Participation Ale | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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Participation AleParticipation Ale
55 Ratings
Participation AleParticipation Ale

Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by taez555 on 11-16-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 43
Reviews by mikeys01:
Photo of mikeys01
4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from 22oz bomber graced with an image of Magic Hat's Alan looking like a hippie Uncle Sam, gotta love it. The participation pours into my glass a very deep brown that becomes a shining ruby red that Dorothy of Oz would admire when held up to the light. Moderate amount of just slightly clumpy tan head, very good clarity.
Nose is intriguing, very sweet and malt with just a hint of Vanilla and brown sugar in the background. Taste is full of creamy malt goodness, exceptionally smooth, hops are hardly noticeable in this one except for the barest nibble of bitterness in the finish. A bit of english toffee and cocoa sifting through as well. The slight hint of vanilla comes out in the finish, giving me a slight reminiscence of Ravell. IIn my opinion, a very well done beer from Magic Hat, highly drinkable, and the Ringwood yeast is balanced perfectly in this one, unlike a few other MH beers from time to time. Tasty stuff, I'll be picking up some more of these....

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Jason
3.3/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22oz bomber with a freshness date, some BS about voting is important or something … whatever everything is planned any way cause the peoples vote for the president does not count in the first place. Beer and Politics should never mix and this label sort of pisses me off.

Appearance: Thin tan lacing with a clear but very dark brown hue.

Smell: Hints of butterscotch and coffee. Fresh malt aroma.

Taste & Mouth Feel: Semi-smooth and a tad slick with a wet moderate body. The roasted character makes this beer borderline porter in a way … not that it matter to me. After the roasted flavor comes a watery malt palate with a meek hopping and virtually clean after taste. Finishes with a dirty water flavor from the roasted grain.

Drinkability & Notes: Half decent brown ale, perhaps a simple session brew but I’d still switch to something else. Worth a try but ignore the label.

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Photo of Billolick
3.7/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled the bottled version, poured a ruby tone of amber. Tiny bubble head, average lacing. Malt carries the freight on this newcomer from Magic hat. Malty nose, sweet malt in center of flavor profile, malty long and tasty finish. This is a pleasant enough brown ale/alt beer (?). Pleasant, if a bit boring, sessioner.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.77/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Well, the 2004 presidential election has come and gone, but this beer showed up in my Christmas stocking, and now seems as good a time as any to give it a try. It's a roasty brown ale that tiptoes into porter territory, pouring a dark chestnut with ruby tints as one holds it up to light. The head is smaller than desired, but sturdy and leaves spiderwebs of lace. There's a pleasant aroma of roastiness, chocolate, strong caramel, and a seaside saltiness that must come from the yeast. The flavor carries over all these flavors and even adds a touch of peat from the gentle, grassy hops; I really like the way this beer is balanced. A strong malted brown sugar quality threatens to take over, as often happens in robust American brown ales, but it recedes so that the beer is mellow, buttery, smooth, balanced. The porter-like roastiness adds another dimension. With all these flavors working successfully, it is a shame the flavor of the beer is, in the end, obscured and somewhat watery. While everything is present from the first sip, the finish quickly cedes to a blank, wet nothing. Some lingering roastiness or perhaps a rolling grassy hop flavor would be most welcome here. In all, the beer resembles the election to a T: a lot of hopeful promise in the beginning, but by the end, a big fat disappointment.

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Photo of far333
4.47/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Participation is an excellent English style nut brown ale that is only brewed during presidential election years. It's dark for a nut brown ale, with a malty flavor hinting of chocolate and coffee. It's tremendous, but hard to find. I've only been able to get it at the brewery in South Burlington, Vermont, but it is available in limited quantities in some liquor stores in bombers.

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Photo of cliff1066
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of bditty187
3.6/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, dark ruby-brown in hue. The head was creamy-beige in color; at the apex the foam was a little over one finger in height. Head retention was fair; it dissipated to a bubbly cap. A soapy collar remained for the entire consumption. Subsequent lacing was basically none. The nose is surprisingly boastful; the key aromas are caramel malt, butterscotch, chocolate, hints of roast. The hops don’t offer much, maybe some herbal qualities at the distant back. I like the bouquet. I’m fond of Brown Ales with a good roasty backbone, this one isn’t beefy but the nose is too maltiness for it not to be pleasant. Inviting. The palate is quite yummy! My disclaimer, I’m a sucker for Brown Ales. Anyway, the first thing I taste is a dry, nutty, char that lingered to the finish. In the middle is an herbal hop presence. Modest caramel flavors, more so the malt comes off “true,” kind of clean and not very sweet. Light butterscotch. Earthy. English in nature. Pleasant. Roasted aftertaste. I have no complaints with the palate. I split my bomber; I reviewed half of it and drank the other half with a turkey burger smothered in roasted garlic mustard and cheddar cheese on a toasted bun. It was a great combination. Almost medium in body, low carbonation, the mouthfeel is a bit thin but it is tolerable. Good enough but far from great. Plenty drinkable, no issues here, the low abv is a plus too. The easy of consumption is related to the lack of complexity in the palate. In this case that is not a knock against the beer. Sometimes simple is good. Thanks UnionMade!

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Photo of Enriquehopnog
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of Imbiber
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 750ml bottle bought at Bierkraft, Brooklyn. This beer is evidently only available in the run up to a Presidential election.

Dark ruby red, decent tan head, fair carbonation. Aroma is of hops and a hint of molasses or caramel. The mildly hoppy flavour leads to a mildly bitter finish; not really assertive in any way. Ok, but slightly two-dimensional; a bit sterile but nice enough (unlike certain politicians I could mention).

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Photo of TheJudge
3.79/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beautiful beer. It is a dark, deep red, almost winelike in appearance. Nice fluffy light brown head, with great lacing. Simply beautiful to behold. Raising it to the nose makes it lose some of its grandeur. There is almost no smell at all, very disappointing. But your nose perks up upon tasting, for there is more to this beer than meets the nose. It is porter-like, with as strong molasses like flavor. Must be chocolate malts coming through as well. Very nice. Light on the tongue, a good combo of porter flavor and ale feel. This would be a nice beer for 3 or 4, or even 5 or 6. Actually, I think a keg of this might work very well.

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Photo of AsburyParkJMH
3.58/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this isn't the same participation that i remember from 4 years ago (not that i expected it to be). it's a bit thinner and has sweeter notes than in the past, when it was more rugged and earth based, i felt. it pours a nice brown colour with a decent soapy off white head. the smell is a touch sweet and chocolate, with some milk and sugar thrown into the mix. there's also a note of some sulfur here and there, unfortunately. the flavour is definitely sweet, at times too sweet for my liking. there are earth flavours in here but they are quite subdued. the roasted malt flavouring is also drowned out most of the time by the sweetness. this one suffers a bit from tinkering with a good thing. town down the sweeteness and make it a more heartly ale as it used to be. still pretty good overall, but needs some tweaking for the '08 release.

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Photo of Brent
4.13/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

While this beer is quite mild and low-key, I'm giving it high marks because that is exactly what the style strives for. I've said this before, but brown ales are the football interior linemen of the beer world - no one ever really notices them unless they don't do their job.

Poured a surprisingly dark brown/black, with a softly sweet chocolate malt aroma. The bottle gave no indication of the style, so I thought it might be a porter. Big, fresh malt flavor, dominated by a distinct sweetish chocolate. Hops present but hanging out in the background. A bit more carbonated than most mild brown ales. Very drinkable and smooth. Low abv makes this an excellent session ale candidate. Thanks to far333 for the sample.

Bottle cap: "We'd be beasts without the yeast."

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Photo of bultrey
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on draft at the Blind Tiger Ale House in Brooklyn. Poured a very dark brown, almost black color. Aroma was heavy on coffee and chocolate notes. I didn't know it was supposed to be a nut brown when I tasted it, and my first impression was that it was a very thin dry stout or porter. It has heavy accents of dark roasted malt, with a slight nutty flavor, but definitely more of a roasted cofffee and bitter chocolate flavor. The only indication that it wasn't a stout was that it has a relatively thin body and mouthfeel. Hops are evident, but mild. The aftertaste is very dry, but this could be a pretty drinkable beer for its darkness. Overall, this doesn't fit the style, but is an OK and fairly quaffable beer.

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Photo of morrowd3
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of Erix
4.12/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is being reviewed from a growler, poured into a pint glass. A very nice looking brown ale here. Dark but clear brown, with some deep red and mahogany tones to it. This is a great smelling beer as well as an attractive one. Smells roasty, sweetly malty, and little hops. I get an odor of chocolate as well. Quite tasty. Sweet, but not too sweet. A little nutty, and somewhat chocolaty. I really like this one a lot. Finishes clean, with some drawn out hops and a crisp maltiness. This sample may be a little oxidized, but I don't believe it was when I first tried it (the growler was opened yesterday). Nice smooth feel to it, no noticable alcohol, and a clean finish. I could drink this one all night, and I believe I will until the growler is finished. One of the better English brown ales I have had, without that excessive sweet taste and buttery feeling I get from some others.

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Photo of ppoitras
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22ozer bottle from Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head above the clear reddish-brown brew. Head quite short-lived, but lacing is okay. Aroma is lightly of caramel malts, with slight hoppy character. Taste is puts it together well for me, with nutty caramel malt coupled with light hoppiness at the end. Mouthfeel and drinkability are very good for the style. Sorry this one isn't more regularly produced.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.32/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

ruby dark brown withlittle to no tan head, which kinda turns me of... the colr is pretty though :) light chocolate and nutty aromas are about all i can pick up, very faintly. chocolate nut and mild citrus flavors show up in the taste. a little roasted quality as well good taste, but not much there. on the watery side and pretty weakly carbonated. sort of dissappointing. average drinkabilty because it doesn't really possess any bad qualities

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Photo of thatoneguymike
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of sulldaddy
4.15/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up this bottle prior to the election and thought it was a cool idea for a beer. DOnt know anything about the style etc. Apparently it is a brown ale and I think a good one!
The beer is at room temp and I am drinking from a pint glass. The beer pours a rich dark mahogany color and a small fluffy beige head foams up and fades to an edge layer slowly.
Aroma is rich and I get chocolate notes mixing with caramel and toffee. A slight molasses presence as well. The body is light (as most MH beers are IMO) and mild yet large carbonation tingles on my palate.
THe flavor is malty right from the start with chocolate and roasted malt flavors dominating, also some brown sugar sweetness. This all leads to a clean crisp finish that is very refeshing and tasty. The beer definitely exceeds my expectations prior to opening the bottle!

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is only brewed during election years and I was quite surprised to find that it cost less than $3 for a 22oz. bomber. It pours a dark brown color with a light tan head on top. The head dissolves quickly to a ring around the beer leaving a fair amount of lace on the side. A malty aroma with chocolate and nutty smells floats above the beer.

Each sip of this thin to medium bodied beer gives a nice tingle on the tip of the tongue. The roasted malt flavor is well balanced with some nutty and toffee flavors. It finishes with a mild hop taste leaving a bit of malt on the palate.

This is an o.k. brown ale that seems to be more of a novelty than anything else. It's well balanced with nice flavor, but I've had better brown ales.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.25/5  rDev -9.7%

Photo of WakeandBake
3.85/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes Oct 15, 2008
Bottle. Golden orange color pour with a big soft fluffy white head. Aroma of floral and bitter hops,some spicyness,a faint whiff of lemon zest.Pleasent flavor of pale malt and spicy citrus hopps,dry corn bread,and just a touch of honey.Light body with a crisp finish. Pretty good

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Photo of chippo33
2.25/5  rDev -37.5%

Photo of necoadam
3.68/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber

Pours out a very deep brown color with a light tan head that stays with you until the very end. Carbonation plays a role in the mouthfeel and taste. Smell was more porter like than a brown ale. Big coffee aromas with some maltiness and chocolate blending in as well. Perhaps a slight nutty aroma but seemed very distant. Taste was ok, but carbonation really rushed in the starting point and blocked out any flavors that tried to show up in the beginning. Probably on purpose seeming that this beer is for the elections. Toasted malts and coffee show up nicely along with some caramel and chocolate flavors in the background to balance it out somewhat. Not a bad brew whatsoever. The smell to me was a little shocking, I was expecting a nutty aroma with some toasted malts, but got something totally different and get porter-like aromas. Interesting to say the least.

And of course, the best before was marked November.

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Photo of scottum
4.26/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at American Flatbread in Burlington, Vermont.

Served a deep dark brown with a full off-white head. Malty smooth with a clean light hop balance. This beer is nice and light for a brown and that makes all the difference in its drinkability. I could tilt Participation back all night long.

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Participation Ale from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 55 ratings