Anyway, I picked up a Victory Hop Devil from Downingtown in eastern Pennsylvania, Blue Point Brewing Company's Hoptical Illusion from Patchogue, Long Island and a bunch of Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale while at Ithaca last week. I just noticed that the last one is made at "The Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, New York" according to the label which makes me think it must be contract brewed at Matts Brewing, home of Saranac. I will check up on that. If so, it would be interesting to compare the Brooklyn IPA with the same by Saranac.
- Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale: I don't think I have met a beer by Brooklyn that I do not respect greatly. This one is no different. It pours off-white over medium-dark straw and is one of the lighter versions of a US-based IPA out there. It has a medium-heavy malty body that places the hops, kind of uniquely for an IPA, behind the pale malt. It is grainy and quite sweet...not quite raisin sweet but grapey or maybe dried pear. Those hops are somewhat rough and a bit green, especially in the finish. It is not a complex beer so much as a fine one. The malt has sultanta and maybe a bit of grape or pear juice and a wee tiny note of smoke. No one is going to get a Satanic reference from the hop levels and disappointed advocatonians were looking for a bomb that just was not there. But I still approve.
- Victory HopDevil: Joe in China wrote about this hometown-ish favorite of his last October and I made some notes back then, too, in the comments. Victory has a great name and red "V" logo seen on its taps...and makes only great beer. Compared to the Brooklyn, the head and the ale are a notch darker, some lacing, but I am quite surprised side-by-side to find the front of the Victory softer. A far higher percentage of the advocatonians are on board, though. It's at the back where it makes its stand. A raisiny finish with some antique goldings somewhat evocative of Charles Wells Bombardier, that autumnal favorite around here. There is also a fall green aspect to it, which is making me thing of collards. Is that a leap no beer reviewer should make? No, this is a true BBQ beer. Big enough to withstand the sauce and sharp enough to cut the sweetness. And tastes like vegetable matter from the Old South. Kind of freaky now that I think about it.
- Blue Point Hoptical Illusion: Conversely, Blue Point goes the other way, with a light yellowish head and a paler straw tone. Lots of lace. The aroma is full flowery goldings hops way over the top. Thinking of the ever delightful Flower Power IPA from Ithaca, this one is even lighter and more purely floral. The sip is pure florist shop...but in an good way. OK. Family secret. I grew up a son of a flower shop and trained in Aalsmeer, Holland (Amsterdam burbs) on the wholesale side. So when I tell you that the hops in this brew are like freesia crossed with leatherleaf fern just trust me on this one. Below the hop is fine sweetness and lightness. While it is no thin macrocrap in terms of body, it has a much lighter mouthfeel than the other two. There is pear and apricot in the malt.