I know a bartender here in town who runs a pub with a pretty decent tap. She knows I dig good beers and has tried to get some good stuff on tap for me, and often has the occasional stunner.
During a recent visit, she asked me in a flirty manner if I would try a recent addition to their winter tap, a winter beer from Magic Hat, "Howl". I'm always suspicious of seasonal beers; they usually disappoint. Maybe they underwhelm because all the brewers gravitate towards the same ideas about what a season should taste like: in most cases, summer beers are always light and wheaty; fall beers are overly malted and tepid, winter beers are heavy and bland. Who makes a "Spring" beer, anyway?
As she poured me a free, full glass and nudged it in my direction, I could see her face swelling with anticipation for my trial. "Oh, I'm going to stun him with something he's never tried before. He's gonna be surprised." She was wrong. The only surprise regarding this beer was how someone would think it was good enough to get giddy about. Howl, at best, is something you find at the back of a fridge at a party when you're already buzzed, looking to get hammered, and all the other options are Coors Light and Keystone.
It barely pours a head, much like the perennially flat looking Shiner Bock (which is a better beer). The color is dark brown, with perhaps a bit of grey, like charred wood. It has an interesting but fleeting piney flavor which is quickly overwhelmed by cheap beer watery-ness. The weak finish leaves one wanting. You wish the brewer had chosen to add more hops or more sweetness or something. They came so close to doing something that wasn't just average. Too bad. Magic's Kit Kat IPA is a pretty solid brew but they threw a pick in the red zone with this one. It goes down to defeat in the first quarter of the game.
HOLY WATER, DRINK, POUR DOWN THE SINK: After a sip or two, tip this one upside down over the drain and reach for something else. Hell, bring on the Shiner Bock.