Friday, March 16, 2012

Magic Hat Vinyl

Magic Hat Vinyl is a self-defined American Amber Lager. According to their website, availability is from January 15- March 31 but this just came on tap for Mardi Gras the first weekend in March (plus I recall it lingering into May of last year). This recipe combines an interesting combination of lager yeast with ale characteristics.

Alcohol Content: 5.1%
IBU: 20
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Crystal, Munich, Victory
Hops: Apollo, Northern Brewer

Price: $3.50/ pint at RJ's
Medium: Pint glass

Aroma: Slightly toasted and even some hints of nuttiness are submerged within an unexpected caramel nose. Approaches a roasted/ chocolate-like character but this is very minimal. Fermentation character seems clean enough for a lager but some fruitiness is tucked in there. Hop aroma is slim to nonexistent. Mainly malt driven with some hints of the darker varieties.
Appearance: Very clear with a dark amber color. Approaching something of a red ale but looks more like an amber. Poured for a persistent white-ish head with creamy spots billowing up on the surface. Carbonation looks normal as shown by a steady stream of bubbles flowing uniformly from the bottom up. Looks filtered. Strong lacing throughout.
Flavor: A surprising hint of toasted nutty character is presented alongside an initial caramel sweetness. Bitterness is mild and rather clean. Some earthy and woody hop flavors are hidden amongst the forward malt character. Aftertaste contains some residual sweetness, especially of caramel. No distinct yeast character. Balanced more towards the malts.
Mouthfeel: Moderate body leaning towards a heavier mouthfeel, supported by moderately-strong carbonation and a decent finish. I sense some degree of bicarbonates in the water but I can't fully describe it - this played a role mainly in the aftertaste and affected the flavor as well as mouthfeel. The experience was similar to when you switch to a different source of drinking water and notice a sulfury aftertaste.
Overall Impression: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when it was first presented to me - an Amber Lager? The mouth wants to taste what the eyes perceive, so even though its a lager I expected certain ale qualities to shine through (and they did). Very flavorful and not exactly a session beer. I would stay away from this as the summer draws nearer, but for now its still a decent option.

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