Magic Hat Wooly
I’m a big fan of ESBs in general. For the most part, they are one of the more straightforward styles of beer that more often than nought deliver exactly what I want when drinking a beer — nicely toasted malt and an appropriate amount of balancing hop bitterness. There’s nothing like sitting down with a beer that refreshes almost instantly and one that doesn’t try to take your taste buds on a nauseating series of roller coaster loop-d-loops with over-the-top ingredients or alcohol.
In keeping true to their history of brewing solid, style-specific brews with just a hint of something extra, Magic Hat sent me a sample of their Wooly, an ESB brewed with spruce tips. The result of this addition is a beer that has the backbone of a traditional ESB, but with a more pronounce and aromatic pine character. It’s an interesting characteristic and is one that suits the season well, but not sure if I would want that much of it in every ESB I drink.
Wooly sits with a massive stack of rocky, off-white foam after what I would consider a standard pour. The brew is amber in color and clean.
The spruce isn’t too forward in the aroma, instead it sits in the background a bit adding an additional layer to the biscuity malt, light toast, cereal, grain and light, grassy hop notes that are already present.
I think most of the carbonation was expelled with the expansion of that large head as this beer has got a very soft level of bubble activity. It’s not flat, but darn near it. The flavors presented on the tongue include grains, biscuity malt, a subtle sweetness and a good bit more spruce than the nose let on. The lingering hop bitterness is fairly light in the finish. Obviously, I’d like a bit more carbonation with a beer of this style, but it was still drinkable and enjoyable. The spruce adds a gives the beer a decidedly piney character that fits the season nicely.
This was a decent little beer. The spruce tips give the brew a seasonal-appropriate and festive character, but it’s not something I would want to encounter too often in an ESB. As a result of the low level of carbonation the beer came across more thin than it probably should have, but again, it was still tasty and easy drinking.
This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.