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Beer of the Week: A Magic Hat Trifecta

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

I think of myself as something of a beer lover. Sure, I geek out about rare brews and will sing the praises of some wild fermented brew, aged in oak and hopped with enough green stuff to make Kermit the Frog envious. But I can pretty much find something positive to say about almost any beer.

I had a hard time, however, thinking up something good to say about Magic Hat's Wacko, one of three new, seasonal beers I received a few weeks ago from the Vermont brewer. Sure, the beer has an interesting draw: It's a crisp summer seasonal that uses beet sugar to add color and flavoring to the malt. But that gimmick fades quickly after it's poured.

The beer pours a pale red grapefruit color with lots of carbonation and

virtually no head. Its light, pale body and faint aroma are more

reminiscent of a bubbly rose than a beer, only one that's had its

flavor sucked out completely. Indeed, a sip of Wacko reveals almost no

discernable flavor. This is Bud Light with food coloring -- a damn

shame, since it was one of the ten beers I most looked forward to trying at New Times' recent Beerfest.

Moving on, I sampled two other seasonals that Magic Hat debuted recently and found both to be better than Wacko. First was Blind Faith IPA,

a medium-bodied English India pale ale with a very balanced level of

hops to malt. For an IPA, though, Blind Faith was a little weak on

hops. Sure, it's fairly balanced, but there's a yeasty aftertaste that

takes this beer over where there should be more hop bitterness. All

said, it's not a terrible IPA, but one I wouldn't seek out either.

Finally, Odd Notion Series

is another crisp, summer seasonal that pairs light malt and Belgian

style yeast with fresh ginger. The ginger flavor is mild and doesn't

obstruct the pale, golden beer, and it actually pairs well with the

spiciness of the Belgian yeast. Gentle notes of pepper, coriander, and

clove back up the relatively mild malt flavors and limited hop

bitterness. With a hot-ass summer beginning to press down on us, I

could see drinking this ice cold beer to cool off on a nasty dog day.

In short, Magic Hat's summer seasonals don't really amaze. But at least two of them are worth checking out -- at least for the nifty packaging.

Want to try these three and report back yourself? Find Magic Hat at

select Publix and Whole Foods supermarkets, plus Crown Liquor and Total

Wine and More.

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John Linn

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