Beer Review 0329: Victory Yakima Glory Ale

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The story of Victory Brewing Company (Downington, Pennsylvania) goes all the way back to 1973 — granted, the two principal founders were only in fifth grade, meeting for the first time on a school bus that would take them to a new school. Friends like that are hard to find; the two remained bonded as they went to college, on opposite sides of the coast.

Their names are Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, and when Bill finished college, he explored making beer using his father’s home brewing equipment. It just so happened that Ron was into beer, too, and gave Bill a home brewing kit for Christmas in 1985. A friendly rivalry ensued, but the passion for beer caused both men to quit their jobs in the corporate world and seek out brewing.

Bill did his brewing studies at Doemens Institute in Munich, Germany, while Ron also honed his beer making skills in Germany. But before Victory churned out its first drop of beer, Ron returned from Germany and became the brewmaster of Old Dominion Brewing Company, increasing yearly production there from 1,500 barrels to 15,000.

On February 15, 1996, Victory Brewing Company opened up in a former Pepperidge Farm factory. In the first year, they made 1,725 barrels; in 2011, expansion had increased that number to 82,000.

Yakima Glory is a winter seasonal, available November-February, and is classified as a Black Ale. Coming in at 8.7% ABV (alcohol by volume), the beer uses four different types of whole flower hops from the Yakima Valley, a fertile hop growing region in Washington state. Victory are coy with the grain bill, only saying “imported German malts” are used. Regular Victory drinkers will recognize this beer as Yakima Twilight, its former name.

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Pouring drew up an average size, dense and foamy eggshell colored head, which lasted in at least a half-finger ring all throughout drinking. While labeled a Black Ale, this is definitely not black; out of the light, it’s a murky brown, but when held to light, it is a vibrant ruby red color, similar to a red wine. The beer was clear in body and had no particles or sediment, but it did have some yeast that hung out at the bottom of the glass when I poured the remainder of the bottle in after my first few sips. Lacing was excellent, leaving behind a thin but solid coating.

On the nose, there’s plenty of those Yakima Valley hops up front; big notes of grapefruit and lemon, with a sticky resinous pine backing. The malts are here, too; dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and some dark cherries. It’s a perfect combination of hops to malts, and this is one awesome smelling beer. Impressive.

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The taste follows the nose almost exactly: waves of grapefruit and pine up front, which turn malty in the middle featuring some toasted bread. Then, another kick of the hops with a lemon herbal note, leading into a finish that hits chocolate and cherries. Yes, chocolate covered cherries. But don’t think the malt totally wins out; the finish is dry, and pressing the tongue to the roof of your mouth will give off ample grapefruit rind, salt, and lemon peel.

While visually this is not a Black IPA, it sure does taste like one and it’s a damn fine example of that style. I had an enjoyable time drinking this beer, and if you’re looking for hops and malts playing in harmony, seek this out. I will be a return visitor.

Victory Yakima Glory Ale, 93 points. Price: $2.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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