Victory Beer’s “Dirt Wolf” Double IPA

November 26, 2013

Sometimes beer brewers get bored with their routine. Flagship offerings aside, some of the core brands need a hiatus every now and then; retirement, even. Out with the old, in with the new.

When taking a beer out of the regular rotation, brewers run the risk of cheesing off a large percentage of their fan base. Take Sierra Nevada, for example, and the immediate social media backlash when they announced the discontinuation of their Tumbler fall seasonal. Even though the brewery spelled out the decision in great detail – largely a drop-off of sales – members of various beer review websites grabbed their torches and pitchforks and took to their keyboards to voice dissent online.

The other risk is that the replacement beer turns out poorly, although I feel that modern brewers are savvy enough to monitor the trends and adhere to flavorful recipes. The competition these days for space on the shelf and in the cooler has brewers going out of their way to make beer that doesn’t suck.

Sometimes the replacement beer is okay, on-par with its predecessor. Sometimes it’s even better.

I was a big fan of Victory Brewing Hop Wallop. I liked it for its massive hop profile, malt balance and thick texture. Hop Wallop had that slick feel due to the high amount of hop oil. To me, it was the epitome of a well-designed American imperial India pale ale.

I’m gonna miss it, but Victory’s new imperial – Dirt Wolf – is dazzling me even more. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s re-invigorated my palate towards IPA. Yeah, it’s that good!

Only on the market for a couple of months now, Dirt Wolf is being discussed in the same breath as iconic top-5 IPAs like Russian River’s Pliny The Elder and The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. Talk about making an impression!

Dirt Wolf is a very pretty shade of clear gold with a tall, fluffy head that settles to an everlasting cap leaving wide sheets of lacing. The scents are beautiful: pineapple, ambrosia, traces of grapefruit and light cracker malt. Using whole-cone hops brings out a big hop flavor yet Dirt Wolf isn’t intensely bitter. Chinook and Simcoe hops lay down some pine notes while Citra and Mosaic bring citrus, flowers and spice. Mango, grapefruit, spruce, tangerine and passion fruit flavors erupt but are quickly kept in check by a very solid malt sweet presence. Where Dirt Wolf differs from the old Hop Wallop is in its crisp body and long, lingering finish.

Excellent job on the substitution, Victory Brewing! You just gave me my new best beer friend!