Magic Hat Odd Notion - Participation Lager (Autumn 08)

RATINGS: 70   WEIGHTED AVG: 2.99/5   SEASONAL: Series   EST. CALORIES: 150   ABV: 5%
A beer to provoke political discussion.

A deliciously red, white, and brewed pre-Prohibition lager of the kind brought to the great American melting pot by 19th century German immigrants who adapted their ancient recipes to use those grains commonly found on these shores. Brewed with corn.

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ChadPolenz (1847) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAR 27, 2010
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 You have to hand it to the brewers at Magic Hat: only they could come up with the idea to make an election-themed beer. Participation Lager is their “Odd Notion” offering for autumn 2008 and it’s certainly a more worthy candidate for an All-American Lager than the beers we normally associate with such a label.


I was amazed that Participation Lager poured so smoothly without the slightest kickback at all. Usually lagers leave their bottles kicking and screaming. The beer has a dark gold/light orange hazy complexion with a lot of noticeable carbonation. The aroma is not typical of a lager, though. I can’t recall any other lagers having as sweet a scent as this beer, almost to the point of being fruity. Of course, it does have a typical grainy “beer smell” at the core, but it is very subdued.


As soon as I took my first taste of Participation Lager I immediately identified it with the Magic Hat brand. This brewer’s beers have a distinct signature to their taste of very potent ingredients. At first this brew followed its scent and had something of a very sweet, almost juicy taste that ended softly.

However, as I continued to drink the beer I noticed the taste began to quickly flatten to the point of being quite dry and bitter. In fact, its flavor was just the slightest bit salty, which I assume is from its strong incorporation of hops. Not that this beer tastes bad at all, but I would have preferred its starting flavor been more thorough.


I’ve never understood why the lager is the most popular beer style in the United States since most beers of the type have a rough finish. Not even Magic Hat is able to smooth out the edges. Participation Lager starts out mild but as its taste dries out, so does its finish giving it a bit of a coarse edge. Again, this isn’t necessarily a flaw – I’m just reporting the facts.


Craft beers have a tendency to be very potent, even in the case of a generic lager style. But thankfully Magic Hat doesn’t try to make Participation Lager out to be anything its not. At 5% ABV this is a perfectly average weight for a beer and makes it conducive to multiple servings. Since it’s only available in mix packs, drinking all three in one session shouldn’t be a problem for most people.


Why this unique lager is only available as a seasonal I cannot fathom. Magic Hat does not have a year-round lager in their line, but I would nominate Participation Lager for such a position if it were ever put to a vote.

NOTE: Watch the video version of this review at:

deyholla (12590) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - NOV 26, 2009
Bottle. Poured gold with an amber hue and a white head that lasted. Aroma had notes of bread and crisp hops. Flavor was what you would expect with balanced hops and malts.

williamherbert (1544) - Syracuse, New York, USA - AUG 12, 2009
Glowing golden color. Huge puffy white head. Hazy, not clear. Lots of upfloating tiny bubbles. Good frosty lace. Crisp lager smell, with lots of real barley. Some woody, oaky East Coast hops. So competent you’d think it’s an ale. The taste of the hops have seriously oily pine, like a friggin’ Christmas tree. Sharp and pungent. Malt is overwhelmed. Could use more balance. Hops are really heavy, bitter. The feel is fizzy but creamy. Not the thin lager I’m used to. It’s a hoppy lager, could be a pils with different hops. A piney, creamy lager. Malt is overshadowed, but it’s a real lager.

shp555 (2024) - Atlanta, Georgia, USA - JUL 16, 2009
Pours a brass color with a white head. Aroma is honey and sweet citrus hops. Flavor is malty, toast, and a bitter sweet citrus finish.

unclemattie (4406) - Georgia, USA - JUN 1, 2009
12oz bottle. Aroma of honey, sweet malts, and medicinal herbal hops. Flavor is a crisp malt, sharp bitterness. Finishes with a bold hop bomb bitterness. A Fun Lager.

coldbrewky (1731) - Hippetown East, New York, USA - APR 11, 2009
Fizzy from start to nearly drove me mad... the dried lacing was like sandpaper this morning in the glass when I rinsed it out....strange. Oily tan Fizzy head. It seriously sonded like pop rocks. Tinny mouth feel and finish. a nice clear amber in the glass... Meh.

jimmack34 (647) - Lancaster, Ohio, USA - MAR 16, 2009
Bottle. Pours golden amber with a decent fizzy head. Smells of grain, sweet corn, and hay. Tastes malty, corny, grainy, citrusy, and a nice grassy hop finish. Semi sweet, and nice dry bitterness wrap it up. Pretty good.

Lubiere (14262) - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA - FEB 22, 2009
A golden lager with a thick unctuous white head. A pleasant czech hop aroma, with light biscuit notes. In mouth, fresh hoppy lager with good crisp malt, and sustained mineral notes, good hops, and light sweetness in finale. Like Czerna Hora. Good! On tap at Bobcat Café, Dec. 26 2008.

jeremytoni (3085) - Swedesboro, New Jersey, USA - FEB 15, 2009
From the bottla poured a nice amber color with a fair amount of head. Nice milld sweet flavor with almost no finish.

sinkr (323) - Odenton, Maryland, USA - FEB 9, 2009
Bottle->flute: Pours a large, frothy, lasting, white head atop a sparkling, yellow body. Aroma of grain, flowers, and citrus. The body is light, the texture thin, and the carbonation lively. The flavor’s duration is long, being moderately bitter. There is a long, bitter finish that tastes of grass.

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