Victory Headwaters Pale Ale


Victory Brewing Co.

Downingtown, PA

Headwaters Pale Ale

5.1% ABV

Most beer reviews focus on the same basic components: The hop profile and what flavors it imparts on the beer; whether the malts make it taste bready or biscuity or roasted; whatever barrel-aging has taken place and what that does to the beer, and so on.

But in one of those “missing the forest for the trees” moments, reviewers rarely focus on the most abundant ingredient in beer: the water. That’s through no fault of their own, though, but water is just as important to a beer as any of the ingredients that go in to it.

A lot of breweries know this and trumpet the super-pure natural water they use in their beers. For Victory, it’s a huge part of the Headwaters Pale Ale. The water used in making the beer travels only about 15 miles until it get to the brewery, and proceeds from the beer go to help support waterway maintenance. It’s then mixed with German malts and whole flower American hops

The pour is a hazy brownish orange color, fairly dark for a pale ale. There’s half a finger of a really thin head that settles quickly into a slight film with moderate lacing and alcohol legs.

The nose is a bit sweeter for a pale ale. There’s definitely a strong malt note with a good fruity and citrusy hoppiness. There are wisps of a little pineapple and a little candied orange peel. There’s no one thing that really shines above all.

The taste starts off with a mild bitterness on the front of the tongue, followed with a good hoppiness on the back of the throat as well. But that quickly fades, and the finish is malty. It’s a kind of light caramel, again with those slight notes of orange peel and tropical fruit. The hop profile does become more noticeable as you drink more.

Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but the beer definitely tastes very clean. It would be interesting to see what it would taste like if they used a different water source, so you could get a better feel for what it does for the flavor. Think of it like a single-hop beer series, with each beer showcasing what a different hop can do. Aside from that, Headwaters is a good, solid pale ale. Nothing outstanding, but always a good go-to year-round beer.


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