Monday, January 20, 2014

Victory Hop Ranch

4.6
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (1045) - Albany, New York, USA - JAN 20, 2014
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had an enjoy by date of 5/24/14 and cost $3.65 ($0.30 per ounce).

Appearance: Bright yellow to gold hue. Slightly hazy with extremely fine particulates. Pours to a large, bright white, frothy head which laces and retains with excellence.

Smell: Pungent aroma of passion fruit and other tropical fruits, plus a distinct herbal and spicy quality.

Taste: I’ve discussed the "New England-style IPA" a lot in the last year. Ever since Heady Topper blew up, every brewer has been trying to emulate it. And while I wouldn’t consider Victory Hop Ranch a clone of that beer, it’s definitely in the ballpark with huge tropical fruit in the nose and at the beginning of the palette, and spicy/herbal flavor on the finish. What’s different here is this beer is more overtly juicy and much less bitter than others of the style.

I was genuinely surprised by how tame the bitterness was here. Big IPAs like this tend to smack your mouth with their IBUs, but Hop Ranch is actually quite tame with a rather sweet, tropical fruit juice flavor throughout most of the swig. It would almost seem better classified as an imperial pale ale than double IPA. The brewery’s description only mentions one malt and two hops in the ingredients list - could this beer really be that simple? There is, not surprisingly, a spicy/herbal flavor on the finish and in the aftertaste. Slight garlic or onion, plus plenty of grass really round out the palette nicely.

Drinkability: What separates Victory Hop Ranch from others of the general niche style (and no, that’s not an oxymoron), is its raw drinkability. Supposedly 9% ABV, yet it drinks like something much lighter. The mouthfeel is soft and calm - not crisp, and far from sticky. It’s refreshing while in the mouth, which is something most IPAs, single or imperial, can’t do. Some spicy dryness in the aftertaste, but it’s quite pleasant. This is dangerously drinkable considering how fun it is to drink and how light it feels. 
Grade: 10/10