When I cracked open the bottle, based on the label, I expected to be immediately tele-ported back into the “Summer of Love”. I’m not sure what that would taste like, or what beer tasted like back in 1969, but I was willing to go there. If anybody could, it should be Magic Hat, a brewery known for some off the cuff and adventurous concoctions.
The artwork on this bottle can’t be understated, it’s really cool, but it seems that beer makers don’t understand that when you pop a lot of color and put a lot into the art, people expect BIG taste. If you want to make something reserved, then make a reserved, but eye catching label. I digress.
Expectations are irrelevant in this case, I immediately knew there was a flavor in this that I wasn’t familiar with, at all. As my bio says, I don’t know what coriander tastes like, so could it be coriander? No, it’s fucking dandelions.
If anyone has ever grown up around Dandelions, I assume most Americans have, maybe they’re everywhere, I have no clue, they’d know that they are weeds. They taste like grass if you ever eat them and this beer definitely had the flavor of blandish beer with finely ground up grass inside of it.
I guess this is where I go on a rant, I created this site to fight against the “pinkie in the air” beer reviewer sites that I find out there. The sites that break down ridiculous ingredients like Dandelions into fine particles as if someone would use Dandelions in a beer for you to do such a thing. I’m not going to pretend that Magic Hat wanted to use Dandelions to make a beer because they thought Dandelions were the future of beer. They did it because it’s kitchy and these days fashionable to make beer out of anything. There’s even a beer made out of the pages of old copies of Moby Dick these days. While Dandelions as an ingredient aren’t, frankly, as offensive as pages of an old book, it’s up there to me.
I think the idea I come away with these days from some craft brewers is “these idiots will drink anything”. That’s simply not true, here’s hoping that craft brewing doesn’t continue down the “Man Vs. Food” path. The worst crime of this wave of kitch beers is that they don’t taste good. Dogfish Head has been very successful with their Ancient Ales line, I have no idea whether those mixtures are actually based in anything historically un-Earthed, but I do know that they taste great and that’s all that matters. The story and the ingredients are icing, get the flavor right and sell it to me afterwards. It shouldn’t be the other way around.
Pistil, seemingly was reverse engineered, it seems someone had the idea to make a beer with Dandelions and regardless of it’s taste, was going to release it. That’s marketing, not art. I shouldn’t come away from a beer describing it as “grassy”. I’m a nobody, but I can tell you that people love sunflower seeds. I sit on public buses littered with their foul remains. If you wanted to do something that was hippie and nature influenced why not use sunflowers (or the seeds)? Basically, if you have a reason why you can’t use sunflowers, just apply it to Dandelions too.
All told, it wasn’t a terrible beer and I generally like what Magic Hat puts out there. I drank the full bottle and although I wouldn’t run back for another, it’s great crime was just being a bit underwhelming and falling into what I see as a marketing black hole.
Check out more info on Pistil from Magic Hat including a video and origin story here: