Friday, September 12, 2008

Magic Hat Jinx (2008 original review)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (735) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 27, 2010
I used to think that Sam Adams was the best American craft beer, but I’m beginning to realize that line pales in comparison to Magic Hat. A beer I’ve never enjoyed by Sam Adams is their scotch ale because it was entirely too smoky and harsh, but Jinx by Magic Hat is essentially the same beer and yet I genuinely enjoy it. Those Vermont brewers sure know what they’re doing.


As is the case with most Magic Hat beers, Jinx has a bit of a gimmicky marketing style to keep its style a mystery (“an ale inspired by medieval chemists” according the packaging). However, all I had to do is crack open a bottle and upon first whiff it was clear to me this was Scotch ale style beer. The aroma of deeply roasted, peat-smoked whiskey malt was strong.

The beer pours very smoothly and forms a rather small, soapy, off-white head which never completely dissipates and leaves some lacing on the glass, as well. The color is an attractive tea-colored appearance of very dark red and brown with a cloudy complexion.


Since I knew just from the aroma Jinx was likely in the Scotch ale style, I was wasn’t expecting much taste-wise since my other experiences with such beers have been disappointing. Much to my surprise I found this brew to be much tastier than I had anticipated. There definitely is a smoky taste to the palate, but it’s a much more subtle flavor.

Jinx drinks like a traditional English brown ale and is reminiscent of this summer’s “Odd Notion” beer – English Dark Mild. Instead of having a roasted or nutty taste, the flavor here is more like Scotch ale with significant caramel flavoring. It’s also very malty in the porter style, but its sweetness keeps the smoky taste from being overwhelming.


Dark beers are usually best drunk cool instead of ice cold, but I found Jinx to taste equally good at either temperature. Thankfully, its finish is fairly consistent as well. This is a beer bursting with flavor and although it has a smoky characteristic, it finishes fairly smooth (smoother than you’d expect a beer of this complexity to finish).


To describe Jinx as anything other than full bodied would be a lie, even Magic Hat’s own website describes it as such. However, a beer that falls into the heavyweight category tends to scare off non-connoisseurs, but that shouldn’t be the case with Jinx. I was able to drink two bottles in a row on a full stomach without feeling the least bit full or bloated. Thanks to its great taste and easy finish, this is the type of beer you could go through many bottles before you felt the need to stop.

Of course, it should be noted that Jinx is one of the most potent beers on the market with a 6.9% ABV. I would recommend it as an alternative to your usually party beer since it’s got nearly double the alcohol and obviously a much more delicious taste than any mass market lager.


If Magic Hat can make Scotch ale that I enjoy, then I might be willing to give some other beers of the style a closer look. It’s difficult to imagine any of them topping this one, but at least now I finally have a frame of reference I like. 
Grade: 8/10

NOTE: Read my 2017 re-review to BJCP specs here: