I decided to take a brief Thanksgiving hiatus, hence the lack of updates recently. I bought a bunch of New Belgium beers as soon as they started distributing in Maryland, and lucky for me, they decided to distribute some of their Lips of Faith Series beers as well. I reviewed Kick some time ago and during the holiday I finally had a chance to enjoy some of the other beers for New Belgium that I picked up.
Each of the Lips of Faith beers comes in 22 oz bottles and I have only been able to find three of them here on the east coast thus far. I know that they recently released a Sasion and an IPA, but they have yet to make it out here. As a side note, I love the term “Lips of Faith.” I has a bit of a cult feel, but also really screams beer nerd.
After my trip to Europe I returned home with a taste for sour beers. I had plenty of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which I assumed this beer was inspired after. You know that saying about assume? Well, yeah, I did it with this beer. This ale pours a nice burnt orange color with an off-white head. There is a slight haze to the liquid, but I’m a homebrewer so that doesn’t mean a thing to me.
The nose has a bit of malt along with a bit of heat. This beer comes in at 10% so heat is to be expected. I got some sour notes, but nothing like which I was expecting. On the bottle the screen printed label says “ale bred with Asian pear juice.” I honestly don’t know what an Asian pear smells or tastes like, but I (and my wife who knows what it tastes and smells like) didn’t get any pear. There was a slight Belgian spice kick, but nothing large enough to go on about.
On my first taste I got a bit of odd malt. The taste was grainy and had a strange bite at the end of it. My wife informed me that this was “pear mixed with beer.” I did notice some pear flavors of the traditional pear that I am used to. I also found this one to be a bit boozy. This is a beer that gets better as it warms up. There is an interesting balance of flavors but overall I think it works. Again I have no idea what Asian pear tastes or smells like and if you do, this beer could be greatly enhanced or ruined depending on your expectations. Continue reading →
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.
I briefly mentioned Otto Ale in my last post and today I am going to review it. Otto Ale comes from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA and it is a mix of a rauchbier and a Belgian dubbel. I honestly don’t remember by last dubbel review, but I do remember my last rauchbier review. Smokey beers are slowly growing on me, but we still have a ways to go before we can be considered friends. The idea of this beer came from a trip to Germany in 1987 by the owners of Victory Ron and Bill. I guess they thought that the two types of beer would make a good blend and decided to produce this beer.
Otto Ale pours a deep ruby color with a full off-white head. The nose is very smoky and roasty. It has a BBQ quality to it, but it isn’t overwhelming. I did get a slight bit of malt along with some Belgian yeast “twinge” but the smoke washed out most of what was there.
The taste is, not surprisingly, smoky and roasty. This beer is very light up front with bits of Belgian spices in there. I also found some deep, rich caramels as well. While this beer looks like it would be dark and heavy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It sits very lightly in your mouth and has bold, but not overpowering flavors.
This beer is smoky, but not to the point where it is totally dominant. I really liked the balance struck in this beer between the smoky, Belgian spices, and the malt. Coming in at 8.1% ABV this is a great sipping beer that gets better with some warmth.
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. Continue reading →
Almost a year ago I reviewed New Belgium Brewing Company’s2 Below Ale. I remember liking it but I didn’t think it fit the winter beer idea very well. I was excited to hear that they had a new winter ale this year that was on the “darker and richer” side of the flavor spectrum.The story of this beer comes from a snowstorm a few years ago that shut down Fort Colins, Colorado for several days. And really, who doesn’t love a snowday? I think I appreciate them more now as an adult than I did when I was a kid.
On my first pour of the glass I got a beer that looked exactly like what I had imagined. It was a deep dark brown with a slightly off-white head. I have no idea if it was clear or not because of the darkness. The nose was pretty hoppy, considering I was expecting on the richer end. I really didn’t get a lot of malt but rather lots of grapefruit hops.
The taste was a mix of rich malt and cutting hops. I found the malt to have a good amount of caramel that also featured some tones of chocolate. Most of the sweetness was then cut by the hops. The hops gave a crisp and spicy feel to the beer that I rather enjoyed.
This beer was a nice balance of malt and hops. I would of liked for it to be a bit more malt forward, but what can you do. This is more in line what I was thinking for a winter beer than their previous winter seasonal. I know there were some who were big fans of 2 Below, but New Belgium offers a number of beers that are pretty close to 2 Below, so it isn’t really necessary. This beer isn’t on the “go out and buy now” list for me, but I would pick it up again if I was out and saw it. Continue reading →