Beer Review: Magic Hat Winterland Sampler

It’s beer time again! This time around, I gave Magic Hat’s Winterland sampler pack a try. I’ve tried a lot of their beers, including last year’s winter pack which was called Feast of Fools, but I think this might have been my least favorite of the bunch. That doesn’t mean I hated this pack, in fact, I liked two out of the four beers, don’t have much to say about the third and completely hated the fourth. As always, I love Magic Hat’s #9 and won’t be reviewing it again (if you’re interested, check out the above link). In addition to the numerical wheat beer, this pack also included new installments in the IPA on Tour and Odd Notion series and I’m pretty sure there was a change to Howl.

Kicking things off, I actually found the IPA on Tour (dubbed Encore) to be one of the most interesting beers I’ve tried in a long time. Usually I’m not a fan of the bitterness that usually comes along with an IPA, but this one had something very different that distracted be: grapefruit. I thought I might have just been making that up in my head, but then I looked at the label which confirmed the use of the citrus fruit in the beverage. I’m not a huge grapefruit fan, but I thought it really worked well with all the other flavors at play. It’s a very prominent and specific flavor that might not be great for everyone, but I enjoyed it. I’d definitely try this one on tap just to see how it plays fresh. The Winter ’10 entry in the Odd Notion series was a pretty big disappointment because it had no discernible taste. I thought I might have gotten a bum beer because I swished it around my mouth and was left with just a tingle on my tongue and no actual flavor. It’s not bitter at all, maybe a little sweet? I know I’m drinking something because it’s wet, but it’s more of a feeling than a taste. Maybe I need to drink it from a glass? Maybe there’s some citrus to it? But if so, very very little. I poured the second one into a glass and got pretty much the same experience. Not bad, but fairly unremarkable. It’s too bad because the one in this summer’s sampler was one of my favorites and I even dug last year’s Winter version. Too bad this season’s just fell flat. Woof. Howl was a real dog for me. Pretty undrinkable actually. I drank the first one and had to throw the other two out because I don’t wish them on my enemies (plus, I don’t invite my enemies over to the house). I don’t know if my tastes are changing or if Magic Hat mixes things up from year to year. When I reviewed last year’s winter pack, I noted that the Howl was thick like a Guinness, but this time around, the Howl has a smokey flavor to it that I’m not a fan of. One time, my buddy Ben bought me a beer I can’t recall the name of that was noted as having a smokey taste. It was like drinking liquid smoke. Like last year’s version, I wouldn’t buy this out and about. It’s pretty bad, just not my kind of beer at all.

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