11/3/16: Magic Hat Brewing Company's Vamplifier, Another Late Halloween Post

4:48 PM

As long-time readers of this blog (and fans of my Facebook page) can most likely attest, I can usually be expected to run a little behind. My Halloween post last year came a day late. I really, really tried to get around to writing this post on time this year. I've had the bottle for it sitting in my fridge since I called Michelle during the afternoon of Halloween asking her to start cooling it for me. As you should now see, my intentions were good.

But, as happens, life gets in the way. Taking that vacation last week, while a good idea, was incredibly irresponsible of me because I'm still a student. I got behind on my schoolwork (oops). But, that's all rectified now. I'm caught up to the point where I don't have anything that needs to get done this evening. So, with that, let's pretend this Thursday's Monday and dive into this timely Halloween-themed brew.

Magic Hat is one of those breweries I've been aware of since I started getting into beer. But, I've never gotten around to trying them. I'd always meant to (some of their brews are incredibly intriguing)! But, for whatever reason, I just never took the plunge.

As far as the brewery's concerned, I can't find any information about their history on their website. The "About" section of their Facebook tells me this: They're based in South Burlington, VT, were founded in 1994, and promise that each bottle contains a performance. Not a lot of intel there. But, seeing as how they've been brewing for over twenty years, they've no doubt gathered quite a bit of experience and seem to be in a comfortable position to let their beers speak for themselves.

From its official page, it's pretty clear that Vamplifier is Magic Hat's fall seasonal. That and the whole vampire shtick is dang Halloweenie. Despite this, Vamplifier seems like the kind of beer I wouldn't necessarily pick up for myself--I'm not a big red ale guy and "hoppy" (Vamplifier is billed as a "Hoppy Red Ale") isn't an adjective that particularly sells me on a beer. But, this was a birthday present from my roommate. Once I saw it, I knew that it'd be the focus of my Halloween post. For specifics (well, for our purposes anyway), the 5.2% ABV brew features "...smooth caramel and toast malt flavors and a floral, fruity Hop bitterness."

Right of the bat (that's a top-tier vampire pun, by the way), I'm getting a full hop bouquet from the red ale. It's fruity and piney and like a mild IPA. But it's warm and inviting and distinctly citrus. Which may be why Purrl wasn't big on it (she hates citrus)--the poor girl only gave it one whiff before refusing to get near the bottle again.

Not the face of a cat who like the beer in front of her.
The flavor is intriguing. On the fore, it's a sweetly malty, caramel flavor. However, I don't get to savor that long before being hit with the hops. Magic Hat says the ale has a bite of hops--that's right, and it lends credibility to the whole vampire theme: The brew lulls drinkers into a sense of warm safety with a subtle, sweet maltiness before going for the neck with a sharp bite of hops that lingers in the aftertaste.

Vamplifier is somewhat thin with a standard amount of carbonation. It's par for the course for a red ale, which makes that kick of hops all the more unexpected.

Have you ever read Dracula? I tried to, once. Bram Stoker's vampiristic classic was a lot more approachable than I had anticipated. I made it roughly forty pages, before the real vampire story kicked in. But, I really liked how it was told through the writings of it's characters. I attempted my read-through of it during a pretty turbulent time of my life (which is why I never finished it) but that book was a rock that I brought with me everywhere and read a little of whenever I had a spare moment. That's what Vamplifier bring to my mind. Maybe someday soon I'll go back and make another go of the novel.

But I digress. Magic Hat's Vamplifier isn't a beer I'd usually by for myself. It's also not a beer that is like other Halloween beers. Which makes it stand out. But that's good, because Vamplifier is a beer worthy of standing out. From it's non-traditional approach to a fall seasonal to the hoppy bite that finishes each swig, Magic Hat has crafted it to be memorable. I'm giving it an 8.0/10. I'll have to track it down myself next year.

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