Tuesday, April 23, 2013

562. Victory Swing

A session saison made for easy, enjoyable drinking? I think I’ve got some of that summer love thing going on for Victory right now. Or, as Art puts it in Justified, I’ve got a little bit of a “marshal stiffy” for Victory Swing. I know, I know. But that was a joke that needed making. Scarred or not, you’ll live. Previously from Victory: Saison du Buff Trifecta, Summer LoveHeadwaters Pale AleYakima Twilight (now Yakima Glory), plus Prima Pils, Baltic Thunder, HopDevil, and WildDevil.

Swing pours a faint, slightly hazy straw with a meringue-like white head that carries solid staying power and laces the glass in nice rings. The beer is active in the glass—lots of small tight bubbles streaming up the inside of the glass, making for a pretty visual. Aromas open with cracker mixed with hints of Pilsner malt sweetness; there are floral and citrus fruit yeast esters that smell similar to 3711, although I am not completely convinced that this actually is 3711. As well, I get a touch of lurking hop bitterness accompanied by the light mineral mintiness I find in Styrian Goldings. All in all, a complex, delicate, and entrancing aromatic performance. Flavors follow suit and are equally engaging, starting with cracker malt, floral esters, and a lemon-y mintiness in the front; the clean mineral bitterness comes to the forefront in the middle: light, bright, and clean into the finish. The body is light and dry while the carbonation is bright and lively; it cleans the palate and sets up the gentle mineral bitterness and slight pepper bite of the finish. There is also a slight creaminess in the mouthfeel that suggests oats or another similar adjunct to build some residual body to help compensate for the attenuative yeast; while I do love a dry saison, here the contribution balances the beer on the tongue by helping round and transition between the different elements of the beer: the dry cracker body, the mineral bitterness, and the bright carbonation. And this is a damn fine beer for this kind of attention to detail. While it does lose a bit of its snap as the carbonation bleeds off in the last couple of sips, it is an excellent example of the fluidity and possibility of saison as a style. And as a session beer, this beer rocks as well—it is another example of American craft brewing expanding the palates of craft beer drinkers beyond the “bigger is better” mantra that currently holds sway in several circles. So thank you, Victory, for the beer. And for the hope. Craft brewing needs more beers like this.

From the bottle: “Swing. It’s a lively jazz rhythm, a vigorous
sway, a change of view or even a roll in the proverbial hay. Now, it also means the welcome jolt of joy you’ll experience upon your first sip of this session saison. Bracing but benign, this Belgian-style ale enlivens any experience with a spicy, aromatic start, citrus snap and fresh finish. Swing into spring with taste!”

ABV: 4.5%


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