Magic Hat Brewing Company

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Stout - Russian Imperial
4.23 | pDev: 11.82%
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Reviews: 75 | Ratings: 88 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle from 2005.

Pours almost opaque dark brown with some large, brown bubbles with a stretch pour. Zero retention or lacing. Shades of Kahlua, tootsie roll, and chocolate syrup in the nose. Medium bodied with a slick, oily mouthfeel. Chocolate with hints of espresso and char on the palate. Finishes with lingering chocolate and a mild boozy undertone.

Jan 03, 2020
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MasterSki from Canada (ON)

3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased at Max's and shared with Thorpe429. A bourbon barrel-aged RIS from Magic Hat, - intriguing. Bartender said this was from 2004.

A - Pretty nice looking beer, and still adequately carbonated after over seven years in the cellar. A finger of tan foam settles to a collar, some wisps, and a few specks of lace. Solid, opaque black body that might be brownish in better lighting conditions.

S - Plenty of roasted malts, vanilla, oak, fudge, and chocolate. I didn't confirm this was barrel-aged until I looked up additional info on the beer, but I surmised as much from the heavy oak presence. Not much overt bourbon or alcohol at this stage, and a hint of vinous port-like oxidation. Still - pretty enjoyable stuff.

T - The taste isn't quite as good, as it's more faded and understated, with perhaps a hint of minerality and astringent oak in the finish. Still, plenty of vanilla, oak, roasted, and chocolate flavors even after extended aging. Probably more of a 3.75 at this stage.

M - Medium body, with more the sufficient heft for the listed 7.8%. Dry, roasty, oak, and tannic, pleasant lower carbonation, and a sticky persistent finish. A hint of warming alcohol actually shows up to remind you this was bourbon barrel-aged.

D - Considering the lower ABV and age this is still a pretty good beer. However, it's probably approaching novelty status, and I'd be wary of pre-2004 vintages and bottles of uncertain provenance. Still, we managed to put down most of the bottle between the two of us.

Apr 06, 2012
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Thorpe429 from Illinois

3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Max's in Baltimore. Shared with Masterski.

Pours near-black with a thin head of tan-ish bubbles that doesn't hang around for too long. Perhaps a thin collar for at least a bit.

The nose is really nice, bringing some oak and vanilla along with some roasted malt. Some chocolate in the background as well. Really nice and integrated, though no real bourbon character; instead, just the oak.

The flavor adds in a good bit of booze. There's roast and chocolate there as well. The oak and vanilla aren't as prevalent as in the nose. The heat certainly takes it down a notch from where the nose was, which is surprising given the age and the fact that this is fairly-low in alcohol.

Body is medium with light carbonation and a bit of booze through the finish.

Overall, pretty good and I'm very glad I finally got to try this one.

Apr 03, 2012
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Lubiere: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a small dark brown foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of fruit cake with light port notes. Taste has probably lost some of the characteristics related to an imperial stout due to aging which have been replaced with nice notes of port and fruit cake with light dry roasted malt notes still perceptible. Description mentions bourbon aging though I can’t say that I could taste any notes of bourbon. Body is about average with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Still good after all those years but I have to wonder what I fresh version would taste like.

Oct 31, 2011
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woosterbill from Kentucky

3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

04 bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip. Big thanks to Tony for sharing this antique oddity.

A: Black body with a quarter inch of frothy short-lived tan head. Ok.

S: Weird, musty, organic basement. Vegetal funk, yeasty spice. Lichen. What?

T: Opens with bizarrely spicy, musty vegetal funk, and then closes with clean chocolatey booze. Strangely clean finish. I actually kind of like this. Is this wrong of me? Do I need help?

M: Slick medium body with light carbonation. Not bad.

D: Unceasingly interesting, and very clean despite its weirdness.

Notes: I've certainly never had anything quite like this, and it was fascinating. Bizarre is the surely the best word to describe it, but that doesn't even begin to convey the sheer wackiness of the flavors contained in this one.


Mar 08, 2011
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srandycarter from California

3.71/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - No pop out of the bottle. Dark flat beer. No head, no lacing, no nada.

S - Wonderful rich boozy malt.

T - Boozed malt starts, finished by sour off 'corked' flavor.

M - Sux. Flat.

D - Sux. Flat.

It's really hard to appreciate a beer when it is meant to be carbonated and it is flat as a pancake.


Mar 22, 2009
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DaPeculierDane from Wisconsin

4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cute mini-growler care of Jamie2Dope. Many thanks.

Appearance: Intitially pours with a gorgious dark brown head but that quickly disappears. Next thing to notice is the viscosity. Color is opaque dark brown with a very minimal brown skim. Very attractive oily qualities come into play each time this beer is swirled.

Aroma: Boozey. Is there bourbon in this? Wood, generic fruitiness that is hard to place. Some coffee. No chocolate that I can detect.

Flavor: Bourbony and woody notes come out first followed by small touches of coffee grounds. Roasted malt and a tangy strawberry flavor that is really more of a generic fruit than strawberry. Very boozey. Liquorish. Finish is decently hopped, mostly piney.

Mouthfeel: Twangy and tangy (along with that generic fruitiness I spoke of). Oily. Not that heavy despite the noticable booze in the flavor. Syrupy too. Definately high in sugar but not too unbalance.

Drinkability: This growler went down without a hickup... I really like the twang.

Feb 10, 2008
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akorsak from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2002-03 bottle, complete with the tag that says 'good by end of summer 2003'. Jdiddy traded this to me and I shared it with untold BAs at the General Lafayette Stone Soup II.

A: The stout took an effort and a half to open, that damned cork was wicked buried in it. When we finally found a quality corkscrew (thanks mac300), the stout was still moderately carbonated with a thick oily look.

S: The aroma was imperial, thick with lots of toasted grains, chocolate and porter flavors. From the nose, the beer seems to have withstood the test of time.

T: This may be repetitive, but the stout has held up far better than I expected. The moderate abv was a risk, but the flavor remains strong. Dark bread and burnt toast flavors define the mouth, touched with a bit of lactic sweetness that may be a result of the age. There are little hops to get in the way of the dark malt. Overall the flavors are restrained, showing some signs of age but still holding their own. The mild chocolate flavor at the end of the sip is pleasing.

M: The mouthfeel is that of a stout that has taken some age under its belt. The flavors have mellowed out without completely losing the stout element.

D: The abv is low and the aging has done wonders. I'd gladly enjoy another bottle of this beer.

Jan 26, 2008
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Stimack from New York

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have had a bottle of this for a number of years and we had a gathering of friends so I though that this would be the perfect time to give it a try. I have had this brew saved for the past thee years so was hopeful that it would have aged well. Well my feeling is that this brew aged very well and was simply excellent. The brew poured to a jet black color with a nice dark tan/brown head that had some retention and did leave a little lacing at the top of the glass. The aromas from this brew where good, chocolate comes out quote clear along with a strong alcohol scent. Also present is a slightly burnt/charcoal and coffee aroma that is nice. The taste is quite intense, with a lot of flavors coming out. Flavors of dark chocolate, licorice, burnt grain, exotic fruit with a charcoal feel are mixed well. Overall this is an excellent brew, will want to see if I can track another one of these down. I feel that it has aged very well and was well worth the wait.

Dec 09, 2007
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genog from Ohio

3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 bottle shared with franksnbeans.

Pours a brown black color with very limited off white, almost light brown color bubbling head. Smell is of chocolate, heavy boozy smell, maple syrup, coffee. Taste is similar to the aroma with a muted feeling. Lightly carbonated and almost a flat mouth feel.

Nov 27, 2007
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Viggo from Canada (ON)

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to grub for sharing this minigrowler, I'll try to even it up one of these days.

Pours an opaque black, no light gets through, thin tan head, some lace spots, settles to a thin layer, very viscous looking. Smell is licorice, chocolate, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, sweet molasses and oak, cherries, alcohol, excellent. Taste is anise/licorice, chocolate roast, espresso, bourbon, sour cherries, alcohol, toffee, more bourbon, vanilla/oak, amazing. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, warming, very smooth, fantastically done. Thanks Russ!!

Nov 19, 2007
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johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I bought a growler or two from the brewery.
Pours an opaque brown/black with a very minimal tan head, very low carbonation here. Aroma comes through with strong bourbon and alcohol and some dried fruits. Tastes almost port like with some roasted malt bitterness. Raisins and bourbon come through as well. Mouthfeel is thinnner than I expected, but leaves a roasty figgy aftertaste.
A great RIS very complex beer.
I'm not sure I believe that this beer is 7.8% abv might be artificially low to get around Vermont's ancient beer laws.
I wish they would bottle this again so I could see how it ages.

Nov 11, 2007
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Prufrock from Massachusetts

3.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

growler poured into a small sampling glass.

black throughout except for some deep reddish-brown around the edges. little to no head on first pour, which was a bit too cold; subsequent pours leave a nice thick layer of brown creamy head that leaves touches of lace.

bitter chocolate, sweet roasted malts, and smoky sweet scotch in the aroma. the barest hints of alcohol as well.

slightly thin feel, but with a strong roasted malt flavor. a warming, alcoholic scotch flavor comes through as well, with some notes of dark fruits. a touch of bitter chocolate in the finish. light body detracts from the flavors and is a bit unexpected for the style.

Oct 28, 2007
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ppoitras from Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

25ozer bought a few years ago, been hanging around in the "Cellar" ever since. Corked & caged, with black foil, green bottle.

Poured into a heavy glass chalice, formed an uneven dark brown froth over the opaque dark brown/black brew. Lacing is minimal but lasting, partially due long legs. Dark roasty at the start, with whiskey dominating the rest. Taste is sweet dark malts, with a barrelly alcohol character, almost has a bug spray tinge to it. Mouthfeel is creamy, and drinkability is pretty good. Think this one was a bit adversely affected by the aging, but what can you do.

Oct 27, 2007
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dbalsock from Vermont

2.08/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Got a 1/4 gallon growler fresh from the brewery on my recent trip to VT.

App: Dark, black but not the blackest I've seen with a little tan/brown head.

Smell: Appley and coffee with cream. I notice this apple aroma in a lot of MH beers, and I think they need to switch their yeast up or something.

Taste: Fruity and tangy with a funky coffee in the background. Not very appealing, I must say.

Mouthfeel: Reminds me of thick sour milk (without chunks). The alcohol really cuts through the rest of the mouthfeel too, despite being such a low alcohol RIS.

Drinkability: Thick with sourness, almost chunky = not appealing, ever. At least I didn't have to chew it.

Sep 29, 2007
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franksnbeans from Ohio

4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out like engine oil with a chocolate milk head. Smells of molassas, chocolate, maple syrup and caramel. Taste is mild and sweet. The flavors are the same as the nose with a very minimal bitter finish. Medium in the mouth and smooth as silk. A sipper but could sip this all night.

Sep 24, 2007
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grub from Canada (ON)

4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

johnnnniee hooked me up with this one. thanks john!

32oz growler.

pours nearly opaque black with a small dense brown head. held up to the light you can catch just a hint of ruby at the sides of the glass, but there isn't much light getting through this one.

wow! aroma is fantastic. huge bourbon and vanilla kick. touch of alcohol. big biscuit malt. toasted wheat bread. molasses. bit of anise, especially as it warms.

taste is excellent. lots of bourbon and vanilla up front. huge bread and biscuit malt base. nice roast. anise. molasses. light alcohol. touch of orange. caramel sweetness. milk chocolate. low bitterness level. bit of raw oak.

mouthfeel is great. nice big chewy body. medium-low well integrated carbonation level. the growler had just a tiny leak in transit, losing about 1oz of beer and possibly just a little carbonation. however, this one is just plain awesome at this carbonation level.

drinkability is excellent. balanced and very enjoyable. for me, this has just the right amount of bourbon character. heresy fresh is too much bourbon for my tastes, and after a year has mellowed out almost too much. this one is great right now. big thanks john, this one was a definite treat.

Sep 22, 2007
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Dansting from Kansas

4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Growler from the brewery. Pours a dark brown color with a medium brown head. Slight lacing. Nice strong aroma of bourbon and roasted malt. Full mouthfeel. Its flavor is sweet with a bourbon finish. It has hints of cherries in it. A very nice Impy Stout.

Sep 20, 2007
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3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

32oz. growler received in trade from njhcnwk - Thanks!

Opaque, black/brown liquid with mahogany/ruby at edges when held up to light. No head to speak of. No lacing, some legs.

Aromas of bourbon/alcohol. Dark fruits, mainly dark cherries. Some smoke? Overall, smells like it should be sweet.

Initially, sweet, with a mild citrus finish. Well balanced with bitterness from citrus and some roast. Alcohol. Port like flavor profile, except for the citrus finish. Raisins. Bourbon. Hint of smoke.

Medium to full bodied. Low to no carbonation. Very dry. Mouthcoating. ABV warmth, as others have mentioned, seems higher than ABV warrants.

Impressive RIS. Not my favorite, but very well done. In this type of beer, I prefer them to lean towards the sweeter side. Nicely complex.

Sep 05, 2007
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BattleRoadBrewer from Massachusetts

3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served first at cellar temp and then second serving warmer about room temp into 6 oz taster, from 32 oz growler. Thanks Prufrock for sharing.

Cooler pour was barely pettilant, showing almost no carbonation. Rich, lovely reddish mahogany at the edges, crystal clear, completely opaque and black through the center. Second warmer pour faired better, creating a nice 3/16" head of fine dark brown foam, not iridescent.

Aroma was sweet alcoholic maltiness, like a good Scotch whiskey. No real coffee odor, and just a hint of acrid roasted malts. On second, warmer pour, character came out more fully, plenty of black fruitiness and more alcohol (but clean, light, sweet alcohol, not harsh like vodka or rubbing alcohol).

Taste was pretty complex when cool and became even moreso as it warmed. A residual sour fruitiness was left on the tongue and fresh alcoholic vapor raised from the throat. Reminds me of Sam Adams Utopias.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin, particularly on the finish. Comes as a surprise. I think they focused on fermentables instead of flavor grains. Alcohol is evident, but not in a bad way. Hard to believe this is 7.8%, I'd guess more like 12%.

Aug 25, 2007
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goodbyeohio from Oregon

4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

32 oz brewery-filled growler

black and impervious to light, sitting angrily under an oppressively thick tan foam.. the foam is dotted slightly with small bubbles, but exists predominantly as a thick, velvety blanket of beery insulation. no mistaking the whiskey in the nose, tweaked slightly by a soy-ish tang that leans the whole skew towards graceful age. slightly acidic yet rich and boozy, sort of like a mexican coffee. not too thick yet full of flavor with an up-front jazzy note of raw cocoa. brisk body is like that of a strong coffee.. flavor hits but thickness does not impede drinkability (is there thickness in this <8 ris?).. finishes with a pulpy sense of sweetness.. lingering malt leftovers perhaps, notes that weren't hidden by the barrely goodness? the coffee and woody earth lay claim to the flavor profile.. and for once, the whiskey is here as essence only but fails to go unnoticed.. and yet refuses to interfere with the overall drinkability.

magic hat used to make good beers. seems like they still are.. at the brewpub. people, if you are losing (blind) faith in MH, visit the brewpub and reconnect with some secret growler fills of bootleg goodness.. you'll be glad you did.

i owe a big debt of gratitude to warriorsoul on this one.. for not forcing me to open mine, and sharing one of his. a true gentleman!

Jul 30, 2007
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silver1audi from Vermont

4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bought from the brewery in the "feast of fools" growler. Pours pitch black with an ever-so-slight coffee colored head. Smells of Toffee, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and alcohol. The taste will set you back in your chair; by far one of the most potently flavorful imperial stouts I've had. A warming note of alcohol is present over huge flavors of burboun whiskey, toffee, oak, coffee, and a hint of smokey/fruity sweetness at the end. Mouthfeel is thick and coats the entire mouth. One of the best I've had in the style, although the robust flavor and mouthfeel prevent it from being quite as drinkable as some of the others I've had. This burly beer is welcome in my house anytime, but I would likely choose it for special occasions and opt for a more forgiving RIS for a more regular drinker . Highly recommended and worth seeking out for fans of the style. Not for the faint of heart!!

Jul 20, 2007
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RixBeer from Massachusetts

4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

WOW! this is one of the damn best beears I’ve ever had! DEEP DEEP AND DARK. Bourban whiskey, oak...yeah lots of oak and bourbon, slightly sweet awesome aftertaste! Sweet and chocolate. very earthy. Lots of flavor. Slightly bitter finish.

Awesome 9% ABV beer. I highly recommend purchasing this beer. I drove to South Burlington and visited the brewery! Good [slightly crazy] people make this brew! And it's very very good and slightly crazy.

Jul 16, 2007
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dherling from New Jersey

4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up in 2004. Poured out a dark black color, tan head, with moderate lacing. Smells malty, dark chocolate with raisins and plums.Alcohol is fairly evident. The taste is malty with dark burnt wood and bitter chocolate notes with some dark fruit finish. These are plums, grapes, and sour cherries finishing with a tiny bourbon note. Mouthfeel is slightly salty, slick and quenching.

Nov 12, 2006
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edchicma from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark pour. Good head. Had at the Extreme Beer Fest. Finally getting around to adding to my reviews. Nose was all hops! Who cares... I love hops. Oak presence, malt and alcohol was there too. Hops notably on the back palate. This brew has a great dry presence, both in mouthfeel and in drinkability. Not the highest abv in An Imp Stout, but definitely worth a try.

Apr 20, 2006
Thumbsucker from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 88 ratings