Tag Archives: Beer

Beer Review: Magic Hat #9

14 Dec

This review is a few weeks overdue, but I have a logical explanation for why that is the case.  You see, I went over to Anthony’s house about 4 weeks ago to watch the NY Football Giants take on the lowly scoundrel Dallas Cowgirls (were we supposed to remain unbiased on this website, because I didn’t get that memo).  While watching the game, I indulged in two beverages, both of which happened to be the beer we’re reviewing today.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the beers because the Giants took a beating at the hands of the wimps from Texas.

It wasn’t until today that I was able to brush off the bitterness from the game and adequately enjoy Magic Hat #9.  And enjoy I did, folks.

A little bit about the brewery itself, now.  Magic Hat Brewery has been producing delicious beers since 1994 and is located in Burlington, Vermont — right next to the coat factory(!!).  It is a microbrewery that has grown substantially since its inception – from only a few employees at the time of the brewery’s birth to over 150 today.  They produce 4 year-round beers (#9 being one of them) and typically have 4 seasonal beers in the rotation at any given time.

Variety: Not Quite Pale Ale

Color: Burnt orange & gold

Nose: Apricot

Palate: Subtle peach and wheat notes; apricot

ABV: 5.1%

Hops: Cascade (originally developed in Oregon and named for the Cascade Mountains, this hop is typically used in pale ales and IPAs); Apollo (less commonly-known, developed in 2000 in California)

Malts: Pale (basis of pale ales, very cheap and mass-produced); Crystal (also used in pale ales and produce strong, sweet, toffee-like flavors)

Finish: Smooth malt middle with a tinge of tangy, sweet hops in the finish

Now, what the heck do I mean by ‘Not Quite Pale Ale’???  Actually, that is the term that the company uses to describe this beer, and it is pretty spot on.  Pale ales are typically defined by their hops, and this beer is not particularly hoppy.

To tell you the truth, I really enjoyed this beer (when I wasn’t pairing it with a Giants loss).  There’s an almost light richness to it, and in that I mean that the flavors are certainly complex, but they shine through in an easy, clean beer.  One of the things that hit me most was the color of this beer – the orange hue that it had was inviting and warm and almost telling of a caramel sweetness – which is present then in the fruity nose.

Another thing I really liked about drinking this beer was the story behind the brewery itself.  I’m a huge fan of microbreweries that tell a story with their beer.  I can totally imagine the workers at Magic Hat being really friendly, down-to-earth, rocker-types.

Fun Fact: They name a lot of their beers after music, and it is suspected (though never has been admitted) that the #9 beer is a tribute to The Beatles song, ‘Revolution #9.’

Keys To Tasting: Drink this beer in a frosty mug, and no other way.  It is good out of the bottle.  But put this bad boy in a frosty mug and enjoy the heavenly delights of ice cold brewed ‘magic’.

Food Pairings: I think the ideal food pairing for this beer would be something with a little bit of spice but not too overwhelming.  For instance, a mild Indian or Thai dish, or even some good old fashioned American BBQ with a tinge of spiciness.

A very good beer, certainly worth drinking.  Sippable and pleasant, shrouded in a bit of mysterious fruity and hoppy flavor.




Beer Review: Kronenbourg 1664

22 Oct

If you’ve taken a look at my ‘biography page’ on the top of this site, you surely have seen that my favorite beer listed is Kronenbourg 1664.  That’s the beer that I’ll be reviewing tonight.  Actually, I only tasted it for the first time about ten days ago, but it is so good that it immediately became my favorite beer.  I was at Anthony Bourdain’s restaurant, Brasserie Les Halles, when I tried it for the first time based of a recommendation from my friend Doug.  That was a Wednesday.  Friday I went and bought a 6-pack to try at home.  My goodness is that a great beer!

The Kronenbourg Brewery is located in Cronenbourg, a town in Alsace, France, which is the fourth-smallest of the 26 regions of France.  It wasn’t started there, however.  From its inception in 1664 through to 1850, the brewery was located in Place de Corbeau, a town just miles away from Cronenbourg.  They moved because of the desire to be on higher terrain and are now owned by the conglomerate Carlsberg.

Kronenbourg 1664 is the most popular and best-selling beer in France.  It has a 40% market share!  I guess I’m not the only one who loves it.

Variety: Pale Lager (similar to Heineken, Budweiser, Coors, etc.)

Color: Rich amber; deep gold

Nose: Grapefruit!

Palette: A tinge of bitter; not very sweet; citrus; grapefruit

ABV: 5.5%

Hops: Strisselspalt, which are hops native to Alsace and known as a ‘Noble Hop’ – one of the four hop varieties that are low in bitterness and high in aromas

Finish: Slow and smooth

When I read about the Strisselspalt hops I knew immediately that that was the reason I loved the beer so much.  I’m not a fan of overly-bitter beers, and so the fact that Kronenbourg 1664 has a beautiful bouquet (aroma) and a citrus taste without having that bitterness is what sealed it for me.

Here is the other thing that has sold this beer for me and makes it my favorite: the finish is slow and smooth.  Actually, the Kronenbourg 1664 brand has been recently built around the concept of slow: “Slow Beer, Slow Taste,” and it couldn’t be closer to the truth.  While they market it by saying that it is brewed in the best town in France, etc. etc., they’re absolutely right that the malt is done slowly so as to not give the beer a crisp taste, but actually gives it a slow, drawn out flavor.  When I sip the beer, the flavor lasts on my lips for minutes after I am done.  I don’t want to call it creamy, because it is not, but imagine that feeling as opposed to a quick, crisp finish.  Delightful!

Fun Fact: Marie Tussaud was born and raised in the town where Kronenbourg was originally brewed.  She must have at least once sipped a Kronenbourg 1664 at the actual brewery, which is pretty cool because she now has 9 hugely popular museums named after her throughout the world.

Keys To Tasting: First, drink this beer in a wine glass.  Yes, a wine glass.  If you can, make it a Bordeaux wine glass.  This beer is so beautifully aromatic that a Bordeaux wine glass is one of the only ways to drink it to capture its full scent.

Food Pairings: Anything light with a touch of creaminess would be great; perfect would be a thin-crust pizza

Kronenbourg Brewery, Alsace, France

My Favorite Beer, Kronenbourg 1664

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