I first had Magic Hat #9 when I was in college. I went to a small liberal arts college in Vermont, so at that time I was in one of the few areas where you could go into a packie and pick up Magic Hat rather easily. This was a perk that was unfortunately lost on my unsophisticated dude-bro palette. In college there were only 3 determining factors with beer: 1. Price; 2. Alcohol content; and 3. Taste after sitting in a red SOLO cup for about 30-60 minutes because I am just that frakkin’ good at beirut.
College was also the infancy of my craft beer exposure. I didn’t realize that Vermont was a craft beer Mecca until long after I graduated. Nevertheless, I was exposed to some great local breweries including Switchback and of course, Magic Hat. I love Switchback’s Ale and it became a staple of my post-21 diet (which also included rice, and microwave pizzas). I was less sold on Magic Hat’s offerings. I remember having #9 and HATING it. Yes, hating it. Let me say it this way: I PREFERRED Coors Original (and Light!) to the #9. This particular bottle is a remnant from the housewarming party.
From Magic Hat:
An ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue & ask more than it answers. Brewed clandestinely & given a name whose meaning is never revealed. Why #9? Why indeed.
A sort of dry, crisp, refreshing, not quite pale ale, #9 is really impossible to describe because there’s never been anything else quite like it.
- Malts: Pale, Crystal
- Hops: Apollo, Cascade
- Yeast: English Ale
- ABV: 5.1%
- IBUs: 20
- SRM: 9
Appearance: Slightly hazy, not perfectly clear. Almost-white head that fades fast within minimal lacing. The beer is a golden amber with hints of orange.
Smell: I get a bit of a wine-like smell. Citrusy, which I suppose is the apricots. I wouldn’t know an apricot if it walked in the room right now and flipped me the bird.
Taste: Again: citrusy. A dry finish. No hop bitterness to speak of, and a thin/bland malt backbone. It’s basically a run-of-the-mill pale ale with apricot flavoring.
Mouthfeel: Thinness about right for the style. Crisp and dry, almost cider-like. A nice coating on the mouth. Very quaffable, summer-beer.
Final Verdict: 3 out of 5. Taste it.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. This is a lesson I learned the hard way with many women throughout my college years. Perhaps I reflected the rejection onto the #9 unfairly back in the day. It is certainly a beer, more drinkable beer than I remember. That could me a product of my own maturation (which I swear has actually occurred) or a retuning of the #9 recipe. I resist the urge to give #9 anything less than a 3 because this beer really does it for some people. If you like apricots or fruity beers or were/are a Blue Moon drinker than the #9 might be up your alley. It’s not beer I’d recommend for Hopheads, Heavyweights (which is a term I’m coining for high ABV-beer drinkers) or Darksiders (ditto coinage for stout/porter aficionados).
This beer isn’t for me (hybrid Hophead/Heavyweight/Darksider), but that doesn’t make it a bad beer by any stretch. And these days, I’d certainly take it over a Coors.