REVIEW: Magic Hat Saint Saltan and Ticket to Rye

Magic Hat Saint Saltan

I know you all think the life of a part-time junk food/fast food review writer is incredibly glamorous, but really I’m exactly like you.

I spent my Sunday working through a totally normal checklist. Doing some laundry. Catching up on the last few episodes of Top Chef. Carefully inspecting all the frozen food aisles at ShopRite and harassing the stock boys. (“Do you have the newest flavors of Ben & Jerry’s, and if not do you know when you’ll get them, and if not can I speak to ShopRite’s manager of frozen confectionery products?”)

I couldn’t find a good item to review, so I reacted much as you would to minor inconveniences – I shrugged my shoulders and went looking for my favorite beer.

Luckily, my search for a 6-pack of Magic Hat #9 guided me directly to a solution. Magic Hat has released a spring variety pack that introduces two new brews, the German-styled Saint Saltan and Ticket to Rye, an IPA. And since “I have to drink all this beer for work” is an excuse my girlfriend somehow bought, I’m now able to review these new seasonal products.

I started with the lighter Saint Saltan. It’s a Gose, which is a type of German beer that I’d previously never tried before. A quick Wikipedia search told me to expect saltiness and helped explain the origins of the Saltan name. The beer was a clear golden yellow with a white head and smelled heavily of coriander.

Taste-wise, it was very crisp and refreshing with moderate carbonation. The coriander was again a primary flavor, yet I could definitely taste the sweetness and maltiness from the lemon and wheat flavors, respectively. The saltiness manifested mostly in the after taste, which certainly made the beer more interesting but didn’t spark some divine revelation of a beer-drinking experience.

At 4.6% alcohol by volume, the Saint Saltan goes down very smoothly, almost like a wheat ale. I could imagine myself throwing one or two back on a hot summer evening, but I could just as well imagine the salty flavor losing its appeal very quickly.

Magic Hat Ticket to Rye
Moving on to the second new offering: even the most casual music listeners would recognize “Ticket to Rye” as a play on a song title, but Beatles fans might remember that the phrase was rumored to be the original title of “Ticket to Ride,” with Rye referring to a small town in England. I don’t know which reference Magic Hat intended, though I do know that I intend to come off as both a beer snob AND a music snob in this review.

In any case, Magic Hat’s “Spring Fever Mix” variety pack’s packaging is very much music-themed. Their marketing has always been fun and a little wink-wink, and I loved all the small touches on the box that represent performing equipment and radio buttons.

As for the actual beer, I thought Ticket to Rye was very, very solid. It was a dark amber color with no haze whatsoever in the pouring. As expected from an IPA, it smelled hoppy but also had a nice pine scent with some spiciness from the rye. The first thing I tasted was the spiciness, which was followed with some pine and citrus and maybe a little bit of caramel. The beer was nicely hoppy without being overwhelming so, but I thought it lost carbonation a bit too quickly. Anyone who generally enjoys IPAs would definitely find that this one goes down easy, though at 7.1 percent ABV, you’ll want to take it slow.

I enjoyed both of these new offerings, and along with the old Magic Hat standbys of #9 Not Quite Pale Ale and Pistil Dandelion Beer, they make for an excellent variety pack. These Magic Hat 12-packs were on promotional display at my local ShopRite, so you probably won’t even have to harass the stock boys to find them – go pick one up the next time you’re at the supermarket or liquor store.

Other Magic Hat Saint Saltan reviews:
Behind the Tap
Good Beer Better Hats

Other Magic Hat Ticket to Rye reviews:
Behind the Tap
Good Beer Better Hats

Item: Magic Hat Saint Saltan and Ticket to Rye
Purchased Price: $12.99 (Spring Fever Mix Variety 12-pack)
Size: 12-pack (12 oz. bottles)
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Saint Saltan)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Ticket to Rye)
Pros: Saint Saltan was light and crisp. Nice coriander and lemon flavors with interesting salty after-taste. Ticket to Rye was nicely hoppy with great rye spice, pine, and citrus flavors. Magic Hat marketing and packaging. Top Chef on the DVR. The glamorous part-time junk food/fast food reviewer lifestyle. My girlfriend doesn’t actually mind drinking on Sundays anyway.
Cons: Saint Sultan’s salty aftertaste could lose its appeal quickly. Ticket to Rye lost its carbonation a bit too quickly. Not finding any of the new Ben & Jerry’s flavors. I don’t really know anything about music.

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