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!