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Beer and Gear: Magic Hat and Boulder Beer
By Rob Manning

Drink to Your Health

#9 is psychadelic and fun. Photo courtesy Magichat.net.

Nothing washes down a great ride better than a good beer. A number of companies have picked up on this loveable assosciation and have jumped on the bandwagon of producing jerseys emblazoned with various beer brands. Magic Hat and Boulder Beer Company are two of the most interesting companies (and have some interesting beer as well) to make this leap into the cycling world.

Magic Hat

Based in South Burlington Vermont, Magic Hat has become an amazing success story among micro-brewers. Bottling 6 year round brews and a number of seasonal brews, as well as serving craft brews at their brewery, Magic Hat has flourished in recent years. Part of the charm of their business comes from their outright weirdness; from a website crawling with strange and surreal characters to their "artifactory" gift shop adorned with hanging lights and Alice in Wonderland-esque signs and slogans, Magic Hat oozes personality. Their beer follows suit, with odd saying under each bottle cap, labels that twist your mind and brew names that make your head spin; their offerings to the cycling world are just as out there with wild graphics and slogans adorning each and every piece.

Our old #9 poured into a glass with a golden color and decent head. There's a touch of fruit in it, rumored to be apricot, but it doesn't seem to overpower the aroma of a smooth malty ale. The first sip doesn't reveal any of the apricot you can sniff out on the pour, but it does show up in the aftertaste. It's accentuating rather than overpowering, which is a good thing here. There's a thick malty taste to it with a hint of left over yeastiness. Not overly hopped, it's easy to drink but not overpowering. Best when consumed on a warm day after a long ride, it is equally at home next to a fireplace after a cold day of shoveling snow.

A buzzing bee and cartoon flowers capture the essence of Hocus Pocus in a women's jersey. Photo courtesy Magichat.net

Hocus Pocus
Pouring out our bottles of Hocus Pocus (a summer seasonal offering with a buzzing bee on the label) yielded a mild white, fluffy head atop a slightly cloudy golden yellow pint of brew. Upon first taste, a definite taste of hop and spice mingles with a caramel maltiness. The initial impression gives way to an organic, grassy flavor that reminds me somewhat of celery (Celery beer? He's lost it! - Ed.) or some other kind of vegetable I can't put my finger on. Whatever it is, it reminds me of summer, and that's a wonderful feeling. With a dry finish that leaves little aftertaste, this is an excellent brew for the scorching hot days where you'd prefer to be inside, but the allure of the trail is just too great. Hell, I'd even carry one in my pack as a mid-ride refresher.

Jinx, in a stark contrast to our previously reviewed brews, is not a light offering. Considered by Magic Hat to be their "SeptemberOctoberNovemberfest ale", it is a variety of scotch ale with some interesting characteristics. It pours a deep coppery red, almost the color of fallen leaves. A small, frothy carmael colored head faded off quickly and we breathed in a deep smokey caramel scent off the glass. Our first taste was like a kick in the nuts, but in a good way. Heavy sweet caramel malt with a peaty spicy zip hits you in the face like an autumnal breeze, followed by a smokey bittery hop to balance everything out. It finishes dry and leaves you with a touch of earthy peat flavor. Certainly this is an autumn beer, not something to be drinking on a warm summer day. Not to mention the higher-than-average 6.9 ABV will make it a little tougher to get home after a few of these.

Pink and girly, Jinx is as sweet as the beer it's named for.

The Jerseys
Produced by Louis Garneau, the jersey looks like a label wrapped around your tender thorax. With a psychadelic golden "9" emblazoned on the front of the #9 jersey, surrounded by ethereal swirls, it's tough to mistake this jersey for anything BUT a Magic Hat branded product. The Hocus Pocus and Jinx jerseys receive similar treatments with psychadelic flowers and Picasso-esque faces emblazoned on the front of them. Just like the company mystique and like the bottle art, these jerseys are likely to be unique within your riding group. Louis Garneau has provided the basis for them, utilizing excellent wicking material and providing it in a club cut (not quite a euro-racerboy-weenie cut but not a freeride cut either) masterpiece that will make you a walking billboard for your favorite beer. Featuring three deep elastic topped pockets, you'll have plenty of room for keys, energy gels, cliff bars, bottles or anything else you could ever stuff in your jersey. Wicking was excellent, keeping us cool and dry during the hottest summer months, and a 3/4 zipper ensures that if the going gets too hot, you can open up and air it out. The #9 is available in a men's cut while the Hocus Pocus and Jinx are women specific and are offered as short sleeve or sleveless models. The only way you could look cooler is to have a beer in your hand while you're wearing the jersey. Trust us. We tried it. It looked bad ass.

Visit the creative folks in Vermont and purchase your own gear at MagicHat.net

Boulder Beer Company

In contrast to Magic Hat, Boulder Beer Company is a straight laced, simple western style company. No trickery here, Boulder Beer Company has a homey, friendly, small town Colorado charm to their operation. Proclaiming their status as "Colorado's First Micro Brew" for the world to see, they produce more than a half dozen brews year round as well as a number of craft brews. Known for a refresing palate as clear as the mountain springs of its home state, Boulder's brews are pleasing and refreshing to the palate.

Quintessential Colorado outdoor beauty adorns Singletrack Ale's label and jersey.

Singletrack Copper Ale
Obviously a cycling reference, the Singletrack Copper ale features a pair of mountain bikes on the bottle. Pouring it revealed a rich copper color with a quickly vanishing head. Smelling faintly of black cherries, carmelized malt and light hops, it begs to be savored. The first taste reveals a malty flavor consistent with the smell with a slightly stronger finish. The finish overbalances with hops but does not venture into the realm of a bitter or IPA. Balance is a little odd between the malty taste and hoppy finish, but it is very pleasing to the palate after a few sips. The carbonation is lightly tickling to the tongue, giving it a bit of a playful demeanor. This is definitely a fun, drinkable brew that complements any situation well.

Hazed and Infused IPA
Hazed and Infused reminded us of our days in college; the bottle is a "free thinker's" dream (he means it's reminiscent of hippie days - Ed.) and we love it. This dry hopped IPA pours out a rich amber color with moderate head. It smells somewhat of an apple orchard to me, with a light fruity aroma mingled with some organic vanilla overtones. The taste is where this one is all about; it's smooth with a sharp sour apple bite layered over a hint of salt and lemon. Thin on the palate, hops dominate it with just enough malt to keep everything in control. It's a daring, hoppy brew with a touch of balls to it. Definitely not for the faint of palate, it will get you revved up for another, or kick you in the nuts and tell you you're finished for the night.

It's not the 60's but Hazed and infused certainly brings out the flower child in all of us.

The Jerseys
When you look at the label of a Hazed and Infused, you get a vague sense of college in the 60's. Tye-dye, pot and protesting was the norm, and this jersey would have looked right at home on the set of "Half Baked." The psychadelic nature of this jersey led to some strange comments by our testers, but the design has grown on us as much as the beer has. We love the in-your-face colors and attitude the jersey has as it displays it's message: I drink bad ass beer, and so should you! Wearing the Singletrack Copper Ale jersey immediately gave us the impression that we should be riding the Great Divide Trail. Ok, maybe not, but it certainly did evoke some feelings in us, longing for singletrack stretches without a single human in sight. We wished for buff trails with no rocks or roots, golden sun shining high in the sky...ok, you get the idea. Anyway, the point of this is that Primal Wear has done a wonderful job of working with Boulder Beer Company and producing a jersey that is an exact likeness of the bottle. Yes, you're now wearing a bottle label. No, you can't drink yourself, unfortunately. With a cut that's a little bit generous, this stylish jersey is thankfully designed for the beer drinkers out there. Featuring a high tech wicking material, a 3/4 length zipper, 3 elastic pockets and kick ass graphics all contained in a nice full cut jersey, what more could you ask for? Singletrack Copper Ale sold separately, unfortunately.

To hang with Boulder Beer, check their website at BoulderBeer.com and to purchase their likeness jerseys, visit PrimalWear.com

What did we learn?

There's a wonderful parallel between beer companies and the products they put into the marketplace. We've found that you'll definitely be noticed when wearing something that amounts to a giant billboard for a company's beer, but that's not always a bad thing. Not a single beer in this (taste) test has been proven less than a wonderful accoutrament to the taste buds. The jerseys modeled after these particular brews relate very well to the beer they represent, and their creativity is appreciated by people far and wide, beer drinkers or not. With the high quality of these jerseys, you're giving up nothing by wearing your favorite label on your chest. So pick your favorite beer, wrap yourself up like a tall frosty one, hit the trail and make some people thirsty.
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