Victory Brewing Dark Intrigue

Victory Brewing Co – Downingtown, PA

Dark Intrigue – 9% + ABV – 25.4 oz.

Bottled on 11/19/2010

“Storm King aged in oak barrels that once matured Kentucky Bourbon”

It’s pretty amazing to have a bottle of this in my hand.  It was released today and purchased by a friend who waited in line for 2 ½ hours with 45 other people all looking to purchase some of the 70 odd cases sold from the Victory Brewpub.  Rumor has it the brewpub sold through their allotment in just about an hour.

Upon pouring, Dark Intrigue resembles the Storm King it evolved from with the exception of the head.  Now, it’s darker brown and appears much creamier.  The head also faded quicker, but returned with a quick swirl of the glass.  The consistency looks just a bit thicker.

The aroma is heavy with the sweet Bourbon.  I often swirl a beer in the glass when discussing the aroma because the agitation really brings out many subtle aromas.  The bourbon is in the forefront.  Other notes include vanilla beans, caramel, brown sugar and a small touch of molasses.  The aroma is awesome.

The first sip brings full-on Bourbon which assaults the tongue, but then fades to sweet balanced flavors that resemble various sugars as the ones noted above: caramel and brown sugar.  The vanilla is present in the flavor, but it leans more toward vanilla extract rather than the beans.  The difference is probably from the booziness of the bourbon plus the higher ABV.  There is a small background flavor of hops with a tiny bitter aftertaste that resembles a dark chocolate bar with around 90% cocoa.  It’s a good bitterness.

Most importantly, the Bourbon isn’t too strong or overpowering.  The first sip was a bit much, but each subsequent sip was great.  Other notes include that early booziness from the bourbon noted above and an earthy finish.  Storm King is 9.1% ABV, but Dark Intrigue does not have the alcohol content on the bottle.  I would probably peg it around 10%, or so.

I think temperature is the key here.  I wouldn’t serve this at or anywhere near refrigerator temperature.  I probably wouldn’t even go below 50%.  The cooler flavors would definitely take away from the subtleties of the Bourbon and vanilla.

As I drink this, there are two things that happen: first, the flavors become more complex as it gets warmer.  Second, an empty stomach isn’t the best thing to bring to a tasting where the beer is around 10%.  I’m not even through 10 ounces and I can tell there’s a nice amount of alcohol here.  If you know what I mean…

The mouth feel is thinner than expected, but that’s not a problem.  I like the texture.  It’s silky without being syrupy.  Now, I happen to enjoy thick beers, this just isn’t quite that thick.

Drinkability is surprisingly high.  A full 12 ounce glass was totally enjoyable and easy to drink.  The full 750 ml. bottle was shared between 3 people.

One negative is that the beer is a bit young.  Keep in mind, it’s great to be having this today, but it was just bottled on 11/19/2010.  That was 5 days ago!  I would bet some time in a beer cellar (or any cellar) would benefit it even more.  It’s currently a one note song, but it sure is an awesome song!

On a quick note, I’m sure people will try to compare Dark Intrigue to other popular Limited Release Bourbon aged stouts like K.B. and B.C.  At this point, I choose not to make any comparisons or comments on that issue.  Victory deserves their moment in the sun and today Dark Intrigue will stand alone.

I am really happy for Victory to get this level of success from their first barrel “experiment”.  It really attests to the skill of their brewers.  Of course, their other brews are pretty great too, but this brand new, so it gets extra attention.

If only my case didn’t have to be divided between so many people.  I want more for myself, and would like to crack one open now, then every couple of years.  Well, at least it lets more people get a taste.  Share the love, right? 

Great job, guys.  Thanks!

Overall: A


Published in: on November 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

Victory Brewing Co. – Downingtown, PA

Storm King Imperial Stout – 9.1% ABV – 12 oz.

In honor of tomorrow’s November 24th release of Dark Intrigue, I thought it  appropriate to taste and write some words about Storm King.  As noted in yesterday’s post, Storm King is the starting stout that is aged in Bourbon barrels to result in Dark Intrigue.

As I pour this into my tulip glass, I realize it is one of the darkest stouts I’ve sampled.  This beer is black.  The espresso-colored head is thick and tall; an inch and a half, at least.  There is zero visible carbonation.  I can’t tell if there’s no carbonation present or if I just can’t see the bubbles through the blackness.

The aroma is classic imperial stout, including coffee grounds and dark chocolate, but there is an extra layer of roasted smokiness that isn’t usually present.  It’s very inviting.  It’s funny, but this beer actually smells “thick”.  There are some sugary aromas present like molasses and brown sugar.  I decided to wait a few minutes for the beer to move away from refrigerator temperature.  As the beer warms, the hop aromas make their presence known.  It’s interesting to smell the fruity-vegetal notes under so much molasses-like malt.  It ends up having a pretty well rounded nose.

The flavor is surprisingly hoppy.  But I can actually notice how well-rounded it is.  There are lots of hop flavors alongside the tons of malt flavors.  The major players in the flavor include roasted coffee beans from the malt and that fruitiness from the hops.  The beer isn’t nearly as sweet as the aroma led me to believe.  The hops bring a nice level of bitterness along with the black coffee that are both tempered by the sweet molasses and malt flavors.  The mild smokiness enhances the flavor even more.  As I said with the aroma, the flavor is also very well-rounded.

The mouth feel is thinner than I would have liked.  It looked thicker while I was pouring it into the glass.  There is also a bitter aftertaste that lingered a little longer than I would have liked.  That problem was easily solved by taking another fresh sip.

This stout is surprisingly drinkable for hitting 9% alcohol.  I could go through more than one of these on a cold night.  It also goes exceptionally well with chocolate cake. (tested and confirmed)

I’m glad I have an extra bottle in my beer cellar waiting to be opened on a later date.  Hopefully, it will age gracefully.  There is a lot of potential with this one.  I don’t think I’ll wait until 1/8/2015, the best by date on the bottle, but I’ll definitely let this one ride a few years.

Storm King is a great stout. The flavor is so balanced with a bit more hop flavor than I’ve usually tasted.  The coffee notes of the roasted malts are delicious.  The slight smokiness I tasted was also a high point.  I am really looking forward to how Storm King tastes after lounging in those Bourbon barrels for 6 months.

Overall:  A-

Published in: on November 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Special Victory Brewing Co. release… Dark Intrigue.

 This Wednesday, November 24, 2010, Victory Brewing Co. will be releasing a Limited Release beer in the Philadelphia area.

 Dark Intrigue is it’s name and it will be a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel aged evolution of their already excellent Storm King Stout.

Aged in Bourbon Barrels for 6 months, Dark Intrigue will be offered in 750ml corked and caged bottles.

 At the moment, there are few details on the logistics of the release.  I was able to obtain a bit of information from a rep at Victory who noted everything was subject to change… obviously.

As of today (Tuesday), there will be a 1 case limit on purchases.  The current price is listed as $120 for a case, or around $15 per bottle.  There will be no option for pre-purchase or reservations.  Quantities will be first come-first served and I was told they had a smaller production than expected.  Current numbers look like 70 cases?!?!  Yikes!

Ok, so let’s do the math… 70 cases.   That’s 840 bottles.  Well, I’m sure some folks will by a few singles, but I bet those cases are going to get sold pretty darn fast.  That’s too bad.

 One item of note, was that it may only be available in only 2 markets.  This is interesting, because a Facebook post a few weeks ago listed more than 2 markets.  That does go with the smaller production information.  We’ll just have to see.

 I, for one, am really looking forward to this release for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s Victory, and Storm King Stout is a great starting point for a Bourbon Barrel aged beer.

 And second, it’s the first Special Release to which I will have direct access.  Always exciting!  Unfortunately, I have to work a full day on Wednesday.  It’s probably unlikely that any will be left by 4pm.

Curses… foiled again!

Published in: on November 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Founder’s Porter

Founders Brewing Co. – Grand Rapids, MI

Founder’s Porter – 6.5% ABV – 45 IBU

This beer pours dark.  It’s so black, that there is just a thin mahogany glow around the edge of the glass and down near the stem.  Other than that… black!  There is a dark brown, thick 1-finger head.

Though, none of the following ingredients are in this beer, the major aroma notes are coffee and dark chocolate.  The aromas are so prominent, they could have easily been in the recipe.  There are also deep, roasted grain aromas, as well as some brown sugar and molasses.  A thoroughly complex aroma.

As far as tasting it, I took it out of the refrigerator, poured it into my tulip glass, and waited 15 to 20 minutes for it to get to the best temperature possible for a porter: around 55 degrees.

The flavor is absolutely awesome!  Lots of roasted malt and molasses-like flavors.  Coffee and chocolate are present, but farther in the background than they seemed in the aroma.  Such a complex flavor with tons of subtleties.  Hints of vanilla are there- almost fleeting… but there.  There are also some roasted coffee beans and dark cocoa nibs.  It has a very balanced flavor.  There is barely any bitterness.  It’s also not too sweet.  I would say it’s “just right”.

The mouth feel is medium to full-bodied, and very smooth.  Drinkability is high.  I could have this as a session beer.  I could easily buy it a case at a time in the cold months.

Founder’s Porter is my favorite porter, and one of my all-time favorite beers.  If you like Guiness… try this beer.  If you like coffee… try this beer.  If you like dark chocolate… try this beer.  If you like beer… give this one a shot.  You may be well rewarded.

Overall: A+

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brooklyn Brewery Local 2

Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn, NY

Local 2 – 9.0% ABV –  25.4 oz.   $11.99

“Ale brewed with honey and citrus peel.  100% bottle re-fermented”

I enjoyed this beer at a Brooklyn Brewery tasting on Friday night, and decided to bring home a bottle thinking that my wife would enjoy it, too.

We popped the cork on the large bottle and immediately thought how it resembled Champagne.  The display of the cork was how the sales representative for Brooklyn Brewery presented the bottle.  I thought it was cool, and displayed the cork the same way.

We poured this into wine glasses because the beer has many of the same qualities as wine, which will be discussed momentarily.

Local 2 poured a deep red-brown with a lingering, foamy and tan-colored head.  The head withdrew slightly and I realized there would be extensive lacing down the glass as we proceeded to enjoy this beer.

The aroma is reminiscent of dried fruits including raisins and plums.  There is also a malty aroma bringing to mind caramel apples and caramelized sugar.

As I tasted it, I was surprised how forceful the honey flavor was at the beginning of the sip.  The taste developed into the flavors that I noticed in the aroma: raisins, plums and other dried fruits.  There is also a citrus tang there, as well.  Following the dried fruits, the sugar and caramel flavors made themselves known.  The taste concluded with a very interesting fresh grape flavor.  The first taste was so complex, that it took quite a few sips to describe all of the flavors that were going on.  Of particular note is the high alcohol percentage that brought a heavy booziness to the flavor.

The mouth feel resembles Champagne in the light-bodied, sparkling, highly-carbonated way.   Also, this is an extremely dry beer.  Again, very similar to a dry Champagne.  The booziness noted above gave each sip a very warming quality.  A rather enjoyable one, at that.

One negative of this bottle is that it seems a little young.  If one were to let it sit upright in a cool basement to age another year, I think the flavors would meld and create a sublime winter-warmer style brew.  The second negative was the price.  It was one of the higher priced bottles I’ve purchased.

We ended up really enjoying Local 2.  My wife and I both felt like we were drinking a fine wine, which was a good way to justify the higher price for the bottle.  It was in line with a good quality wine.  Dry, and highly carbonated, the fruit and sugar flavors brought great things to a beer that is very much at home on a cold fall night.  Grab a bottle, and let it age until late 2011, and I think good things will happen.

Overall: A-

Published in: on November 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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