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.