Thumbsucker | Magic Hat Brewing Company

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86 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 UnionMade on 03-14-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 86 |  Reviews: 74
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A rough pour brings up a full head of orange-tinted brown foam over an opaque black body. Only a glint of a ruby cusp can be seen at the bottom of the glass; and although it's been long cellared, all of the yeast seems to have been brought up off of the bottom. The head holds fairly well before dropping to a creamy collar and lacy surface covering. It leaves some minimal spotty lace, but most of what's raised with each sip simply slips back down into the glass. The nose is quite complex, and even lightly vinous at times. It delivers a lightly sweet note of bourbon; a flash or bordeaux, a fruitiness that's reminiscent of the Ringwood yeast strain; some more tropical fruit that includes a touch of cocoanut and papaya; a solid oakiness; the remnants of a buttery note; some mild acetaldehyde; ethanol; a thin roastiness; dark bittersweet chocolate; and some background grassy hops. In the mouth it gives a gentle caress to the tongue based on it's very fine, low-level carbonation; and it fades away smoothly with just the bite of some ethanol to remind you that there's a "real" beer in front of you! The flavor delivers a rich, ethanol-drenched, roasted malt that's lightly floral, mildly spicy (due to the alcohol), a bit fruity, mildly sweet and slightly chocolatey backed by a bold bitterness. It finishes quite dry with its combination of drying alcohol and firm bitterness working off of one another. Surprisingly "hot" considering its listed 7.8% abv - this Imperial loses a bit of drinkabilty due to it's forward ethanol character!

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Photo of 86MonteSS
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ok, so others have mentioned the difficulties they had with the cork, but I'm inclined to believe mine was even harder to pull than the rest. First my friend tried to open it, he was unsuccessful. Then he told me to give it a shot, I couldn't do shit. He gave it to his dad, still no luck. Then my friend held the bottle while I pulled at the corkscrew. We ended up bending the handle of the corkscrew. I mean, what the hell... I'm almost 200 pounds and can benchpress myself, and he's pretty much the same. How could a friggin cork be so much trouble? Finally, he braced himself against the corner of a wall while I put all my weight and bodily strength into that little bastard cork. It finally gave, and we hardly spilt a drop. Whoopdy doo, I wish they were all that much fun.

The taste was well worth the struggle we put into opening the bottle. It had all the elements of a great imperial stout: hints of coffee, chocolate, and spices with the perfect compliment of hops. When I think Magic Hat beers I usually think fruity, rooty-toot college beer. But after having Thumbsucker, I know the brewers are serious. Glad I had the chance to try it.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.85/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 Notes[Jim Beam]: 750ml corked and caged bottle. This is a 'humdinger' series beer from the folks at Magic Hat. This is their Nailbiter imperial stout aged in used Jim Beam barrels and than bottled.

This is an excellent imperial stout that poured a very dark, opaque, black colour with a large tan head. The aromas were heavy on the bourbon oak casks that they used to age this beer in. Besides an oaky and alcoholic nose, this beer smelled of coffee, various malts, chocolate, and hops. The taste was very boozy, chocolaty, hoppy, and excellent. The mouthfeel: thick and chewy. The drinkability: also excellent. This was a great imperial stout from Magic Hat.

2004 Notes[Wild turkey]: 750ml corked and caged bottle. This is a 'humdinger' series beer from the folks at Magic Hat. This is their Nailbiter imperial stout aged in used Wild turkey barrels and than bottled.

The 2004 is still an opaque black colour with a nice large head of tannish/brown foam. The 2004 has more oak, and bourbon on the nose, yet it still retains a subtle smoothness. The flavor packs a bigger punch than the 2003 dues to the heavier bouron notes as well. The mouthfeel and drinkability remain top notch as well. Wow, this is some damn good stuff and I have re-rated it accordingly.

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Photo of mikeys01
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thumsucker is an excellent example of an imperial stout from Magic Hat. Wish I could get a couple more bottles. Thumsucker is one of the Humdinger series of special beers released from MH, released in a champagne style bottle, corked, priced around $10. On opening, has an amazing aroma, notes of coffee and chocolate and spice. Good head for a bottled stout. Fairly strong alcohol presence, good and warming going down, definitely a sipper. I noticed the flavors became much more developed as thumbsucker warmed up a bit.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out thick and black like used motor oil. A dense dark tan head erupts, and quickly fades to a thin halo. Abosolutely no light shows through this. It sounds alive!

Scents of roasted fruit and smoke.

The flavor of this is quite complex. Notes of smoke, whiskey, molasses, licorice, plums, & raisins bounce around. This has a very wine like character throughout. My wife even said that it smells like wine. Blends seamlessly into an interesting and full hop profile. Finishes dry, with a slow moving astringentcy. Minty flavor lingers long after its gone.

Lipsmacking good. I can't believe I drank the whole bottle by myself!

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Photo of dwarbi
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This stout is solid black. Completely opaque. This, brown head at first, but it settles quickly, with almost no lacing. Smells primarily of apples. Nice aroma. Tastes very smooth.. smoky and a little chalky. Extremely drinkable. Pleasant coffee aftertaste.

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Photo of pbrian
4.62/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cork's a bitch, for sure. Poured wonderfully into the glass, fat tan head atop what appears to be clear black nectar. The aroma, oh the aroma. A beer and whisky lover's (that's me) dream. Oaky, smokey, leathery whiskey aromas greet you first mellowed by sweet burnt malts and a hint of yeastiness. Careful of that first sip... KAPOWEE. It gets a little crazy, but there's those oaky whiskey notes, a deep vinous character, dark malts and coffee, it's sweet then it's dry, it's velvety smooth and everything in between. And I'll be damned if that Ringwood yeast doesn't fight its way through. I was at first upset that the bottle said it was only 7.8% alc/vol, I expect more out of a special edition Imperial Stout but I think they forgot a digit. It drinks much more potent than that. Maybe its the whiskey notes sublimilily telling me its stronger. Doesn't matter though, this is one I really enjoyed drinking.

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Photo of nixhecks
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

When I saw this brew on the shelves at $29.99, I was very disappointed that I wouldn't ever get to try it ( can't pay that much!), especially as Magic Hat is hands down my favorite brewery. As luck would have it, tonight I saw it for only 15.99. Although, I have probably just been totally had by this package store, I am now happy regardless.

Now if I didn't deserve a beer before this, I sure did after wrestling out the cork. It actually took two people - one to hold the bottle down and the other to lift (of course we were using a swiss army knife corkscrew). All worth it.

Poured an inky black, I wasn't able to pick up any of the brown other reviewers reported. Also, the brown head had surprisingly good retention from what I expected. The aroma is nice and sweet, mocha, burnt chocolate, and a definitive whiskey aroma. The taste was really something else - easily the most complex taste I have ever experienced. It starts of as a fruity, whisky-ish, licorice, mouth puckering, I-just-can't-figure-out-what-the-hell-I-am-tasting brew, and then slowly molds into a bittersweet, mocha finish. Mouthfeel is velvety smooth with low carbonation. And trust me this description leaves out a lot - I could come up with flavor descriptions all night. The flavor changes as the beer warms - I had served it well below the recommended 55 degrees, and at first the chocolatey finish was the most prominent characteristic. However as it warmed the whisky, burnt flavors started to poke through. Unbelievable as far as I'm concerned - money well spent.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This funky-ass conical bottle, which traveled here all the way from Connecticut, thanks to paceyourself, corked, caged, and wrapped, stands now in the Hall of Fame of Cool Beer Bottles.

Now to drink the thing! But first!
Color: dark as the Devil's stool, it is, with a buzzing, bubbling dark brown head atop.
Large aroma, full of roastiness, and chocolate and more....anise, molasses, rum, bark, carob, ... this actually has some very particular sensations for an Imperial, some that I can't put the word to, unfortunately. It's rather there something extra in this?...

Fully loaded on the tongue, with flavor, with malt, with hops. It all feels well-integrated, too, with no odd cluttering of flavors. It tastes a like a molasses candy bar, mingled with chocolate. Not too strong, as many over-powering ISs are these days, it still packs a wallop in flavor and alcohol. Generously sized bottle helps this carry me through the night.

The name, though, "Thumbsucker"? Am I supposed to crawl into a ball and call out for Mommy? A bit presumptuous, if that's their taunting tactic in the name.
It will put me to bed, though. A uniquely tasty IS, and one I'm glad I've had the chance to try!

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Photo of scottum
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sosatel Paltzeu

My girlfriend (originally from Russia) says that it means "finger sucker" or "one who sucks their fingers" and the phrase further implies that they are sucking their fingers because there is something tasty on them

she says that there is no word for thumb in Russian, it’s called the “big finger”

now onto the review...

'03 vintage reviewed right after release:

Pours black with a nice tan head. My first thought is "ahhhh! the whiskey barrels ruined Nailbiter!" Certainly I am of the opinion that Nailbiter (the same brew minus the aged whiskey barrel time) is much better, but this is still a damn fine brew. The whiskey barrel flavor adds something to the brew, but it also masks some of the complexity of Nailbiter. If you see Nailbiter on tap it is a must drink. If you can't get that, buy a bottle of this.

Update on the '04 vintage as of 11 months in the cellar:

I didn't even bother to crack one of these bottles fresh this year. But 11 months later I'm wondering if maybe this year's batch will bring me joy. Alas, yet again not a Nailbiter. Still though, I think this vintage of the Thumbsucker is better than the '03 with similar aging. Quite smooth with that sweet thing going for it. But damn you wiskey flavor!

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Photo of far333
3.19/5  rDev -24%
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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Thumbsucker from Magic Hat Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 86 ratings