After my first few bottles of Victory’s Home Grown New American Lager, I was going to write that it might be just the beer for anyone feeling a little burnt out on the juicy hazy NEIPAs. But then a friend came back from a family vacation in New England and shared some IPAs from Bissell Brothers and Tree House and I’m left wondering how anyone could be burnt out on that.
So maybe you're burnt out on less than stellar attempts at that NEIPA style by a brewery hundreds or thousands of miles from wherever New England starts or ends. Or maybe you’re 100% all in on haze and juice and your beer fridge is bursting at the seams with beautiful can after beautiful can.
Personally, I exist somewhere in the middle, as I imagine most people do.
Honestly, I don’t even have a beer fridge. I just have a fridge. It’s in my kitchen. I mostly keep food in it. But occasionally I buy an entire case of beer and get to play a fun game of “Where Can I Fit All These Bottles?” I hesitate to call it a game of chance, but I’m near certain that luck, along with creativity and exceptional spatial reasoning, plays an important role. Especially when the crisper is already occupied.
Recently, I played that very game with a case of the aforementioned Home Grown New American Lager. I’d say I bought on a whim, but whim isn’t really the right word. Much like a round of “Where Can I Fit All These Bottles?”, my decision was based on a limited scope of prior knowledge and years of experience.
You see, it was years ago that I bought Victory’s Prima Pils truly on a whim, knowing only that I was in the mood for a German Pilsner and that the beer distributor I was at had none. It was that whimsical purchase that started me on a beer journey that I suspect everyone reading this is also on, in one form or another. Eventually, fate and my proximity to the city of Philadelphia led me to discover Victory’s Braumeister Pils, a draft-only Keller Pils, that in my opinion, is one of the finest pilsners in all the land.
The first sip of Home Grown is one of those sips that contains everything that had only been hinted at up until that point, and in all the right places.”
So seeing a new 4.8% alcohol by volume lager from what I consider to be a trusted lager source, the decision to purchase it was a no-brainer. It wasn’t until much later that day, after the aforementioned game of “Where Can I Fit All These Bottles” (difficulty level medium), and after I poured my first bottle and saw that slightly hazy, golden color, and after I faintly smelled the wonderful aromatic mixture of bright citrus and earthy pilsner malt, all while the beer was still an arm’s length away, that I learned that this lager, this Home Grown Lager, that smells so very enticing from a relatively moderate distance, was hopped with Azacca (a hop I first fell in love with thanks to Victory’s own seasonal IPA Hop Ranch), Centennial, Chinook, Cascade, Citra, and (wait for it…) Mosaic.
Armed with that six hop knowledge and now trembling with excitement (not really, as picking up a beer while trembling is not easy), I brought the beer closer and there was a lovely citrus rind and stone fruit sweetness layered with just enough resinous pine. Later, I poured one while standing next to my Wife in the kitchen and she remarked, “Is that a new IPA?”
The first sip of Home Grown is one of those sips that contains everything that had only been hinted at up until that point, and in all the right places. A slight fruitiness upfront, then some citrus and pine, floating on top of an almost dry cracker, with the clean and crisp finish of a lager, mixed with just enough resinous bitterness. The aftertaste keeps that mix going, with the scales tipped maybe a bit more toward hop bitterness, just long enough to keep you out of a constant “smell, sip, repeat” cycle.
It’s all just light enough to still be delicious and sessionable and my only regret is that I haven’t been drinking this since June. I want to say the beer has that pillowy, well-made, lager feel. And really, that is all I want to say about this beer because I don’t want to go further and say that it feels like there is a yellow cloud inside my mouth.
So, on that note, this review is over.