Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yakima Glory (Victory Brewing Company)

According to the website of the Hop Growers of America (, the Yakima Valley of Washington contains 75 percent of the total United States hop acreage. Yakima Glory is obviously intended as Victory's loving homage to this all-important brewing ingredient and the region that supplies it.

The beer represents a very interesting style: Black IPA (a seeming contradiction in terms, since the "P" in IPA stands for "pale"). This style is relatively recent development that attempts to take the hop-dominant characteristics we love about India pale ales and graft them onto a richer malt base. The highly-regarded Heavy Seas Black Cannon is another example of a black IPA.

Let's get down to the tasting experience. The beer pours a lovely dark brown, indeed, and slightly to the reddish side. I got about a half inch of foam which produced very decorative lacing, portending an abundance of oily hops resin. In the nose are fresh floral and citrus notes, with definite malt undertones that I would not expect to be present in a standard IPA.

When sipped, a sappy hop entrance rolls gracefully into a really delicious, sweet, warm malt body. There is an almost nutty quality to the roasted grain. Yes, the beer's name indicates that hops is in the spotlight, but Victory has built an impressive ale platform that is every bit as appealing. And there is harmony in the construction, resulting in a large flavor with dimensions contributed from all ingredients. Finally comes the obligatory bitter hop finish, with a coffee-like roasted grain note lingering afterward.

I declare this particular black IPA experiment a thorough and delicious success. The Yakima Valley's precious harvest is appropriately glorified, and there is also a high quality malt platform that any fancier of brown ales or stouts can appreciate. But Yakima Glory is only part of Victory's winter seasonal rotation, so jot that down on your beer lover's liturgical calendar!

From the bottle's label:

The Yakima Valley of Washington is the heartland of American hops, having contributed uniquely flavorful varieties that have helped to redefine American brewing. Late summer harvest yields the bounty that builds this exciting ale. Vibrant and aromatic, this is their moment of glory as the vines have withered by the time you sip this. Dark malts warm the hops' bright edge bringing harmony to the finish. Rest well, hop roots! Spring will come and we'll be thirsty again!

Featured beer:

Yakima Glory

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