Thumbsucker | Magic Hat Brewing Company

74 Reviews
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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 UnionMade on 03-14-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 74 | Ratings: 86
Photo of dbalsock
2.08/5  rDev -50.2%
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.

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Photo of far333
3.19/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours from the bottle dark brown, nearly black, with a dark brown foam that rises quickly (too quickly actually) to a huge head that is slow to dissipate. The smell is slightly hoppy, but without much character. Crisp mouth feel. The flavor is intense, with a bitter hoppiness on the front of the tongue, and finishes with hints of bitter chocolate and coffee. Tough to have more than one of these, the flavor can be overwhelming. Honestly not one of my favorites from Magic Hat. The Heart of Darkness is much smoother (although I realize HOD is not an imperial). This one tastes very similar to Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout, but is not as creamy or smooth, and is much more expensive. Price may come down if they roll this one out, but I prefer to stay with the Brooklyn for this style of brew.

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Photo of egajdzis
3.55/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured pitch black with a large tan head which quickly diminished. Aroma of vanilla, chocolate, whiskey, and alcohol. Roasted malt, chocolate, some raisin, coffee, and whiskey taste. Not bad, but, as with all MH brews, it was very thin... especially for an Imperial Stout.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to cmaruschak for scoring this one for us. I had the opportunity to sample this one at our blind stout tasting the other night.

Appearance: Beautiful looking fluffy head and motor oil-like in appearance. Slick looking lacings get left down the glass. Pretty impressive looking.

Smell: licorice, anise, and alcohol all dominate in equal proportions. This smells like a big ass brew.

Taste: Alcohol first, dark rum soaked fruit follow up, and a nice cocoa aftertaste. I must admit, the alcohol is a bit overpowering and starts to detract from the taste after a bit.

Mouthfeel: full bodied and slick. No carbonation probably due to the alcohol.

Drinkability: Suffers a lot in my book just because the alcohol is so dominate. I had a 6 oz. sample. I can't imagine throwing down a whole bottle of this stuff. I'd be wrecked for the night!

Notes: Good but damn! It's not as unbalanced as the Czar but it's more towards that end. A well done and complex brew but the alcohol makes it a bit much for me. I rated this as one of the lower ones of the 6 that we sampled so maybe it's reputation keeps it up there but I think there are better stouts to be had out there.

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Photo of Prufrock
3.68/5  rDev -12%
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.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.71/5  rDev -11.2%
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.


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Photo of Thorpe429
3.72/5  rDev -11%
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.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.78/5  rDev -9.6%
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.


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Photo of MasterSki
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of BattleRoadBrewer
3.86/5  rDev -7.7%
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%.

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Photo of akorsak
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep coke brown, little head. Highly bourbony nose bears plenty of vanilla and dark malts on top of herbal hops. Superb flavor, I almost gave it a 9. The malts are deliciously roasty and even toasty. A gentle smokiness emerge and seems to overtake the roasty aspects, letting the mint shine through in a spectacular way. Rooty alcohol warmth rapidly becomes obvious through a beautiful woodiness. Small bubbles through the light-medium body, growing alcohol burn on the tongue. Excellent!

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Photo of ppoitras
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

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Photo of
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of genog
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the Duvel glass (don't know why, but it seemed appropriate) inky black with a froth dark brown head that was everlasting and made the glass scream for mercy as it coated it with lacing and foam.

The aroma was deep and intense with roasty aroma and a strong fruit alcohol presence. The aroma had a maple syrup sweetness and a bourbon character. The dark fruit aromas of raisins and prunes were strong and lasting.

The flavor was strong bourbon and alcohol with dark chocolate and coffee roasty presence. The dark fruit flavors of raisins and prunes was also present.

The finish was surprisingly even with lasting alcohol, dark chocolate and coffee. The body was sadly watery. It was medium full at best and not very well done, really detracted from the mouthfeel.

750 ml bailed and corked black screened bottle. Many thanks to poundboy for the trade, but he was right, I should have drank it sooner rather than later. It was still and interesting beer, but not what I expected.

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Photo of Beersignal
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared this beer with a few friends... just being a good BA!

Poured almost coal black with no highlights to speak of due to the darkness of the liquid. A dark brown thick foam head formed and lasted nicely.

Smells were sweet and herbal, noting a predominance for... dill of all things. But it was not unpleasant. In the back you could find traces of blackberries and currants which added to the complexity. The dill aromas were really strange though, but nice.

This was a full bodied beer, very consistent and firm. You percieved thickness with every sip as if you were drinking carbonated espresso (not as powerful however). The flavours were well balanced between the malt and roasted bitterness and a subtle fruitiness complimented the notes of chocolate that surfaced throughout the experience. Really tasty.

This was a great desert beer where one bottle goes a long way with friends. Will hopefully be able to acquire more this year.

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Photo of edchicma
4/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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

The body is nicely dark with an equally nicely dark head. The aroma is spiked with a noticeable bit of alcohol. Otherwise, it’s mostly a sweet chocolate in the aroma. The flavor is sweet, verging on rich with strong chocolate and caramel malt flavors dominating. Not a bad imperial stout, but seems lacking somehow. It could just be that it doesn’t cover the alcohol well.

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Photo of Stimack
4/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of beernut7
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I expect great things from this brewery, and I have not yet been disappointed. This funky-bottled brew pours heavy with an equally creamy mocha head. A deep aroma of toffee and caramel malt first greets the nose with undertones of chocolate. The first sip is creamy smooth with a building floral spice and a bold bitterness. The malt is supported well and pushed forward by the body. The alcohol comes out in the finish with a brief warming character. Excellent.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one-fingered light tan head that goes slowly and leaves a good lace. Black and totally opaque. Moderate carbonation. Molasses/chocolate/malty nose. Sweet medicinal flavor similar to Brother's cough drops. Heavy bodied; a unique imperial stout. $9.95 for a 750ml bottle.

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Photo of WanderingFool
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

In my area, this is one tough beer to find. It pours an ink black color with a dark tan creamy head that dissolves slowly to a thick ring around the beer. A few spots and clumps of lace stay on the glass.

The aroma is filled with roasted malt. There are strong notes of raisins, cherry's, nuts, molasses and rum mixed in. Each sip of this full bodied beer is very smooth on the palate with just a hint of a gentle fizz on the tongue. The flavor begins with some cherry notes. Molasses and roasted malt with a hint of chocolate move in at the middle and it finishes with a slight nutty (hop?) bitterness. There's a smoky roasted malt flavor in the background holding it all together.

This is a full flavored beer that's best sipped slowly. I thought the flavor was great, but for the price and difficulty I had in finding a bottle I can get a similar taste from other Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Thumbsucker from Magic Hat Brewing Company
4.18 out of 5 based on 86 ratings.
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