Brewed By: Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Purchased: 12oz bottle from Victory's Variety Pack bought at Binny's in Chicago, IL; 2014
Style/ABV: American India Pale Ale, 6.7%
Reported IBUs: ?
Reported IBUs: ?
I realize that reviewing Victory's heritage brews is like reviewing Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale or Anchor Brewing's Anchor Steam. Here's the thing. The four beers contained in this Variety Pack (PrimaPils, HopDevil, Headwaters Pale Ale, Golden Monkey) are classics in their own right. But the times, they've been a-changin'. So it reasons that what was once a classic might be viewed differently today than in retrospect. You know. Plus this is my blog/LiveJournal. If you don't like it, suck on deez nuts. But About Victory:
Victory Brewing Company is a brewery based out of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The brewery was founded by Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, two avid brewers and lovers of beer. Although Victory opened on February 15, 1996, the duo were brewing brewing beer long before opening their own company. You can read more about their accomplishments on the brewery's about page. The brewery uses German malted barley and European and American whole flower hops (the use of whole flower hops is one unique aspect of Victory). Victory is currently working on expanding to Parkesburg. For more information about Victory, check out their website or their Facebook page.Like the PrimaPils, the HopDevil is also a classic, with the review from the Bros going back to 2001. This beer is brewed with a 2-Row German malt base, and whole flower American hops.
This is pretty much your typical American IPA circa early 2000s epitomized in appearance. The copper tones are dark, the ambers are various ranges of orange, brown, red, and copper, and the head is caramel-tinged. The lacing and carbonation is on point...in many ways this beer is heritage and mundane, but I think most people who really enjoy beer stopped giving a shit about the appearance pre-2008 BJCP, so whatever.
This has a heavy aroma. It dials up the pine and orange, and the malt base is really welcome. I was just about to shit on the aroma for lacking sweetness, but the malt base is surprisingly present and provides some nice rye notes in conjunction with the hops. The aroma still has the forest-like, crushed leaves, pine-orange character typical of the era. I don't know what hops this uses, but it doesn't use any of the sweet ones. Probably Cascade or Centennial or both, and that's about it. Still...despite my reservations, this has really nice depth in the aroma. It's not like Finch's very average IPA, or Dark Horse's Crooked Tree.
The malt depth is what makes this beer worth your time. This has a pretty standard pine/citrus attack that is earthy and dank, with some resin to boot. The malts provide all sorts of complexity with some shifts towards dark breads, rye, and sweeter notes that even vaguely suggest caramel or dark cakey desserts. Maybe even fruit cake. It's like...in the year 2014...there has been a proliferation of hops. This beer falls back on some American standbys, and wins you over with Victory's unique malt base.
6.7% is about right...it's drinkable, clean, refreshing, blah blah. The heavier hops don't hold this beer down or back, and it has good palate depth and complexity. The bitterness is actually really well integrated against the complex malt backing which is largely unobtrusive but also present. Victory clearly know how to engineer thoughtful beers. I do have to hand that to them. Up front: a nice attack of citrus and pine that is largely in the earthy range; that shifts into really nice peppery spice, rye, dark breads, and more hops; the back end kicks up the bitter and resin, with some resiny pine and lemon coming along for the ride. The finish is actually really nice and this one grows on you if you can get past the aroma and first few sips.
Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd)
I'm feeling a Light Above-Average. This one is actually growing on me the more time I spend with it...which is a good thing. This is a fairly robust and complex American IPA, and something that was probably on the cusp at the time. Considering that this relies on one or two American hops, it has a lot of complexity. Some of that definitely comes from the malts....I'm even getting some brown sugar notes as this warms up. In my mind, this beer is really about where and when. I wouldn't reach for this as my go-to IPA, but when paired with heavy or rustic foods, I think this would hold up well. That's my 2 cents.
Random Thought: Overall, the Victory Variety Pack is pretty solid at 20 dollars. It features a bunch of above-average classic beers, but nothing that is going to rock your world. Actually...I haven't had anything from Victory that has really blown me away. Just a bunch of Above-Average beers. Maybe that's okay. Anyway...