3.4AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 14/20
I’m a fan of dark beers, probably because they have the most taste. Sure, dark beers tend to be much heavier in body and aren’t ridiculously easy to drink, but the flavor quality more than makes up for it.
Magic Hat has been one of my favorite breweries of the last few years, because they know how to take a fairly standard beer (summer ale, hefeweizen, pale ale) and put a new spin on the same old formula. However, with this summer’s “Odd Notion” beer, “English Dark Mild,” this Vermont-based brewery is obviously trying to imitate traditional English brown ale like Newcastle. It’s a valiant effort, to be sure, but the end result is a surprisingly average beer.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
Dark beers have a tendency to pour very smoothly and English Dark Mild certainly follows in that habit. It forms an average-sized head which doesn’t linger very long, but never evaporates completely. The color is also reminiscent of brown ales in that it’s actually a very dark red hue, almost maroon, but leans more towards out-and-out brown.
This beer definitely has the typical brown ale characteristic of a roasted aroma. It’s not quite as strong as some other beers of the type, but it’s pretty appealing to the nose (certainly much more than any mass-market beer).
TASTE AND FINISH
Since this beer has such a deeply-roasted aroma, I was expecting a very strong, almost smoky taste. I was quite surprised when the flavor fell a bit flat. The best way to describe it would be a “watered-down brown ale”. Sure, there is some roasty character to the palate, but it’s very subtle.
At least the beer is extremely smooth and easy to drink. The flavor might be a bit weak, so perhaps this accounts for the ease of the drinkability. Brown ales tend to be smooth anyway, and if there’s something Magic Hat’s beers are known for it’s their clean finish. The beer doesn’t seem to be heavily carbonated and the flavor isn’t too strong, so it’s no wonder it drinks as easily as juice.
People don’t like to drink dark beers on their own, because they tend to be very filling. Beers in the tradition of English Dark Mild are usually very complimentary to a dinner, but this particular brew is much lighter in body than you’d expect. Don’t let the dark color fool you, this is a beer you could easily go through many bottles or pints without feeling full or bloated.
Magic Hat’s Odd Notion Summer 08 “English Dark Mild” is one of those beers that will definitely be enjoyed differently by everyone. Lightweights could easily consider it too strong while connoisseurs might consider it not nearly strong enough for their enjoyment. That’s why I give it an average rating of 3, but still recommend it. It’s definitely worth trying, but might not leave a very lasting impression.