First stop: MAGIC HAT ART FACTORY
So the first stop on the tour last time was Magic Hat so it only made sense being a resident of South Burlington, that Magic Hat would be the first stop again. And it just so happened that Magic Hat was hosting A Night of Free Beer, Cheese and Knowledge! Pairing their beers with the Vermont staple of delicious Cabot Cheese. The Art Factory was packed but I had no problem walking up to the bar and making my way around assortment of beers, the cheese on the other hand was a little harder to get too, but after all this is a brewery challenge not a cheese challenge, although that too would be delicious. The beers were consumed in the order listed above with my favorite stand outs being Wacko their summer offering made with beat juice, H.I.P.A part of their I.P.A on tour family, and of course the classic #9 which just fills your mouth with the sweet taste of apricot and always tastes good, just never as good as straight from the tap at Magic Hat. I walked away with three growlers one of each of the mentioned beers and also a new pint glass to add to the collection. On the first beer tour I collected a pint glass at every brewery I could, minus Madison Tavern (It’s my white whale now) and Magic Hat because I was so excited to grab a growler of their beers I completely forgot. Now I can say I have a Wacko pint glass (different visit that sparked the tour again), a #9 pint glass, and a Magic Hat logo pint glass to round out my collection.
But the real highlight of this visit was getting to talk to Matt the brewer at Magic Hat about some of their beers that I’ve been missing and some that I will be missing in the near future. I told him how excited I was about Blind Faith’s return and how I’m not really an I.P.A fan but I love the smell of them (yes it’s the bitterness that turns me away). Blind Faith was the beer that put I.P.A’s back on the menu for me because of its deep hoppy aroma but with only a slight bitterness. In comparison to another popular Vermont beer Long Trail’s I.P.A, which also has, a deep hoppy aroma but is just too bitter for me to enjoy. And to contradict my precious statement about I.P.A’s I did walk away with a growler of H.I.P.A the newest offering of their I.P.A on tour series that is slightly more crisp than Blind Faith but very drinkable with once again a great hoppy aroma.
My conversation with Matt then turned to my favorite beer of Magic Hat’s past, their Oatmeal Stout Heart of Darkness. If Blind Faith is going to be my gateway into drinking more I.P.A’s then Heart of Darkness was definitely my gateway into drinking stouts, I miss it greatly and I’m disappointed to write that as of now, they have no plan to resurface it in the near future (maybe I should start a petition?). And for you Roxy Rolles fans out there, that beer will also must likely be going the way of the dodo. But all we can hope is with the success of Magic Hat and their expanding brewery that at some point they’ll make small batches of our old favorites, Heart of Darkness rest in peace… I picked Matt’s ear about one more of the beers in the Magic Hat family, a beer that I recently scored at the Beverage Warehouse, Odd Notion Winter ’09. Their Winter ’09 was Magic Hat’s stab at a controlled sour, I say controlled because they didn’t use Brettanomyces yeast or the natural wild yeast found in the air and in most sours. The reason? Magic Hat brews with open vats and inviting in Brettanomyces would mean a contamination of their flagship brews and a change to all Magic Hat beer, as we know it. Winter ’09 did have a sour tinge to it but couldn’t hold up against a true sour beer like a Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge (the very first sour I tried) but was an interesting experiment on Magic Hat’s part and I look forward to future Odd Notion offerings. With that I left Matt and with my three growlers, my two new pint glasses and my newly stamped passport I slipped out into the warm summer night to enjoy more of Magic Hat’s beer on my own.
Stop #1 Complete!