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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Victory Hop Devil

Victory Hop Devil
Victory Hop Devil:

The brewers at Victory have laid it out pretty clearly in their own description of Hop Devil:
"Bold, spicy, and menacingly delicious..." I could probably end my review right there ... but you know I won't.

Hop Devil has just the right blend of style and accessibility to bring with you to any event: party, tailgater, barbecue, wedding, monster truck rally, or memorial service. Its versatility allows for pleasurable drinking from the bottle as well as on tap. Even when poured into a plastic cup so as to avoid being pinched by security, Victory Hop Devil represents the finest in American IPAs.

Perhaps Victory's Hop Devil holds such a special place in my heart because it was one of my "gateway beers" into the craft world. Even still, whenever I go back to Hop Devil for refreshment and bold, spicy hop action I realize that nostalgia doesn't play a part in my enjoyment of this devilish beverage. Everyday usage or special occasion, Hop Devil satisfies every time. 6.7% abv is just right, too: Enough to provide body and warmth, but easy enough to sweat out while playing horseshoes or standing really close to a bbq grill.

By the way, Victory Hop Devil on cask: One of my fave IPAs on cask? Must be a winner, right? Answer: that depends. Here's the skinny: Had it twice at bars in Philadelphia (awesome bars, at that) but was disappointed. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it when I had it at the Victory brewpub in Downingtown, PA but I figured it was worth a shot (the third time being a charm and all that). My hunch was right... It was AWESOME!!! My conclusion: perhaps it simply doesn't travel well. Fresh as hell at the Victory location is definitely the way to go if you are in the mood for some hand-pumped VHD.

Also of note: Be on the lookout for Victory Wild Devil on the loose near you. It's Hop Devil brewed with wild yeast. I enjoyed it the first time I had it and I look forward to experiencing it on tap at Victory's Beer Dinner on Thursday, May 28th at the Pour House in Westmont, NJ.

So as for the scoring of Victory Hop Devil, what would you expect if I told you this brew is in the running for my one "desert island" beer. There is competition, but not a whole lot. Perfect score.

Victory Hop Devil:

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 4.0 Flags

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brandywine Valley Craft Brewer’s Festival

From the Office of the ToastMaster General:

So, I had these two pints…

ok, maybe it was more like two 4 oz. sampler glasses, but what’s the difference when
the supply is virtually unlimited. Such is the beauty of the “beerfest”. In this case,
it was The Brandywine Valley Craft Brewer’s Festival hosted by Iron Hill Brewery at their Media, PA location.

20 Breweries, 50+ beers and 4 hours. Here we go…

Appalachian - no show = Booo!

Bethlehem Brew Works - LocoLime

makes for a refreshing refreshment

Dogfish Head – 90 Minute IPA and

Raison D’Etre - nuff said

Flying Fish - was hoping to see Exit 4;

I did not. Dubbel & Farmhouse

Iron Hill – didn’t taste much here because

I live blocks away; chose pastures new

Lancaster – strawberries and milk; what

else would you expect from the farm


Legacy - Hoptimus Prime & Euphoria!

McKenzie Brew House - I plan to spend

more time at this establishment ASAP!

Nodding Head - nodding side-to-side that

is; worst sample of the day kept me

from trying the rest; unfair? probably

Philadelphia - Fleur de Lehigh wins most

unique award

Riverhorse – Double Wit a welcome sight

Rock Bottom – Prussia’s Pride IPA = Yum

Sly Fox - yes canned beer can be great

Stewart’s - solid stable; very impressed;

Double IPA, Mojo Rye-zen and more

Stoudt’s - APA is a classic

Triumph - 2 of my top 5 live here; a

quintuple was born; yes, really.

Troegs - lazy selections; expected more;

Dream Weaver & Sunshine Pils… again

Victory - only slightly less lazy than

Troegs; Braumeister Pils & Sunrise

Weyerbacher - Merry Monks are my

friends forever

Yards – General Washington made a mean


Random notes:

I’m not sure why Appalachian didn’t show and they may have an acceptable reason, but this is Philly, so I say boo.

I was quite surprise by the terrific offerings from chain breweries, Brew Works, Triumph and Rock Bottom. I’ve ignored them for too long. There’s golden links to be found in those chains.

I can’t fathom why some vendors only brought bottles. Would it kill ya to tap a sixtel?

I’ve noticed a trend from some breweries to bring the basics (read boring and uninspired) to beer festivals and that bothers me. Especially, when they are sitting on a goldmine of other interesting and downright legendary beers. The best part of a tasting event is the chance to try new and unreleased beers.

The little lady was with me and her taste tends to the lighter beers, so I submit her Top 5 for those who appreciate the fairer selections.

Madam Speakeasy’s Top 5

1 Mojo Rye-zen – Stewart’s

2 Belgian Wit – McKenzie’s

3 Loco Lime – Bethlehem Brew Works

4 Weizen – Stoudt’s

5 Merry Monks - Weyerbacher

Many of these beers I’ve had before and loved, so not making the Top 5 is no indication of their quality. I tend to gravitate toward the new stuff (new to me at least) and my Top 5 will reflect that. Formal reviews will be left for El Presidente if he so chooses.

Kudos to Triumph for unveiling what may be the world’s first quintuple. It’s called Le Cinq and it’s a heavyweight for sure at 13.5%. Sheer daring alone would put it at #1 on my Top 5, but it makes the grade on all counts.

ToastMaster General’s Top 5

1 Le Cinq - Triumph

2 Prussia’s Pride IPA – Rock Bottom

3 Lockjaw Double IPA – Stewart’s

4 Mojo Rye-zen - Stewarts

5 Gothic Ale – Triumph

Honorable Mentions: McKenzie’s Smoked Porter, Stewart’s Maibock,

Legacy Hoptimus Prime and Euphoria, Philadelphia Fleur de Lehigh.

And last but not least, I bring you the High Priest of the beerfest. I want that brewery patch jacket!

--ToastMaster General