Magic Hat Odd Notion - Chocolate Belgian Stout (Fall 09)

RATINGS: 128   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.48/5   SEASONAL: Special   IBU: 50   EST. CALORIES: 186   ABV: 6.2%
A fitting beer for The Night Of The Living Dead, This Black Stout is chock full of roasty goodness, with an amazing complexity that can only come from the addition of five different types of malts. The flavors of dark crystallized malts and roasted barley warm the pallet and the distinct spicy phenolic character and inviting esters, derived from the Belgian yeast.

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   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
JMerritt (1941) - Macomb, Illinois, USA - APR 8, 2010
Pours dark chocolate brown with a small, light-brown head. Rich milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate chip aroma with some roasty whiffs of coffee, slight smoke and an underlying raisin fruitiness. Moderately sweet, mildly bitter flavor. Dry, earthy coffee finish is preceded with notes of sugared dates and mild licorice. Mildly carbonated with medium body. In my opinion, this is bordering a sweet stout style. Thanks to Narnad for the bottle.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
ChadPolenz (1784) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAR 27, 2010
With the continued growth of the craft beer industry I have been pleasantly satisfied to see so many mid-level breweries achieve supermarket distribution success. Beer snobs tend to mock the Magic Hat brewery for being “just a supermarket beer” and while I wouldn’t say they exactly on par with Dogfish Head, Rogue or Stone, the fact remains they make some tasty, very drinkable beers.

With their “Night of the Living Dead” mix pack for Fall, 2009 they have included a “Belgian Chocolate Stout” as the seasonal “Odd Notion.” Oftentimes, when American breweries market their beers as being “Belgian-style” it’s strictly a marketing gimmick, but in this case I’m willing to make an exception. I can’t say how close this beer is to a real Belgian chocolate stout (technically, it’s a Belgian dark ale), but for a beer in and of itself it’s impressive. Its mixture of chocolate, roasted malts and hop bitterness combined with a smooth finish all add up to make for one great beer.


When you hear the term “chocolate stout” a certain image comes to mind: a jet black beer with a dark brown, creamy head and that’s a dead-on description of this beer. It looks very inviting and tasty from the appearance alone, like dessert in a glass.

The aroma is strong with roasted malts and chocolate announcing their presence as soon as the bottle is opened. It’s similar to other chocolate beers I’ve had, which is a good indicator of how this beer will turn out.


I’ve liked (and often LOVED) every chocolate beer I’ve ever had and yet it amazes me that some people still do not enjoy them. I don’t understand what’s not to like. Magic Hat’s Odd Notion has all the makings of beers of the style that I love: a complex palate of roasted (but not burnt) malts; milk chocolate and a bitter hoppy finish.

What distinguishes this beer from other American brews is its use of real Belgian yeast to give it just the slightest, Trappist-like taste. There is some spice on top of the chocolate to give it some pep, and perhaps a fruity taste of sorts (plum and apple). The flavor is much stronger on the finish and leaves a pleasant aftertaste that’s almost as strong as the initial swig.

The roasted malt flavor plays an almost equal role with the chocolate, but is milder than the more intense stouts. This is forgivable since that type of palate is for more discriminating tastes and I think Magic Hat is targeting a more pedestrian audience with this Odd Notion. I’m also impressed by how well the bitterness is balanced against the malt sweetness. At 50 IBUs this is at the level of a pale ale or IPA, but without any kind of dryness.


Another reason I never understand people that dislike chocolate beers is the fact they’re some of the most drinker-friendly brews on the market. Belgian Chocolate Stout is surprisingly mild and just a bit watery in the initial sip, but all the flavor comes out in spades on the finish. The mouthfeel is actually quite soft, but noticeably weighty, but very drinkable overall. At 6.2% ABV it sounds much heavier than it feels, although I’d recommend drinking it instead of, rather than in addition to, dessert.


I’ve been drinking Magic Hat’s “Odd Notion” seasonal beers for almost two years now and have never been very impressed until now. Why they would choose to make such a high-quality beer a one-time-only brewing is rather perplexing. Still, as an addition to their mix pack ($14 - $20 depending on your area) it’s a totally worthy choice. I’d love to see it brewed year-round and sold on its own. I think it’s THAT good.

NOTE: Watch the video version of this review here:

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Beerdedone (3366) - Croydon, Pennsylvania, USA - MAR 6, 2010
Bottle. Pours black with a small brown head. Aroma of chocolate, dark malts, coffee and some notes of smoke. Flavor was sweet dark chocolate, roasted malts a hint of molasses and a touch of fruit with a semi dry finish.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Beerona97 (2399) - Washington, USA - JAN 25, 2010
Pours solid black with a thick creamy light brown head. Aroma of chocolate and subtle but noticeable Belgian yeast. Taste is more Belgian but I think goes very well with the chocolate. An interesting beer.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
hopdog (12083) - Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 16, 2010
On tap at Capone’s. Poured a deeper black color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of chocolate, roast, and some earthiness. Tastes of chocolate, roast, some coffee, and some fruitiness.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
bhensonb (14868) - Woodland, California, USA - JAN 9, 2010
Bottle from ericandersnavy. Pours opaque black/brown with a decent foamy tan head. Aromas of chocolate and smooth toasted dark malt. Medium bodie with frothy carbonation. Flavor is chocolate and smooth toasted malt. Finishes a bit creamy and a bit astringent/bitter. Good stout.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
TomDecapolis (4618) - Milton, Delaware, USA - JAN 9, 2010
Tap at Capones. Pours a deep black with a smaller tan head. Aroma of dark chocolate and some Belgian yeast notes. Flavor of roasted malt, dark chocolate and Belgian yeast.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
sneagrams3 (2337) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - JAN 3, 2010
Tasted 1/3/10. 12oz bottle. Activated pour and a rather dark, opaque hue. Spiral and ring of khaki head. Aromas of coffee, citrus and chocolate. Good malty aromas with woody and cocoa hints. Full bodied with a smooth malt bill, but there is some serious bitterness in this brew. Rather dry with an odd fruitiness. This is good, but something in the palate just doesn’t jib all the way with me. There’s an earthy aspect intermingling with the cocoa and chocolate flavors. Mild effervescence. Moderate acidity. Not too bad.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Dacrza (928) - Great Meadows, New Jersey, USA - JAN 1, 2010
Situation: Watching The Wizard of Oz for the first time straight through... Glassware: Yuengling pint... Appearance: dark black body witha crackling, foamy brown head that settles in time to a ring... Aroma: sweet lactic fragrance with a toasted element; fresh and vivacious... Palate: warm, smooth body with the presence to be reckoned with; effervescent if not a bit slick or oily... Taste: chocolatey and thick, like a microwaved milkshake--not sure if that is a compliment, but it fits... Overall: among the autumn sample, this one pleased me with its mellow approach and its complimentary place among party food fare. The odd notion was not odd at all, actually--a solid stout...

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
demitriustown (1188) - Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA - DEC 31, 2009
12 oz bottle: Pours a thick motor oil black with a thin tan head that diminishes quickly. Aroma is cocoa, dark caramel malt characteristic, some banana, and a very light hop spice to this brew. Taste is initially chocolate, coffee, roast, then mildly melds into slight belgian characteristics, fruits, banana, yeast, spice, then finishes more of a Stout/Quad. OVerall, Aroma didn’t blow me away but the way this brew plays around with your tastebuds is quite intersting. Cheers!

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