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Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager

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Victory celebrated their 15th Anniversary last year, and to mark the occasion, they created a new flagship beer: Headwaters Pale Ale. It was a beer that goes against most "Anniversary Beer" conventions. Namely, it wasn't a high-ABV face-melter that incorporated all sorts of weird ingredients. Instead, it's focus was on highlighting the most unassuming of beer's ingredients: the water. Few would call a 5.1% ABV Pale Ale a very adventurous anniversary beer, but then, this is a beer that has developed into Victory's flagship. It's became so popular and so ubiquitous in this area that Victory actually ran out and had to rearrange their brewing schedule to make up for the demand (so no Old Horizontal this year *sniff*).

But this year, things are a little different. In honor of their 16th year, Victory is making a limited batch of beer in collaboration with famous local chocolatier Éclat. I wouldn't call this a typical anniversary beer, but it's not quite the old standard that Headwaters was either. It's actually quite an unusual beer. Heck, it's a lager. One way to divide the beer world is to separate them into ales and lagers. Lager yeasts ferment at lower temperatures and typically feature cleaner, smoother, more stable flavor profiles. There tends to be less in the way of fruity esters or spicy phenols (which can be very prevalent in ales). There seems to be much less of a focus on lagers in the beer nerd community for some reason, though around this time of year, everyone seems to start cracking open doppelbocks.

In any case Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager is a Euro Dark Lager brewed with Peruvian Pure Nacional cacao beans (apparently quite rare) and is served on nitro tap:

Victory Eclat Cocoa Lager

Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager - Dark brown color, beautiful amber highlights, creamy tan head. Smells like chocolate with a hint of roasted barley. Taste has some light chocolate with just a hint of well balanced roastiness emerging in the finish. Lots of flavor, but very well matched and not overpowering at all. Mouthfeel is a dream. Nitro pour makes it incredibly smooth, but this is the perfect mouthfeel for the flavor profile. Medium bodied, clean and smooth, very easy to put down. The muted flavor profile of the lager matches perfectly with the nitro pour. A really fantastic beer... A

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV on tap (nitro pour). Drank out of Victory's .3L Bar Glass.

I really hope I can get me some more of this before it's gone. Or that it becomes a regular brewpub/local tap akin to their (also pretty good) Donnybrook Stout. Given how well the nitro pour accentuates the beer's flavors, I'm not sure a bottling would work so well (and I doubt the expense of those nitrogen cans would be attractive to Victory at this point).


Novembeer Club

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Another month, another beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is just a monthly gathering of friends from work for dinner and, of course, lots of beer (and often other alcoholic wonders). We had an average turnout, but still lots of fun and we had so much beer that we couldn't even get to all of it... A transitional period in terms of seasonal beers. Some leftover fall seasonals, some holiday beers, but the majority of beers were regular offerings:

beerclub-nov11.jpg
(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we tried are below. As usual, conditions were not ideal, so take it all with a grain of salt. Or as sacred scripture (as I'm sure you do with all my other posts). The choice is yours. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the picture):

  • Tröegs DreamWeaver Wheat - A very solid Hefeweizen from semi-local Tröegs. I've actually had this a few times before, but there's nothing particularly unique about it. A really nice example of the style though. B
  • Amager Julebryg 2008 - Dark color, with a wonderful aroma that is filled with crystal malts and caramel flavors (and maybe some subtle spicing). Taste is a little more roasty than I was expecting from the nose, with some coffee and maybe a little chocolate apparent. Full bodied but smooth, a really nice beer. It feels more like a solid stout than a holiday beer, but it's good either way (Beer Advocate calls it a dubbel, which sorta fits, but I probably wouldn't have guessed that from the beer itself). The bottle sez it was spiced, and it was certainly complex, but nothing particularly stood out (this is actually a good thing). Brewer Amager warrants further exploration. B+
  • Guinness Black Lager - This feels like a more crisp, carbonated version of Guinness' famous dry stout with less roastiness. It's an easy drinking beer, but the flavor seems oddly muted (perhaps because of the other brews of the night). Nothing wrong with it, but not a particularly special beer either. C+
  • Abita Turbodog - A great name for a beer that turns out to be a standard brown ale. Certainly nothing wrong with it and a solid example of the style, but not particularly special either. B-
  • Wychwood King Goblin - According to the bottle, this beer is only brewed under a full moon. It's got that typical Wychwood style label which is fantastic. Unfortunately, the beer doesn't quite live up to the branding. Lots of head and perhaps as a consequence, a little too light on the carbonation. Not quite flat, but it wasn't a good mouthfeel at all. Taste was hoppy, but not in the typical American pale ale way - perhaps this is more of an English pale ale (BA has it pegged as an English Strong Ale). Not a horrible beer, but not something that I could really connect with either. I don't know, Wychwood beers seem to be hitting me the wrong way lately... C
  • Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale - An interesting example of the style as it seems to emphasize the pumpkin more than the spices (which are still there, but not anywhere near as prevalent as they typically are in pumpkin ales). Smooth, tasty, and easy to drink. Nothing revelatory, but a good example of the style. B
  • Ommegang Cup O Kyndnes - One of my contributions for the night, this is a really interesting combination. Basically a Scotch ale brewed with Belgian yeast, it features the hallmarks of both styles. Unlike a lot of style mixtures, I think these two styles complement each other well. Very sweet and malty, with that typical Belgian yeast character coming out in a prominent way. I actually have another bottle of this sitting around, so look for a full review at some point...
  • Fegley's Brew Works Rude Elf's Reserve - Another beer I'll probably review separately, but I will say that this is a hugely alcoholic (10.5% ABV) spiced beer. Kinda like an overspiced pumpkin beer without any pumpkin (I had one of these earlier, along with a pumpkin ale, and found this one sharing a lot of the pumpkin spices)... Look for a separate review sometime this holiday season...
  • Dana's Homebrewed Dubbel - A nice dubbel style beer, only recently bottled, so it could probably use some more time to condition, but it's still pretty good. Nice traditional Belgian yeast character with a medium body. Easy to drink.
We didn't get to try a few of the beers in the picture, including Troegenator, Hoptober, and Amish Four Grain Pale Ale. All in all, another successful outing for the beer club. I'm already looking forward to the next installment, as we will most likely be drinking all Holiday beers (aka, my favorite seasonals).

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Dark Lager category.

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