Fearful Symmetries

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28 June, 2016

I've Got Sunshine in My Stomach: Cage Radler by Victory Brewing Company



I am going to bring my radler mini-marathon to a close today with Cage Radler from Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing.

Victory is a veteran of a thousand craft wars having been formed in 1996. They made the news recently when they became part of Artisinal Brewing Ventures, a holding company that, um, holds, Southern Tier as well. Beyond this, I rarely hear about Victory. I suppose that's misleading. Their Prima Pils is highly regarded but I just don't see their other beers getting mentioned very often. I've not had many of their brews, admittedly, but will attest that Prima Pils is very tasty and they also make a mean Kirsch gose.

I just don't hear about people eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new Victory IPA. Then again, this may just be my narrow window on the microbrewing world. And my understanding is that the brewery does not have a rep in Madison which I'd imagine would limit promotional efforts such as tap takeovers.

My perceptions, however misguided, aside, I was happy to hear earlier this year that Victory would be releasing a radler. I drink a fair amount of them during the summer and finding a good one at a better price than Stiegl would be great. The brewery has a good mix of lagers and German styles and trendier ones such as Citra-laced IPAs and I was confident that they would do a good job.

Completely tangentially, a couple friends came over this past weekend and we sat out on my deck in the 90° heat. I was drinking lagers when a my friend opened a New Glarus variety pack. I decided to give a Moon Man (an APA, I suppose) a shot. It surprised me just how much of a chore it was to drink it. But drink it I did and I even finished the bottle. I immediately grabbed a Cage Radler afterwards to get the taste of all those hops out of my mouth and just to have something better suited to my hot weather quaffing taste.

Victory describes Cage Radler as a blend of lager and citrus. At 3% A.B.V. it seemed to be a real radler instead of a lighter beer with flavoring added. But the fine print says "Beer with lemon extract". D'oh! The bier was a bright, light yellow and, strangely enough, very cloudy. Is the base bier some kind of wheat pils? Or perhaps they just decided to forgo filtering/centrifuging. Regardless this stuff was almost opaque.

To complement the sunny yellow hue, my glass got a big white head on it. It was on the firm side and lasted a while. Again, my mug was dirty and so was lined with bubbles. The first pour cleaned it, however, and it looked much better after that. There was a goodly amount of bubbles inside heading on up.

The aroma was lemomy, as in lemon juice from concentrate. My mind envisioned those green ReaLemon bottles. It has a slight tartness to it. The taste had that same reconstituted lemon juice flavor to it. Citrusy tartness was moderate and there was sweetness which was just a tad stronger than the tartness. The carbonation was bright and tingly and the brew as a whole had a tangy acidity to it.

For the finish the lemony tartness and the sweetness lingered. My mouth was also left with a mild acidic tang. Schaumhaftvermoegen was minimal with just a few spots of foam left clinging.

Cage was by far the best brew to call itself a radler in my recent radler/shandy binge. It was light-bodied and bubbly plus it had relatively little alcohol. However, the lemon extract was disappointing. It didn't taste bad but reconstituted lemon juice has a flavor to me that lacks the bright zestiness of the fresh stuff while also tasting too real to be soda. It doesn't clearly occupy a neat, tidy category. It's juice queer, if you will. Beyond this, though, I really liked how it balanced tartness and sweetness.

I will also mentioned that I did not taste any bier in Cage. This made me dock it a few points but this is not a big deal for me. Sure, it does mean that Cage, had it a better lemon flavor, could not have entered the hallowed upper echelon of radler goodness currently occupied by Stiegl, but first things first.

Junk food pairing: Cage goes well with more traditional junk foods. Try some Lay's Beer 'n Brats potato chips or a bag of white cheddar popcorn.

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|| Palmer, 5:42 AM

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