5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, Vermont
Festive doesn’t even begin to describe the Magic Hat Brewery. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re blinded by oddity… dark and funky oddity. Think about what would happen if The Grateful Dead met steampunk and had a baby that grew up to be a nightclub. That’s the ambiance of Magic Hat’s Growler Bar.
It’s actually a little unexpected because it’s located down a quiet side street in South Burlington. Their parking lot is fairly large. They’ve been at this brewing thing since 1994 and are a popular and notable brewery. Even with the large lot, it can get pretty crowded. It’s probably not recommended to bring a 40′ RV unless you’re feeling lucky.
They have free guided and self-guided tours available every day. Magic Hat also allow dogs inside their brewery… okay, there are some rules: dogs need to stay on a leash and they can’t go on the tour. But it’s a start! Why would a dog want to go on a brewery tour anyway?
At their Growler Bar, they offer 4 free tastings of their beers per person. They change up what they’re pouring frequently and rotate between their popular beers as well as their seasonal and experimental brews. Magic Hat likes to say that they create the best tasting beer on the planet… so… challenge accepted.
Bring Out The Beers!
Our Reviews Of Magic Hat’s Beer
ABV: 5% | IBU: 17
The Single Chair is probably the most traditional of the beers we tried at Magic Hat. It was very thirst-quenching and had a simple bready flavor that wasn’t overpowering or heavy in any way. This one is a very beery beer.
ABV: 5.4% | IBU: 20
We are not big on pumpkin beers. Actually, we almost always hate them. The Wilhelm Scream, though, was pretty well done. It does have a pumpkin flavor, but it’s not insanely overpowering and it’s balanced well with the level of spices. For a pumpkin beer, this one is pretty good.
ABV: 4.5% | IBU: 40
Right upfront you smell fruit all over this beer. Magically though, the fruitiness goes away almost instantly in your mouth and transforms into something slightly greener and a little more bitter. Think asparagus or broccoli. It’s a nice change when you first drink sip it, but the effect isn’t long lasting and by the end you’re just drinking an average beer.
S.M.A.S.H. Hits Vol. 2
ABV: 5.5% | IBU: 58
This was a really nice, solid, IPA. The taste was bitter with a definite copper tone to flavor. It wasn’t to heavy, but it was strong enough to let you know that you’re drinking an IPA. Overall, a good beer.
ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 60
Much to our surprise, the Vamplifier was lighter than expected. There’s a malty nose, but not a lot of flavor upfront. A few hints of caramel come out in the aftertaste, but overall this beer was pretty one-dimensional.
ABV: 6.2% | IBU: 65
The Electric Peel IPA would make for an excellent breakfast IPA! Between the smell and the flavor, the only way you can tell that you’re not just drinking a glass of grapefruit juice is that they actually made grapefruit juice taste awesome. It’s not too bitter, not too sweet, and it leaves you wanting more.
ABV: 5.2% | IBU: 60
A lot of breweries are trying the Black IPA thing these days and it’s starting to get old. Magic Hat’s Demo Black IPA fell flat for us. The primary flavor in this beer is smoke. You want it to open up into a nutty after-taste, it even seems like it’s going to, but it never quite gets there. It just falls flat that end and it leaves you wondering why you didn’t just buy a stout.
Art Hop Ale
ABV: 8% | IBU: 40
We hadn’t seen an Imperial Blonde before so this beer was interesting. The strong and slightly sweet smell was balanced nicely against a savory flavor with the slightest hint of citrus. It had a complex build from the second you raised your glass to even a minute after you swallowed. Given that it’s an 8% beer, it was also surprising how little alcohol flavor was left in your mouth. This one was so good, we ended up buying a few to take home with us.
ABV: 8.2% | IBU: 20
At the risk of being mean, the Belgo Sutra was hard to drink. Their usage of dates and figs adds a painful sweetness that overpowers what could have been a very savory malty base. The result was a flavor and smell that offered nothing but pure sugar.
ABV: 5.1% | IBU: 20
#9 is a very strange beer. It smells very strongly of peaches but tastes like something more on the lines of a beer mixed with cucumber and melon. It does clean your palette and leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and slightly dry. It’s a damn good beer and is worthy of being (probably) their most popular.
Our Overall Rating For This Brewery:
It was fun but I can’t say we’ve be back given the variety of other brewers in the area. They’re a good place to take a younger drinking-age crowd to for a quick stop, but it’s not the kind of place you would hang out for any extended period of time. The beertenders were fun, but were they pouring the “best tasting beer on the planet?” Certainly not. We some of the beers they were pouring were almost undrinkable (by our tastes) while others were fantastic and we’d easily buy them again and again in the store. Overall, we were left pretty neutral about the whole experience.