January 26th, 2010 beckel
Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA is unquestionably one of my favorite breweries. Making delicious hoppy ales such as HopDevil, Hop Wallop and even their Prima Pils (an assertively hopped Pilsner). Earlier last year they decided to bottle some unique ales including WildDevil, their HopDevil wort fermented with Brettanomyces and to re-bottle what was originally called V-Saison under the new name Helios and make it more widely available in 22oz bottles. I never got around to sampling their Saison when it was available in 750ml bottles so I can’t wait to see their interpretation of this complex Belgian inspired style. This bottle has been sitting in my fridge for many months, but I’m sure it will still be lovely. Upon opening this bottle I was hit with a release of carbonation. I almost expected the bottle to overflow, but it only went about half way up the neck. Once I started pouring it was clear that this beer would produce as much head as you allow. Even after pouring very slowly into the side of my tulip over four fingers of bright white head was quickly produced and just as quickly opens up into larger and larger bubbles settling with in less than two minutes leaving a very small amount of head on the surface of the brew and a tiny bit of lacing. A massive flow of small bubbles through the center of the glass shows that this is surely one carbonated ale. Color is a completely translucent golden hue with no notable sediment, but that is because it is still sitting at the bottom of the bottle (the 2nd pour from the bottle was quite hazy and had solid chunks of sediment making it barely translucent and giving it more of an apricot hue). Smells of lemony citrus, earthy esters and a gentle yeasty funkiness. Flavor is full of a tangy lemon grass like citrus, soft malty sweetness and a variety of earthy esters followed by additional tartness and and a gentle funkiness. Mouthfeel is nicely dry and smooth and the body is appropriately full but not overly heavy. The 7.5% ABV of this ale is plenty subtle with the contrasting sour and sweet notes yet provides a nice compliment to this easy drinking Saison. Upon my 2nd pour (full of sediment) I had left the bottle in the fridge for a while as the first pour was consumed very warm. At a colder temperature and full of sediment the flavors are still very similar but (obviously) contain many more earthy yeast esters which are pleasant though less funky than when consumed at closer to room temperature and a bit less distinct. I suppose I really should have gently swirled the bottle to make it more even, oh well I still find the differences in flavor profile intriguing. Definitely a tasty beverage but not particularly astounding for the style. If you not a fan of bitter beers this should be right up your alley. A nice smooth American interpenetration of a Belgian (some will argue French) inspired style. Those into citrus forward somewhat yeasty beers will likely dig this one. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
July 14th, 2009 beckel
Victory Brewing out of Downingtown, PA make a myriad of delicious brews and have apparently created a number of “Vintage-dated” brews over the years that have been released to limited markets. Today I have the opportunity to sample their V-Twelve a Belgian Style Ale which I found at The Four Firkins last month. With a 12% ABV this is sure to be a serious beer, let’s see how it goes. As soon as I popped this 750ml open deliciously sweet fruity aromas came to me. Pouring straight down the glass yielded a modest two fingers of loose off white head that faded with in two minutes or less leaving some small bubbles around the surface of the beer. Color is an attractive cherry red that is relatively opaque, only becoming somewhat translucent when brought to direct light. Aroma contains a good deal of dark pitted fruit, plum and cherry strike me most. In addition to a bit of carbonation, malty sweetness and some alcohol though less than I expected with its ABV. Flavor is quite interesting pitted fruit notes particularly date, plum and cherry come across first and are accompanied by a nice level of malty sweetness followed by an almost smokey characteristic all of which cover the alcohol content marvelously. Body is medium or more but the clean mouthfeel makes this brew feel quite light. As this brew warms the fruit notes become ever more and more dominate and sweet emphasizing the cherry flavors with a gentle alcoholic note in the end that further enunciates the soft bitter notes creating an enjoyable finish. They suggest consuming this beer at around 45 degrees Ferinheight, of course in the proper open tulip like glass. I traditionally consume most of my beer around this temperature, leaving a bottle out for 20-30 minutes before consuming it but with the temperature as warm as it is in yes, Minnesota this time of year I have been much more lenient as of late simply because of how quickly the brew tends to warm up in my glass. With that said I would highly suggest consuming this beer at its proper temperature as the flavors become so much more clean and noticeable, though of course that includes the alcohol notes. Unquestionably a solid Belgian influenced amber brew that will be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t oppose sweet malty pitted fruit notes and a good does of alcohol. If you can still find it, give it a shot and ride your bike.
Decided the desk needed a long over due cleaning
May 22nd, 2009 beckel
On Tuesday I made it over to Acadia Cafe located on Cedar & Riverside in good ole Minneapolis for their 6 Shooters event. For the low price of $10 patrons were presented with six 5 ounce pours of some very delicious India Pale Ales. Though I didn’t really consume these beers in the “proper” order I started with the beer I was most excited to have the opportunity to sample, Victory Wild Devil which weighs in at 6.7% ABV. This beer pours an interesting redish orange hue and unsurprisingly smells almost identical to the Hop Devil who’s wort this beer was fermented from, quite hoppy with a bit of sweet malt that is further balanced by a subtle tart hint from the Brettanomyces used in this special brew. Flavor is again the same as the Hop Devil with just a bit of tartness that adds a nice extra layer to contrast the intense hop profile of this beer. I expected this beer to taste a bit stranger and more sour but the tartness is all around mellow making for a very nicely balanced beer. I hope to find a bottle of this brew sometime in the future to give it a more in depth review than 5 ounces could provide.
Next I sampled our very own Summit IPA that was cask conditioned and dry hopped with Amarillo. As the least heavy beer of the night with a 6.4% ABV it probably should have been my starting point but I doubt any beer could have masked the intense Amarillo notes of this brew. Appearance was an interesting reddish amber that was somewhat hazy. Head was pure white and surprisingly retained for quite some time as this picture was taken a good 15+ minutes after pouring as well as leaving a good amount of lacing. Smells strongly of oranges and something like passion fruit or similar sweet citrus or melon. The same melon like sweet citrus is very present in the flavor and frankly completely dominates the flavor. It was a clean easy to drink brew but I felt the massive flavor from the Amarillo was a bit over the top and one dimensional.
Then came the most balanced but least hoppy brew of the evening, Sprecher IPA. Like Summit Sprecher brews in the English tradition and this brew is a beautiful example of the great beers that it can produce. Color is a reddish amber that is very translucent. Aroma is largely of caramely malt and subtle orange citrus notes with just a hint of alcohol though it rocks a solid 7.5% ABV. Flavor is relatively sweet and of caramelized malt with a wee bit of citrus hops. The more I drank this brew the more the hops became apparent and I started to notice a nice bitterness in the finish. Not nearly as hoppy as I am normally looking for in an IPA but very traditional, well balanced and tasty.
Then from d’Achouffe Brewery out of Belgium we have their very interesting straw colored Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen Belgian IPA Tripel. Aroma is largely of Belgian Yeast and some light malty sweetness. Taste is very similar to other malty Blonde Tripels with the yeast playing a major role in creating herbal notes and malty sweetness as well as candi sugar sweetness that is often associated with the style but with the addition of some nice bitterness and floral hints in the finish. A tasty and unique brew with a whole lot going on and a solid 9% ABV.
Then it was time to enjoy some 16 Grit [review] from our local Surly Brewing and Iniquity IBA [review] from Southern Tier out of New York. You can see my full reviews of these delicious beers by following the above links. Cheers to Acadia for putting on this event and including delicious beers at a reasonable price. Keep up the good work. Now go have a beer ride your bike, safely please.
November 30th, 2008 beckel
Here I have a nice glass of Hop Devil, an IPA from Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA. Though I have only been able to sample a few, Victory has yet to disappoint me with the creative spin they put on their impressive line up of craft brews. This ale is a rather light red hue that has no sediment but is very opaque, head is about an inch and off white in color. Aroma is full of hops, grapefruit and some bitterness as well as a nice malt backbone. The flavor is no surprise, bitter hops are up front accompanied by more floral hop flavors with a nice hint of malty sweetness rounding off the flavor of this beer. The 6.7% ABV of this beer is no real surprise but is nicely masked by the robust hop flavors in this brew. Mouthfeel is average for an IPA and the body is light as well. Definitely a beer I could drink a lot of, luckily I have a few more in the fridge. As the name suggests this is certainly not the drink for those afraid of a hop filled brew but a grand choice for us hopheads. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 23rd, 2008 beckel
Golden Monkey is a Belgian inspired golden tripel ale from Victory Brewing out of Pennsylvania.Â This beer pours a golden yellow color that is a quite hazy. Head is quite intense, but fades rather quickly, color is very white.Â Mouthfeel is smooth and contains no real sediment as is often present in a heavy Belgian. Rocking a 9.5% AVB this beer is no joke but goes down very smooth. Smells rather strongly, perhaps of bananas and some citrus, as well as a smooth malt scent. Taste is quite nice, a bit sour here and there but over all sligtly malty and smooth with a bite of fruit flavor that masks the alcohol content perfectly. If you want a good American take on a Belgian Golden tripel ale, this is a very good contender and Victory makes many good brews that you will be sure to see me review in the future. For its strong ABV this beer is incredibly lite and makes for good drinking in warm weather as well as any time of the year. Give it a shot and ride your bike.