Every now and then, I come across a beer that redefines ultimate taste and flavor. A triumph of beerdom that creates a symphony of epic wonderfulness upon my tongue, the likes of which have never been experienced by anyone. Today’s beer is not like that. At all.
The beer in question is Magic Hat’s Cucumber Hibiscus HICu Ale. It was part of a sampler pack that I liked so much I forgot to review it, except for this beer, which I still had a few left because I didn’t want to drink them anymore. But, for the sake of science, I cast aside my reluctance, manned up, and got tasting. All for you. Ok, so what’s so bad about it, you may be asking. Well, follow me back in time, as we take a not-so-fantastic voyage through my experience of drinking this beer.
It all started when I popped the cap off. The initial aromas were promising. Hoppy, with a strong but not overpowering smell of fresh cucumbers, and an underlying sweetness that was a little tantalizing. Additionally, chilling out below all of that was some melon tang, alongside a traditional wheat-y maltiness. As this point, I was excited. I like strange beers and “out there” flavor combinations. I assumed this was a winner from smell alone. I was wrong…
From the moment the first drops fell onto my tongue, I knew something was off. Like when you walk into a dark room and you instantly know someone else is already standing in there, just kinda chilling in the dark. If that’s never happened to you, it’s like that time your great aunt Bernice told the story of the first time she had sex. Its just…not right. Anyway, the first taste to come through was hops. Not overly strong hops like an IPA, but they were definitely present with their fresh, slightly piney taste. Immediately after they arrive, the cucumber shows up. Except, it’s more like watermelon. And not the good melon, more like the artificial, candy watermelon taste. Like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. I happen to hate watermelon Jolly Ranchers, but I believe I’m in the minority. So, everyone else may love this beer (probably not). Regardless, it just didn’t seem to fit. The sweetness of the meloncumber was lost to the bitterness of the hops, and it created a fake, floral taste, almost like one of those cheap air fresheners that old women love to use as perfume. It was such an overpowering flavor, the maltiness that I smelled earlier was buried way down at the bottom, fighting for its life in a sea of confusion. Poor little guy.
Anyway, after I had tried about half the bottle, swishing it over every inch of my tongue to make sure I wasn’t missing the key flavor (I hadn’t missed anything), I poured the rest into a pint glass. Maybe that would fix it. No, it didn’t. The flavors only grew, as they tend to do. The hops bloomed up, taking on an even stronger IPA taste, but the sickly sweet watercumbermelon taste buffed up as well. The sweets and the bitters were having an all out brawl, with the bitterness still coming out on top, but just the amount of flavor strength going on in that glass was insane. It was like the flavor itself was going to overflow out of the glass, across my hand, up my arm, and around my neck as a punishment for not liking the crazy flavors. Oh, it was a light caramel color with a loose white head. That doesn’t matter at all, but at least it had a beer look.
Thankfully, its aftertaste was mercifully short. I didn’t want to sit around with that melon-candy taste any longer than I had to. And finally, I don’t know what hibiscus is supposed to taste like. Hold on, I’ll look it up…
Apparently it’s supposed to be tangy and sour, with underlying sweetness, depending on how its prepared. Hmm…could the hibiscus be the saboteur? Possibly. I’ve had some cucumber slices in water and other drinks before, and it creates a very light, refreshing flavor that is mellow and just influences from the sidelines, nothing like the overpowering megameloncumberbiscus mayhem that’s going on within this beer. It could have been so much more! But, alas, like many others, it fell short of its calling, reduced to becoming the beer equivalent of a children’s party clown. Sure, some people love those things, but most just find it uncomfortable, and maybe even disturbing.
The final verdict on Magic Hat’s Cucumber Hibiscus HICu Ale is a solid “Meh”. I’ll give it high points for creativity, but it fails to execute in any meaningful way. Its initial bottle aroma is the best thing it has going for it, luring the drinker in with subtle hints of cucumber, melon, hops, and malts, but once you taste it, you’ll realize what a horrible mistake you’ve made. The flavors immediately start competing, which turns into a full scale brawl when you pour. Possibly nefarious interference from that bastard hibiscus ninja may be causing the flavors to morph into a nasty watermelon candy taste that really ruins the entire thing. Which is too bad. It’s a gimmicky beer that had potential, but it reached too far, pushed too hard, and gimmicked one gimmick too many, sending it tumbling down like a liquid Icarus. Magic Hat’s HICu Ale earns a measly F, and a reason for me to create a Best and Worst Beer Award. At least there’s a silver lining.
Lasting Strength: 4/10
Overall: 5/10 F