Hophead: Magic Hat Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9...

Never pretend to a friend. --From the underside of the bottle cap of a Magic Hat #9 sample.

In a sign of both the growth of Vermont's Magic Hat Brewing Company and that of the market for craft beers in the area, Magic Hat's flagship #9 is now available in Texas for the first time.*

Magic Hat #9 is marketed as "Not Quite Pale Ale." Maybe that qualifier is the reason I don't notice any of the hoppiness I usually associate with American pale ales. This has much more in common with lighter English pale ales. It's not very malty either. The primary impression is that of apricot--without the sour aspect--making for a nice light (4.6% ABV), summery beer.

*According to a Magic Hat spokesman, Magic Hat was previously distributed only as far west as Chicago. This is driving me nuts, though, because I could swear I've seen it before. Is anyone else having beer deja vu? Are there Magic Hat bootleggers?