Friday, July 20, 2012

Victory Brewing Dark Intrigue - Review

I took this apartment near Montrose Ave. in Chicago for a number of years.  The neighborhood was so bland it didn't even have a name.  Every other neighborhood in Chicago has a name - some of them, like Wrigleyville, are barely a square mile.  But they still have names.  No one could tell me what the name of this neighborhood was.  I heard everything from Ravenswood, to Uptown, to Andersonville, to Lakeview - even Graceland.  Well, I saw no Elvis sightings, but on my usual route home, walking up Greenview Ave., I always saw this guy in a basement apartment which had a window facing the sidewalk. You could easily look down into the apartment, and at night you'd see the blue light from the t.v. and a pair of men's feet propped up on a raggedy ottoman.  I never saw the guy's face; but every night I saw those same feet.  I always thought, there's one lonely guy.  You couldn't help but be a little intrigued by what this guy's life might be like.  Someday I figured I would walk by and finally see a pair of female feet next to his, cozying up together enjoying the telly.  In other words, this guy's life seemed to be a bit incomplete.  Intriguing but incomplete.  You can see where I'm going with this.  Because I also found this to be incomplete:



That would be a Victory Brewing Dark Intrigue.  Being a devoted lover of the brewery, I had to try this bourbon barreled Russian imperial stout to find out what the Downingtown brewmasters could do with some roasted malts and a whiskey-soaked oak barrel.   The answer is not that much.  I thought the nose was promising, with odors of roast, fresh baked pumpernickel, and smoky bourbon, plus a little vanilla.  They're not kidding about the color. This beer is cinder black. It has a medium to dense mouthfeel, never weighing down your tongue like a brick but certainly not flitting around your palate like some breezy Wit.  Dark Intrigue packs a punch in weight.  So does the flavor.  It attacks with bitter chocolate, mounds of earth, grain, roast, and a bit of bourbon.  The problem lies in the way the flavors suddenly erode like the side of Mt. St. Helens when it erupted, and quickly give way to nothing but the hotness of alcohol which burns like lava.  Well I've never swallowed lava but the alcohol burn on this is as close as I've come to digesting 2000 degree molten rock.   Whoa.  The finish was unremarkable.

In sum, this is a nice attempt by Victory but left me wanting.  It's got a curious package of bitter flavors and is softened around the edges by the oak and touch of sweetness.  The flavors drop out too much and too soon. It needs more of that sweetness on the finish. This isn't a bad beer by any stretch; it's just far short of what I hoped it would be based on its Victory pedigree.  As my buddy B, put it, "It's not that intriguing."  Don't go trading a rare Russian stout to get this one, even if your stout isn't barrel aged.  I doubt its an even trade.

3.7 of 5 stars.