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Victory… Victory Dark Intrigue

It’s not often that a beer comes along that demands lines out of the front of the brewery, but  Victory Dark Intrigue is one of those beers. Victory released their bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King Stout today for only the second time. If you believe their posts, this will be the last time this beer is ever made. Call me a skeptic, but I think we will see it return in a few years once they have some more room at the brewery.

Victory started selling cases and individual bottles of the beer at 11:30 AM but they mentioned that you could start lining up at 9:00 AM. I heard a few say there people were there at 7:00 AM. I had to work, so that wasn’t in my plan, but I did have a half day, and I work 15 minutes from the brewery, so I headed over as soon as I got out of work. When I got there a line went from the entrance all the way to the second loading dock, no small distance. A worker was handing out brackets and numbering them. I was number 340. Just for reference they were only giving out 300 cases of the beer so my chances we no good to terrible.

As the first hour passed a few behind me gave up hope as case after case entered different cars and drove away. One person behind me was keeping tally of every case that went out of the front doors. In hour one, about 100 cases had been sold.

Hour two saw some light rain and worsening spirits. Anyone past the magic number of 300 was given a Victory sticker. For reference they cost 50 cents in the gift store. I was beginning to lose hope, but the line was slowly drudging on.

Hour three had some moments of worry and excitement. Because not everyone bought full cases (at $180 a pop!) the magic number for a guaranteed chance at beer was at 320. That number quickly went above my number and I knew I was in good shape. After three full hours I paid for my beer and had it in my hands. It comes in 750 ml caged and corked bottles, each bottle costing 15 bucks. I overheard one of the works saying that they took some of their distributor cases out of the shipping area to ensure that everyone had a chance to get some beer. I only purchased three bottles which drew some strange looks from those who purchased full cases.

I have no plans on hoarding this beer. Even if it is the last time they ever make it, beer is meant to be enjoyed, not worshiped. It wasn’t that fun of an experience and I’m not sure if I would do it again.  I also haven’t tasted the beer yet, so my opinion of the whole thing could change. I have a few other thoughts about the day that I will share in a later post, but I got a bottle (and two for a friend) and I accomplished my mission of the day.

Hopped up Devil

I was at Victory Brewing Company earlier this week to have dinner with some friends and my wife, all of who had never visited the brewery before. My wife banned the camera from taking any pictures while eating or anything like that, but I did have some wonderful beer and burgers. As is my custom at a brewery, I purchased a burger and a sampler. I had a glass or two of Uncle Teddy’s Bitter as well which is a great beer if you are the driver for the evening. It comes in at 3.7% and is still a sipper. I wish more breweries had some super low ABV offerings.

One of my favorite things to do before leaving Victory is to visit their gift shop and make sure that there isn’t any single bottles that I can’t take home. I did pick up a bottle of their new beer, Otto, which will be reviewed shortly. Victory is now making their own beer inspired ice cream. They offer three flavors using the wort (pre-hop) from Golden Monkey, Hop Devil, and Storm King Stout.

Judging by the title of this post I bet you can figure out which ice cream we took home. Hopped up Devil is an ice cream that has ingredients such as cayenne, cinnamon, and chocolate covered coffee beans.

The mix of ingredients goes really well together. The cinnamon gets a bit burred out of all of the flavors but the cayenne is a stand out. The heat from it slowly builds as you eat the ice cream. It isn’t intense at all, but gives a soft burn on the back-end. It make a cycle of eat ice cream, cool down mouth, cayenne heats mouth, eat more ice cream. A wonderful and dangerous cycle. As I have mentioned before, I’m no coffee fan except in beer, but add ice cream to that list. The chocolate covered beans provided some nice punches of flavor as well as a different texture. I think the ice cream is only available at the brewery, so stop in if you are ever close and try some beer ice cream. (more…)

It’s International Stout Day!

As if you needed another reason to drink good beer, today is International Stout Day. Why have an International Stout Day? Why not? This is the first year that this is happening and I hope that it is a success. There is nothing like a solid stout to make a beer drinker happy. My stouts are going to be coming from Sam Adams (Boston Beer) where I plan on having their Imperial Stout as well as the coffee stout that came in the Winter Variety Pack this year. Are you drinking anything special?

Meeting Sam Calagione

My wife is attending a local university as she pursues her PhD and as part of that undertaking, she is required to attend a certain number of seminars. These seminars do not need to be major based, but just attended. I guess it is the high level version of “Gen Eds.” Anyway, she spotted that the business department was having a seminar given by none other than Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. I quickly decided that I needed to attend some high education and joined her in this seminar.

We entered a small auditium to find it half filled with a bunch of business majors wearing suits. I quickly removed my Phillies hat and placed it over top of my knee as I sat down in a halfhearted attempt to hide it. We received a few funny glances from the professors and made sure that we were in the right spot. Soon enough Sam walked in and was formally introduced.

Being a business seminar he talked a lot about the entrepreneurial side of things, many of which are highlighted in his book Brewing Up a Business. A few things struck me when he answered questions during the Q&A session. On student asked, “Why Dogfish Head for a name?” I knew the origins of the name (an island close to where Sam grew up) but never really related it to the business side of things. Sam’s answer was simple and made a lot of sense. He said that he did not want to name the company after something local to Delaware, since the name carries a location with it. He wanted something that meant something to him, but also couldn’t be tied down to any one location. He went on to say that people would be less out to buy beer from “The Delaware Brewing Company” than what they would be from “Dogfish Head,” even if they sell the same product. Interesting.

He also went on to tell the importance of being a story teller for your company and making sure that everyone who works at the company is on board with the story. Again simple, but makes a lot of sense. There were a few other questions about general beer knowledge including one on how beer was made. It was interesting to see how Sam conveyed the information, making it accessible and also detailed. I think my favorite question was asking where someone asked for his biggest piece of advice to an entrepreneur. Sam said to not go into anything under-financed. Have enough cash to not just start a business, but maintain on for a significant period of time.

The most exciting part came after the talk had officially ended and student had the chance to come up and ask Sam personal questions. I saw one student hand over a bottle of beer (great idea) to Sam and a few others had some general financing questions. I stood at the back of the line as I 1. was not a student of the university, and 2. wanted to talk about beer, not business. My turn finally came and Sam introduced himself warmly and I thanked him for distributing beer to Texas. I explained how they have almost no beer culture in Lubbock and that Dogfish and Victory were my only real tastes of home while I was out there.  I didn’t want to beer geek out on him so I thanked him again and walked away.

I was really glad that I took the opportunity to go to the meeting and actually meet Sam. It is something that this beer geek is going to remember for some time. Sadly, my camera did forget my meeting rather quickly as everything came out very blurred thanks to the terrible lighting and my distaste for using a flash while people are talking.

Craft beer bottle sizes

On of my favorite beer blogs to read for interesting insights, The Mad Fermentationist, recently posted a pretty good rant about craft beer bottle sizes. You can read the full rant here, but a snapshot of the rant reveals two things:

  1. Why do craft breweries insist on putting big beers in large bottles?
  2. Why do large bottle cost more per oz than a smaller bottle? Shouldn’t be less?

I think The Mad Fermentationist did a great job at looking at the second point closely, but the first point really irks me with craft beer. It annoys me greatly that a lot of the wonderful big beers that can be had only come in 22 oz or 750 ml bottles. I don’t understand the idea of making big bottles of big beer. Shouldn’t higher ABV’s push the size of the bottle down not up?

I find it irresponsible to a point to put the high alcohol beers in larger volume containers. Beer isn’t like wine, it can’t stay fresh once opened. When you commit to opening a big bottle, you commit to drinking the whole thing. I’m not generally one who has a bunch of people over to share bottles with, when I drink, I do it at home with my wife and my dog. My wife isn’t a huge fan of big beers so it usually is up to me to knock out the large majority of a bottle of beer. There are times when a giant bottle of beer is just too much, but I can’t justify pouring some out or letting it go flat. I paid for the beer, I’m going to drink it.

Judging by the responses to the original post, I’m not alone in my thoughts. In some cases, I would actually be happy getting a 7 oz “pony” of a big beer than even a 12 oz bottle. In the homebrew world, big beers equal more production costs. I would be fine with paying 12 oz bottle prices for a 7 oz bottle of big beer. I doubt this would ever happen (with the exception of Rogue Ales who does a number of beers in 7 oz bottles) but I would love to see this come about.

While I know I’m not alone in my thoughts, am I being too picky or do I (we) have a legitimate grip here?