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Hophead: Magic Hat Conjures Seasonal Sample Pack

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Vermont brewing company Magic Hat has a fall sampler that is making its way to Texas beer stores, which according to the company marks the arrival of the brewer's full line of beers in the state.

Magic Hat is best known for its apricot-infused #9 (which got a nice little spike in popularity last week, including over at Dallas Craft Beer Examiner, on Nine Day). While it's not a Hophead favorite, it's a very well-done beer for what it is, and a pleasant change of pace for a summer beer.

The #9 will be part of the Night Of The Living Dead Variety 12-Pak, along with Circus Boy unfiltered hefeweizen, Roxy Rolles Autumn red and the Odd Notion chocolate Belgian stout. As it happened, samples of the stout and red arrived at City of Ate HQ just as the cool front rolled in with the unrelenting rain and it started to actually feel like fall. Uncanny timing. Maybe Magic Hat really is magic.

The chocolate Belgian stout is part of Magic Hat's Odd Notion line, specialty seasonals which beer lovers can rate, comment on and even suggest names for at the Magic Hat web site.

It's a black stout, and it lived up to the name--not even a glint of light shone through when held up to a light. The head was thick and foamy, the color of chocolate milk or chai, sticky and long-lasting. The nose lived up to the Belgian chocolate stout name as well, with roasty, malty fudge notes dominating. At 6.2 percent ABV, it proved a big, bad, robust stout, but much smoother and less bitter than expected. It just tasted like a cool fall night in a warm dark tavern. Highly recommended for stout lovers. My name suggestion: Moonless Night.

Not quite as impressive was the Roxy Rolles. It's a good, beer, dark ruby amber in color with a thick sticky off-white head. It had a good balance of bready malt and sour, bitter hop notes and crisp carbonation, but its watery texture undermined the excitement.

Or maybe it was just the confusing koan printed on the underside of the cap that made the Roxy feel incomplete. As with the #9, each bottlecap has a little slogan or aphorism printed on the bottom. "What is the Cost of things you have Lost," read the Roxy cap, with no question mark. What the hell kind of message is that? I drink beer to forget about my losses, not to dwell on them. I prefered the stout's "Overachievers underestimate the Rest of Us"--a nice feel-good, brotherly message from an overachiever of a beer.

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