What We’re Drinking: Victory Swing Session Saison


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]

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  • Del

    You must not get out much to wax poetic over a beer that is tasty but not really new.

    • JB

      …nor confusing.

  • JP

    Swing saison tastes nothing like a pale ale, IPA or a lager. You must not drink a whole lot of beer huh.

  • Trey

    JP, does it taste like a saison? Once again, I liked it, but a blind tasting would have stumped me completely. If it matters, I’d say that the two beer styles I drink most of would be pale ales and saisons. Followed by IPAs, because I like them, and wheats, because my wife likes those. Sour ales in the summer scratch me where I itch, but they’re too expensive to make a habit of them.

    Maybe if the guys over at Foobooz HQ aren’t hurting too bad after their beery afternoon yesterday, you could get them to bite the bullet and invite you over for a blind taste test. ;)

    • Saisons are traditionally my favorite style of beer. And with great examples of the style out there from Allagash, Forest & Main, Tired Hands, Stillwater all the way to Yards, I agree with Trey, Swing is a tasty beer, but it doesn’t jump out as a saison. If you think of an un-skunked Saison Dupont as the measuring stick of the category, I don’t taste the similarity.

  • orderofmoose

    why would you advocate hurting Yards’ business?

  • Trey

    No harm intended to Yards. Their classic Philadelphia Pale Ale, which launched my love of Amarillo hops when I moved to Philly all that time ago, remains my summer favorite. But fortunately, city taprooms hardly need me to tell them to stock that one.

    • Thanks for clarifying, Trey. While we obviously believe you can go a few rounds with Brawler anytime of year, saisons are certainly a summer favorite. Just happy to hear more people are enjoying local craft brews at the ballpark! Go Phils!