Monday, March 17, 2008

Victory Brewing Company's Hop Wallop - A Microbrew Review

A Microbrew Review of Victory Brewing Company's Hop Wallop

Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Sure, it's St. Patrick's Day today. But for whatever reason, I picked up a bottle of Hop Wallop from Victory Brewing Company at tonight's visit to my local mix six beer purveyor. Notably, this beer is a yearly Fall season brew but this bottle was still hanging around in the cooler and it's got a "enjoy by" date of 12/6/08, so what the heck, right? Hop Wallop is customarily classified as an Imperial India Pale Ale craft beer, brewed and bottled at Victory Brewing's Pennsylvania-based Downingtown brewery.

This imperial IPA poured a cloudy, chill-hazed burnt orange from the 12 ounce brown bottle into my unchilled 16 ounce pint glass. The head of this beer quickly rose to a 3/4 inch, pillowy meringue froth that lasted a good 2-3 minutes before slowly subsiding.

This craft ale's aroma wafted up, out and about from my glass, ringing true to a strong hoppy character. Very bold in bitter grapefruit and cheering from the sideline presence of fresh pine was predominant.

The initial sip of this Victory Brewing Co offering puckered my mouth and gave off a zesty kick of otherworldly hops bitterness. The primary flavor is bitter grapefruit and it lasts through to the swallow. Carbonation level isn't a distraction at all and it ends by going down pretty smoothly although there is a sticky lollipop sour aftertaste that lingers well after. There is just a glimmering hint of a spicey flavor to it in the background, almost clove-like, but not much.

Hop Wallop is strong, very strong in its overbearing hop supremacy. Any malt in this Victory beer? It's close to impossible to detect that's for certain but it's got to be in there somewhere. In looking more closely at the label, I can see that this Pennsylvania craft beer boasts a pretty hefty alcohol by volume rating of 8.5%. I couldn't tell it however as the alcohol content appears very well cloaked in this Pennsylvania based microbrew. Either way, in flavor and in alcohol, it's not a chugging beer, at least not for me. One interesting note is that by about 1/3 left in my glass, this microbrew is especially clear and crystalline almost. It changed appearance about as quick as the weather does here in Western Pennsylvania.

Overall though, my personal opinion is that Victory Brewing Company Hop Wallop is a very good beer although pretty straight-forward and one dimensional in complexity. This ale is probably the king of beers when it comes down to sheer hop bitter terror. It's all about the hops. I personally enjoyed Hop Wallop, but I would guess that there are likely many folks who wouldn't if hoppy beers are not their cup of tea. In fact, even if hoppy beers are your favorite, Hop Wallop still might not be the ticket. It depends. This Imperial IPA falls on the extreme end of bitter hop bombs. I'd give Victory Brewing Company's Hop Wallop an 8.0 out of 10.0 points on my scale. It's a worthy brew for your bucks and especially worth a sit down with for any hop head out there.

P.S. The label on the bottle features a cartoon slappy pappy miner 49er character who goes by the moniker of Horace "Hop" Wallop, at least according to the entertaining little label story about the origin of Victory Hop Wallop. Maybe the story's true, maybe it's not. You decide.

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