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Beer Review #207 Victory Prima Pils

It’s no secret that I dig Victory Brewing Company. In my book they make some of the best beers on the

east coast and I am constantly amazed at the number of different beers they put out each year. They are actually working on adding a second location as the home base in Downingtown, PA can no longer be expanded. When I first started drinking craft beer, today’s beer, Prima Pils, is one of the beers that I immediately gravitated to.

Just as any pilsner should, Prima Pils pours a nice clear golden color with a fluffy white head. The nose has a decent amount of malt and sweetness. There are bits of biscuit in there along with some prevalent honey odors. I also get some nice hop aroma, but not overpoweringly so. These hops sit in the background but promise to show themselves at a more convenient time. If I had to describe the hops in a broad way, I would call them “noble smelling.” One big difference with this pilsner is that there is no lager sulfur smell. I don’t know if the brief wisp of hops mask it or if it is brewed so cleanly that the sulfur doesn’t come. In any case, it’s nice not to have it there.

On the first taste I got a nice sweetness that felt authentic. It reminded me deeply of a German pilsner that I had last summer. The honey flavors come back in along with some nice solid bread. Just as all of the malt flavors are wrapping themselves up, a nice does of hops kick in. Again, these hops are strong compared to a pale ale, but they are assertive for a pilsner. I’m guessing that people who are used to drinking light American lagers will not like this one at first because the hops are bold compared to their former beers. I want to stress that this isn’t a hoppy beer in a bitterness sense, but the hops add a great balancing force.

I fell in love with this beer several years ago and I still love it to this day. While this one is more hoppy than most pilsners, I still find it to strike a nice balance. It is very drinkable and I find myself being a regular consumer of this beer. (more…)

Beer Review #179 Dark Intrigue

It is time for the long awaited Dark Intrigue beer review. If you remember I had to wait in line for three hours in order to secure a few bottles of this beer. More on that in a coming post. Dark Intrigue is brewed by Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, PA and is a bourbon barrel aged version of Storm King Stout (which is wonderful). This is the second, and reportedly, last batch that they will ever do of this beer do to its intense space requirements. Somehow I think we will see this beer again at some point in the not too distant future.

The bottle reads, “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels,” and it has a recommendation of aging for up to five years as well. Clearly I didn’t give it much time to age at all. Dark Intrigue pours a chocolaty black color and has a deep, dark tan head. The nose is decidedly bourbon with some heat mixed in. There are some bits of roasted malt as well. I didn’t get any hops as I think they were wiped out by the bourbon.

On my first taste I was greeted with a rich and complex mix of flavors. To begin with there is chocolate and roasted flavors up front. The malt tastes are then pushed out by lots of bourbon and heat. There is some slight vanilla in there as well. While I didn’t get any hops in the nose, they are there in the taste, but only just enough to balance out the malt a bit. They did provide a nice spiciness that brings a much needed break from malt, bourbon, and heat. This beer is very thick and creamy and improves as it warms.

Victory really came up with a very complex beer here. It is a big high in the heat department but I imagine that aging this beer for a period long than what I did would eliminate those flavors. I really wish that I had another few bottles to put away to see how the beer changes over time. If you were one of the lucky few to get this beer, enjoy it while you have it, you are in for a treat. (more…)

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.

Beer Review #163 Otto Ale

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.

Beer Review #135 Headwaters Pale Ale

Victory Brewing Company of Dowingtown, Pa released this pale ale to the public just this year. To my knowledge they did not make a packaged pale ale prior to this point. It’s somewhat surprising that they haven’t had a sable one to this point considering pale ales are a big seller. I wasn’t sure why they named the beer Headwaters Pale Ale until I ran across this bit on their site:

Named to pay homage to the water with which is it brewed, Headwaters Pale Ale is not only a refreshing beer but also a vehicle for Victory charity. A portion of every bottle sold is collected and distributed to environmental advocacy groups through the Headwaters Grant.

No it makes sense. There is a lot of other great information on the link given above if you are interested in reading a bit more about it. Now onto the beer review!

Headwaters Pale Ale pours a nice orange color. It is perfectly clear and has a thin white head to go along with the liquid. The nose is full of big bright hops. There is a lot of grapefruit in these hops. I believe they use Simcoe hops in the brewing of this beer which gives off a very similar aroma. There is some sweetness mixed in, but the bright hops are what really shin on the nose.

Unlike what the nose suggests, the malt in this beer is pretty solid. There are notes of toasted caramel along with some good honey-like flavors. The grapefruit is in there was well. I didn’t really get a lot of piney hop flavors, but there was a small touch in there. I found the flavor to be slightly grassy as well.

Headwaters is a pretty solid pale ale. It isn’t quite a typical pale ale but it is enjoyable. When I was drinking the beer I found some things, that resembled bits of lemon, in the beer. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be there or not but they didn’t bother me or add any noticeable flavors. Try this one out if you haven’t yet. Let me know if you get the lemon things in your beer as well. (more…)