Séance | Magic Hat Brewing Company

79 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jackal on 07-31-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 469
Photo of flowner120
1.32/5  rDev -59.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Avoid this beer - the color should have been warning enough...

The smell is off-putting; burnt and sweet malts.

This beer tastes like the runnings of an ashtray left out in the rain. It is utterly repulsive with a strong tobacco flavor followed by hints of metal and a slight roast/smokiness.

Mouthfeel is least offensive aspect of the beer - medium to high carbonation helps keep the flavors from staying too long on your tongue.

Overall this beer is an aggressious attempt at not only a (dark) saison but just as a drinkable beer in general. If I was Magic Hat, I would seriously consider scrapping this beer all together.

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Photo of dacrza1
1.63/5  rDev -50.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

DATE TASTED: November 8, 2013... GLASSWARE: Kisatsky's Tavern pint... OCCASION: post soccer/rental car/surgery Friday!... APPEARANCE: jet black body; slush brown, chunky, topographically significant head that laces thickly as a cloud--promising... AROMA: peat, lactic, soda pop and funk--NOT the barnyard variety; more of a porter than a saison--a mislabel?...PALATE: full-bodied, powerfully off-kilter residue--not enjoyable...TASTE: first, the aftertaste: malt that drags and offers a mucused experience; actually tastes more like old pint glass than a refreshing saison...OVERALL: a disappointing seasonal, given the foreboding label and the usually enjoyable experience when drinking a saison; drinks too much like a chore, almost begging unfair comparisons to other, more reputable Hats or saisons...

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
1.82/5  rDev -44.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a WTF IS THIS. Dark ruby body, two finger khaki head - there was literally no warning of this being a dark saison. None. Anyways, the head doesn't have very good retention, but does leave a bit of lacing behind. I'm not docking points because of the look, though.

S: The aroma should have thrown me a curveball about the look. It's quite high in both caramel malts and sweetness. A bit of oatmeal presence, also. Not very yeasty at all, there's little sense this is even a dark saison rather than a simple session porter. And I haven't even got to the unpleasantly smoky, rotting meat notes I'm picking up! : | The dog food quality tanks the nose utterly - in fact, I kind of don't want to drink this now...

T/M: It tastes like it's trying so hard to be a dark saison. It has the (somewhat) lively feel, and it has the dry finish. But the unpleasant melange of roast, caramel, smokiness (not the good smokiness you get out of Schlenkerla's rauchbiers, either), and wateriness ruins any chances of this being remotely good. Despite the high sweetness, the feel is okay for the style. Otherwise? Bah, who cares.

O: The drizzling shits, plain and simple. I normally avoid Magic Hat, and this brew reminded me exactly why I do so...

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Photo of MaxRebo
1.9/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

This beer is garbage. Smells of burnt malts. Very dark, looks like a porter or a stout. Very little head or carbonation. It is absolutely not a saison. It is a dark burnt malty mess. I should have read the reviews before ever ordering this crap. Be warned. Would not recommend if you actually want a saison.

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Photo of the38raven
2.01/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

I don't know what was going on with the bottle of this I got, but it does not seem to match up with the beer that other people are describing. The nose was a bit smoky, but otherwise unremarkable. The taste though... I got nothing but smoke. And not a good smoky flavor, either, but smoke from a fire made with rotted wood. I guess I could call it "earthy" if I were feeling generous, but the impression I got as I drank it was "wrong." I only finished it due to a misguided sense of honor, and I would not drink it again.

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Photo of tmm313
2.27/5  rDev -31%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

Appearance: Dark brown with a reddish hue. 1 finger creamy head. OK lacing.

Smell: All the aromas are on the light side. Nutty malts, a little char, a touch of dark fruit, and maybe dark cola. Chocolate and coffee in the back. Woodsy. Weird.

Taste: Charred bread, dark fruit, roasted peanuts, just a touch of dark chocolate. Something I just can't pick out - almost like a burnt cedar plank and dried leaves.

Mouthfeel: Light with crisp carbonation. Bitter finish. Sticky, oily coating left behind.

Overall: Weirdest beer I've ever had.

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Photo of Krieger783
2.28/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I was pretty disappointed in this beer. I have never had a saison this dark before, and I didn't expect it to be dark in the first place. There is nothing on the carton or bottle to indicate that it is a dark beer, and as dark beers go this one's still not winning any awards either. When I feel like a saison, this is almost the opposite of what I want. Very strange. Not terrible, but close. I'm trying to describe...maybe, rotten apples and copper coins?

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Photo of RingoBro
2.48/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Made my own six pack and decided I'd try one of these since I'm a big fan of several other magic hat beers. It's a very dark beer and has decent head on it. Not sure what's in this beer, but I could swear I could faintly taste chocolate. Overall, not a big fan of this magic hat and I will not be picking it up again.

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Photo of SteveB24
2.51/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

appearance; deep brown, but not cloudy, very much like diet coke. thin streams of rising bubbles but a lack of overall carbonation. sticky head that last for a reasonable amount of time before settling into decent lacing.

smell; blunt malt, might be a hint of caramel in there. nothing complex.

taste; malt, little else. just a hint of hops. watery finish.

mouthfeel; light carbonation, thin, watery.

overall; have had better from magic hat. not impressive, have had beers that are a lot worse but wouldn't buy again.

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Photo of TappaKeggaBrew
2.53/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2

A: Pours dark brown, the color of cola. Head was 2-plus fingers of frothy, wheat-colored foam that lasted a good while. Small amount of lacing.

S: Bready grain and citrus dominate. I also detect pepper, and the faintest hints of maple syrup and chocolate.

T: Not a hint of sweet malt or grain favors. It goes straight to tart fruit, then abruptly changes to bitter... funk -- that's the only word for it. It's not pleasant, and unfortunately it lasts. This is not what I was expecting after smelling it. By really focusing (not an easy chore), I detect some metallic and soapy favors in the mix.

M: Average carbonation, but a bit thin on the palate. Finish is a touch dry, not that I really notice with that taste on my tongue.

O: What happened? It looked and smelled promising, yet it totally failed in the mouth. Drain pour, and I'm going to try to get a refund from the store -- It's that bad (and not at all like a saison, despite what the label says).

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Photo of TBoneJones
2.62/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Posted from an earlier tasting:
Pours a dark brown (this is a Saison?!) in my pint, lively bubbles barely visible in the deep body, finger-width tan head tapers down to a smaller surface film.
Smells of malts and of toffee/ anise. Odd and not expected for the style as indicated by the label. Slight hint of a hoppy funk that otherwise can be indicative of a saison, however I don't see how this can mesh as a saison with the other oddities detected by my nose.
This is a mess for me. Like a basic coffee porter wishing to be a saison, but failing to realizing it can only be a porter. Dark malts and burnt. Soapy. Aspirin. Dry. Ample carbonation. A beer I cant recommend, but to give credit where credit is due, it certainly lives up to its name in that nothing good comes from "black magic".

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Photo of TMoney2591
2.68/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served in an Ohio State shaker pint glass.

Nothing like a beer to accompany lone viewings of romantic comedies, amiright? (*sniff*) Anyway, this stuff pours a sunset sienna-topaz topped by a finger-and-a-half of khaki foam. The nose comprises toasted wheat bread and a bit of what seems like charred sesame seeds. The taste holds notes of fennel, lightly-toasted rye bread, the vaguest possible sense of fruit in the distance, and a pinch of cardamom. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, I'm not sure I fully get where Magic Hat was going with this. I mean, it could be construed as a "black saison" or something to that effect, but there's zero trace of the base style here. If anything, it's more like an odd brown ale or dark mild or something along those lines, 'cause there's no sense of Belgian-like yeast, there's little to no farmhouse-ness, and the maltiness, rather than balancing or playing off of the aforementioned missing parts, dominates the proceedings, precluding any future cooperation. Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy this, neither as a saison nor as anything else.

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Photo of BeerDocT
2.77/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

First off, just want to say I love the label art on this beer. Spooky owl...grasping hand...candles...blowing leaves...very cool! How will the Fall seasonal inside taste? Here goes... .

Appearance 3.25: This saison...pours out jet black. Yep. A jet black saison. Nice 1/2" white head slowly faded leaving good level of foam on top. Makes my saison look like "3/4 pint" of Guinness. Very nice lacing.

Smell 3.0: Pleasant bouquet, but the emphasis is on the yeast more than anything else. Sour smell with slight hints of roasted malts.

Taste 2.5: Front is dry and slightly sour. Middle is also dry, with a brief hint of roasted malt. A funny thing happened on the way to the finish: a taste reminiscent of the way a well-used ash tray smells. This unpleasant taste is all in the top of the palate and leads into the finish. The finish is dry, slightly sour and filled with a subdued peat-type smoke. Aftertaste is where one finally gets some flavor profiles from the (I assume) saison yeast.

Mouthfeel 3.0: Mouthfeel is dry, but the carbonation helps to elevate the overall enjoyment of the beer.

Overall 2.75: Was there a fire-sale on smoked grains in Vermont this summer? First their black amber ale and now this saison. What is up with the guys at Magic Hat? This is not an awful beer, but certainly it is not good. The smoked grains and the saison yeast do not go together well and often clash, leading to flavor profiles like the "ash tray effect" described above. This should have been worked out in taste-testing long before this beer was set loose on an unsuspecting populace. This beer is a chimera, an unholy and unwieldy blending of disparate elements. It doesn't work. The best thing about this beer is the art on the label. I really want someone to spray-paint a duplicate of it on the side of my Chevy van.

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Photo of BryanCarey
2.84/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Dark brown in color with a nice head of foam, this saison emits a nose that is somewhat unusual, with scents of sourness and yeast dominating and some tangy chocolate and bread in the background. There is a small amount of lacing and the overall first impression is mixed.

The taste of this beer is unusual, but not necessarily in the best way. The flavors of yeast, bread, some dark fruit, a touch of caramel, and some citrus can be tasted. The beer is medium to light in body and somewhat watery in the finish.

This isn’t the greatest beer I have ever tasted and its flavor seems a tad off, especially for the style. With each sip, I found myself wondering what I was tasting and not even sure if the flavors were authentic. That isn’t good, but at the same time, this isn’t a terrible beer and I can think of many that rate lower. Still, there are better brews out there for the money, whether saison or something else.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.93/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

12 ounce bottle - $1.79 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown body with some amber edges when held to the light. Very thin, evaporating, off-white head.

Smell: A bit tartish, a bit earthy, with a kick of spice. Slight roast, off-brand cherry cola, subtle smoke.

Taste: Wheat wrapped in ancillary, earthy dark malty touches, some darkish caramel, cola, walnut, even some light chary elements. The light sweetness lands alongside the spicy yeast character, fruity touches, and smokiness. A little aspirin, licorice. Near-crisp, tartish, spiced finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: As phoney as a seance, I'm left feeling a little bit hoodwinked and cheated. Wait. Where's my wallet?

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Photo of wraynathan
3.01/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type:



Nice dark roasted color.


I can really smell the malt of the beer as well as some earthy/nutty tones.


The taste is not bad. The blend of the caramel malt and the smoky taste of nuts. Also some earthy tones. The taste is kind of bitter/sour, but not terrible.


This beer is medium bodied. I feel a lot of carbonation and a little thicker than I would have expected. The bitter/sour taste is definitely present. The carbonation and mix of the bitter/sour taste, gives a slightly abrupt feel to the mouth.


Not my favorite beer. It is not terrible, but not something that I would consider a "go to" beer.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.03/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours deep cops color with a tight off-white head that leaves rings of lacing.

Smells of some roasted notes with an emphasis on earthy tones.

Tastes of the earthy tones with a bit malt character behind it. Toasty coffee and a bit of chocolate come through. Touches of dark fruit sneak in. Some brown sugar comes in as well. More porter like than said on.

Mouth feel is medium-light with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this isn't bad, but I find the overall profile could use some refinement as well as a little more oomph.

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Photo of therica
3.03/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Dark brown with a slight timt toward gray rather than yellow hues. Reasonable tan head and rimming. Plentiful variety in the nose, not that they all fit together. Roasted malts, of course, and some other notes. Taste is dry like a Guinness cousin, burnt unsweetened chocolate, dusty, slight sour taste as in "not quite right." Occasionally slight liquor. Interesting to try and then move on.

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Photo of Fuzzycranium
3.07/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Not sure why this one is categorized as a farmhouse/saison. Seems to look, smell taste, feel like a one dimensional porter.
A: dark copper red, Minimal head,

a: Roasted barley on the moderate side

F: roasted

M: Wnderful

O: Enjoyable, but perplexing to categorize this as such, Wonder if they used a wild yeast?

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Photo of mfnmbvp
3.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. A new beer from Magic Hat, acquired as part of the Magic Hat Night Of The Living Dead variety pack. Expectations are relatively low for this one. The cap says "drink it down & lose your frown". Sounds good to me.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours a cola brown color; mahogany / ruby in the glass. Just over a finger of creamy fluffy tan head.

S - The first thing I smell is chocolate / coffee and roasted malt presence. Some crisp yeast presence and some faint brett, but it isn't exactly what I would call "funky" or "farmhouse". Beyond that, there isn't really anything to it. Doesn't smell bad, but very lackluster.

T - Taste follows the nose: bland and fizzy. Some malt roast, light unsweetened chocolate, some char, crisp carbonation, and maybe some mineral presence.

M - Feel is thin, watery, and over carbonated. Some dry light roasty notes lingering on the palate.

Overall, a pretty disappointing lackluster of a beer. Reminds me more of some kind of a weak porter or a brown ale rather than a saison / farmhouse ale. I really don't know what Magic Hat was going for with this one. Over carbonating a weak porter doesn't make it "farmhouse". I won't have any trouble finishing these off, but it's not something I'd seek out again.

Magic Hat Séance ---3/5.

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Photo of ExtraStout
3.09/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: This saison...pours out jet black with a nice 1/2" white head slowly faded leaving good level of foam on top, nice lacing.

Smell: Pleasant bouquet, but the emphasis is on the yeast more than anything else. Sour smell with slight hints of roasted malts.

Taste: Front is dry and slightly sour. Middle is also dry, with a brief hint of roasted malt. A funny thing happened on the way to the finish: a taste reminiscent of the way a well-used ash tray smells. This unpleasant taste is all in the top of the palate and leads into the finish. The finish is dry, slightly sour and filled with a subdued peat-type smoke. Aftertaste is where one finally gets some flavor profiles from the (I assume) saison yeast.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is a bit but the carbonation helps to elevate the overall enjoyment of the beer.

Overall: This is not an awful beer, but certainly it is not good. This beer is a chimera, an unholy and unwieldy blending of disparate elements. It doesn't really work.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.1/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Cap: "Next time use less cologne".

Poured into a tulip glass. Pour is very dark brown with slight translucence when held to the light. Tan head rests up top for a while eventually forming a thick ring, some lace spots left. Kinda oddball scent of bread, spice, smoke, earthiness, tobacco, some light fruit.

Scent was interesting at least, taste isn't quite as redeeming. Peppery smoke, toasted bread, nutty malts, some caramel, some light Belgian yeast, grassy and earthy tones. Smoked dark saison? Reminds me of the bad batch Fantomes but more drinkable. Mouthfeel is very foamy and has a certain weirdness to it, not all bad but could be smoother for sure.

Not sure what to make of it, definitely a mess/clash of flavors but not horrible.

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Photo of Xach
3.11/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

First dark beer rating.

A - Very dark. Small head that lasted about 30 seconds. Opaque. Looks like a dark beer should look.

S - Ok, this my be random, but I'm smelling some olive. The people with me agree, so either they've been drinking, or it's legit.

T - Heavy on the malt, light on the hops. A slight bready taste. Nothing that quite stood out, very average dark beer.

M - Very carbonated, overpowers the taste quite a bit.

O - The carbonation brought it down, but still okay beer. This is now our benchmark for dark beers.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.12/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep brown color with a one finger of thick cream colored head. The head very slowly fades over time leaving a nice level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is very sweet with a strong caramel smell mixed with some chocolate, raisin, prune, and cola. Behind all the sweet smells, is a brown bread aroma as well as a little bit of yeast.

Taste – The taste is much less sweet then I would have originally anticipated from the nose. It begins with a light caramel flavor mixed with a light amount of roasted malt. The roasted flavors get a little bit more intense taking on a slightly more bitter coffee flavor. Some chocolate flavors come to the tongue more toward the middle of the taste, being accompanied by some yeast which brings with it some more tart and funky tastes. In the end, as a light cola and grassy taste and a bit of an earthy flavor come to the tongue, one is left with a slightly bitter, funky, and roasty flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thinner side with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. The thinner body is not really very fitting for the more roasted flavors of the brew, but both the thinner body and the higher carbonation are rather decent for the saison tastes of the beer, so overall it if pretty decent.

Overall – A decent brew, although nothing all that fantastic.

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Photo of horshamguy
3.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

12 ounce bottle into a tulip glass.

A--Dark, rich looking brown beer. Nice head with limited life, but good lacing.
S--Sweet, roasted caramel. All malt, no hops.
T--Sweet, caramel malts. A bit of roasted/burnt something. I'd rate it 3.75 if it was something besides a saison, but it doesn't seem to have anything in common with other saisons I've had.
M--Medium bodied. A lot crisper than the appearance would imply. Carbonation feels just right.
O--I'd rate this an excellent beer, if it was an English ale or some other type. It doesn't even faintly resemble any other saison I've ever had. I don't even know how to rate it fairly, It is simply not what's advertised. It's excellent, but not what it calls itself.

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Séance from Magic Hat Brewing Company
3.29 out of 5 based on 469 ratings.
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