This is Part Three of an ongoing series chronicling the Grand Beercation of July 2011. To start at Part One, click here.
Oh so Vermonty.
Following a tour of Switchback Brewery, it was off to South Burlington to pop into Magic Hat Brewery. Arguably Vermont’s most well-known brewery, Magic Hat is part of the North American Breweries group, the largest chunk being NY state’s Genessee Brewing Company. We got to Magic Hat just after 3pm, and decided not to bother with the official tour (they do hourly tours on Saturday afternoons). Instead, we checked out the sample bar and gift store.
Yeah, if there’s one thing Magic Hat isn’t afraid of, it’s slapping their logo on a glass, tshirt, frisbee, hoodie, bottle opener, mirror, magnet, golf ball, backpack, bucket, poster, water bottle, dog leash, flag, bag, hat, bar mat, bar rat (maybe), bumper sticker or condom.
Not that it’s a bad thing. They’ve been around since 1994, and have gathered quite a following, so they’ve earned the right to go crazy with anything they can sell. I myself purchased a pint glass to add to the collection (and the Switchback glass I bought about 30 minutes earlier was getting lonely). I’m a sucker for cheap stuff, and it was on sale for $2, since it had a Mardi Gras logo on it. They also had “Graduation 2011” glasses, but it’s been awhile since I was in any sort of school, and decided to skip that one. If you really want to see all the crazy stuff they sell, check out their website, which is quite well done.
Enough shopping, time to taste the beers. I’ve had much of what Magic Hat has to offer, and purchased their Summer Scene sample pack for a Memorial Day trip up to Lady Friend’s family lake cabin (or as they, and many other New Englanders, call it, “camp”). Lady Friend’s sibling, Sissy, has somewhat of the hippie persuasion in her, and was happy to share in the 12 pack.
The Summer Scene had everything (except the Circus Boy) that they were offering for samples, so I didn’t get anything new, but free beer always tastes better. We had the Single Chair golden ale, Wacko summer beer (brewed with beets!), Circus Boy hefeweizen, #9 “not quite” pale ale, and the Blind Faith IPA. Magic Hat isn’t my favorite brewery, but they don’t make anything that’s bad. It’s all drinkable and palate friendly. My favorite offering from them is the Lucky Kat IPA, mostly because it’s got a great hoppy bite, but partially because there’s a Cheshire Cat on the label.
As we were finishing our tasting, apparently the tour let out because it suddenly got quite crowded at the bar. I bought my glass, got the passport stamped, and wandered outside to poke around for a few minutes. The whole Magic Hat scene has a strange Willie Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland vibe to it, with crazy colors and patterns. As long as the beer is good, I really don’t care how you decide to paint your company van.
Clearly, Magic Hat is doing something right, if they’ve managed to hang around for 17 years. I know their products are easily found throughout New England, and even though they’re not my favorite, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything of theirs that was bad.
Passport stamp number three: Magic Hat. Next up, Part 4, American Flatbread.