Victory are the latest US brewery on the Irish scene, though I did happen across some Storm King in the Irish wild a couple of years ago. Whether or not that was sourced through official channels I do not know, but I do know that it was a simply gorgeous beer, so hopes were high enough with this pair I found in Bradley's.
Hop Devil is the flagship IPA of the bunch with a respectable 6.7% ABV. It's fairly highly regarded on those reliable beer review websites and it pours a crystal-malt-invoked red. I was expecting a waft of citrus and pine but instead found those characteristics buried under something more vegetal, herbal, almost minty and, unsurprisingly, everything is propped up with plenty of caramel. I'm not afraid of caramel in my US IPAs, which is just as well, as everything in the flavour of the beer is also supported by a thick base of the stuff. There's something more conventional and comforting about the lemon zest, orange and peach you find here, and the whole thing is rather precariously balanced but soft and easy to drink. It's satisfying and more round than you'd expect, and certainly worth a go.
The double IPA of the range is Dirt Wolf, though at 8.7% it's not dramatically bigger than the Devil. Surprisingly clear and paler than that beer too, this DIPA isn't simply a scaled-up rehash of its younger sibling. A juicy, bittersweet but ultimately subdued aroma greets the nose, but there's no such limpness on tasting; this is bitter and punchy, the kind of effect that puts you in mind of chewing grapefruit skins. Not for everyone, but when one buys an American IPA one usually wants this sort of hop abuse. With time the flavour begins to more closely resemble the rounder, more accessible aroma with candied pineapple and flashes of tutti frutti fighting through the grapefruit pith and peel that is the star of this particular show. In the end you get apricot and peach, all sweet and juicy. This is tongue-ravaging stuff that will scratch a major hop itch.
A good show from Victory, one of the more successful hoppy imports of late.