Brew Review

Beer Review – Victory Home Grown American Lager


I don’t know about you, but with most things in life (and by things I mean items that I’m about to purchase), once I’ve done all of my research, I usually narrow my options so that I’m left with just two choices…

  • Honda or Toyota?
  • Nikon or Canon?
  • La Quinta or Hampton Inn?
  • Lager or Ale?

On the surface, while it looks like I may have narrowed things down to just two choices, the truth is that I still have some more decision making to do…

  • CR-V or RAV4; Accord or Camry; Pilot or Highlander; Corolla or Civic; Odyssey or Sienna?
  • Full-frame DSLR, DX frame DSLR, point and shoot?
  • Stay in town or stay by the airport; two queen sized beds or a king sized bed; city view, parking lot view, or pool/ocean view; free wifi, free parking, or a free breakfast?
  • Kolsch or Pale Ale; Lager or IPA; Pilsner or Stout?

When it comes time to decide on a car, camera, or hotel, you usually have some time to do all of the research and weigh all of your options (unless of course you’re the impulsive type who will be happy with pretty much anything as long as it does what you’re expecting it to do). But when you’re out for dinner or drinks, you generally don’t have the luxury of time, so choosing between a Lager or an Ale can be a little complicated, and the odds that you may not get exactly what you were expecting is pretty high given all of the experimentation going on in the Craft Beer industry since things like fruity IPAs, dry-hopped Saisons, Belgian IPAs, and all of the other Craft Beer hybrids out there are constantly messing with our heads. Case in point: Victory’s Home Grown New American Lager.

Victory has another Lager in their line-up and it goes by the name Helles Lager. It’s made with Pilsner malts, Tettnang Mittelfrueh hops, water, and a Lager yeast. I’m no brewing expert, but that sounds like a beer that conforms with the famous Reinheitsgebot, aka the Bavarian Beer Purity Law. While Victory’s Home Grown New American Lager is still made from hops, malt, water, and yeast, they’ve upped the total ingredient count to nine by using two malt varieties (Pilsner and CaraPils) and five hop varieties (Centennial, Mosaic, Azacca, Cascade, Chinook, and Citra). This added complexity tells me that there’s a good chance that this new brew isn’t gonna taste like what we’ve come to expect from a Lager, i.e. this isn’t gonna be a Bud, PBR, Yuengling, Miller, Coors, or even a St. Pauli Girl (this is a good thing as I’m no fan of THOSE brews). I guess the only way to see what they’ve done is to actually give it a try. We tried it, but before we get to our review, here’s what Victory has to say about their Home Grown New American Lager:

And now for our impressions…

  • Appearance: Golden yellow color. A fizzy, effervescent pour with minimal head and zero lacing.
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Surprisingly hoppy for a lager with a little pine and citrus.
    • G-LO: This is a Lager??? It sure doesn’t smell like one. Very juicy and aromatic with bright, citrusy hops followed by sweet biscuity malts, and a touch of honey.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Medium mouthfeel. A little flat without much carbonation. Flavorful and hoppy without being too hoppy, i.e. it has none of that off-putting resinous tang.
    • G-LO: I don’t think hardcore Lager drinkers are gonna like this! This ain’t no Yuengling. And it’s definitely not a PBR or a Budweiser (thank god!). This is very much a hopped up Prima Pils that inches towards a Pale Ale thanks to its bright, citrusy hoppiness. There’s a mild bitterness in the middle that increases as you get to the finish. Zesty lemon peel shows up at the end and lingers into the lightly bitter aftertaste.

The Verdict

Limpd: I am a fan of Lagers, and this is no Lager (and while we’re at it, Dan Quail was no Jack Kennedy!). That said, I can appreciate Victory’s continued craftiness and attempt to put a spin on what some might say is a somewhat boring style. The Home Grown New American Lager was refreshing, flavorful and well-crafted. If I’m looking for something with some hops without it being an IPA hop-bomb, I think this would certainly fit the bill.

G-LO: The following scene from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown popped into my head as I was reviewing Victory’s Home Grown New American Lager…

This isn’t the first time that I’ve referenced this scene from Chinatown in a beer review, and as long as brewers keep blurring the lines between styles, it most definitely won’t be the last time!

This is all that I kept hearing in my head as I was sampling this beer…

“It’s a Lager…
It’s a Pale Ale…
It’s a Lager!
It’s a Pale Ale!
It’s a Lager AND a Pale Ale!”

Frankly, it makes no difference to me if a beer is a Lager or an Ale. All I’m looking for is something well-crafted that tastes really good. This Victory beer is both well-crafted and tasty. I really liked it!

_______________________________________________________________

Many thanks to Victory Brewing Company for sending us this very generous sample!

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