Sure Thanksgiving was last week but the real holiday came the day before on Dark Wednesday in Downingtown, PA where I joined hundreds of other thirsty folks for the 2nd (and possibly final) release of Victory Brewing Company's Dark Intrigue which is the bourbon barrel aged incarnation of their already delectable Storm King Stout. The first batch was released last year and having thoroughly enjoyed the two bottles I was lucky to grab there was no way I was going to miss the event so I could grab myself a case.
The brewery's retail shop would not open until 11:30 am but Mer and I set out alarm clock a bit earlier so we could get in line around 9 am. Obviously I have the greatest girlfriend in the world, she came along even under the threat of thunderstorms. The parking lot was nearly filled when we arrived and as we walked up to the brewery we saw a pretty substantial line that had already formed. We wound up being numbers 132 and 133 in line, a comfortable spot with 300 cases to be sold.
I have to say that Victory handled the event magnificently. A few minutes after arriving we received wristbands with our numbers on them which would hold our place in line as well as serve as our tickets for the raffle prizes which were handed out every 10 minutes. If there is one way to keep hundreds of bored beer geeks happy, other than beer, it would have to be beer swag. One Village Coffee was also on site providing free coffee and snacks to the masses. These are the same awesome people that Victory teamed up with to brew their Victory Village, an equally awesome coffee-brown ale that actually inspired my own Ugly Mug.
The sense of comradery and enthusiasm amidst the crowd was not unlike that of a line for a midnight movie premiere. Luckily, the kind of douchery that can taint such events was totally absent. We made friends with the guy in front of us who left his New York home at 5 am to be there. I figured he had fallen in love with it last year but was pretty shocked to hear that he hadn't ever had it but heard such good things that he needed to make the trip. Not only was he getting a whole case but once he realized that Mer was just along for the ride he asked if she would grab him a case as well. So he went home with two cases without even knowing if he would enjoy it. Quite a leap of faith and quite the commitment, cheers sir.
Dark Intrigue was also available on tap so my first choice was a no brainer since no bottles were allowed to be opened. After one sip I was quickly reminded why I had just waited in line for nearly 4 hours for some beer, it is just delicious. Not only do you get the roasty chocolate character of the Storm King but there is that umph of bourbon and vanilla that make it oh so delectable. You'll definitely get a boozy burn on the finish but it is full bodied enough to back it up and deliver a rich, creamy, and still pretty hoppy stout. I'm obviously a big fan of this one and can't wait to stow a few bottles away to see what happens.
After another 45 minute wait we were more than ready to sit down for lunch. My smoked BBQ pork sandwich hit the spot like none other while Mer enjoyed her mighty cheesesteak, the leftovers were lovingly offered to me so I can assure you that it was in fact mighty. Our booth was at the end of the bar where the line for growler fills was positioned, this was the main focus of our meal. I could not believe how long people were waiting to fill their growlers. People were coming in with 3 or 4 growlers and were waiting at least 45 minutes to get them filled. They weren't doing Dark Intrigue fills so I'm not sure what all the fuss was about but it was impressive and/or crazy.
This was my first big beer release event, us East Coasters don't seem to get the chance to line up for this stuff all that often. I have to give it up to Victory for handling it so well, with that many anxious people milling about it could have gone either way but the whole event went quite smoothly. Some of my bottles are reserved for friends but I look forward to enjoying some over the holidays and of course stashing a some away for a few years. If this is distributed in your area it should just be hitting the shelves so I would definitely recommend seeking out a bottle or two and "discover the dark intrigue" for yourself.
Victory Brewing Company
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335
420 Acorn Lane
Downingtown, PA 19335