I stopped by Victory Friday afternoon on my way west to the lower reaches of the Susquehanna; the family was rusticating near the Indian Steps Museum. Thomas walked Penderyn while I went in and got a quick glass of Dampf Bier ("Steam Beer") while my two growlers -- the new Golden Ale and the latest iteration of Braumeister Pils, which I was told was single hopped with Mittelfrüh -- were filling. I had a nice little chat with Victory's Big Mahoff of Sales, Steve German (who was very psyched about his trip to Bavaria and Franconia this week), and ducked out just as the first brewers (Chris Brugger and the newly-married Whitney Horwitz) showed up for a Master Brewers meeting -- good thing I got out, or Thomas would have been walking the dog for an hour. ("Is that your dog?" asks Brugger; "Is that your son?" asked Whitney: different social priorities.)
So, the Dampf Bier. Fresh, drinkable, and nicely fruity. If they're aiming at Anchor with this one -- and they pretty much implied they were in the menu -- they hit inner ring on the first toss. The hops are there, that delightful freshness is there, the color and aroma. This was good stuff, and easy to put away. I downed the 12 oz. glass, and hit the road.
Thomas and I got to the house well before Cathy and Nora, so I went ahead and opened one of the growlers, and the first one I happened to grab was the Braumeister. I’m a big fan of this series, and not just for the educational aspects of getting to know particular hops better. Victory has a deft damned hand at making pilsners, and the Braumeisters are, well, pure and beautiful. I don’t feel silly or romantic saying that, either: these are great beers.
My notes: "The aroma is a bit floral, some light pine, and clean as a breeze, nothing cloying or crass or "beery." The taste, ahhh, it’s clean and light and crisp, with some malt heft behind the initial rush. It drinks phenomenally easy, by the sip or by the glass. Cathy better hurry, or this growler’s gonna be history." Between Uncle Don and me -- mostly me -- it was gone before she got there. She had to settle for the Gold Rush.
I’m not completely clear on what the Gold Rush is intended to be: a "golden ale" of the brewpub type that’s intended to replace Lite for that kind of drinker who wanders in by accident or comes with a crowd, or if it’s of the more ambitious golden ale variety that seeks to be a crisper, snappier, edgier pale ale. I suspect the latter, but I’m not sure.
Because it is quite a crisp, snappy pale ale, er, golden ale, and it’s damned drinkable. Cathy said "This tastes like frathouse beer!" but as a former frat-boy who drank gallons of slime-beer, I gotta disagree. Maybe it’s the slightly cat-piss character of the hops (and again – I say that in the very nicest of ways), maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the slippery character of the malt (and I don’t know what Victory does differently, but they have that jump-down-your-throat-and-drink-me! malt characteristic down cold, and I like it). But I think she’s wrong. And she probably does too, since she just had another glass, by request. At the right time of day, this would be a big-glass quaffer.