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Beer On My Shirt: Victory's 20th Anniversary Experimental IPA

J.R. Shirt, March 03, 2016 -   

Anniversaries can be really wonderful. Annual reminders of some of your best days and your best decisions. A chance to look back and say whatever it is you might say on an anniversary. Things like I love you now more than ever. Or I've worked here for how long? Or this beer is delicious. Maybe you sing softly to yourself in the mirror Looks like we've made it.

I've been married to my lovely Wife for seven, soon to be eight, years. Every year we celebrate with two round-trip tickets to Pound Town.

In seriousness, the last time Wife and I celebrated our anniversary with anything extravagant was Year Three, the Leather Anniversary. I rented us a town car with leather seats and a driver from Montenegro. He took us to a rooftop bar in the constantly burgeoning metropolis of Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was the hottest day of the summer, with real feel temperatures still hovering around 100 even as the sun set. We ate appetizers better suited for cooler nights and drank too much. It was a lovely time.

More recently, I had the opportunity to celebrate Victory Brewing Company's 20th anniversary. And more specifically, what I mean by celebrate is that I purchased several bottles of their 20th Anniversary Experimental IPA. Much like my third anniversary, it was a lovely time.

The beer poured a pale golden blonde with just the slightest touch of haze and a thin layer of white head. It looked good.

The smell was a subtle but bright citrus, think orange flesh and mango, with some melon and cool pine notes. The aroma is not a punch in the face, but it is refreshing in an outdoors sort of way. It was at this point that I checked the label again for information on the experimental hop they used for this experimental IPA. But the label reveals little, offering only that an experimental hop was used.

I get it Victory. It's your anniversary and you want to get experimental. And your going to be coy about it. I'll play along.

Is it weird that for two consecutive posts I am getting vaguely sexy with the beer I am drinking?

The next obvious step here is the internet. To find out the experimental hop. It's called Idaho 7. Sierra Nevada used it in their Harvest Single Hop IPA back in 2015. Apparently it is also referred to as the Golden Hop in some circles. The descriptors that I found mention orange, apricot, cantaloupe, black tea, and an earthy, herbal bouquet.

The first taste of the beer offered up a quick burst of those bright citrus flavors introduced by the aroma, and for a second I loved it, but that was followed by this dry pine, sort of tonic-esque, wax/rind flavor-feel that moved across and then seemed to settle on the back of my tongue. Was it black tea? I don't know, but it certainly had an earthy, herbaceous quality in the finish that might be black tea. The nice thing is that with each successive gulp, the delicious, fresh tasting citrus flavors gained more real estate on my tongue and those earthy, herbal, quinine bitter notes quickly became an afterthought. And once that happened, this beer was quite good.

The feel was just light enough to be different, and almost give a session IPA feel, but fizzy enough in a tiny bubble way to make it seem like more for just a moment. Overall, I liked it. For 5.5% ABV, I really enjoyed everything about the aroma, and the taste grew on me with each sip. From what I understand, the Experimental IPA should be available through March so I look forward to trying some more. Happy Anniversary!

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