In honor of Super Bowl Sunday I decided to review a beer by Victory Brewing Company. Someone will claim victory in the big game tonight, and quite a few people will celebrate with some delicious craft beer. Victory Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by childhood friends and long-time homebrewers Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski. They opened a brewery and restaurant in Downington, PA, and grew their brand into a nationally recognized craft beer staple. Victory now brews over 93,000 barrels a year and distributes to 34 states and 5 foreign countries. Victory is known for their diverse range of year round beers including Hop Devil IPA, Prima Pils and Golden Monkey Tripel. They also have an ever-increasing lineup of seasonal and specialty beers. Victory’s winter seasonal is Hop Ranch, a double IPA brewed with Pilsner malt and Mosaic and Azacca hops. While many brewers focus on dark lagers, stouts and porters in the winter months, Victory produces a very light bodied winter beer. Don’t be deceived by the color though, Hop Ranch is 9.0% ABV, plenty of alcohol to keep you warm on a chilly winter night.
Victory Hop Ranch IPA pours a pale gold with a solid off-white head and a nice lacing on the glass. The smell is very hop forward, citrus fruit first, followed by some floral and spicy scents. The taste is all hops, it starts with strong lemon and orange flavors followed by notes of pine, earth and spice. There are some very mild malt flavors balancing out the backbone, but this is clearly a hop-centric beer. The yeast also adds some bready notes and a touch of green apple. Victory Hop Ranch is light bodied, pleasantly carbonated, and at 9.0% ABV dangerously easy to drink. You don’t taste the alcohol at all, which is an achievement for a beer with light body and high alcohol. The finish is clean, dry with a little tartness on the tongue. I could have used a little more bitterness, but that may be a personal preference – I like my double IPAs to have some bite. Overall a well done double IPA, clean and easy to drink despite the high alcohol. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5