Back on the same footing as the official Beer Hawk Advent Calendar today. We both got Victory Beer Vital IPA. Although it’s the second beer from this Pennsylvania, USA, brewery it’s a can rather than a bottle this time. I like cans, I like draught beers better, but I like cans better than bottles. The beer always tastes fresher to me and I actually don’t mind drinking out of a can, whereas I’m not keen for drinking straight from the bottle. I know you don’t get to see the beer, but there’s just something about cans. For starters they don’t smash when you drop one out of the fridge onto the floor.
Whatever. I’m glad I got this one, it’s a belter. Really, really enjoyed it. My first thoughts were it’s a Lager with attitude, real attitude. When I had a look on the Victory Beer website this was confirmed as this IPA is made with Pilsner malt and a Kölsch strain of yeast and hopped with Citra, Simcoe, and Chinook hops. If you want, a sort of a cross between an IPA and Lager, and it works big time. At least it does for me. It’s available in the USA in cans, bottles and draught. I think I could get smitten with the draught version?
Vital is ever so slightly hazy, if you hold it to the light you can see the fine suspended particles. The taste is piney, citrusy, grapefruity but it’s not ‘in your face’ and it’s nicely balanced with a silky sweetness from the malt running through it, but yet it’s crisp, clean tasting and refreshing. When I say all this, you really have to swirl it around your mouth and sieve the various layers of flavour out before you try and verbalise the constituent parts – can you tell I’ve been on a Sommeliers course? Not!
My first thoughts were, ‘this really is a session IPA’! You know one that you could drink all afternoon watching the match on TV. I think there are far too many so called American ‘Session IPA’s’ that are given that appellation on strength alone. Despite their lower ABV, they’re so hop forward, after four or five pints you end up with a mouth like a budgie cage bottom. You don’t get that with Vital because everything is in moderation and balanced. The only drawback is that it’s so balanced it doesn’t drink like it’s 6.5% ABV. I was quite shocked when I saw those numbers on the can and it’s firmly in the category of ‘fighting beer’, if drank on a proper session. For those not familiar with UK drinking habits, and I am seeing quite a few visitors from the other side of the Atlantic, for example a session would be like, a couple of hours or three and at least six pints. You can’t do that with beers much above 5%.
Verdict – Very good beer, beer made for enjoying rather than beer geeking – in my current top 3 from this case (I think). Make sure you drink responsibly folks!