Victory Brewing Company opened 15 years ago in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, but only recently entered the Florida market, and with quite a reputation in tow. With such beers as their highly touted Prima Pils and Storm King Stout (that live up to the hype), Victory has earned a rightful place among the respected craft brewers in the United States.
They're also a "green" (and I'm not just talking about hops) role model for other craft brewers, supporting and practicing clean energy and sustainability. In keeping with their tradition of strong environmental awareness and responsibility, Victory installed 330 solar panels on the roof or their plant earlier this year and engage in many other eco-conscious practices to make their beer.
"All of the raw ingredients that we use in brewing have been generated from nature, so affecting nature as little as possible is going to help us continue to get the best ingredients possible," Head Brewmaster and President Bill Covaleski told NBC News Philadelphia.
And those quality ingredients shine through, especially in their currently popular brews, the Hop Devil and Hop Wallop.
Hop Devil is one of the original Victory beers. It is an "East Coast" style IPA, using German 2-row malt and American hops. Coming in at a deceptive 6.7 percent ABV, it is billed as "menacingly delicious," and it stands up to that name.
This Devil opens with a tantalizing bouquet of hop aroma, starting with a juicy citrus character then moving toward a pine resin scent with an almost fennel-like note. As an IPA, it has an unexpected darkness to it. Not a bad thing at all as it is still a very nice hue of deep red-amber, but the typical IPA style is a tad lighter in complexion. The head is robust and rocky upon pouring and quickly fades into a solid but low, lacy, blanket of foam. The taste is big, bitter hops that threaten to smash your mouth wide open with the first drink. With all those hops present, the malt body is still rich enough to balance it out a bit. The mouthfeel is very rich and full with a significant bread-like sweetness, though the hops tend to mask that feeling in the finish. With the dry finish comes a slight bit of refreshment before continuing the onslaught of hoppy goodness. Hop Devil is available in 12-ounce bottles at most craft beer retailers and can often be found on draft at local craft beer pubs.
Touted as Victory's "bitter beauty," Hop Wallop is a Double IPA by all means and measurements. Coming in at 8.5 percent ABV (and I am sure some unholy level of IBU bitterness), it's essentially the Hop Devil made bigger. Bigger does not always equal better, though. This beer begins with a fruity, citric, leafy hop aroma, with plenty of lemon and grapefruit mingled and a light amount of pale, toasty malt. It's light to medium golden in color (lighter than Hop Devil, surprisingly) and lightly hazy with a lasting, fine, creamy head. The flavor is indeed hop-dominated, with just a slight amount of sweet malts up front, giving way to a profound, juicy, floral bitterness that surges toward a gently alcoholic, citric, spicy, piney and long-lingering finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and full, body is on the hefty side, but fairly well balanced. It's a good beer, but in my humble opinion, not quite as good as Hop Devil. It is available in 22-ounce bombers and can occasionally be found on draft.
Victory is a brewery to keep an eye on, as they just keep getting better at what they do best. Their special releases and seasonals are continuously great and I look forward to their newest addition, Headwaters Pale Ale, which is coming soon to a pub near you.