For the past three weeks I have been drinking a lot of new beer — one of the advantages of writing this column. Some of it shows up at the office, for which I am grateful, and others people bring to me.

Magic Hat, a craft brewer from Vermont, sent me three beers that are now out as part of their Night of the Living Dead variety 12-pack, which includes three bottles each of Magic Hat #9, Hex, hI.P.A. and Fall Odd Notion, a Green Apple Wit beer.

My favorite of the three beers they sent was the hI.P.A., which had an aroma like hops right off the vine. It was highly hopped on the palate too, and had an excellent aftertaste and 6.7 percent alcohol. This is a revival of one of Magic Hat’s IPA tour beers.

The Hex is an Octoberfest, a good, highly malted amber beer with 5.4 percent alcohol and hallertau hops. I rated this just a bit below the hI.P.A.

The Green Apple Wit, Fall Odd Notion, didn’t please me as much. It seemed thin. I didn’t like the mix of fruit and spices.

But as a person who had been familiar only with #9, my opinion of Magic Hat rose quite a bit.

Magic Hat, by the way, was just sold to North American Breweries Inc. of Rochester, N.Y., which owns Genesee Brewing Co. and Dundee Ales & Lagers.


A fishing buddy who lives in Vermont brought some Rainbow Red Ale from Trout River Brewing Co. in Lyndonville, Vt., for a recent bit of angling. Being at camp, we drink from the bottles, so I can’t say what it looks like, but it had a good clean flavor and was quite easy to drink.


Boston Beer Co., maker of Samuel Adams, sent some samples of the winner of its Patriot Homebrew Contest, which will be served all season long at the New England Patriots games at Gillette Stadium.

Rob North of Manchester, N.H., topped 200 other entrants with his Rob’s American Rauchbier. “Rauchbier” means “smoke beer,” and I love them in general. This one stood up well to the German originals. The smokiness — similar to what you’d find in a lowland Scotch whisky — lingers, and the malt is a good, strong background to the smoke.

This beer will give fans something to celebrate in addition to what we expect to be a great season.


My son, Zachary, brought up six 22-ounce Massachusetts beers the last time he came to visit: a Jack d’Or saison, or farmhouse ale, and a Baby Tree quadrupel from Pretty Things Beer Project in Cambridge; a pale ale and an imperial stout from Berkshire Brewing Co. in South Deerfield; and a pub draft IPA and a Black Hops from Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, Mass.

The Jack d’Or from Pretty Things — a brewer Zac likes a lot — was excellent and a good example of French saison ale, with an earthy and yeasty flavor.

The Baby Tree, brewed with dried plums, widely divided the tasters. About half of us, including me, thought it was a rich and complex brew and couldn’t pick out the plums. Others thought it was awful, dominated by plums.

The Berkshire Ale was fresh and fairly mild, stronger on the malt than the hops and a good beer. The Berkshire Imperial Stout had a metallic taste, and seemed fairly harsh.

The Blue Hills IPA had a silky mouth feel and a pleasantly strong hops aroma, but a fairly light bitterness at the end. I thought it was an excellent take on a traditional IPA, but using American ingredients.

The Black Hops was a dark beer, but much lighter in weight than stouts and porters. With the name, I had expected it to be hoppier than it was. The hops were there, but it was not extremely bitter. It was more complex than, for example, St. Pauli Girl dark, but not as complex as a German schwarzbier. I liked it, but couldn’t label it.


Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at

[email protected]


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