Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Victory Headwaters Pale Ale

Given that beer is only made from four ingredients, it seems that all four ought to be pretty important. We beer geeks talk all the time about hops and malted barley, and when the subject of Belgian ales comes up, who doesn’t mention the yeast? But rarely does water get any love. I’m not the biggest fan of Coors, but give that brewery credit for emphasizing its greatest asset. Water can make or break a beer. Remember how Rolling Rock used to be a solid macro lager when its water source was the “glass lined tanks of old Latrobe”? Now it’s made from the swamps of Jersey, and boy does it taste like it.

Typically, good water makes the biggest difference in a simpler beer, which was the logic behind Victory’s Headwaters. Victory has been in business for 15 years plus, but had never made an American pale ale until now. Headwaters Pale Ale is Victory’s 15th anniversary celebration beer - a crisp, refreshing ale designed to showcase the headwaters of the east branch of Brandywine Creek. These waters are the source for Victory’s beers. Having such great water a mere 14 miles from the brewery has certainly been a large part of Victory’s success. Headwaters is Citra and Centennial hopped and made from all-German malt. And although it’s got a watery, thirst-quenching quality to it, it’s super hoppy with strong grassy and citrus notes. A bready pale malt backbone adds balance, and the finish is dry and clean like it should be. All in all, this beer is as delicious as it is simple. The always dependable Victory has done a great job of creating a “lighter” beer that still brings the flavor in abundance. And while it’s nice that this beer does allow the water quality to shine, it’s probably an even better showcase for those Citra and Centennial hops. Who knew that a session beer would end up a special treat for hop heads?! This is one you can drink all night. Just because a beer is made from great water doesn’t mean it should taste like water.

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