Odd Notion Winter ’09

Magic Hat – Odd Notion Series – Winter 2009

Magic Hat Brewing Company – South Burlington, VT

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Information: (Site) “This American Sour Ale is brewed with 4 different malts and oak chips. The chips give it hints of vanilla, the malts a puckering sourness. This is the temptation of tart. Drink it down and let it steal your face-buds.”

The new Magic Hat Feast of Fools 12-pack has officially hit coolers in an area near you, effectively replacing the Night of the Living Dead fall pack, and it offers up exactly what you’ve come to expect from Magic Hat’s variety boxes: surprises. One of the great things about these boxed sets -as it were- is that they do offer up something very different each and every time. Sometimes the surprise can turn out to be disappointing, as with what happened with the fall collection with their #9, which I was none to fond of. Well, it’s back, but there are more than enough good beers to make up for it’s lackluster existence.

The pour of this Sour Ale is a slightly cloudy, deep amber with a meager froth. The initial smell is deeply wheaty and oaky with a mild nose of bitter citrus. After a good swirl and hefty whiff it’s apparent that there is the slightest hint of vanilla. But beyond all of that, past all of the richer and brighter ‘beer’ smells is something entirely inherent to this particular Sour Ale: something almost gone off and oddly off-putting. I do hope the flavor does little to reflect this bizarre nose.

The first sip offers up over-ripe grapefruits and slightly bitter hops with a distinguishing melange of oak and fresh wheat. I’m not getting any real sweetness from the vanilla that was more apparent in the smell, but there is a kind of caramelized sugary mouth-feel that leaves a sheen well after the swallow. But, over all, it’s the very rich and heavily tart ¬†flavor of the malts. It almost reminds me yet again of the grapefruit, but far more of the puckery side than the rind side. It is definitely a taste that I’ve yet to experience previous to this, and is entirely new to me. It’s odd (strangely enough) and it’s very different, and not all together bad but certainly not all together good, either. This beer should definitely be paired with something sweet to cut back on that sour note, so maybe cranberry compote on some venison. Sure, why not.

Rating: * * * 1/2
Magic Hat continues it’s reign as one of the most surprising brewers around with a beer that’s a little too sour.