Whenever I go to a new region, the first thing I do, beerwise, is find out where they sell beer. Not all states sell beer in liquor stores. Some only sell wine and liquor, as is the case in New York. Beer is thus considered a "grocery" if you live in New York. The second thing I do is go to where the beer is and see what is there.
There was a lot of good beer at the P&C Grocery near where Aunt Helen lives. However, it was only scratching the service, once I discovered Wegman's. Anyhow, I just wanted to get a sixer, and there it was, Magic Hat #9. I couldn't remember where I read about this beer, only a statement like, "and up in Vermont, they like their beer with a little bit of apricot, such as the Magic Hat #9." So I was pretty excited about being able to try this beer. Only thing is I hate getting six of something I've never tried. I thought maybe I should get the Saranac sample, but I really wanted to try the #9, so I got it instead.When I tried it, I was a little disappointed. It was neat, but I didn't think it was really anything that special.
Also, when I got to the house where we were hanging out that evening, they also had a couple of bottles of the Circus Boy hefeweizen there. Usually, I am leary of American hefeweizens and wheat beers. Except for Three Floyd's Gumballhead Wheat, I've usually been less than impressed. So, overall, I wasn't too impressed with Magic Hat.
Not that I was willing to give up on them. While there, we went to Dinosaur Barbecue, which in itself is an experience. They had Magic Hat Jinx on tap there. Abbe had tasted both the #9 and Circus Boy, and enjoyed them. She ordered a Jinx while we were waiting for our table. I got it for her, and when they poured it, I thought, "It sure looks kind of dark." After I tasted it, though, I thought she would like it. Sort of smokey flavor with a little annis and fruit aftertaste. She did like it.
On the way out of town, we picked up 2 twelve-packs of their Night of the Living Dead samplers. The sampler contained 3 each of the Circus Boy, Jinx, #9, and a Mystery Beer. After we got back, I did some research and it appears that they were serving this Mystery Beer on tap at their brewery, and it was a Double Abbey. I tried it without knowing this, and thought that it was some kind of IPA with a sweeter aftertaste, like many of their beers.
Last night I had another Mystery Beer (still great) and a Circus Boy. I really wasn't looking forward to the Circus Boy, but this time I drank it slowly while editing the genres of the songs on iTunes. I really like it. It's got a nice, wheaty taste, with slight banana hints, and a smooth honey flavor, almost. I could really have gone for putting a lemon in the glass for a final enhancement.
It's funny, because Magic Hat appears to be very good at making light, drinkable ales. A lot of brewers are going for big beers these days. "This is a double imperial IPA that has 21% alcohol by volume (ABV)." Which, is nice, if you want to share it or just take a nap. But I really can appreciate what Magic Hat is doing, and I would totally recommend trying anything by these folks, especially if you want an enjoyable sipping beer. I'm glad Magic Hat isn't trying to bash me over the head with their product, but provide very tasty and flavorful beer.