Beer of the Week: Magic Hat #9 Pale Ale

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John Linn
Do you believe in magic?
Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

It's amazing that some of the largest craft brewers in the country still don't have distribution in Florida, one of the country's most populated states.Talk to a Floridian about a company like Magic Hat Brewing, for example, and you'll probably get a big shrug. But Vermont's Magic Hat is actually the tenth largest craft brewer in the U.S. of A. Apparently, we've been missing out.

Floridians may not know Magic Hat from Miller at the moment, but the great thing about beer drinkers is we're an accepting bunch. We get really, really excited at the prospect of trying brews that are new to us. And since Magic Hat's entire catalog is new to most Floridians, that just means we have a lot of drinking to do. Starting with #9 Pale Ale.

Let's clarify something about pale ales really quickly. Pale ales are traditionally light- to medium-bodied beers that strike a balance between sweet maltiness and bitter hopiness. They're usually, but not always, lighter in color, and definitely not as strong as their freewheeling siblings, India pale ales. But as hop heads continue to push the envelope of bitter, floral hops in their beer, it's becoming harder and harder to tell some pale ales from and IPA. The malts are getting shot through the roof, and big hops are added to compensate.

Which is why I'm glad Magic Hat is about as light and balanced as pale ale gets. The brew is clear and sunny in color, with a very light head. The flavor, too, is mild, comparatively speaking (I mean, it's not Miller in the slightest). You'll taste a bit of ripe, fuzzy skinned fruit and some citrus, and a mild yeasty tang that doesn't get too funky. And the hops are dialed back to a dull drone.

None of this is to say #9 lacks flavor. It's just a very easy drinking pale ale that takes a big step away from the almost-an-IPA pales that have become so popular. And at 4.6% alcohol, this is a beer you could drink a lot of for a long time and not wear your palate or your body down.

That happens to be a good thing, since we've got a lot of catching up to do with Magic Hat's goods. Get started with this new-to-Florida brew at Ye Olde Falcon Pub in Davie, Hurricane Wings in Coconut Creek, the Lodge in Boca Raton, Original Fat Cat's in Fort Lauderdale, and Duffy's in Delray Beach.

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