Sunday, December 5, 2010

Victory Yakima Glory Ale

Nobody makes better beer than Downingtown, Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Company. Victory's flagship beers - the surprisingly balanced HopDevil, the big Russian imperial Storm King, the crisp and boldly-hopped Prima Pils, the hugely popular tripel Golden Monkey, the appropriately-named Hop Wallop, and the underrated helles-style Victory Lager - are hard to beat. But dare I say some of the Victory seasonals are even better? Yakima Glory, a late fall/early winter specialty, is darn near the best IPA I’ve ever tasted.

Yakima Glory, formerly known as Yakima Twilight, is more flavorful than the HopDevil and better-balanced than the Hop Wallop. It’s by definition a black IPA but actually pours a brownish red color. As you would expect from an ale that showcases the world-famous hops of Yakima Valley, Washington, it’s very hop-forward in taste. It hits straight off with a huge and delicious floral hop blast, tickles the taste buds with some sweet roasted malts, and closes with an enormous grapefruity finish. The IPA is not my favorite beer style, but it has been rising up the charts the last year or two. And if more IPAs were like this one, I'd be all-in! Somehow the Yakima Glory manages to taste both dominantly hoppy and beautifully balanced - perhaps coming on a little strong upon first sip but ultimately going down silky smooth and leaving me thirsty for more. The grapefruit finish is pronounced and lingering - but this is one aftertaste that I'm not dying to obliterate. And although it's the dark malt presence that makes this ale different from Victory's year-round IPAs, the best part of drinking a Yakima Glory is that first hoppy sip. Mmmmm! One doesn't always think of an IPA as a session beer, but I could drink two or three of these easily!

The Yakima Valley, uniquely situated on the 47th parallel, has those long summer days farmers need to grow good hops. The valley produces 30 percent of the world’s beer hops and three-quarters of America’s. I'm not going to say that one taste of the Yakima Glory will compel you to fly out to Washington state and kiss the ground its hops were grown in. Then again, I'm not going to say it won't.

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