It’s been almost 10 years since Magic Hat, the venerable Vermont brewery, has introduced a new, year-round beer, and Dream Machine is a pretty logical choice to break the streak. Dream Machine is an IPL (India Pale Lager), a sort of cross-dressing beer that blurs the lines between lagers and ales. I say it’s a logical step for Magic Hat, because the brewery is most famous for its #9, another kind of gender-bending beer that doesn’t quite fit into the pale ale category, but isn’t a shoe in for the fruit beer category either. The brewery has done well with beers that aren’t easily pigeonholed.
Magic Hat is just the latest brewery to jump into the IPL category. Sam Adams has an IPL, as does Widmer Brothers. Mikkeller has a couple, I believe, and a growing number of smaller craft brewers are putting out their own versions of this border-crossing beer, which, when done well, manages to bring out the best characteristics of lagers and ales.
With Dream Machine, Magic Hat basically cross-pollinated an amber lager with an IPA. You’ll recognize the citrusy nose from the beer’s IPA roots right off the bat. The beer is well-carbonated and pours cloudy orange with a thick, white head. It’s a relatively creamy beer, pulling from its amber heritage, but has the hoppy, slightly spicy kick you’d expect from an IPA, followed by the clean finish of a lager. You know what they say, “a hoppy lager is a happy lager.” Okay, maybe “they” don’t say that. Maybe it’s just me that says that. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
These relatively new fangled beers are basically the definition of “balanced,” teetering on the border of two broad categories of beer. And much like its predecessor, #9, Dream Machine is sure to be a crowd pleaser—a way for amber lovers to dip their toes into the world of hops, while also offering a lighter, more drinkable option for hopheads.
Brewery: Magic Hat
City: South Burlington, Vermont
Style: India pale lager