Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Storm King Imperial Stout

Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown, PA

Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.1%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Greetings, fel … WHOOAAA!!!

Hold on, ya’ll, I need a minute.

Sorry about that. I was trying to greet my fellow Beer Dorks, but I took a sip of Victory’s Storm King Imperial Stout in mid-sentence, and it left me a bit speechless. Anyone familiar with my reviews knows that Nigel isn’t usually at a loss for words, which is why most of you have never actually read my reviews: you’ve hit the back button long before I actually get to the point. The fact that I was briefly silenced should be the first indication that Victory’s take on one of the finest beer styles out there, the Russian imperial stout, is absolutely fantastic. This is easily in my all-time Top 5, which has now grown to 19 entries.

First of all, a word on Victory Brewing. As you may know, we here at try to focus on the fine craft breweries of the Midwest, as we are all from various Midwestern locales and feel strongly about the need to drink locally. Victory Brewing is located in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia, and therefore is outside of our focus area. As much as Nigel hates East Coast bias (yes, national media, we all know New York, Boston, and Washington control the world), nobody can deny that the Northeast has some of the finest craft breweries anywhere. Besides, Nigel likes to think big, and including all regions of this fine country can only increase the likelihood that Eddie Glick actually sells one of those ridiculous thongs. After sampling a number of Victory brews, Nigel has this to say: I don’t care where the f--- they’re located, I LOVE their product, and I’m gonna keep reviewing them until “the man” revokes my access to this site.

As for the beer: once again, Nigel is drinking WAY out of season. It’s June here in Nigeland, and imperial stouts are definitely not intended to be warm-weather brews. Typically released in the dead of winter, this thick, warming, powerful style is meant to help us all forget those long, dark, bitter cold winter nights. As for drinking it on a 80 degree June evening? Well, it’s not the most refreshing brew out there, but it’s so damn tasty I couldn’t care less if I was in Murmansk in January or Grozny in July: it’s still amazing (try brushing up on your Russian geography if that last part made no sense). This is Victory’s winter seasonal, so stumbling across it in mid-June may help explain the massive amount of dust on the bottles. It also helps prove my point that people here in soon-to-be Old Nigeland have NO CLUE as to what good beer is.

Storm King pours surprisingly foamy for the style: a thick dark tan head on the pour slowly dissipates, leaving a very nice off-white trace throughout the drink. A dark, dark brown color in the glass like any imperial stout should be, Storm King isn’t so dark as to look like used motor oil—on the contrary, it has some life to it due to the higher than expected carbonation.

The aroma is … it’s … it’s PHENOMENAL! While the dominant aroma in most imperial stouts is typically the dark roasted malt, Victory has hops galore. Needless to say, this is Nigel’s wet dream come true (Nigel isn’t sure what a wet dream is, but he heard that terminology used somewhere, so I thought I’d use it here). The nostrils burst with the sweet aroma of the hop flower, that bitter tinge that sends Nigel into a tizzy. The taste reflects this orgasmic aromatic sensation. Yes, it’s an imperial stout complete with the complex flavor of sugary caramel, molasses, and roasted coffee. But, let me tell you—this is THE hoppiest stout of any kind that I’ve ever had. The initial taste is that of mild bitter hops, followed by sugary caramel malt, with a nice roasted nutiness and coffee aftertaste. Wow. Anyone who can create a ballsy stout that utilizes hops as a dominant ingredient is surely an evil genious far superior to Wile E. Coyote.

Storm King goes down surprisingly smooth for the style, leaving only a mild aftertaste. It’s definitely a heavy brew, though perhaps not as much as one would expect from an imperial stout. This is one of those rare brews that can be enjoyed by fans of a number of syles: Hopheads can finally rise in jubiliation for a winter brew that makes them feel at home, and fans of the darker, thicker brews will surely not be disappointed. If Nigel could just figure out what time of year he’s supposed to enjoy this fine brew, all would be right with the world.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 26, 2007.
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