Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Magic Hat Lucky Kat IPA (2008 original review)


Trying to explain why I like the India Pale Ale style of beer is a daunting task. How do I convey that this beer is extremely bitter and yet extremely tasty? Nearly every IPA I’ve tried I’ve enjoyed, which leads me to believe this style might be idiot-proof on the brewer’s end.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me whatsoever that Magic Hat Lucky Kat, a new year-round IPA by the Vermont-based craft brewery, would be so fantastic. It’s very bitter and yet very sweet, not to mention its smooth finish and medium body. That’s what I call a perfect beer.

POUR, COLOR AND AROMA

I’m not sure what I like better about trying an IPA for the first time: the first taste or the first whiff of the beer still in the bottle. Before I poured Lucky Kat I inhaled deeply from the top of bottle and got a deep sensation of flowers. This is actually the beer’s hops as Jim Koch explained in a Samuel Adams commercial. If brewers were smart they would market an IPA-scented candle or air freshener. I guess what I’m trying to say is this beer has a fantastic aroma.

It pours smoothly to a dark copper color with very little carbonation. It forms a perfectly-proportioned, off-white, foamy head which never completely dissipates and leaves some lacing on the glass. Even the head itself has a great bitter-but-tasty flavor.

TASTE

I just visited Magic Hat’s website for Lucky Kat and I’m slightly tempted to copy and paste its marketing hyperbole to my review in order to describe its taste. It’s rare that any product lives up to its producer’s hype to the finest detail, but this is one of the few exceptions.

This is a strongly hopped beer, weighing in at 58 on the bitterness scale. It’s made with pale, Munich and crystal malts and Amarillo and crystal hops. There is definitely a sweet, caramel-like taste to the palate, which is balanced out by “a big hoppy kiss” as the brewer describes it.

FINISH

The problem with extremely hoppy beers is they tend to have a coarse finish. It’s difficult to make such a bitter beer as an IPA go down smoothly and yet Magic Hat has done just that. I did notice some bite upon my first few swigs, but I must have built up a tolerance to it quickly because the majority of the beer was extremely smooth.

BODY

Magic Hat’s website asks, “Is he an imperial beast, or a pale soul from the east?” No, Lucky Kat isn’t an imperial ale, but it is quite potent at 5.8% ABV. I was able to quickly and easily drink my first bottle without feeling overwhelmed, but after the second serving I could definitely feel a buzz.

The number of calories is not listed on the website but I’d estimate it’s between 150 and 180. I didn’t feel the least bit full after two bottles so I’d say the beer is a perfectly proportioned medium body. It would accompany a meal quite well, although I think I prefer it on its own as an after-dinner treat.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have a feeling Magic Hat Lucky Kat is one of those beers that only the more discriminating drinker would enjoy because it’s so strong in flavor. That’s fine by me because that makes me appreciate and savor it all the more so!

Grade: 10/10