Magic Hat #9, billed as a “not quite pale ale” by the brewery, is one of the more prevalent craft beers on the east coast. I have seen it available many bars on tap and it can easily be found in grocery stores and beer distributors. Because of this availability and its easy on the palate taste, it is a great gateway craft beer and at 5.1 ABV, it won’t get you too hammered either.
When poured into a pint glass, either on tap or from a bottle, #9 has a pale gold color with minimal head that leaves almost no lacing on the glass as you drink it. In the description of the beer that Magic Hat provides on its website they say #9 is being “cloaked in secrecy” and that it is “An ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers”. One thing that is not a secret is how fruity this beer is. The aroma is a sweet, mostly composed of apricot which only becomes more prevalent when you take your first sip. There are some other hints of various fruits, but what is not prevalent at is any real sense of hops or malt, and to an IPA lover like me who needs to taste the true elements of beer this comes off as a negative. Fruit is fine and good in a beer but it should be balanced by something else.
Magic Hat #9 is an easy drinking beer, something you would drink if you just want a beer that is not too complex and not too hard on your palate. It is a beer that you could easily hand to your mother for her to drink (assuming you mom is not a big fan of beer like mine). #9 does have a lot going for it, the fruity character is pleasant but after two can become too much.
I’m unsure how to rate this beer, I feel a sense of attachment to it. It was one of the first craft beers that I had and at initially I loved it, but as I have gained more experience its shortcomings have become more prevalent. Don’t get me wrong, Magic Hat has produced a good beer with #9 and it has a strong following but there is too much fruit and not enough bite to make it a truly great beer. The bottom line: if you are somebody just getting into craft beer go ahead and try #9 and you will not be disappointed, if you are a seasoned veteran you will probably expect more than this beer has to offer.
Mike Hoff is a Senior Writer for Passion Beer.
He is always seeking out the new, weird and wonderful in the world of beer. When he is not writing for the site, you can normally find him with a camera around his neck and a beer in hand.