Truth in advertising is a rare thing these days, even in the beer world. Large scale brewers claim their yellow fizzy creations are “drinkable,” companies with hundreds of breweries claim their ales will make you stand out in a crowd, and almost every company insists that its product can be all things to all people, forgetting that the jack of all trades is the master of none. The master brewers at Victory Brewing are a welcome exception to this rule, and they prove this with their HopDevil Ale, which delivers on its promises every step of the way.
HopDevil is designed to please a subsection of the beer drinking public – hopheads and only hopheads. Those who do not like hops would be well-advised to heed the label’s warning and drink something else entirely. HopDevil is an American-style India Pale Ale, a style of beer that is considerably hoppier even than the original, hoppy IPAs. This beer lives up to the style and its own name perfectly; it is hoppy in nose, flavor and finish, and absolutely demonic in its smoothness.
HopDevil pours a deep honey gold, with a cream colored head and a substantial lace. The nose is an interesting blend of floral hops and mild, chai-like spices. The hops dominate the flavor, as expected, but while the hoppy bitterness is strong, it won’t force you to make funny faces.
Interestingly, the finish is more malt than hops. It is not an overtly sweet finish, and the malt doesn’t overwhelm the hops, but it is still primarily malt that lingers. Usually, the lingering hops flavor common to IPAs slows progress through a beer; the bitter finish requires waiting for it to fade somewhat before the next sip is taken. This is where the beer lives up to the “Devil” in the name; the additional malt makes it a faster drink than many of the American IPAs on the market, despite the 6.7% alcohol content. This devilishness can be a benefit or a detriment, depending on the occasion.
The undeniable upside to HopDevil’s malt finish is that it allows the beer to serve as a good initiation to the wonderful world of hops for prospective hopheads. The hops are strong enough to let newbies know exactly what they are getting into, but the added smoothness from the malts helps to ease their transition into the genre.
After sampling HopDevil, I can’t wait to put Victory’s truth-in-advertising to the test, and try out their Old Horizontal.