Thursday, September 17, 2009

Victory Brewing Company

I am spending this week in Pennsylvania at the ol' homestead, with my parents and sister. It is always nice to go home for a few days and drive around the old roads and run and ride on the old trails and smell the old smells and see some old friends. It is also a good thing to try some new beers. Since I was last in town, it had come to my attention that the Victory Brewing Company is a paltry 27 or so miles from my parents house (much closer as the crow flies as that 27 miles is all on back roads). So my sister and I decided to head that way to check it out.

Our visit wasn't at a time when tours were available, but the brewpub and restaurant were fully active. And they had no less than 15 different beers on tap. I think that easily more than half of them would be considered high alcohol in Tennessee. Now I am not one for samplers, as I think that to really pass judgement on a beer, at least one (and usually 2) pints of a brew are required. But this time, with limited time and opportunity, I went for a 5-beer flight. Their flights are drinker's choice, so my choice was 5 beers that I can only get at the brewery, and the bartender served them up.
  • Yakima Twilight - this was an IPA that was brewed wth 4 different hops from the Yakima valley. Decent taste, though I think that I like their hop devil better. Interesting, nonetheless.
  • Scarlet Fire - this was a smoked marzen, and boy did it taste smokey. Again, interesting, but not a session beer for me.
  • Brewmeiseter's Pils - Definitely tasted like a pilsner. Very dry, though. This one didn't have a description in the "book".
  • Kolsch - very drinkable, and I have never been much into the Kolsch style. So really, I don't know if that means it wasn't a very good Kolsch? But it worked for me. An enjoyable beer.
  • Wild Devil - this one was interesting. Essentially, this is the hop devil, but it was brewed with 'wild' yeast. And the "wild" taste was there. I think I like the regular Hop Devil much better, but it was interesting to be able to taste what "wild" adds to the flavor.
So after the taster, my sister and I ordered dinner. I ordered the smokehouse burger (which was superb, by the way), which I only mention because I ordered a beer that was suggested with that burger. I got their Storm King Stout.. on cask. 9.2% goodness on cask poured in all of its strength and glory. It seriously took 10 minutes for them to pour the beer and deliver it to me because of the time required to pour me an imperial pint, settled, filled, and ready to drink. After that one it was apparent I wasn't driving home.

Victory was the only true production brewery I visited on this trip (so far?), but wasn't the only opportunity to try new beers. On Monday, while visiting a friend, I was served a Milk Stout and a (American)Pale Ale from the Lancaster Brewing Company. Both were very good beers.

On Tuesday I met a friend at a a pub in Kennett Square called the Half Moon. They have quite the beer selection, but it took one gance at the three cask beers on tap to determine that I would be drinking the Yards ESA (English Style Ale?). The first one was so-so, but that was because it was probably the first beer pulled that day (I later determined) because it was warm and a little off-tasting. My second, though, was fresh and spot-on. A very good English Bitter style ale. My favorite variety of beer.

Later that night, I also enjoyed an Iron Hill IPA. Iron Hill is sort of the local brewpub that makes decent beer and has decent food. I would compare them to the Big River or Blackstone of Nashville (Boscos being a step above).

The trip isn't over, but the remaining time is dependent on what the Chesapeake Bay port of Rock Hall has to offer... Hoping it will be good...