Craft Beer Corner
Victory HopDevil Nitro IPA
by Cory Byrom
(Editor’s note: Cory Byrom, local craft beer enthusiast and home brewer from Peachtree City, shares his opinions on craft beer from all over the world.)
There are two ways bubbles get into your beer. The first is the old fashioned way: the beer is placed in a sealed vessel (bottle, cask, etc.) along with some form of sugar. The yeast in the beer consumes the sugar and produces carbon dioxide, which, with no way to escape, is absorbed by the liquid until the beer is opened, producing the fizz and head we all enjoy. The second, more common, way, is that the beer is placed into a vessel, then CO2 is pumped into it before sealing, where it once again gets absorbed by the beer. For most beers, it doesn't really matter which way the bubbles get in there. Bubbles are bubbles, right? But it turns out that's not always the case.
Crack open a can of Guinness (or better yet, order one on draft). Pour it into your glass and note how dense and creamy the head is. Watch that cool cascading effect as those tiny bubbles make their way down the side of the glass before floating back up. Then take a sip and you'll notice how smooth it is, both in texture and taste. What's the deal, here? Why are these bubbles different than the ones in that can of Bud Light? The answer is nitrogen.
Stouts, like the aforementioned Guinness, are the most common beers to be nitro carbonated. This makes sense, as the creamy head and smooth, softened flavors brought about by the nitrogen suits those malty, dark beers. But every now and then, a brewery gets a wild hair and experiments with something else, and that's how we ended up with Victory's HopDevil Nitro. HopDevil, the regular CO2 version, is a regular in Victory's lineup. It's a mighty American IPA, full of grainy hops with hints of citrus and pine. But when carbonated on nitrogen, it's so much smoother. Dare I say it's the smoothest IPA I've ever had? The hops flavors are there, certainly, but it lacks the bite of a normal IPA.
In the glass it's copper colored, and just like that dark Irish draft, the bubbles cascade down the side of the glass. We've seen this in dark beers before, but to view it in an IPA is pretty neat. And that creamy, rich head sits on top like the froth on a cappuccino. It's gorgeous and delicious. And did I mention smooth? The aroma is pretty similar to the regular version, if a bit milder, but the flavors are so much more rounded out. It's hoppy without being particularly bitter.
HopDevil Nitro is only available on draft, so keep an eye out for it. Several breweries have developed widgets that sit inside the can or bottle to re-create the draft experience of a nitrogen-carbonated beer (Guinness most famously, but Colorado's Left Hand Brewing Company also has a wonderful nitro-carbed milk stout available in bottles), but Victory hasn't gone that far just yet. I found this one at Taco Mac in Peachtree City, so area Taco Macs are probably a good place to look. Not only is it a good beer, but it gives you a chance to further understand just what's going on in beer that makes it taste, smell, and feel the way it does. Science and beer come together right before your very eyes! And it goes great with fish tacos!
(Editor’s note: HopDevil Nitro is currently only available at Taco Mac locations. Byrom tested his sample at the Peachtree City store.)
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(Cory Byrom is a stay-at-home dad to three young kids. He likes loud music and strong drinks, and in his spare time he enjoys listening to other people's stories. He hosts a monthly storytelling show in Atlanta called The Iceberg.)