2.9AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
I make a point of re-drinking beers that had amazed me years prior. I recommend everyone do this because it’s an interesting way to see if your palate has changed or if the brewery has changed the recipe (or both). Two years ago I drank Magic Hat Circus Boy and equated it to the taste and drinkability of breakfast juice. While I’d say the drinkability has held up, the taste most definitely has not. Having tried a cross-section of wheat beers, this brew is a good example of why American craft beer drinkers don’t like American hefeweizens.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
I poured a 12oz bottle into an authentic hefeweizen glass. Upon a vigorous pour, Circus Boy only forms a 1 or 2-finger, white, frothy head which dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing on the glass. The color is bright yellow, hazy, but contains no sediment. Is this beer or Mountain Dew?
The aroma has some kind of candy sweetness, a farmhouse scent of wet wheat, and some lemon zest.
I have tried a variety of American pale wheat ales and so-called hefeweizens and if I were to "average" them all out, I think the result would be Magic Hat Circus Boy. This is not what I expect or want from a wheat beer (or a beer in general, for that matter). It starts out with a mild palate of wheat and grain, with a slightly zesty spice in the middle, and a lemon rind taste on the finish. I’ve had beers that have had been more prominent with the spice or lemon or another flavor, but this beer seems to be phoning in the entire palate.
Not that it’s off-putting. This is definitely drinkable and what flavors are there are somewhat enjoyable if I really concentrate on them.
While not satisfying in the taste department, this beer at least works as a thirst quencher. The palate is mild and watery, but the mouthfeel is soft and actually a little thicker than you’d expect. It goes down smooth and is refreshing mostly due to the fact it’s so mild the effervescence (or lack thereof) doesn’t tear up your tongue. In fact, Circus Boy might actually be better sucked straight from the bottle than poured out and I’d have no problem doing so if I were at a summer BBQ and this was in the cooler.
At either 4.4% or 4.5% ABV (the bottle and website have conflicting stats) this is definitely a sessionable, light beer bordering on a shandy*. In fact, I think Circus Boy could work much better as a shandy if Magic Hat were to make a few tweaks to the recipe.
Love them or hate them, the fact remains Magic Hat is a "gateway" brewery from "The Big Three" and their faux craft imprints to TRUE craft breweries. And Circus Boy is a somewhat worthy gateway beer towards a real wheat beer (it’s much closer to a Belgian White than a hefeweizen, though). As a craft beer in and of itself it’s only average, and as a craft beer drinker I want something more satisfying.
*a shandy is a drink made of half lager and half lemonade and is usually around 3.5% ABV or less.