By Brian Woodman
The Vermont-based brewery Magic Hat is perhaps best known for what is popularly regarded as its signature flavor – Magic Hat # 9, which company marketing describes as “a not-quite pale ale.”
But as fall and winter approach, the company has a few seasonal offerings – the raspberry stout Feast of Fools and Hex, which he company’s website describes as “a malty amber ale with hints of toffee and caramel and slightly smoky finish.”
“No one is quite sure, when the first batch of Feast of Fools was produced, but it dates back to our earliest days as a brewery in the late 90’s/early 2000’s,” said Schuyler Blackman, a spokesperson for the Vermont Brewery whose title is Head of Imagination and Formulation Relations. “Every year it is a little different and everyone here looks forward to each new batch. The general reception has been quite positive. It’s consistently one of our highest rated beers critically and, more importantly, loads of people reach out every year about when it’s coming, where they can find it and tell us how much they look forward to it.”
He acknowledges that there is an interest in the themes reflected by the beer.
“Our brewery was started as a celebration of the alchemy and science of brewing and our beers are best shared in the company of kindred spirits so I think it dovetails nicely with the Feast of Fools especially and several other celebrations, i.e. Mardi Gras is another big one for us,” he said. “There is also the tie, perhaps apocryphal, that the Feast of Fools has had to Roman holiday of Saturnalia so the timing is right there too.”
“Over the years we’ve had a lot of beers that celebrate these themes both directly and indirectly, like Blind Faith, Humble Patience, Jinx, Séance, but there are a lot of things to celebrate in this world, music, art, friends, nature, beer, etc., so we have brewed a lot of different beers. Feast of Fools will be coming back for the holidays, in limited release in 22oz bottles and kegs, and we are also bringing back another beer that is one of my all-time favorites Hex.”
“This is what we call Ourtoberfest or our take on the style of Octoberfests. It’s a traditional crisp, malty lager with a hint of delicious smokiness that adds a little mystery and keeps you coming back. That will be very limited, but available in our Artifactory and some limited draft.”
The company offered a “Night of the Living Dead” variety pack since the 90’s but it was recently discontinued. But while as of this writing it will not return, Blackman said some of the flavors previously featured in it will.
“Every year we ask the brewers and some of the other folks around here, and the people who send in requests, what they want to bring back and usually we come up with a couple favorites to re-release,” he said. “This year, it’s Hex, but next year maybe Jinx or some of the others.”