Nestled just off Shelburne Road in South Burlington is the mystical “Artifactory” of the Magic Hat Brewing Company. This venerable brewery has been creating and refining its long list of beers for 23 years! I remember going to the Artifactory many, many years ago and getting the classic #9 Not Quite Pale Ale. That favorite is still on tap, but now Magic Hat offers a whole variety of craft beer stylings.
I also remember the whimsical look and feel of this brewery. Psychedelic lighting and light background music create a chill vibe. There is also a ton of “merch” for sale in all kinds of shapes and forms. And if you’re interested in how the beer is made, a brewery tour is available.
Getting there just at opening time (12:00 Noon), I mosied up to the bar and ordered up some samples … four for $3.00. Not a bad deal, so I decided to try two sets of four! Here is what I found:
Pilot IPA v2.0 (6.4% ABV) This is part of Magic Hat’s “small batch” pilot program. In this case, the ale wasn’t bad, but could be better with some recipe retooling.
Appearance: 4.0 | Aroma: 4.1 | Feel: 4.2 | Taste: 4.1 | Overall: 4.1
Accidental Friends Saison (5.9% ABV) This saison is concocted with red elderberry syrup … it had promise, but ended up falling short on taste.
Appearance: 4.2 | Aroma: 4.1 | Feel: 4.2 | Taste: 3.9 | Overall: 4.0
Big Hundo Imperial IPA (9.0% ABV) Dry-hopped with Centennial hops, this is a very bitter ale. I detected definite tastes of pine. Very good beer.
Appearance: 4.5 | Aroma: 4.2 | Feel: 4.2 | Taste: 4.4 | Overall: 4.4
Kittens on Parade Double IPA (8.4% ABV) Theoretically imbued with citrus, pine and grapefruit flavors, I found this IIPA lacking in the taste department.
Appearance: 4.3 | Aroma: 4.1 | Feel: 4.1 | Taste: 3.8 | Overall: 4.0
Circus Boy Hefeweizen (4.5% ABV) Brewed with lemongrass … citrusy finish. Tasted a little flat.
Appearance: 4.0 | Aroma: 4.0 | Feel: 4.1 | Taste: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Zirkus Boy Hefewiesen (4.5% ABV) Slight banana aromas, but not much else.
Appearance: 4.0 | Aroma: 4.2 | Feel: 4.0 | Taste: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Elder Betty Elderberry Weiss (5.5% ABV) Strangely, this elderberry-based weiss wafted coffee aromas. Not unpleasant though. Striking color in the glass!
Appearance: 4.5 | Aroma: 4.4 | Feel: 4.2 | Taste: 4.3 | Overall: 4.4
Barroom Hero Pub Ale (4.2% ABV) As the name implies, this beer was the true hero of my tasting session. This pub ale had subtle tastes of raspberry.
Appearance: 4.5 | Aroma: 4.5 | Feel: 4.4 | Taste: 4.5 | Overall: 4.5
The Cicerone says: Aside from its quirky appearance, Magic Hat has a vast line-up of beers to satisfy every taste. On this day, the Barroom Hero was victorious!