They Call Me Snow Miser

Brewery and Country of Origin: Magic Hat Brewing Company of 5 Bartlett Bay Road, South Burlington, VT, 05403, USA

Date Reviewed: 12-27-12

Before we begin our review, we'd like to take a moment to send our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of in Christmas Eve's shooting in Webster, New York. Webster is the neighboring town to the North of our hometown of Penfield, and we can not fully express our sorrow and condolences for the heinous tragedy which took place. We would also like to send our best wishes to the families whose house was consumed in the coinciding arson, and the entire Rochester Area Volunteer Firefighters communities. Thank you.

So although the Christmas Season is sadly over, that doesn't mean winter's done. Far from it. In fact, this 2012-13 winter is less than a week old (if you go by the official date), and temperatures as well as snow flakes are finally beginning to fall accordingly (at least it is here in The Northeast). And the advent of winter means the real time for winter beers. This particular winter beer takes its name from a famous Novella written in the very late 1800s. But this review is not going to go on about that. The past few days saw the passing of a huge winter storm across much of the midwest and northeastern United States, dumping more than two feet of snow in some places. Of course, where we are, we didn't get anything but some flooding, cold wind, and a ton of car accidents on the roads. Winter's not here yet, but it's coming. Anyway, you may remember us talking about the importance of reaching for a beer that's in season some time ago during the summer. Yes, we reviewed a stout on the Duxbury, MA beach which was probably not the most ideal situation a beer enthuisast could dream of. Still, that particular beer was rated very favorably, as this one is as well. As far as drinking in season should be concerned, it's a guideline. First off, brewers will usually release a "seasonal" beer only during the ideal time of the year. That way, they'll ensure that you enjoy the right style or category of beer during the perfect time. Sometimes, timing is everything. For example, this Magic Hat offering is on the shelves from October to January. In this case, you won't have to worry about picking the wrong beer for the season. Second, it's all about what you like. This is obviuosly aside from what the brewery thinks you'd like. You define your own seasons, trends, and preferences. If you want to have an ice cold pale lager from the Rockies during a playoff game tailgate party in Buffalo, NY, go for it (whether such a game would exist for the Bills is another story). Basically, if something feels right, then go with it. Third, brewery recommendations and beer style seasons are only there to help you get the most out of your beer. They're the ones making it, so they probably know best. Trust them at least for the first time, and if you don't agree, then enjoy that stout while your getting a massive sunburn.
Date Sampled: 12-14-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: English Style Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 5.70%
Serving Type: 12 oz Bottle, 14 oz Sam Adams Glass
Rating: 4.08


This stout's pour is smooth with a lower than average amount of carbonation action. Yet despite this, the beer produces a very thick, dense, and three quarters inch tall foam head with a very impressive retention. This beer is clear but dark with an almost opaque appearance. Full lacing occurs on the glass. In intense light, there is a faint ruby reddish brown shine. There is no sediment in this beer.


The aroma of this brew is very strong, emphasizing a great deal of roasted coffee and darker chocolate notes. There is almost no hoppy bitter smell or alcoholic character detectable, and the overall tone of this smell is simply sweet. The use of caramel and coffee like malt is definitely present in this brew's prominent, flavor enhancing aroma.


This is a medium full bodied beer with a matching viscosity and weight. A lower amount of carbonation gives this beer a slightly dull, lingering feel with a good amount of substance. This is a smooth feeling beer with a slightly creamy character, and a slight alcoholic induced warming effect after a dry closing.


At the heart of Heart of Darkness is a full, bold malty flavor with a sweet overtone and a quick transition to dark cocoa and coffee malt bitterness. A good amount of bitterness carries through to a lingering aftertaste which closes slightly dry. This beer's overall flavor is very malty and appropriate for the style, especially one which is sold only during the late fall and winter months.

Our Take

This is an impressive beer. Perfectly crafted for this perfect time of year, any stout or dark brew fans are certainly going to be more than satisfied with this seasonal offering from the Vermont Craft mainstay. At only 5.70% ABV, this isn't a big, bold, badass imperial which modest heavy beer fans are going to shy away from. This drinks incredibly smooth and packs a flavor punch that runs with the best, most awarded stouts in the region. A sweet and deep coffee malt presence makes this a great dessert beer after a hearty winter supper, or a great accompaniment to any beef, steak, burger, or pork. And despite the full flavor, aromatic experience, this is still a fairly easy going beer which you should be able to enjoy a good number of during the same night. Yes, compared to your normal Bud Light, you'll find Heart of Darkness to be a hearty, deep rooted, beer with a substantial presence. In a way, that is supposed to happen. A subtle warming effect gives this beer the winter warmer season element, while a bold flavor gives an above average weight and viscostiy justification. This just may be a top alternative to unforgiving imperials and strong winter warmers for those who are looking for the full winter beer experience, without losing their level.