A very American pale ale from Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA. 5.1% ABV
Victory’s brewing water comes from the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek, traveling a mere 14 miles from the source. Thus, the name Headwaters.
As noted on the label of this beer, water plays a critical role in brewing. Some beer styles came to be because of the nature and mineral content of the water locally available; examples include Dublin’s naturally hard water and Irish stouts, the high gypsum content of Burton upon Trent’s water and those classic English pale ales, and the soft water of Pilsen in the Czech Republic and true Pilsener beer. All distinctive world-class styles, to be sure. But all beer-making relies on having good, clean, potable water. So Victory made it a point with this beer to highlight that fact, and donates a penny from every bottle sold to The Headwaters Grant, which distributes funds to environmental advocacy groups that help protect our precious natural water resources.
Well, that’s all well and good, you say; but how is the beer? I’m glad you asked, ‘cuz here we go…
Headwaters the beer pours a clear pale amber hue with a light beige head that starts out at over a finger’s width before slowly settling out to a thin layer and collar with a few large bubbles.
I get a pleasant and appetizing aroma of citric American hops, with grapefruit, orange, pine, and a bit of a catty note, too. Some sweet malt is discernible in the background.
Body is just on the lighter side of medium, with some carbonation bite and a fine bead, but smooth overall.
Flavors show a distinct catty hop note up front with a little sharp bite to it, then tart grapefruit rind, bitter orange, a moderate bitterness, and some toasty malt underneath. A bit of piney, resiny hops late, with a lengthy hoppy-bitter finish. I wasn’t quite expecting this much hops; it could fit in as a session IPA in my mind. A tad more orange is evident late after the grapefruit and pine fade. Leaves behind some foamy lace on the glass.
I really enjoyed this one. Nice and hoppy, yet not heavy or filling. I could see pairing this with a good charcoal-grilled burger (especially a black & bleu burger), a Buffalo chicken sandwich, beer-battered onion rings or fried mushrooms, or nachos (and please, not those things with melted orange “cheese” sauce – I’m talking real shredded cheddar atop crispy golden tortilla chips, strewn with pickled jalapeño rings, and baked until melty and bubbly).
Rating Appearance: 4/5 Aroma: 8/10 Palate: 4/5 Flavor: 8/10 Overall: 16/20