Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Storm King Imperial Stout

My interest in Victory Brewing beers started back at the beginning of the year when a couple of my Philadelphia-area friends couldn't stop talking about them. Great, another reason to hate Florida, where they were not available! So I started developing my strategy for getting those beers here. One of my co-workers struck out on a few northeast business trips. So I casually dropped a comment on the Victory website, wondering out loud when they'd be distributing them near me.

Well, I got a prompt reply back on July 7 from Brewmaster and President Bill Covaleski. He told me that consumer interest in Florida has been high for years and that they were just starting to put together their Florida distribution plan. Now, I've heard that before, so I pretty much took it as a canned BS answer. Regardless, it is so super cool when the highest levels of a company still respond to customer service questions and comments, even if they use phrases like "slaking your thirst". Awesome like this.

Three months later, and I happened upon a list of places in Florida that Victory beers are sold. No shit! Bill's comment wasn't a line to get rid of me after all, and all of a sudden I had a place to buy the beer. Since BFF Total Wine wasn't listed there, on the way home from work last night I stopped by this strip mall liquor store to get me some. There were no other customers in this dive, three people "working," no eye contact, no help. I walked to the refrigerator where I think they had their entire beer selection. Very weak in options. No Victory either. So on my way to ask the three no-helps, I saw two cases of Victory beer, one Prima Pils and one Hop Devil, so I knew I was in luck.

Wrong! Those cases plus two behind them were "labeled to be shipped back" if you can believe that shit. I told her my looking for this beer story, so she called some dude. They had no idea the price, at which point she told me that these beers have no following in Florida. How could they possibly know that considering it's only been available for two weeks here? In the end, I left my number with these retards and I told them to give me a call "in case they felt like selling beer they have sitting on their floor". Over a day later, still no call. Unbelievable for a no-customer business!

In an effort to avoid the kings of idiotness (those three no-helps), I summoned insider Total Wine corporate guru RH, begging him to confirm positively that Total Wine Pembroke Pines would be carrying this brand. Very promptly, and even after 6pm, not only did I get a detailed reply confirming an expected delivery today, but also a list of which beers would be in that delivery. I called the store this afternoon to make sure the delivery took place, and although the guy on the other end sounded completely caught off guard by my question and surprised that I would know about this delivery, he confirmed that he was actually looking at the cases as we spoke. I told him I'd see him later. I must admit that I'm feeling quite a bit like James Bond with this whole thing, just much less British!

So I arrived at Total Wine, incognito, with my three year old in tow to throw them off the scent. Actually, after a brief look around the store, I asked one of the managers where I can get the Victory brews. He then identified me as the caller from earlier, blowing my cover. To the back of the store, he went to Employees Only area, I stopped. Then he started bringing one of each, one sixer of each of the five delivered, which I then corrected to one bottle of each, for now. (God, I am such a pain in the ass! Please help those around me.) Nice dude.

One last test for my BFF today. Yep, I printed the $1 off coupon again to see if my mixed sixer (I added some other random one to complete the five from Victory, because the coupon is for a 4- or 6-pack and Jesus help me try to pass a 5-pack after my 12-pack fight just a few weeks ago. Actually the Assistant Manager who gave me a legitimately hard time that day was in the back of the store, anyway.) To make things better, I got the same cashier that told me she couldn't process that coupon with a 12-pack without a manager last time, so I'm figuring about 15% chance I don't meet any resistance today. Nope, my mixed sixer was a six pack, was over the minimum dollar amount, and I got zero shit. On my way. See you soon!

What are the reasons I am going to such great lengths to get these beers today? Great question and thanks for asking! The Phillies start their World Series defense tonight against the Yankees and I can't think of a better brand than Victory to be drinking during the game, especially considering brewery HQ Downingtown is the Phils home turf.

Now I have five Victory Brewing choices to pick from tonight, and two more soon, so I'm told. There are two that I've been so aching to try, so I picked one of them, Storm King Imperial Stout. The label on this makes it sound delicious, so needless to say, I have extremely high expectations. Let's go!

The aroma is very nice, dominated by chocolate and coffee. You will start out with dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors in your mouth. Some burnt and nutty flavors also are present but not nearly the boss of this beer. Light hops make the beer slightly bitter. That coffee flavor lingers on and on and on. Wow, this is a smooth and creamy beer, at least for most of the way through it. Toward the end, a little bit of the 9.1% alcohol provides a slight kick and warming sensation, and that feeling is accentuated by the medium-upper level carbonation. The thick body covers your entire mouth for the entire bottle, and there is a great aftertaste that lasts for a long time. I will drink this again. Love it!

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