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July 17, 2005

Beer: Hop Devil

One of the cool things about travelling all over the world is trying new things. I have tasted dishes made from Kangaroo, Emu and Camel in Australia. I have tried homemade wine and grappa from my family in Italy. I sampled beers during the Oktoberfest festival in Munich.

Sometimes, you forget that life is about trying new things. I'm as a guilty as the next guy when it comes to my habitual problem of living life like a horse wearing blinders. I trod along the well worn path of the life that lay before me - the life of a middle aged working professional. The 45 hour-a-week guy, who watches the weeks pass and has glimmers of excitement and hope every Friday at 6pm - for something interesting may happen. Sometimes, you just have the little things that make life an adventure.

Last weekend, I sat on the couch drinking a Coors Light, which was left over from a party the night before. To me, a Coors Light is your most basic beer, and I don't mind it or really savor it. 071705.JPGMuch like I really don't savor a cold glass of milk or orange juice. It's milk. It's OJ. It's Coors Light.

Whatever. It meets the basic criteria of what I want - satisfy a thirst for a particular craving. Dairy. Juice. Beer.

Drinking that Coors Light I turned to Jon.

"Hey man, I hope you don't mind me drinkin' this. You had a 12 pack in the cooler...", I began.

Jon smiled and waved his hand in a quick, dismissing gesture, "I hate Coors Light, drink it all you want."

"There's nothing like a cold beer on a hot summer evening.", I sighed.

"Come on, it's a Coors Light. We should get some good beer!", he said.

"What, like a PBR?", I joked.

"Anything is better than Coors.", he stressed.

"I remember once, when I travelled through Australia, each region would have a bitter, a beer, which were much better than what we had up here. I remember Victoria Bitter, VB - loved that stuff...", I recalled.

"All right...let's try some of that action!", he said, snapping his fingers and pointing at me.

"I don't think they have that up here. But let me walk over to Garden Wine and Liquor on the corner of 7th and Park and see what that liquor store has. The guy who runs it is pretty cool and always has a good wine for me to try...", I remarked.

I walked over to the liquor store on 7th and Park. I have been going in there long enough that the guy knows me - I know him - but I still never remember his God damn name.

"Hey man! Do you have a beer list?", I asked.

The owner says, "Oh, no. What you see in the cooler is what I have...what are you lookin' for?"

"I want somethin' different. Nothing crazy, like beer made with prune juice or added caffeine. Just a good, tasty American beer to try.", I reply.

"I got some guys who are real beer connoisseurs, they make me get some of these beers.", he says gesturing to a variety of six-packs in the glass cooler, "Here is one...it's called HopDevil! Supposed to be made with some real good hops, and has a strong, remarkable taste to it."

"Sounds good, i'll try it.", I tell him.

I paid $9 for the six-pack, and went home, to try out the new ale with Jon.

"The mythical HopDevil resides in the lore of farmers. Our HopDevil is the real deal. Bold, spicy and menacingly delicious. He's the product of distinctive American hops and meticulous craftmanship. Arising from the heady winds of our Hopback and gently tamed with time, this Devil makes a great companion."

The Brewmasters of Victory: Bill & Ron

HopDevil is made from the Victory brewing company, which, from what I read on the website, have a whole slew of beers I never heard of.

I will be first to admit that I am not a beer expert. Don't expect me to wax philosophical about malty or hoppy beers and the finer points of what a REAL beer is. If you catch me at Dipper's or Moran's, I will more than likely be drinking a Captain and Coke - not beer. When I do drink beer, I drink Corona's or Yunegling's.

But I will do a quick rundown of the types of beers:

Ale - made with a top fermenting yeast, ales are described as "hearty, robust, and fruity."

Bitter - a mainstay in English pubs, this golden-brown draft ale is top-fermented, hoppy, dry, and lightly carbonated.

Lager - made with a bottom fermenting yeast, lagers are characteristically "smooth, elegant, crisp, and clean." Comparable to pilsener.

Stout - typically dark, heavy, and richly flavored, stout is "top-fermented beer made from pale malt, roasted unmalted barley, and often caramel malt."

HopDevil is an ale. It has 6.7% alcohol by volume. Whereas a Coors Light has 4% alcohol by volume. Do the math - drink 2 HopDevils is like drinking 3 Coors Light. You wanna get your drunk on?

The taste of HopDevil reminds me of a Bass Ale (which is 4.5% alcohol by volume), but with a softer finish. I think it would go great with steak, pork dishes or a nice, big, juicy burger.

On the first night, when we brought it home, it wasn't cold enough and I didn't enjoy it as much. But I let the icebox do it's thing - and i'm enjoying one right now as I write the review. Just remember - bring it home and make sure you get it nice and cold. This may require self-discipline, but the wait will be worth it.

In all, I would heartily say this is a fine ale, and absolutely worth every penny. Go to Garden Wine & Liquor Store on 700 Park in Hoboken or call for delivery: (201) 659-8241.

If you are interested in visiting Victory brewery/restaurant - guess where they are located? Downingtown, PA. Yep - it's a Philly brew, my friends.

Downingtown Tech Center, 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA. 610-873-0881. You can also contact them at: drink@victorybeer.com, and subscribe to "Victory Views" the Victory Beer newsletter.

Now, next time you are invited to a party, why not show up with a couple HopDevils under your arms. It will instantly be a conversation topic for the ladies (who will ask you questions about it) and the guys (who will be happy you brought something other than Budweiser or Amstel Light).

Posted by Furey at July 17, 2005 10:12 PM

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