Reviewed: Victory No Brainer IPA
Official description: Take guessing out of the equation because this one is a NO BRAINER. Our brewers have been putting in the work at the chalkboard drawing up the perfect formula for this IPA so that you can spend your time doing nothing but easy drinking. Our proprietary HopVic technology slings all natural American Hops that open up big aromas and flavors that compliment any occasion. Malt: Pilsner, CaraPils. Hops: Mandarina, Citra, Centennial, Azacca. 6.8% ABV, 55 IBUs.
Victory Brewing Company – Victory No Brainer IPA – 12oz can served in stemless snifter – 6.8% ABV
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure to review a new IPA from Victory. In fact, the very first review I wrote for The Full Pint was on Victory Vital IPA in 2016. New for 2019, No Brainer IPA joins Victory’s core lineup along with Cloud Walker Hazy Juicy IPA and Twisted Monkey, a Belgian blonde with mango.
I’m sampling this from a 6-pack of 12oz cans that comes in a paper carton – the best packaging in the industry, in my opinion, à la Firestone Walker and Stone Brewing. However, it was tough to find the packaging date on this carton. Hidden away in the top left corner of one of the box ends is an “Enjoy By” date of July 14th, 2019. Similarly, on the bottom of each can is the same Enjoy By date. Such a date isn’t very helpful without knowing the brewery’s own freshness window for the beer. I’m going to guess the window on this beer is 5 months, so this was most likely packaged on February 14th. Regardless, Victory could certainly stand to give consumers a more legible date on the carton and divulge both the enjoy by date and the packaging date. Stone Brewing does this, for instance.
Enough business talk, let’s dig into this beer. Into my glass, No Brainer IPA is crystal clear, pale straw in color with lively carbonation. Impressive off-white foam rises up nearly out of the glass with a variety of bubble sizes and rocky topography. For the aroma, No Brainer is incredibly different from the IPAs I’m used to here in Southern California. You get lemongrass, super fresh bread like walking into a French bakery, buttery brioche, lemon pound cake, and tons of Victory’s famous pilsner malt that makes their hoppy lagers so exquisite. In the background, there’s sweet guava paste too.
With the first sip, this beer presents as ultra-dry for the style and bitterness is thus nicely exaggerated. No Brainer is a snappy, pilsner malt-focused, grassy hop bomb that answers the question, “How to turn a pilsner into an IPA?” or perhaps vice-versa. There’s also a building acidity in the back of the palate like wet sourdough. This is so dry, so clean, and so grassy hop focused; it resembles hardly any IPA I’ve ever had before. And for that reason, I absolutely love it.
Victory’s greatest beer, in my opinion, is Prima Pils. That beer is an American classic and is the archetype for the modern interpretation of the style. With No Brainer, Victory brings a similar gravitas. Overall bitterness is sitting at an 8/10 while sweetness is barely a 2/10. Despite that spread, No Brainer is far from being abrasive or unenjoyable. Instead, you get an incredible hop fix wrapped up in a clean, quenching vehicle that puts most lagers to shame. Like other Victory beers, I’m most impressed with the base malt flavors. The graininess of the beer gives it a farmy, handmade quality. There’s so much depth to appreciate here similar to what I find in most Sierra Nevada products.
Overall, this was quite the experience. IPA fans will find Victory’s No Brainer to take a completely different approach to the modern, clear IPA compared to California breweries. For me, this represents the best of both worlds. You get a solid punch of kettle hop bitterness but then you have the clean finish of a pale lager and tons of snappy pilsner malt character. It may be off-putting for some to have an IPA so crisp and dry, but it may be a dream beer for others like me.
No Brainer is one of the best beers I’ve had in a long time.
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