Nailbiter | Magic Hat Brewing Company

10 Ratings

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-28-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 10 |  Reviews: 10
Reviews by mikeys01:
Photo of mikeys01
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap this past weekend at both the Magic Hat Brewery and the Radio Bean in Burlington, get it while you can! The Nailbiter is professed to be a non-oak aged version of its cousin Thumbsucker, but that is not a detraction at all. The Nailbiter is a stand alone excellent imperial stout. Pours a deep dark inky black with just a bit f dark brown head swirling in the center of the glass. Aroma is very full of dark roast malt and coffee, and quite a bit of sweetness. Taste is full of the same cofee and roast malt, but also reveals more complexity than expected with notes of fruit and just a tad of hop bitterness. Body is fairly medium for an imperial stout, but that keeps it drinkable. You can very easily put away a pint or two of this stuff, just don't try to stand up too fast!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Billolick
3.78/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black, bit of light around the edges, tan head, medium bubbles, fading to a thin shean. Nose of roasted malt. Full bodied, nice smooth mouthfeel. Rich flavors of roasted malt, coffee, and some chocolate coming through. Alcohol noted, but fairly to the back in the flavor profile. Decent Imp. Stout, doesnt totaly hit a home run, flavor wise, but a pleasant sipper for sure.

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Photo of scottum
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! This is the best damn Imperial Stout I've ever had! The Imperial Stout style is one of my favorites, and I must say that Magic Hat nailed it. No pun intended. Served BLACKBLACKBLCAK with a nice hunck of head for such a strong stout. It's got the Imperial bitter that one must crave when going after this style, but there is also a fruity taste to make your mouth happy. Another awesome brew by Magic Hat!

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Photo of taez555
4.72/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer poured a pitch-black body with a beautiful bubbly dark brown/tan head.

The nose was mix of milk chocolate, soft roasted barley and coffee.

The taste was just a beautiful continuation of the nose. Rich and very smooth. Full bodied, but silky smooth like rich milk chocolate. Coffee, chocolate, roasted barley, a subtle fruitiness. Very fresh and rich. A nice even hop bitterness that never once jumped out at me, but just sat in the mix complimenting all the flavors. The alcohol is completely hidden until after you finish a pint or two.

Simply an amazing beer. I guess this is supposed to be a non-oak-aged version of the thumbsucker. I’m not really sure if I’d want an oak version though. This is just so fresh, rich and balanced with all the classic imperial stout characteristics. It’s as if they roasted the malts just to the point where they start to get toasty and stopped right there before they got a burnt taste. Wow.

It’s been a few days now since I had it and I can still taste it. Really a great brew.

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Photo of mschofield
4.11/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown approaching black with a one finger light tan head, leaves webs of sticky lace down the sides of the glass.
Full complex taste, chocolate, coffee, burnt raisins, caramel, molasses, and a minor alcohol note, a bit of wood. Chocolate aftertaste.
The aroma covers the same ground, but it isn't strong enough, it just doesn't hold up to the taste or the Imperial style.
Warming with a medium-full body, smooth, a bit acrid.

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Photo of waughbrew
3.58/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This was a good imperial stout. Nothing really stood out as great or bad. Everything about it was good but not great. A very commercial version of the style, as one might expect from this brewery. Black, served with nice light brown head, decent aroma wasn't very strong. Taste was a very balanced combo of coffee, a bit of chocolate, hops, and alcohol. Some butteriness and esters were there, but not overly so. Rather drinkable, but again nothing really stood out. I guess I would have prefered something a little more memorable, but it wasn't bad at all.

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This dark black beer was served with a modest, and diminishing head. The rich roast aroma possesses strong chocolate and coffee notes. It's pleasant and inviting. The flavor of this full bodied beer is rather robust, but still maintains the magic hat smoothness. In addition to ample coffee and chocolate flavors there's a subtle plum and date fruitiness. It's very complimented and complex. The finish is gentle and malty with mild hints of butter. For a beer of its strength, Nailbiter is exceptionally drinkable. This beer can sneak up on you.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sampled at Extreme Beer, 2004.
The beer pours a deep, oily black, mostly opaque, with a bit of garnet around the bottom against light. A thinning taupe mist forms a swirl atop the beer, dropping out completely after a few sips. No lace.
The arma is hugely roasty and bittersweet. Powerful black coffee and baker's chocolate, with an impressive amount of grainy, husky black malt. Some sweetish toffee malt. A bit of whiskey-ish alcohol sits atop charred oak, with an impressive subtle fruitiness, hinting at raspberry, fig and date. The fruity sweetness is apparent enough to balance out the burnt malt bitterness. Hops are definitely in effect, lending a moderate herbal quality that melds seamlessly into the malt.
The flavor starts with an unbridled black malt bitterness. Huge amounts of black, week old coffee and cocoa bean, softening a touch into the middle, where sweetish toffee and heavy fruitiness smooth things out. Hints of fig and date mingle with a whiskey barrel alcoholic oakiness, meandering into assertive herbal hopping. A bit of licorice in the long finish, with the woodiness and herbal hops picking up considerably. Bitterness from the malt and hops create a sharp bite that lingers well into the aftertaste. Surprisingly big bodied, even for an imperial stout. Soft carbonation lends smoothness to the robust flavor, carrying the beer well.
A hell of an imperial stout. The whiskey and oak flavors are mild, simply adding to the flavor, not overwhelming it. Really good stuff, this was one of my favorites at EBF. Top Shelf.

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Photo of Denali
4.8/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Opaque black with tan head.

Smell: Fruity and strong coffee aroma.

Tatse: Oh my! Very complex. There is so much happening here. Berries and coffee, amongst other roasted and "dark" flavors (licorice perhaps?). I'm still reliving the taste. Fantastic!

Mouthfeel: Very smooth.

Drinkability: I could not sense the high ABV. Very easy to drink.

This beer was great and I will seek it out to have it again. If I can't find it locally, then I will have to make a road trip to VT. Getting a chance to drink this beer is more than enough of a reason to make such a road trip.

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Photo of Truh
3.58/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Devoured on 4/17/2004 with Kumar. Our eyes widened when we looked up at the chalkboard at Anam Cara and saw this on there. Sixteen-ounce pour served in shaker glasses. Thin, creamy head with mocha notes, maintained throughout the session. Hue was dark as can be with just a halo of carbonation to lend any sort of coloration to the inky blackness. Chocolate bouquet reigned supreme, with a roasted and somewhat medicinal character following up. Initial taste notes were mocha, roasted chocolate, and a powerful root beer. As ale warmed, a cola gummy bear sweetness developed, which was a good thing. Despite its moniker, this had a very creamy and clean mouth feel, and did not cause me to raise my hands up to my mouth to ravage my fingernails. It was somewhat slight for an imperial, though.

This was actually Kumar’s and my second go at this as we had tried it at Redbones’ stouts and porters dinner back in March of 2003. We weren’t taking notes that night, for obvious reasons.

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Nailbiter from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.29 out of 5 with 10 ratings
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