An installment of our regularly appearing beer column from resident beer guy, Ballard:

For this season’s issue of Swig (look for it on the streets in May), I’ve searched, sampled, and compiled reviews of eight sturdy “beers of distinction” — domestics and imports — that are fairly new to the Charleston market. Some are strong in flavor, some are strong in alcohol. Others use unusual ingredients. They’re all remarkable and worth checking out.

One of the featured beers in the Swig lineup literally landed on out doorstep this week: Magic Hat Brewing Company’s new summer ale, the curiously named Wacko. You gotta hand it to the experimental Magic Hat brewers in South Burlington, Vt. They boast some of the “most mysterious” and unusual ales of the region. While their zesty #9 Pale Ale is by far their most popular brand locally, this new “summer seasonal” (as the label reads) may or may not catch on.

Wacko is an oddity for sure. While some of the major brewing companies have recently issued lime, lemon, orange, and various fruit flavors in recent months, Magic Hat goes in a decidedly different direction here with the additional of beet extract, which imparts a slightly earthy flavor and a bizarrely pinkish-red color to the beer. Light-bodied with an unexpectedly dry finish, it’s not a big beer. At 4.5% alcohol (by volume), it ain’t strong, either. Bubbly, pink, and fizzy, it’s more like a beet wine cooler or a beer ’n’ beet shandy. I poured a sample into a small glass last night, and couldn’t quite figure out how to define it’s almost incandescent hue. Atomic? Fluorescent? Unearthly? Too Earthly?

Wacko’s definitely of Magic Hat Brewing Co.’s weirdest summer offerings yet. Look for it in the local shops and bars this month.