Last night was a great one for a trip to Citizens Bank Park—especially if you like watching fielding errors and left after the sixth inning, as I did, before the Brewers broke a 4-4 tie by tacking on five unanswered runs to send the Phils to the basement of the NL East. (Consolation: the Mets were waiting for them there.)
But in the crisp-spring-evening department, there could hardly have been a better one for my son’s first outing to an MLB game. And speaking of a well-timed exit, he even scored a foul ball on the way out, from a guy who sure knew how to cheer the heart of a kid proudly wearing the Phils jersey he just got for his birthday. Thanks, guy! My son took that baseball to bed with him. “You can smell the grass stain on it,” he told me.
I sniffed it, agreed, and sort of wished I’d asked him to smell the beer I’d had at the game. Because man, had Victory’s Swing Session Saison confused me.
Last night was the first time I’d ever seen it—and all I could think was that if ever a beer was named to be sold exclusively at a ballpark, Swing Session would have to be it. Turns out that it wasn’t: the beer debuted last year, and you can get it around town. But still, a 4.5 percent ale that packs as much flavor as this one ought to win plenty of fans in foul territory.
Last night I became one of them—but I’ll be damned if I would have pegged it as a saison. Pale ale? Sure. There was even enough bitterness and resiny hop goodness to suggest a restrained IPA. I would even have guessed lager—though an unusually weighty one—before coming anywhere close to Belgium.
Neither the malt side (a chewy mouthful of oats, wheat and rye) nor the sturdy hop bill (German and American) put me in mind of a Belgian farmhouse production. There was neither the fruit nor the funk—though Victory’s website lists orange and lemon peel among the ingredients, along with peppercorns, which did come through to amplify the rye’s spiciness. Belgian yeasts are also specified, but they never broke free of the hops to register in my nose. I’d love to know how many IBU’s this beer packs, but Victory doesn’t list that.
Whatever the case, good thing I was in the mood for something bitter to begin with, because my pint of Swing Session kept me interested from first sip to last. I’d have it again in a second. Come summer, I hope bars swap it in for Yards Brawler, which was built for cooler weather. And if I make it to see the Phils again, I’ll definitely be scouting the CPB Brew Locator to see where I can get another.
In the first six innings, of course. After all, they shut off the taps after the seventh.
Victory Brewing [Official]