Sunday, October 10, 2010

Victory and Yards

Jo and I were going to head out to Lancaster brewing and Spring House brewing, but our plans changed so we instead went to Victory brewing and Yards brewing.  First we drove out to Victory and then we circled back to go to Yards.

The last time we had been to Victory was before they renovated their brew pub and we couldn't believe the difference between now and then.  Before, it was like a creepy school cafeteria and the food was only okay.  Now, the brewpub had really nice atmosphere, the tables looked really comfortable, and the bar was really inviting.

I had read about the renovations to their brewpub but I was not expecting such a significant upgrade.  Now, I'd totally be willing to bring people to the brewery whereas before there is no way I'd suggest it as a place to visit and this is just based on first impressions and has nothing really to do with the beer.

On the beer front, the first I had was the Moonglow Weizenbock.
They offer the choice between .4L and .5L but since this is a German style beer, I went with the .5L.  It was a beautiful light purple color with an inch or so of head.  A weizenbock is a German style wheat where the beer is made with 50% or more of wheat grains but is is much stronger than a standard wheat beer.  The Moonglow had a wonderful banana smell to it and it brought me right back to our trip to Germany this summer.  It was so much like Schneider Aventinus I couldn't believe it.  It had a nice, thick mouth feel with absolutely no presence of the 8+% alcohol.  I'm a fan of sweet, malty beers so the fact that this is sweet with no hop presence really appeals to me.  This really impressed me in its representation of the German weizenbock style and I'd easily order it again and again.

After that I got some samples plus a full draft of Storm King.
From left to right, we have Helios, Storm King, and Donnybrook Stout.  I started with the Helios as I didn't want the stronger stouts to overpower the lighter flavors in it.  It's a Farmhouse style ale which generally means it's lightly spiced with some other mild but interesting flavors.  I'm a fan of the style, but it's also one of those that varies a lot between breweries since there is a decent bit of leeway.  The Helios smelled summery with a hint of the farm in it.  (Very specific, I know.)  I thought it had some mild fruit flavors but on the whole it reminded me of a hefeweizen.  That may be because it's brewed with German malts but it may also just be my imagination as well.  Honestly, though, the flavors were very mixed and it was hard to put my finger on all of them.  I liked it but since it was only a sample it's hard to say how a full glass would have tasted.

After that I switched between the Storm King and the Donnybrook.  The Storm King is a Russian Imperial Stout and the Donnybrook is an Irish Dry Stout.  The Storm King was by far the stand out of the two as I was really not impressed by the Donnybrook.  I smelled a nice sweet alcohol in the Storm King which I expected based on the style.  There was some roasted malt in the first sip with some slight bitterness in the finish.  Really superb, thick mouth feel.  Throughout the whole pint, the alcohol was present but not in a bad way.  It was a really enjoyable Russian Imperial.  The Donnybrook, however, was not particularly good.  While up front there were a lot of roasty notes to it, there was absolutely nothing backing that up.  Very thin mouth feel with a huge watery flavor to it. Really unimpressive.  Unlike the Gritty McDuff's from last weekend, I would not want a full pint of this at all.  Just nothing there to really enjoy.

I finished off the trip to Victory with a sample of their Baltic Thunder.
I drank a little before remembering to take a picture, but a full half liter of moonglow will do that to you.  It had a little bit of head on it, but not much.  Surprisingly, it poured a mid brown instead of the black that I expect from a porter.  Quite possibly, I just don't know a ton about the Baltic Porter style.  It had a sweet taste to it with some mild hints of alcohol.  Not quite as strong as the Storm King, but close to it. The dude next to me got a full glass of it and it was actually much darker in a full glass so maybe it builds on itself.  Decent beer, but I can't give a full opinion on it because it was the end of the visit.

After that Jo and I took a quick side trip to the Yards brewery since we hadn't been there since they put in the tap room and she wanted a growler of their Brawler.  Since I was slightly exhausted at that point, I decided to only try the George Washington Porter.
Poured a nice garnet color (stealing that from their description) with a tiny bit of head.  Smelled a little woody for some reason, maybe it's the molasses in it.  Really nice mouth feel for a porter, nice and thick.  Surprisingly, the first taste leans more towards a malty brown than a full bodied porter.  Definitely a bit sweeter than roastier but it's a nice change in the style.  Yards does English style beers (sweeter and less hoppy) better than a lot of breweries.

On the way out, we picked up a growler of the Yards Brawler as that's Jo's favorite beer right now, but I'll talk about that in a couple days.

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