I am consistently disappointed by Magic Hat. Most of the year round brews are mediocre at best and some are undrinkable.
Heart of Darkness is one of my all time favorite stouts. I'm so glad they brought it back on a seasonal basis.
+1 on that. I do love Heart of Darkness but that shows one of their problems. When they make a beer that actually is good it for some reason gets discontinued. Heart of darkness was brewed first around 12+- years ago (I think) and then it disappeared. I assume it is sales driven because they have also made several really good IPAs over the years that have also disappeared. I suspect they are shooting for volume and were not able to sell as much as they wanted.
Even with the popularity of IPAs among craft beer drinkers the mass market beer drinkers prefer something lighter and tasteless like #9 and Circus Boy. They are now owned by a Macro brewer so it is not surprising that the trend has gotten worse. Now they rarely do any special brews and when they do, like the recent collaboration with Vt Pub and Brewery on a sour, the beer ends up being lackluster at best.
It is embarrassing to travel and when I tell people I'm from Vermont they say "oh, isn't that where Magic Hat is from, I love #9". Of course I also get asked by others "can you get me some Heady Topper?" or "Have you been to Hill Farmstead" and then I remember all the great beers being made in Vermont.