Legacy Brewery Magic Hat Leaves Vermont - American Craft Beer

Unfortunately, Magic Hat got bought out ’round 2020, but its legacy lives on. Now brewed in Rochester, many of its offbeat recipes have disappeared while some, like #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, remain – for now as of 2023.

For a cool ghoulishly bewitched tour, check out South Burlington’s renowned MAGIC HAT BREWERY, where Halloween and Mardis Gras are celebrated daily. February ’04, bought limited edition Braggot Honey Ale and newly introduced Mother Lager. November ’06, caught up with marketing director Shawn Rice and brought home seven growlers of familiar bottled fare for High Times crew.

On tap at site, sampled Magic Hat Blind Nine Ale. Blending #9 Not Quite Pale Ale with Blind Faith IPA, its candied peach-berry frontage, tropical pineapple-kiwi-papaya backup, and lacquered paste-like viscosity secured phenol-medicinal quilt harboring bread-y yeast thicket to extremely bitter hop-roasted finish.

Though not a brewpub per se, this proudly successful, overly generous South Burlington microbrewery added a permanent right side bar some time before my fourth visit, January ’09. It served at least six of Magic Hat’s brews – a few that are not bottled and quite original. Worth the trip, especially considering stiff Burlington competition by Three Needs, American Flatbread, and Vermont Pub. Check out Beer Index for full Magic Hat reviews.



Three Needs Taproom & Brewery — Love Burlington

Opened 1995, grungy stoner-biker dive, THREE NEEDS BREWERY, was located just off Burlington’s Church Street promenade -within walking distance of American Flatbread and Vermont Pub. The above picture is from its new (since 2012) Pearl Street location.

Old wood floors match oaken bar covered with Simpsons paraphernalia, sundry books, and liquor bottles. Rear billiards table leads to low ceiling basement where rustic Grundy serving tanks offered respectable ever-changing selection of brewer Glenn Walter’s fare.

Before noon, I popped in with wife and kids to sample a few, November ’06.

Quaffed dry corn-husked, Saaz-hopped, earthen-grained, lemon-bitter Czech Pilsner, peat-malted, tingly-hopped, date-dried, tea-sugared ESB, spicy brown-sugared, alcohol-burnt, prune-fig-date-secured Bock Beer, and frothy espresso-wafted, coffee-burnt, hazelnut-fringed, cellar-musty Chocolate Thunder Porter.

Walter then brought out similarly styled sour ales. Dry green grape-soured, horseblanket-leathered, hay-grassed, soft-watered, gueuze-puckered Lambic and oaken white grape-dried, limestone-chalked, cherry-cranberry-tart Flanders Sour Red. Best bet: warmly perfume-spiced, cherry-banana-bruised, piney-hopped, 10% alcohol-fumed Belgian Triple.

Along with Magic Hat party starter, Ross Thompson, checked out new brewer Jon Mc Cracken’s latest offerings, January ‘09. Honey-creamed citric-backed Blonde and molasses-sweetened, black cherry-soured, cola-nutty Scottish Ale sufficed. Unconventional deviance, California Lager, had brimstone-spiced stone-fruited herbal-tinged aridity.



American Flatbread, Burlington Hearth – Tri Tip Steak, Pablano Pepper  Special | Whats4lunch (Nick's Guide to Grub)

November ’06, revisited Burlington for a few nights. First stop, loud and crowded AMERICAN FLATBREAD (opened around ‘04) made awesome organic wood-fired pizzas in a brick cauldron to go with 30-plus quality bottled beers and several finely handcrafted ‘Zero Gravity’ tap brews. Its right side wood bar had a beautiful oak mantle, exposed ductwork lined the ceilings, and brew tanks were located in the rear.

Alongside delicious Punctuated Equilibrium (wheat-based pizza with olives, red peppers, goat cheese, onions), quaffed mild yellow-fruited hop-spiced white breaded Munich Helles, dry-fruited hop-tingled Villiers ESB, dry spice-hopped fig-date-tinged Dwayne’s Dunkel, wispy dry-fruited raw-honeyed Liquid K’nish Schwarzbier, and middling rye-dried malt-toasted fig-dabbed Black Cat Porter.

More rewarding were sticky anise-laden cinnamon-spiced vanilla-backed squash-aided Stick Season Ale, boisterous grapefruit rind-embittered orange-peeled pineapple-tart piney-hopped TLA India Pale Ale, and baked bread-y prune-dried pumpernickel-finishing Bakers Little Helper.

January ’09, tried fig-date-sugared black cherry-dried chocolate-powdered Mr. Black’s Scwarzbier, creamy cappuccino-fronted coffee-roasted cocoa-backed nut-smoked licorice-tinged Extra Stout, and phenol perfume-hopped red-orange-fruited Old Ale.



Vermont Pub and Brewery - Burlington Brew Tours - All-Inclusive, Guided  Brewery Tours & Craft Beer Events in Burlington, Vermont

Traveling West on Route 89 during snowy February ’04 New England excursion, stayed two nights in renowned bohemian haunt, Burlington. First stop was  VERMONT PUB AND BREWERY, a large edifice with redeeming values I appreciated more the second time around five years hence.

As the second oldest brewpub on the East Coast (opened 1988), Vermont Pub spreads a large dining space behind windowed porch bar area. Spacious downtown eatery served good American cuisine. Ate hearty Angus Brewburger while tapping into now-deceased seasoned brewer Greg Noonan’s smooth libations.

Tried dry wheat-husked Ethan Allen Lager, sour malt-serenaded Burly Irish Ale, nut-soft Dogbite Bitter ESB, bitterly spice-hopped Bombay Grab IPA, hickory-smoked coffee-roasted Vermont Smoked Porter, silken cappuccino-sweet coffee-dried maple-sapped wood-smoked cola-nutty Handsome Mick’s Irish Stout, and mocha serenity Black Sea Imperial Stout.

In January ’09, discovered several lighter-bodied experimental brews such as chipotle-jalapenos-smoked sandalwood-burnt sage-oiled black-peppered Ambergris No. 1 Weiss and peculiar herbaceous honey-suckled Absinthe (gathering peppermint, absinthium, lemon balm, chamomile, licorice, and ginger illusions). Soft oak-aged raspberry-parched cranberry-soured watermelon-tinged Forbidden Fruit Framboise topped diacetyl chocolate malt-lagered fig-date-soured washout Brewmasters Cup Munich Dunkel, weirdly raw-grained lemon-tart bark-dried green tea-embittered Canadian-styled Cream Ale, and lemony green apple-soured banana-blanched limestone-grouted Beetlejuice (Bavarian Weizen).


Within walking distance, Pearl Street Beverage had excellent bottled selection where I purchased Trout River, Rock Art, and Berkshire brews.

The Pub at Ken’s Pizza had local fave, Switchback Ale, flaunting spritzy hop spice, sweet malt bed, dry orange rind midst, and strawberry-peach trace. Switchback has since gained Northeast notoriety with many out of state pubs.