I don’t think you can operate a craft brewery in the United States in 2015 without being a little bit braggadocios. Craft brewing is generally an amicable industry (all that trademark litigation aside), but brewers have been known to make a bold statement or two. Victory gets bold with their new IPA, Vital, declaring it’s “the only IPA you’ll need.” Says so right there on the can.
Bold. Ridiculous, but bold. Could you imagine a dystopian vision with just one IPA? That’s the worst kind of monogamy ever. Somehow, a future where I only sleep with one woman until I die seems blissful, but just one IPA? Forever? It gives me chills. Even if that IPA is as tasty as Vital.
I’m sure Victory is at least half joking when they make this declaration, mainly because they produce half a dozen other IPAs of their own. But Vital is their newest, and it’s actually the first beer they’ve ever produced that was meant to be distributed solely in cans. And did I mention it’s tasty?
Vital pours pretty light with a generous head, all of which smells like sweet fruit, like the candy end of the citrus spectrum. Like a bowl of mandarin oranges. The nose belies the taste, as this beer hits all of the juicy notes that modern hop heads crave. The mandarin oranges are there, all syrupy and sweet, along with some melon. But it’s not all candy and lollipops. There are some evergreen notes (like you’re eating that bowl of mandarin oranges in the midst of a spruce forest) that introduce level of pleasant bitterness, which lingers and intensifies as you move through the sip. Everything is washed away by a surprisingly dry finish that leaves nothing but a memory of that that spruce forest.
It’s a light IPA—Victory uses crisp Pilsner and CaraPils to balance the all-American hop bill (Citra, Simcoe, Chinook)—but it’s not lacking at all. The light, crisp malt bill works here because the hop combo is so damn fruity. It’s a great modern IPA, even if it doesn’t offer anything terribly new to the field. It certainly won’t be the only IPA I’ll ever need for the rest of my life (or the rest of this week, for that matter), but it’s damn good.
Brewery: Victory Brewing
City: Downingtown, PA.
Availability: Year round, cans