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The Beer Circle » Baltic Porter, Beer, Beer Release, Breweries, Victory Brewing Co. » Victory Red Thunder: A Release to be Enjoyed

Victory Red Thunder: A Release to be Enjoyed

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Victory’s Brewery in Downingtown

I have never been all that into Porters, but when Victory announced they would release Red Thunder–Baltic Thunder aged in red wine barrels–on the day before Thanksgiving, dubbed Red Wednesday, I had to make sure I attended. I didn’t really know what to expect upon sampling Red Thunder and I think that only helped to enhance the release for me. It was my first beer to have been aged in red wine barrels and that, combined with my lack of exposure to porters–I usually go for IPAs and stouts especially of the imperial variety–made this an exciting new experience.

Victory is probably my favorite American brewery, ever. I’ll attribute a lot of that to the fact that I live within 15 miles of the place and frequent it. Up until recently, Victory operated out of a single brewing area combined with a restaurant and gift shop. Due to the immense growth that they have experienced within the past few years the owners have decided that its time to expand, which you can read more about on their website.

I was at the Dark Intrigue release last year with fellow Penn Stater Russ and was saddened that he could not share some of his beer knowledge with me for this release over a brew (or several). With that brief introduction let’s dive in.

Victory Red Thunder
The beer is very dark, as you would expect with a porter. I held mine up to what light I could find as it was a little dim in the morning at the restaurant. As soon as I did I was convinced that I could see a reddish hue coming through the beer. The pours from the bar had about a quarter inch of head with what I could consider a moderate amount of lacing, it does cling fairly well to the sides of the glass when consumed also. In hindsight, I should have bought Baltic Thunder to compare, but I had plans after the release, so I had to limit my consumption.
The aroma was confusing to me and I was a little disappointed by it, I couldn’t smell anything other than a malty and sweet scent. No hint of red wine here at all, which I think holds me back on giving it a higher rating.
The taste at first sip wasn’t anything overly different from the standard Baltic Thunder; as soon as you go to finish your sip you get hit with the red wine flavor. It’s not overpowering but it’s enough to let you know that this is no standard porter. Being a red wine drinker myself, I noticed the dryness reminded me of a merlot or cabernet sauvignon--I believe Victory used merlot barrels, although I was unable to confirm this. For a beer greater than 8.5% ABV you do not get a strong boozy taste either, which I like and definitely lends to the drinkability of this beer.
A dark bodied beer with average carbonation and the final taste of red wine makes for a highly drinkable porter. My favorite part is the subtleness of the red wine at the end of the sip and I had half of my beer consumed before breakfast even arrived. For the record I got the eggs benedict. It goes down very smooth for a stronger beer which can be dangerous. Like all beers I’ve had from Victory, this one does not disappoint in this category.
Bottles could be had for $8 per 750ml. When I consider the taste of this beer, the ABV, the size, and the complexity of it I’d consider this a steal. One bottle is definitely enough for the average drinker to be feeling alright and this will get you pretty far if you’re willing to share with a small group of people (assuming you can resist drinking it all yourself!).
This beer was a true experience to consume not knowing what to expect of a beer that has sat in red wine barrels, so I was thoroughly pleased. If you haven’t found this yet I would strongly consider calling your local store to see if they’re going to be getting any in stock or if you’re in the southeastern PA region I would stop at Victory. They easily had 100 (and probably more) cases of this left when I left the release.

Beer Stats
Style: Wine Barrel Aged Baltic Porter
Serving: On-tap
Size: 12oz
ABV: 8.50%
BA Score: N/A (4 Reviews)
RB Score: 68

Breakfast was as good as the beer!

I’d also like to take the next couple of paragraphs and compare the actual release event to that of the Dark Intrigue event that I attended last year with Russ.

No need to get to Victory at the crack of dawn for this, the doors were opening at 8am to serve breakfast (a first!). There was a general calmness probably because of the amount of beer on hand, as it seemed no one was going to get turned away from getting their heart’s desire. This to me was especially apparent as they were allowing individuals to get 2 cases if they chose because of the quantity of cases still available when I left.

The Menu

I got there with a friend I homebrew with right at 8am. We walked in, told the hostesses we wanted a table, and were seated immediately. You could tell that the kitchen/wait staff wasn’t fully prepared for the onslaught of beer-thirsty and food-hungry individuals who were about to cram orders in that early, but I can’t really blame them and half expected that to be a factor. This turned out to be fine because it allowed for more of a social we’re-here-for-the-release type of atmosphere. It also gave everyone a chance to enjoy the beer and not feel rushed to get in and get out. We ended up not leaving Victory until close to 10am.

With that said there was something fun about getting up at an ungodly hour to go stand in line before the place even opened for the Dark Intrigue release. For Dark Intrigue, Russ and I got there right about 7:15am and were within the first 15 people in line. We had about four hours to kill before we would get inside for a beer and food. Red Wednesday was the exact opposite, it was nice in some ways but again there is something to be said about showing up early for something you want…I’ll blame that on my time at Penn State and camping out for first row seats for football games.


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Written by J.B. Wawrzyniak (Guest Author)

J.B. is currently working in the financial sector of corporate America. When he is not busy trying to make the American people money, he's finalizing work for his pilot's license. Some of his favorite beers include IPAs and stouts, but really if it sounds intriguing enough he'll probably drink it. Non-beer drinks that are also a favorite include bourbon, scotch, and your dryer red wines (cabernets and merlots). You can find him purchasing all of this booze at Wegman's, Hop Shop when he occasionally gets back to his alma mater, or across state lines in Delaware (total wine anyone?). J.B. had the distinct pleasure of attending Penn State which is where he met Russ and Garrett.

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