3.6AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 You have to hand it to the brewers at Magic Hat: only they could come up with the idea to make an election-themed beer. Participation Lager is their “Odd Notion” offering for autumn 2008 and it’s certainly a more worthy candidate for an All-American Lager than the beers we normally associate with such a label.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
I was amazed that Participation Lager poured so smoothly without the slightest kickback at all. Usually lagers leave their bottles kicking and screaming. The beer has a dark gold/light orange hazy complexion with a lot of noticeable carbonation. The aroma is not typical of a lager, though. I can’t recall any other lagers having as sweet a scent as this beer, almost to the point of being fruity. Of course, it does have a typical grainy “beer smell” at the core, but it is very subdued.
As soon as I took my first taste of Participation Lager I immediately identified it with the Magic Hat brand. This brewer’s beers have a distinct signature to their taste of very potent ingredients. At first this brew followed its scent and had something of a very sweet, almost juicy taste that ended softly.
However, as I continued to drink the beer I noticed the taste began to quickly flatten to the point of being quite dry and bitter. In fact, its flavor was just the slightest bit salty, which I assume is from its strong incorporation of hops. Not that this beer tastes bad at all, but I would have preferred its starting flavor been more thorough.
I’ve never understood why the lager is the most popular beer style in the United States since most beers of the type have a rough finish. Not even Magic Hat is able to smooth out the edges. Participation Lager starts out mild but as its taste dries out, so does its finish giving it a bit of a coarse edge. Again, this isn’t necessarily a flaw – I’m just reporting the facts.
Craft beers have a tendency to be very potent, even in the case of a generic lager style. But thankfully Magic Hat doesn’t try to make Participation Lager out to be anything its not. At 5% ABV this is a perfectly average weight for a beer and makes it conducive to multiple servings. Since it’s only available in mix packs, drinking all three in one session shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
Why this unique lager is only available as a seasonal I cannot fathom. Magic Hat does not have a year-round lager in their line, but I would nominate Participation Lager for such a position if it were ever put to a vote.