Class in a Glass: Victory Brewing’s Old Horizontal, Welcome Back

I don’t remember when I first read it.  Well, you never really do, do you?  After all, it’s not like it was one of those drastic life altering events that are forever ingrained into your mental calendar.  Kind of like that flat tire you got one day – after a while you just remember that you had one, but the date is lost forever.

What do the interweb kids say?  FML?  Yeah, that felt right.  But I hate that phrase.  Not because I have some prudish loathing for the word represented by the first letter in the acronym.  Oh no, I’m very comfortable with that word; perhaps more comfortable than I should be.

No, it just seems that today people throw those letters around with casual abandon, the severity of event never really living up to the harsh curse represented by the acronym.

“I couldn’t find my keys this morning and I was 20 minutes late to work.  FML!”

“I wanted to get tickets to the show, but they’ve already sold out.  FML.”

“I burned the rice for dinner and had to make it twice.  Who burns rice? FML”

Probably just me, but I’ve always felt you can’t say FML until a doctor tells you your child has cancer; or your house burns down a week before the holidays.  True tragedies.  FML shouldn’t be applied to something that will be forgotten in a few days, if not a few hours, and turn out to have no real lasting negative impact on your life.

But the words I’d just read kept running around inside my mind.  In the grand scheme of things, nothing really – hell I didn’t lose an ounce of sleep over it.  I eventually ended up making a joke about it.  But still.  There it was.

“In order to keep up with the demand for our core brands like HopDevil, Prima Pils, Golden Monkey and Headwaters Pale Ale, we have to take a pass on brewing our dear Old Horizontal.” – Victory Blog, November 1st 2011.


Old Horizontal is one of my favorite Victory beers, if not one of my overall favorites in the craft beer world.  Thick, rich, malty, boozy goodness that warms your insides on a blustery winter’s night.  Of course as I said, in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t anything earth shattering.  I was pretty sure Victory would get back to brewing OH eventually, it’s a very popular beer, probably sometime around the opening of the new Parkesburg facility (Victory ran their first full test brew at the new location on October 30th with a batch of Hop Devil).  And there was always Weyerbacher’s awesome Blithering Idiot to fill the void.  Never a bad thing.

Still I couldn’t help to take some friendly jabs at Victory.  When someone would ask me if I’d tried a new beer they’d recently released I’d always return with, “You know, if they didn’t bother with that maybe they’d have the capacity to brew OH.”  Whenever Victory was mentioned I’d simply state how they were on my shit list until OH returned to the shelves.  Well, last week Victory officially moved off my shit list.

There it was on the shelf.  The slumbering moon calling to me.  Apparently, Victory has traded in the previous six-packs for bomber bottles but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  The best part is that this was a total surprise.  Some how in all the flotsam and jetsam of the craft beer world, I’d missed that it was coming back.

But with the elation of discovery, comes the fear of letdown.  Is it the same as it was?  Did Victory tinker with the recipe?  Maybe my palate has changed and I won’t love it anymore?  After all, it’s been almost three years since it was last on shelves.  What did Spock say on Star Trek?  That “…sometimes having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting.”

Yeah…….I’m betting that’s probably bullshit.  Let’s taste.

THEM:  As can be the case, Victory doesn’t say much about their beer as far as the ingredients go.  Their website alludes to 2-row, German malts and whole flower American hops.  Beyond that?  Not much.  Oh, and that it’s a respectable 11% ABV.  That’s fine, saves me on typing and allows me to just open the beer already.

ME:  Yummy.  Old Horizontal is big, no doubt.  Caramel, dark fruit, and citrus aromas glide from the glass to your nose on a sliding board of booze that gives the beer an almost sherry or whiskey essence.  The flavor is more of the same, although there’s a surprising amount of fruit in the mix – raisins, cherries and something which comes across to me like oranges.  There’s also a touch of earthiness (I’ve heard some describe it as tobacco, I’d go with that) in the mix, and after a bit a subtle touch of pine notes.  You can tell by what I’ve written already that OH doesn’t hide it’s 11% in the least.  If you’re one of those people who like booze to be firmly in the back seat for your zymological joy rides, then this certainly isn’t the glass for you.  OH is well carbonated with a pretty aggressive head in the beginning but eventually fades to a nice ring around the glass and some quality lacing.  In the light, the beer comes off as dark amber, but as the glass flashes around more in the shadows, the beer takes on an almost cherry hue to it.

Victory describes this as fruit cake in a glass, and I couldn’t think of a better description.  Thick, earthy, citrusy, and some boozy warmth.  And like most fruitcakes, you just can’t pound it down.  This is a beer for slowly enjoying, either after a meal, by a fire or after shoveling 6 inches of snow off your driveway.

Sorry Spock, but in this case having is definitely more pleasing than wanting.  Thanks for bringing it back Victory.

Time for another beer.

The Final Sip – Besides their new Parkesburg brewery, Victory broke ground on Nov 1st on what will be its newest brewpub.  The establishment will be located on the corner of Cypress and Mill Streets in Kennett Square, Pa.

Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

6 thoughts on “Class in a Glass: Victory Brewing’s Old Horizontal, Welcome Back”

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