With the chill in the air, the sudden availability of beachfront parking spaces and the lack of blockbusters at the multiplexes, there's no denying that summer is bowing out, making way for the cool days of autumn.
And while the end of summer means the days at the beach have come to a close for this year, the arrival of autumn does bring plenty of good tidings as well, such as heart-warming fall beers.
Luckily for us, the folks at Vermont-based brewing company Magic Hat are here to help us get our post-Labor Day drink on and pound the final nail in summer's coffin with their new Night of the Living Dead Variety 12-pack. The frighteningly enticing set includes classic Magic Hat concoctions #9 and Circus Boy placed alongside returning winter amber Roxy Rolles and the brand new and mysterious Fall Odd Notion.
Our team of experts recently took the opportunity to knock back some Roxy Rolles and Fall Odd Notion. Will our findings shock you into rushing for your local liquor store or will they scare you sober for the season? If you're brave enough to find out, read on ...
Alex Biese: Right off the bat, this brew lives up to the Magic Hat name. Boasting a proud, bitter and defiant hoppy smack, this ale is not exactly for the faint of heart. That being said, once it makes its point it mellows off and lets you enjoy the ride. If you've never been the type to warm up to Magic Hat, this won't be the beer that coverts you. But if you consider yourself a fan, there's no reason you shouldn't take this for a spin.
Graelyn Brashear: A sharp English amber ale, Roxy packs a powerful hoppy punch. This is a good sipper if you're a fan of full-bodied reds and ambers, but it pairs poorly with food. It's definitely a cold-weather concoction, so maybe I'll pick up a pack once the daytime highs quit registering in the 80s.
Renee Ernst: Magic Hat's seasonal additions, Roxy Rolles and Odd Notion, did not disappoint. I have always been a big fan of Magic Hat, so I was not surprised when they once again delivered worthy beer. Roxy Rolles was heavier than expected for red ale. It was a nice, clear, amber color with a contradicting strong flavor and a hint of caramel. I wasn't sure how many of them I could drink because of the full flavor, but I enjoyed it overall.
Steve Bove: This one didn't exactly rattle my shutters. I've always been critical of hops-laden brews, and RR is saddled with the stuff. While its noticeable bite does cue the palate, without the weight to back that up, all that's left beyond that first impression is a limp wash of disappointment. This one I'll leave to IPA fans.
Fall Odd Notion
Alex Biese: With the Fall Odd Notion, Magic Hat has given us "The Devil's Rejects" of beers, for while it is a sequel to an earlier work (in this case the Odd Notion found in the company's summer variety pack), this here is a stand-alone and incredibly well-made offering. However, unlike Rob Zombie's slasher magnum opus, the Fall Odd Notion is actually a lovely experience, a thoroughly satisfying and mellow chocolate stout with plenty of roasted, malty flavor to spare. This is one that I cannot wait to try again, and in abundance.
Graelyn Brashear: This fall's installment in Magic Hat's experimental series is a black-as-night stout that drinks like Vermont's answer to Guinness. Dark and chocolaty, it's got hints of roasted coffee flavor but with very little bitterness. It's supremely drinkable -- a winner. And as a sucker for a good label, I have to add that the art on both these bottles is pretty fantastic. It all comes down to the beer, of course, but Magic Hat does get props from me for good design.
Renee Ernst: Odd Notion stuck out in my mind in comparison (with Roxy Rolles). With a bitter coffee taste, a hint of chocolate and solid hoppy finish, it miraculously didn't leave a lingering harsh aftertaste. It had a fruity aroma and a very creamy consistency living up to its stout label. I thoroughly enjoyed Odd Notion and would definitely recommend it.
Steve Bove: Spot-on for the brooding skies of autumn, Fall Odd Notion's leaden texture makes it the antithesis of the laid-back summer elixir. Best when nursed, it's a stout brewed custom for those of us who like our meat red and our coffee black. Brace yourself, this one's dark, heavy and packs a mean wallop.