Beer Review 0529: Victory HopDevil IPA
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.
Victory HopDevil is a year-round IPA that is brewed with whole flower American hops. The beer makes use of Victory’s hopback machine, which acts like a giant French press that is filled with hops. HopDevil comes in at 6.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
The pour delivered a very nice looking beer, capped with an average size, off-white head that was both creamy and soapy in texture. The head lingered around and was easily regenerated when swirled in the glass; color of the beer was a nice shade of golden-orange, and it had a just a touch of haziness to the body. There were no particles or sediment, and lacing was excellent, coating the glass in solid sheets of foam.
On the nose, there’s a ton of hops, specifically grapefruit and pine. Those two aromas are astringent, but the backing players of orange peel and general citrus add in some color. I thought the aroma had a perfume-like quality, with very minimal malts, perhaps a bit of light caramel and sweet bread. And this is an IPA that takes on a bit of a soapy note, too.
The flavors start out suspiciously mild with just some herbal hits up front, but it opens up wide to reveal stiff wallops of grapefruit and dark pine. The lighter, more fruity flavors swirl around but are minor, leaving behind some fleshy, juicy orange and lemon. The finish gets more and more bitter the deeper you get into the glass, drying out the palate with grapefruit and pine, along with a lingering note of toasted bread. HopDevil is medium-bodied, with a medium, foamy mouthfeel.
This is a decent beer with excellent flavors of grapefruit and pine, but it lacks the depth needed to be an outstanding brew. By the end of the glass, my palate was somewhat tired of drinking because the finish started to get medicinal. I’d recommend you check this out if you’re really into grapefruit and pine hops; otherwise, this is good but average.
Victory HopDevil IPA, 85 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. bottle.