Feast of Fools

Friday, March 28, 2008

This is actually a post about beer.

But the name of the beer is cool enough to warrant a title on the post.

Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont has such a...weird web site it's almost unusable (and they have a "safe sex" part of their web site as well...huh??). But that absolutely must be because they put all of their creativity into their beer.

This week's selection from the weirdly-creative team at Magic Hat, is Feast of Fools. And indeed, after splitting the bottle with a good friend, I was a fool. It turns out that Magic Hat uses 2 pounds of raspberries for every gallon of this beer when they brew it. One Hell of a raspberry stout (weighing-in at 7.5% abv).

The beer was presented to me in a jet-black champagne bottle, corked and foiled and begging to be abused. Move over, Brut. The liquid that comes out of this bottle is just as black as the bottle itself.

It poured black-ink into my snifter and produced a thick tan head. Huge rivulets of lovely tan lace clung to the glass as I quaffed.

I was so eager to enjoy the aromas this beer produced, I got a bit zealous and accidentally stuck my nose into the lace. No bother; all the better to smell what it had to offer. Typical stouty aromas hit me in a pleasurable wave: roasted malt, light coffee, dark chocolate, a hint of vanilla, dark, bitter black roasted grains. But there, throughout the whole experience, was this sweet, tart raspberry. Not too much, not overwhelming, just there, a natural part of the whole beer as if it were an aroma natural to roasted malts.

The taste was an equally amazing experience. The raspberry was very present, but again didn't overpower the rest of the flavors. It was a significant part of the greater whole, without being the only thing. Like that movie Heat, where you had DeNiro, Pacino, Madsen and Kilmer. Each one is huge in their own right, but were integral parts of a total movie.

The raspberry mixed well with the coffee and dark, bitter chocolate. Think death-by-chocolate cheesecake with a raspberry liqueur drizzle and a big cup of espresso. That's this beer. The really interesting part was that as the beer warmed, it took-on Christmas-fruit flavors: rum-soaked dates, prunes and the like. Big dried fruit flavors really began to shine towards the end of the beer and as it warmed on the tongue.

Surprisingly, the beer is sweet and rather medium-bodied. Unsurprisingly, it finishes dry. Nice, tingly carbonation added to the lightness of the fruit flavors and the taste of the whole beer lingered nicely between what quickly became gulping quaffs.

I like this beer better than the framboise (raspberry) lambics, which seem to be just a tad heavy on the raspberry concentrate/fruit juice end. The solidity of the stout backbone in this beer served to temper the powerful sweetness of the raspberry and created some really interesting flavors off to the side. Very drinkable, and highly recommended.


Sopor 9:39 AM  

Wow, sounds like some good stuff!

I've only had one from Magic Hat, it was there "hoppy amber ale" and it just seemed confused, like it was having an identity crisis.

This one sounds like they've managed to mix some abnormal companions together into a party with the potential for greatness, like all the ingredients come from different parts of the world and work together for a common goal. Sounds inspiring ;-)

Speaking of Raspberry ales... Rubaues will be out REAL soon! I can't wait, that's another one that uses LOADS of real raspberries, and it shows!

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 10:18 AM  

Without a doubt, Smitty's beer reviews are a big, big step above anything I can contribute to this site.

I look forward to reading them weekly and have learned a great deal about the beer craft. I have also tried beers that I would never have tried had I not heard about them here.

Keep up the good work.

Smitty 10:25 AM  

I do likes me some Rubeas (sp???). I have to say, I agree with the "confused" state of other Magic Hat brews (again...see their website...you get a sense of what the confusion is all about), but that's why I kinda liked it. It may not have fit nicely into a BJCP style, but I am noticing that fewer and fewer beers are really fitting neatly into 1 style any more.

Thanks for the love, Bob. I'll keep drinking them if you will!

George 12:39 PM  

Smitty, I've got 3 22 oz. bottles of Stone Russian Imperial Stout for you.

Email me at yatchisin@yahoo.com to talk about the great beer exchange.

Mike 6:22 AM  

I like the website. Fun.

Magic Hat has some nice brews, but I've never seen this one.

Smitty, you ever true Dogfishhead Black & Blue? I've seen it, but for $12.00 I'd like to hear what it's about before taking the plunge.

Smitty 7:57 AM  


Hmmm....I haven't. I make the investment if I can find some and review it.

Bob "Chief Beer Advocate" 8:51 AM  

This just in-

Beer Mecca/Oadies now has a 15% discount on all assorted 6 packs on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The other days will remain at 10%.

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