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Lucky Kat by Magic Hat

Lucky Kat by Magic Hat

Lucky Kat’s label has a picture of a huge pink cat that looks “up to no good.” I immediately thought of the cat from Alice and Wonderland. I was curious to find out whether this brew was a tamed house cat, or a bad street kitty. I was certainly hoping for the latter.

The Lucky Kat is a 5.8% ABV Pale Ale. It is amber in color and pours with a large, light tan head. The head quickly dissipates but leaves behind some nice lacing.

It has a hoppy aroma with undertones of citrusy fruits and sour apples. The taste is pretty straight forward, a little hoppy with tart and bitter fruit flavors.

This isn’t a very complex IPA, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In my opinion, this is more of a session beer. It is very easy to drink and goes down smooth.

The Lucky Kat isn’t quite the evil street cat that I was hoping for, but a pretty good beer none the less.

Brewery website: http://www.magichat.net/

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The Odd Notion Winter by Magic Hat

According to the label, “Magic Hat’s Odd Notions are a series of exceptional (and mostly odd), limited quantity, specialty craft releases.” I was intrigued by this bold statement and was looking forward to finding out which adjective best described this brew, odd or exceptional.

The label has a picture of a candy-cane colored tower with falling snow and a sleigh in the background. A pretty odd label, if you ask me.

The Odd Notion Winter is brown in color with orange hues around the edges of the glass. It pours with a massive tan head and has strong apricot, orange, and floral aromas.

The Odd Notion has a sour citrus flavor with hints of honey and bready malts that help balance the flavoring. At only 4.5% ABV, this is a very drinkable beer that won’t end your evening after having a couple.

I was expecting a much different beer when I first held the bottle in my hand, which isn’t a bad thing. When I hear winter seasonal, I picture a darker, thicker beer, like Magic Hat’s Howl.

I think the adjective odd does an accurate job of describing this winter seasonal. There was certainly something different about this brew, but then again, maybe that’s what Magic Hat intended.

Brewery website: http://www.magichat.net/

Howl Winter Seasonal by Magic Hat

Howl Winter Seasonal by Magic Hat

The Howl page on Magic Hat’s website is so damn cool it demands a look. Here is Magic Hat’s description of their dark black ale.

“Born of dark, cold and snow in the MARROW of the North East’s longest night, HOWL comes in on WAILING winds with winter-weary eyes, burning holes in sunless shadows. In it’s darkened depths our inner voids are warmed. HOWL will remain until your bones are thawed, your spirit is freed… and until there is no longer a NEED…”

That certainly got me excited to sample this black ale.

The Howl pours as black as a demon’s soul with a large, caramel colored head. I opened the bottle and set it about two feet away and all of a sudden I was smacked in the face by strong coffee, chocolate, and smoke aromas.

Like the smell, there are chocolate and coffee flavors with hints of roasted malt and smoke. The howl has a pretty low ABV at 4.6%. I was shocked that the ABV was this low after drinking half the beer. There is not a strong alcohol presence, but for as flavorful and dark as the beer is, I just assumed that it was at least 7%.

Being 4.6% definitely makes this a drinkable dark ale. If you are looking for a flavorful, dark seasonal brew to have before hitting the town, this is not a bad option. You will have a HOWL of a good time.

Brewery website: http://www.magichat.net/

Witkap Pater Dubbel by Brouwerij Slaghmuylder

Witkap Pater Dubbel by Brouwerij Slaghmuylder

The Witkapa Pater Dubbel comes in a tall, slender, 11.2 fl.oz. bottle. The label has a picture of a white hooded monk holding a large beer stein on a light cream colored background. It is unfiltered and bottle conditioned with 7% ABV.

The Dubbel is dark brown in color with purple hues and a thin light tan head. The sediment in the bottle pours out an extremely dark brown color, similar to coffee.

You can smell aromas of fruit, spices, and brown sugar. The taste is slightly sour (sour apples) and fruity (raisins and dark fruits) at first, but after a few sips, I also noticed caramel and brown sugar.

The combination of flavors along with a nice finish, make this well balanced Dubbel a very enjoyable drink. The Witkapa Pater Dubbel is good example of what a Belgian Dubbel can be.

Brewery website: http://www.witkap.be/witkap/Home.html

Hazelnut Brown Nectar by Rogue

Hazelnut Brown Nectar by Rogue

The Hazelnut Brown Nectar comes in a tall 22 oz bottle with a picture of a proud gentleman holding an overflowing beer mug.

As a sucker for a good brown ale, I was eager to try Rogue’s twist on a traditional brew. Rogue has an ingenious way of interpreting classic recipes, by adding new flavors that harmonize with the original.

According to the label, 14 (the website says 13?) different ingredients make up this damn good dark brown ale.  The Hazelnut Brown Nectar is dark brown in color and pours out with a thin, light brown head that leaves behind some nice lacing.

It has caramel, honey, and nutty aromas. The Hazelnut Brown Ale has a lot of the characteristics and flavors that I really enjoy in a beer. Like with most dark beers, the nutty, caramel, and honey flavors become more pronounced as the beer warms.

I am really glad I decided to try the Hazelnut Brown Nectar. Rogue has done it again. A great twist on the traditional brown ale. A twist that only enhances this beers character.

Brewery website: http://www.rogue.com/

Gouden Carolus Noel by Brouwerij Het Anker

Gouden Carolus Noel by Brouwerij Het Anker

The Gouden Carolus Noel, from Anker brewery, is a high gravity Belgian ale that is bottle refermented.

I want to thank Eddie from De Vinos, my favorite specialty wine and beer shop in Adams Morgan, DC, for recommending the Noel. He saved a case from last year and let me have one of these beautifully aged brews. This already impressive beer only gets better with age.

I had the 1 pt. bottle, the bigger the better. The label has a scene of Santa flying over a snow covered village and a large Christmas tree and ivy around the boarder.

The Noel pours a dark ruby, almost black color, with a very shallow light brown head that quickly dissipates but leaves behind gorgeous lacing.

There are aromas of fruit, cinnamon, and caramel. No surprise, the Noel has a well balanced flavoring of fruit and spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and is incredibly smooth and drinkable for having 10% alc/vol. This high gravity ale gets better with each glass, and before I knew it, I had an empty bottle in front of me.

The Noel is an extremely drinkable beer; a delicious seasonal, that I will definitely purchase again. I would recommend drinking this one closer to room temperature to really get the full flavor of this complex ale. You do NOT want to get this beer too cold.

This holiday season, look for the Gouden Carolus Noel. It is a great way to start the holiday season. 

Drink up and be merry!

Brewery website: http://www.hetanker.be/

La Quintine Ambrée by Brasserie Ellezelloise

La Quintine Ambrée by Brasserie Ellezelloise

The Ambree is a is a bottle refermented Belgium Ale. It comes in a short, 11.2 OZ bottle with a resealable cap. I love when beer is bottled this way. Personally, when I crack an 11.2 OZ bottle, I have every intention to finish it.

It is ruby with red hues and a thin light tan head. It is a beautiful looking beer in a nice glass. There is a very strong aroma of fruit (and more specifically raspberries) with malt, spices, and alcohol (8.5% ABV).

The Ambree tasted pretty much as I expected. I don’t drink amber ales very often. I tend to lean towards the darker brews, like Dubbels and Stouts. For not being a huge fan, I did enjoy this beer. It is very smooth and has strong raspberry flavors with undertones of caramel, hops, and spices.  

The Ambree does have the cool re-capable top that often times reminds me of my grandmother (she use to have bottles like this in all different sizes) but you will not want to recap this one. The 11.2 OZ goes down smooth and demands to be drank.

Even though ambers are not my cup of tea, the Quintine may have just swayed my opinion of these flavorful, fun beers.

Brewery website: http://www.brasserie-ellezelloise.be/