Victory Hop Devil and Hermanos Fish Tacos

On my way home from my favorite beer store, Gilmore Wines & Spirits, I always drive by Hermanos Taco Shop. I first heard about it from a not-so-reliable source, i.e. a well-marketed food blog, which didn’t post all-too-great reviews either. However, a friend recommended this to me, saying their fish tacos were to die for, so I decided to pull over after grabbing my haul of newly-arrived Victory and Hitachino Nest craft beers a couple weeks ago.

The fish tacos were indeed the best I’ve tried yet here in the Philippines. However, that’s still not saying much. The fish was juicy, the batter crisp, and the flavors were there, but I wanted a fish taco that packed a bit more, especially by way of sauce and filling. This recipe for beer-battered fish tacos from The Paupered Chef, which I will probably never have the patience to try out (not to mention my fear of working with flour and dough) is what comes to mind.

Hermanos is also known for its rolled beef tacos and burritos. It’s also frequented by celebrities, as attested by their photo wall. Interestingly, one of the more prominent celebs is German “Kuya Germs” Moreno, who performed their ribbon cutting. Interesting because of the phonetic similarities between the store and his name. Maybe he owns the place and the story behind the Hermanos name is more narcissistic than regional. At any rate, drop by their place on the East lane of the San Juan side of Ortigas Avenue, at the Petron gas station coming from N. Domingo St. Do what I do, and grab some beers from Gilmore Wines first.

The HopDevil is Victory Beer from Pennsylvania’s IPA offering, using not quite patented hopback technique. Per Wikipedia,

hopback is a sealed chamber that is inserted in between the brewing kettle and counter-flow wort chiller. Hops are added to the chamber, the hot wort from the kettle is run through it, and then immediately cooled in the wort chiller before entering the fermentation chamber. It facilitates maximum retention of volatile hop aroma compounds that would normally be driven off when the hops contact the hot wort. Because it is a sealed chamber, the volatile hop compounds are trapped in the hot wort, and then the wort is immediately cooled, which keeps the volatile compounds in solution. 

I poured the Victory Hop Devil into a tulip glass, and it surprised me with its color. It was a deep, burnt sienna, making it one of the darker IPAs I’ve ever come across (that’s not a Black IPA/Cascadian dark ale), with a thin head and thin soapy lacing.
The smell was just as shocking for me, as I detected mostly caramel and malt, with some subdued floral hops. The nose was refreshing and sweet by all means, but in no way what I expected. Although, when I think about it, the Hop Devil reminds me a bit of Stone Arrogant Bastard.
The taste had more of the nose, with a cakey, sweet bread (I’m referring to mamon, not innards, by the way) character. This ended with slight hop bitterness in the finish that doesn’t linger long. This was much more malt sweetness than I’m used to in an IPA.
In terms of mouthfeel, it seemed to have a bit more body than most IPAs, but it was nonetheless very smooth.
Overall, this was not quite what I expected from an IPA, but don’t get me wrong – it’s a damn fine beer. The hops are way too mellow, but then again, that’s what can be expected from an east-coast style IPA; at least, based on what I’ve heard. I don’t really know how to score this, so I won’t. As far as IPAs go, this is not what I really look for.

One noticeable effect of Victory Beers, especially their hoppier brews, is that they tend to make people drowsy. Hops are a natural sedative, and alcohol is a mild depressant, but I don’t really get the same feeling, even with much more aggressively hopped beers like those of Stone Brewing. After my Hop Devil and fish taco lunch, I went straight into a deep afternoon siesta. A number of friends have also had similar experiences. That being said, I’d say the Hop Devil is the perfect beer for ending a long day, or an even longer, more stressful week. Sweet, but not cloying; aromatic, and relaxing. It’s chamomile tea for beer drinkers.

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