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Beer Man: Make a date with Magic Hat's dark Belgian-style ale

10:47 AM, Feb. 28, 2013  |  Comments
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Magic Hat's latest offering in its Humdinger limited-edition series is a dark Belgian-style ale with figs and dates.

The larger amounts of caramel and chocolate malt grain used in strong dark beers combine with the yeast to impart fruit flavors such as plums, raisins and dates, so it makes perfect sense as a brewing recipe to use these fruits during fermentation to enhance their presence.

The base Belgo Sutra ale reminds me of the fine dark Belgians such as Maredsous and Grimbergen, with its bubblegum-banana aromas, and caramel and chocolate malts. The first taste is full-bodied and rich, coating the mouth with a solid taste of dates, toffeeish dark Belgian candi sugar, brown sugar and molasses.

Like a number of Belgian beers, there is a sweetness that is not excessive, but helps to bring out the flavors of the fruit.

The mouthfeel and sweetness are countered by a tingly carbonation and somewhat dry finish that cleanses the palate nicely while allowing some of the more subtle spices to linger.

Another interesting beer from Magic Hat is its Pistil dandelion ale. My only experience with dandelion used in a beverage was a not-so-good dandelion wine many years ago. Pistil has a German lager character, especially its beginning aroma of grains and hops, but with a crisp, dry body.

The dandelion character is not overly distinctive -- at no point did I think, "Now, that's good dandelion!" Still, it does impart slight floral, grassy notes to the beer.

Saint Saltan, yet another new Magic Hat, is a German gose style brewed with sea salt and coriander. Again, this reminds me of a decent German lager, slightly on the sweet side, even though it is an ale and contains wheat. The salt is not prominent in the taste, but does add a softening effect to the body. The coriander is also subtle, adding slight hints of its typical orange-lemon flavor.

The star of this Magic Hat party was Belgo Sutra. The brewery has wide distribution throughout the United States; its beer finder link is at www.magichat.net/sipcode.

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