I’ve got a real soft spot for Magic Rock. They’re from my home town, in fact their brewery is a stone’s throw from where my husband lived when we first met. I took swimming lessons around the corner when I was a child. Not that it was there then of course, Magic Rock have existed for less than a year. They are lovely friendly guys and they make fantastic beer with a really strong identity, right through to their brilliant label designs.
I also have a soft spot for black IPAs, so I was eager to try Magic 8 Ball. There have been pretty mixed reviews of this beer, with some saying it’s a triumph, a symphony, the best black IPA ever to have graced the planet. Others found it unbalanced and lacking cohesiveness, a rare disappointment from an otherwise favourite brewery. Others just don’t like black IPA, but that’s their loss. I find myself somewhere in between. It’s not my favourite black IPA, but it’s close.
It pours a very thick opaque black with a thin tan head. The nose is a powerful mix of passionfruit, mango, peach and cut dandelion leaves. There’s a strong coffee flavour to it, but it reminds me quite specifically of the coffee we had in Cuba – very fresh and grown in the garden. The roasted bitterness is powerful and well rounded, though not especially long. Is there such a thing as rich freshness? This beer is both rich, thick and intense, and also fresh in the same way as juice from a ripe mango dribbling down your chin. That contrast is what makes black IPAs so interesting, and I think it’s well demonstrated here. Like all of Magic Rock’s stronger offerings the 7% abv is very well hidden, I’ve had to force myself to drink it slowly.
This is an extremely tasty and very well crafted beer and definitely worth trying, especially if you can find it on draft. But honestly, the same goes for anything Magic Rock make. Theirs is always the pump clip I’m most excited to see when I walk into a bar. I can’t help it, I’m a bit of a fanboy.