The brewmasters of Victory have a great thing going on in Downington, PA. I first had a Victory Hop Devil in Highland, NC, while on a weekend getaway with my wife. This was in late 2006, before South Carolina had “popped the cap” and allowed high-gravity beers into the state. Being probably the first high-gravity beer I had ever tasted, I was immediately blown away by the intense hop flavor and sweet malt explosion all bottled into one beer. I think I can pin that experience as what turned me into the hop-head that I am today.
Several months later, South Carolina passed a new law allowing higher alcohol content beers to be sold in the state. Victory immediately swooped in and began distributing six or seven of their beers. After remembering how good the Hop Devil was, I knew I had to take full advantage and try their other offerings. They did not disappoint. Every one of their beers I have tried has been noteworthy for its style.
And so I present to you my choice for the Untamed 2007 Brewery of the Year: Victory. Below I have a brief capsule review of the beers I have tried. (Note: I have also tried the V-12, but I wasn’t able to get one for this review and it was too long ago to describe it in detail. I just remember it was REALLY good and very strong.)
The Hop Wallop is very hoppy pale ale. The aroma is very floral hops and it has a golden yellow color. The flavor screams hops the whole way, well into the finish. It has 8% ABV, but what distinguishes this beer from a lot of other high gravity beers is that it still maintains a light body and complexion. That’s not to say it is like Bud Light, but it isn’t thick and malty like most high gravity beers. It really brings a great combination of intense hops and flavor with great drinkability. Actually, that can be quite a dangerous combination! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Storm King Stout
This extra dark imperial stout is just roasty chocolatey goodness. The flavor starts out sweet and malty but has a wonderfully bitter finish, much like good dark chocolate. It even has hints of a roasted coffee flavor. The body very dark, thick body that coats on its way down. The Storm King is one of my favorite stouts going right now.
The Belgian style ale in the Victory arsenal. This is one of their best beers. It is an excellent representation of the style, with a very fruity aroma and flavor. The flavor is a very complex mesh of fruity sweetness and malt, yet it is not overly sweet. It makes for a great sipping beer, when you just want to enjoy a good beer over the course of an hour, contemplating the great flavor you are experiencing.
This was my choice for the July 2007 Beer of the Month. This is a very malty, yet hoppy amber ale. Like the Golden Monkey, this beer has a very complex flavor beyond what first hits your tongue. Because of the intense hop and creamier consistency, this is one of my favorite sipping beers. It’s far too potent to drink quickly in mass quantities.
I like very few lagers, and while this is not one of them, personal taste aside, I think this is a solid beer for the style. The color is a transparent golden yellow and the aroma is almost bread-like. It has a lot more body than the traditional “light” lagers, which to me makes it a lot more drinkable. The flavor is bold with malt and the aftertaste sticks with you a little while. Because it isn’t a totally clean and crisp beer that essentially disappears after you drink it, I don’t think it will be the beer of choice at many college parties. But, if you aren’t really into ales and want to try something new that is similar to what you might be used to, I recommend giving this one a shot.
The Prima Pils is very similar in body and feel to the lager, but it has that characteristic hop twist of a pilsner. The aroma is light and and has hints of citrus. I enjoy the flavor of the pilsner more than the lager, but I am a hop head, so the more hops the better. One thing I found interesting about this beer was a slight metallic quality to the aroma and the taste. I’ve detected that in some other beers that I’ve had, and I’m not sure what causes that. It isn’t an overpowering characteristic in the beer, so I believe it is still very drinkable for those that enjoy pilsners.