Sep 5, 2013

Magic Hat Seance

I think of all the latest trends in brewing styles that are currently running rampant in craft beer world, the one that I am least thrilled by is the black saison. I can get down with a decent black IPA that has good balance and flavor, but a saison should always be light, crisp, fruity, yeasty and refreshing. Throwing a bunch of roasty, dark malt at it is not the way to treat this type of beer.

So it is with that mindset that I approached this sample of Magic Hat’s Séance with trepidation, knowing full well that I probably wasn’t gong to like it. It’s not a knock against the brewery — I’m all for breweries experimenting, but some styles should just remain traditional in my mind. And even after finishing off this offering from the Vermont brewery, I still stand by that statement. Séance has some qualities that I can see working, but overall, I just don’t dig it.


A large, fluffy mocha head drops slowly atop the mahogany colored brew. It certainly doesn’t look like a saison.

Magic Hat Seance label art


Spicy, peppery yeast arrives almost immediately with moderately roasty malt notes, burnt caramel and an earthy quality.


Roast malt and a light coffee note hit the palate first before fading smoothly as spcies, yeast and dark fruits arrive. It’s an interesting beer with lots going on, but I don’t feel the heavy amount of malts balance out properly with the underlying Belgian yeast. That said, it’s much more fluid and not as abrupt as other example of the black saison that I’ve had. Séance is medium bodied with a relatively refreshing and crisp mouthfeel. No hint of alcohol.


Séance is just another offering in what is hopefully a short-lived black saison trend — one with which I will never truly be comfortable. If it does have one thing going for it, it’s the 4.4% ABV. That makes ofr a beer that is downright sessionable, that is, if I were a fan of this style in general. I’m sure fans of this new genre of beer may enjoy it, but it’s just not for me.

Rating: 2.75/5

This is a review of a promotional sample from the brewery.

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