Beer Review 0415: Victory Summer Love Golden Ale
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.
Summer Love, a Golden Ale that is only available in the summer, was commissioned by the Greater Philadelphia Marketing and Tourism Corporation, with the goal of capturing the spirit of summer in Philadelphia in a bottle. Brewed with German malts and Tettnang, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops, Summer Love is a gentle 5.2% ABV (alcohol by volume).
Pouring gave way to an average size, soapy, and fast diminishing head. The color of the beer was yellow-golden with a fairly hazy body, but no visible particles or sediment. Lacing is good, leaving thin bright white sheets clinging to the glass like a film.
On the nose, Summer Love is a fairly balanced beer, leading with grapefruit and grassy hops. The hops are fairly mild, giving off notes of lemon and general citrus. The malts are mild, as well, with typical summer beer aromas of biscuit, saltine cracker, grain, and straw. As the brew warmed, I noted that the hops became a little catty, likely thanks to the Simcoe.
The taste begins with a sweet lemon and grassy note, mixed with cereal and wheaty grains. A mild bitterness kicks up in the middle, deepening the hop flavor with grapefruit rind, and cleaning up the finish, making it refreshing. Summer Love is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy and gritty mouthfeel.
Yeah, there’s not too much going on here, but this beer is refreshing for summertime and hoppier than most hot weather offerings. Goal achieved. Nice, if plain. I could throw back more than a few of these on the next 90 degree day.
Victory Summer Love Golden Ale, 85 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.