Why did I wait so long to try Victory Dirt Wolf Double IPA? I don’t know to be honest, but now that I’ve tried it, I’m hooked. That should not surprise, though, since just about every beer I’ve ever had from Downingtown, Pennsylvania’s Victory has been spectacular. I’ve been to the brewery several times since the nineties, and Victory remains one of my very favorite American brewers.
This isn’t Victory’s first Double IPA, mind you. That honor falls to Hop Wallop, which the Dirt Wolf seems to replace. The idea is to concoct a new version of the style using some of the newer hop varieties like Mosaic that are available today.
Before we get into the beer in more depth, I’d like to travel down memory lane and tell you about the glass in the photo at right. This glass is one of the crown jewels in my collection, because I bought it at the brewery the first time I visited. I was there with my dad (this was back in the 90s) and we were drinking beer together. What memories!
Funny the things you remember over time, but the glass is more important because my dad was there (he was born in Philly) than because it was the first trip for me to Victory. Anyway, we had a hell of a time finding the place (this was before GPS), and the directions we got from the bartender were not too good, When we finally arrived, my dad bellied up to the bar and roared "You owe this kid a beer!". He was a character, and was wearing a plain white T-Shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve like James Dean in a 50s movie. There must have been something intimidating about that, though, because I got that beer on the house just as he asked for.....
Of course, Victory Dirt Wolf was no on the menu at the time, nor was Hop Wallop for that matter. If it were, I am sure Victory would have told us the following about it as they do today on the label:
Darkly heroic, Humulus Lupulus (hops) have empowered brews with bite and character since the 11th century. DirtWolf is a tribute to these untamed vines which rise from the earth with the voracity of a “wolf among sheep.” Hops have made an assertive comeback in American craft brewing. Revel in the best U.S. varieties of hops, in their natural, whole flower form, as they bring a vital, pungent reality to the soul of a wild element in our dangerously satisfying DirtWolf.
Ingredients from the website:
Malt: Imported two-row malts
Hops: Whole flower Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops
Victory Dirt Wolf has an alcohol content of 8.7% by volume, IBUs are not given. I paid $9.99 for a four-pack here in Georgia.
Victory Dirt Wolf Double IPA pours to a bright orange amber color with a thick creamy head and a citric grapefruit and juicy passion fruit spicy hop nose. Taking a sip, the beer has a big chewy caramel malt flavor up front followed by tons and tons of hops: bursting with juicy fruity passion fruit from the Mosaics, grapefruit citric, slightly resiny, and long and dry and bitter in the finish. Warming alcohol is there, too. Bravo for the way they fold in the modern hops with fruit and bitterness into a sold malt base.
The amazing thing here is balance of malt and hop in such a big beer. It’s not easy to pull off a balanced double IPA and still retain the essence of the style, but Victory has done exactly that here. Bravo Victory! This is one for the record books.
Update 9/27/2014: Victory Dirt Wolf at Taco Mac. Even better on draft than in the bottle. Very intense passion fruit and grapefruit, light smooth maltiness, tropical pineapple, huge bitter finish. $6.50 for 11 ounces. That's the one drawback, this one is rather expensive in the bottle and on tap these days. Victory used to ship in full kegs so that we got a full mug pour on beers as strong as Golden Monkey and Storm King. Dirt Wolf came in an 11 ounce glass, and a half star off the previous 5 rating for that,
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.