've had from Magic Hat.

 589 characters

Photo of Misfit138
4.17/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into pint glass

A- Nice dark chocolate color with a fizzy head that went away quickly

S- Sweet toffee and caramel malt with hints of roastiness

T- Nice flavor, more roasty than the nose-perhaps almost like coffee, with some hints of toffee and caramel

M- Medium in body with fair carbonation

O- Solid black lager, certainly enjoyable.

 358 characters

Photo of GossageBrewery
4.05/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this Schwarzbier from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Poured a black color, produced a nice tan head, decent retention and nice lacing left behind on the glass. The aroma had hints of chocolate, coffee and roasted malt. Medium in body the beer had a nice roasted malt backbone, with flavors of chocolate and coffee shining through. There is a a bit of a bitter hop bite at the end, very impressive beer. This would make a great winter session beer. Hats off to Magic Hat on this one! Prost!

 499 characters

Photo of stckhndlr
3.79/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- very dark with black cherry highlights. Minimal head maybe a finger, sandy colored that dies down quickly.

S- Coffee hit me as I was still pouring this one. Roasted coffee and chocolate notes fill the glass. Good strong smell.

T- Taste is just like the smell but it has a can kind of taste. Like a metallic bitterness. Roasted malt aftertaste. Also getting some faint dark fruit flavors in there as well.

M- Good smooth beer. Decent carbonation

O- Not a bad beer. Drinkable but nothing over complex about it. It's just simple. A nice change from the bigger, heavier complex beers.

 588 characters

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

12 oz. bottle.

Very dark maple syrup brown. Thin finger of creamy, tiny-bubbled, shady khaki head. Some lacing. Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some fruit, tobacco, and earthy peat notes. Very nice.

Toasty roasty malt notes up front. Light metallic twang. Dark chocolate and coffee bitterness sits over faintly sweet vinous malts. Hops become woodier and slightly tannic. Roasty, dry finish. Moderate body. Pretty tasty and sessionable to boot!

 447 characters

Photo of KajII
3/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Best served in a Dimpled Mug]

The pour was a dark brown with a mahogany hue and an average sized (1-2 finger) creamy light beige head that was mostly diminishing and had decent streaky lacing.

The aroma was of s roasted bread malt and a dark doughy yeast with notes of milk chocolate, coffee and mild scent of milk.

The taste was very lightly sweet and malty with a touch of milk chocolate at first and then became mildly bitter with a decent dose of coffee and cream at the end. The flavor lasted a little longer than average with a mild bitter coffee ending.

Mouthfeel was right between light and medium in body with a slightly oily texture and a soft carbonation.

Overall a decent light bodied dark brew with a nice milky feel to.

 739 characters

Photo of BeerNoobNC
4.08/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark black color. Didn't get much when I smelled it. The beer is lighter in body than it looks, which is typical of this style. This dark beer is actually very smooth and drinkable. The taste is good. There is a malty taste with a hint of chocolate or coffee and maybe a hint of hops in there. Overall, this might be the best I have had in this style. I have only had a few, but they have all been good, so that actually is a good thing. I recommend giving it a try, though you might want to avoid the variety pack and get just a 6-pack of this.

 553 characters

Photo of Frozer
3.61/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Poured in t a pint glass...Very dark brown, almost black but you can still see a dark brown tint along the edges of the glass. About 1 finger of light brown head sits atop. Virtually no lacing as I sip this one.

S-Heavy malty smell, cannot trace any hops aroma

T-An "in your face" amount of smokey flavor up front, almost overwhelming. I spicy after taste that surprisingly overpowers the initial smoke flavor.

M- Good amount of carbonation. I was expecting a little less based solely on the dark appearance of this beer.

O-Overall I enjoyed the beer. After drinking about half a glass I became accustomed to the smokey flavor. It is complemented quite well with the roasty/spicy finish.

 693 characters

Photo of ajaxivan
3.39/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

An acquaintance of mine gave me a case of this for doing him a favor. This is something I wouldn't have bought for my self, here it goes.

A: Nice and dark with a good looking tan head.

S: Nothing to write home about, slightly sweet dark fruit, touch of spice with some chocolate.

T: The slight hop bitterness works well with the subtle smokiness. A little chocolate comes through with some spice.

M: A little thin, carbonation is spot on.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I haven't had many Magic Hat offerings in many years and this is not bad at all. I'm also not really one for lagers and this is a good change of pace for me. I would recommend this especially if looking for a beer with alot of flavor and low abv.

 742 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours akin to Pepsi. Bigger frothy head is born. Head is consistent and leaves lightning bolt lacing patterns. I can barely see through this beer.

S-Smells like a Porter. Roasty and surprisingly quite smoky. Light chocolate as well. I think the smoke is the most noticeable aspect of the nose. Certainly more brawny than I was expecting. Actually a bit excited to try this.

T-Chocolate comes out more in the flavor. Underlying smoky character. Roasted coffee beans strictly in the finish. Good dose of coffee at the end to be exact. Definitely has more flavor than I expected.

M-Medium body with enough carbonation. Not too much lasting feel.

O/D-Better than I was expecting. A pretty good glass. Magic Hat will come up and surprise you every-so-often. Hard to find fault with this one.

 793 characters

Photo of psuKinger
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle given to me by my neighbor Brian as part of a Christmas 6-pack. Many thanks to him for that.

Bottle poured into a standard nonic.

A: Pours a dark shade of brown with an off-white head on top, half a fingers worth, that stuck around for a while.

S: Strong notes of cocoa and a touch of spice, with "roasty" charachter underneath.

T: Nice roasty charachter here, lots of flavor for such a low ABV beer. Notes of cocoa and roasted malts, with a nice twang of dry bitter hops and a touch of grapefruit on the back end.

At 4.6%, there's considerably more flavor in here than I would have anticipated. Good balance, and more than just a 1-trick-pony, too.

M: Normally I'd like a little more CO2 in a lager, but this isn't a typical lager. Carbonation is appropriate. And a nice amount of hop residue on the finish. A little light and thin, but that's to be expected at 4.6% ABV.

D/O: A surprisingly enjoyable beer. When I hear "Magic Hat" and "Lager", my expectations are immediately lowered. But this far-and-away surpassed that. A very drinkable beer, and overall, a treat. I look forward to my next one.

 1,114 characters

Photo of CBlack85
3.88/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a DFH shaped pint glass.

Beer pours a deep dark brown (nearly black) with lots of ruby highlights when held up to the light. About two fingers worth of tan head recedes into a thin crown fairly quickly, leaving behind a small amount of lacing.

The aroma is mild, but enjoyable. It is comprised mainly of roasted malts, chocolate, and a mild coffee aroma. There are also an earthy quality. No real hop aroma to speak of.

The flavor is fairly well balanced between the roasted grains, caramel malts, coffee and chocolate. To a lesser degree there is a faint smokiness, and a light hop presence that is barely noticable. Medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Very easy to drink.

One of my favorite styles, and this one doesn't disappoint. I went into this beer with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised.

 851 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.