Beer Review: Magic Hat Elder Berry

Seems fitting that Magic Hat Brewing Company returned to familiar territory with this summer's "Seasonal Fermentation Rotation," Elder Betty. It's the first new addition to the brewery's regular rotating lineup in nearly three years. Like the Burlington, VT brewery's apricot-kissed flagship pale ale, #9, this limited release, a hazy American weiss, also has a fruity kick — this time from the addition of elderberry.

Elder Betty pours a dark golden color with limited clarity from the presence of wheat in the grain bill, and features a somewhat thick and fluffy head that lingers through several sips. On the nose there are faint hints of weiss-y wheat and yeast that are entwined with a subtle sweetness reminiscent of Fruit Loops. As the beer warms up, those fruity notes intensify, taking on an almost grape-soda-like aroma. Fortunately, that doesn't carry over to it's actual flavor. There the elderberry is more subdued.

For the most part, this light- to medium-bodied wheat ale goes down easy. It essentially drinks just like any other Americanized hefeweizen, only the telltale banana and clove characteristics are either missing or masked by a blockade of berry-ness. The "mit hefe," or lingering yeast sediment, gives the brew a fluffy and creamy mouthfeel, and helps produce a crisp, dry and most refreshing finish.

Though Magic Hat beers are distributed across the country, this limited release may not make it out to the West Coast. If you can find it, however, it's definitely worth a try.

Colin Keefe, The Drink Nation

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