Friday, February 11, 2011

Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

There are exactly two things I like about winter: football and winter beer. And now football is over. With five more weeks of winter still remaining, it’s really time to step up the winter beer. Although technically a year-round offering, Victory’s Storm King is my favorite cold weather brew. Nothing is better on a winter night than relaxing in front of the TV while sipping a pint of Storm King. The name pretty much says it all. Something called Storm King sure as hell isn’t going to be a light beer with lime flavoring. At 9.1 percent alcohol by volume and packed with both American whole flower hops and imported 2-row malts, this imperial stout belongs in every beer drinker’s winter survival kit! Pouring pitch black with an abundant mocha head, it’s a thing of beauty to behold in a pint glass. Its scent is strong and delightful, and the taste follows the nose. Like any great stout, it does not lack for espresso, dark chocolate, licorice, and roasted malt flavors. But what sets the Storm King apart is its hefty hop quotient, which adds assertive piny and citrus notes to the mix, achieving a majestic balance with all those fierce dark malts. This bad boy is hoppy even by imperial stout standards, but by no means is it “too” hoppy. It’s just right, and even on the star-studded Victory beer roster, it’s a standout. Although surprisingly smooth considering its ABV, this is a big beer and not one to be chugged. It’s a sipper, with a flavor to be savored as the alcohol gradually warms you. Its chewy mouthfeel and incredible flavor complexity are best contemplated slowly, as you kick back following another day of dreary skies, frigid temperatures, and icy roads. It will soon be time for the spring seasonals - Samuel Adams is already advertising the Noble Pils. But we are not quite out of the woods yet. Old Man Winter has more misery in store for us. It will not be an easy month. But we shall prevail. Smiling and warm, we will ride the shoulders of the Storm King to the safety and promise of spring.

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