Monday, January 16, 2012

Victory - Otto Ale

My wife received this bottle as a holiday gift at work so we popped it open over dinner the other night.  I have never tried any craft beers from Victory Brewing Co. , though I have heard good things about this Pennsylvania brewer.  The bottle doesn't even indicate what style of beer this is. So I'm going into this review with no knowledge of this beer except that it has one of the coolest labels I've seen.   
My wife prepares a meal of chicken marsala and I remove the cork from the 750 ml bottle.  It pours a reddish brown with a nice two fingers of foam.  The smell is of yeast like fresh bread.  First sip:  Smoky malt taste like a porter or brown ale.  After visiting Victory's web site, I find out that this is actually a Belgian style smoked malt, double ale.  It’s the maltiness that lingers at the back of my mouth and makes me want to follow it up with another sip. Now I detect a nice little bitter bite.  The 8.1% ABV is not over the top; it's more the smokiness than the alcohol I come away with.
This complex, smoky-bitter flavor is achieved by the use of smoked, Munich and Belgian malt, German hops and Trappist yeast.  This beer gets its European flavor from its ingredients and from co-owners Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski who both apprenticed under German brewers.  Ron even studied at the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan.  The partners decided to start brewing in 1996 in Downingtown , PA just a short distance from where the two first met in elementary school.

The Otto Ale complements our dinner well and I am sad when all that's left is the foam laced up the side of the glass.  I feel like I've just finished a substantial  well-crafted, European beer.  It's nice to know that traditional, quality craft brewing is not only done across the Atlantic.  It can be found right across the state boarder in good old PA. 

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