Victory Brewing Company
by Ricky Perrotta
Pennsylvania has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing quality craft beer. A 2013 article in USA Today cited Pennsylvania as one of the top 10 craft brew states in America. According to the New Yorker, only four states – California, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan – boast more craft breweries than Pennsylvania. At the forefront is Downington, PA’s Victory Brewing Company, owned and operated by Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski. Not only is Victory the largest craft brewery in PA, they rank 26th nationally. Beers such as the HopDevil, Prima Pils, and Golden Monkey are well known to beer connoisseurs across America. 2014 looks to be another exciting year in the history of the brewery as Victory has recently expanded production, increased their already impressive sustainability efforts, and unveiled several new beverages.
In 1996, Mr. Barchet and Mr. Covelski famously repurposed a Pepperidge Farm factory to create a 300 seat restaurant, 70 foot long bar, and full scale brewery in Downington. That year Victory produced a modest 1,725 barrels. Things have picked up. Their new facility in Parkesburg, PA will initially produce 225,000 barrels a year. That’s a stunning increase of 12,943%. At full capacity, it will be able to produce over 500,000 barrels. Victory once sold to the surrounding area. Now they distribute beer in 34 states and overseas to Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Cayman Islands. But, true to their history, much more went into this expansion process than the mere concern to brew greater quantities of beer.
Victory was recently awarded the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Business Leadership Award by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Their website, victorybeer.com, states, “We are proud to harness the energy of the sun to power our beer-making with the installation of 345 photovoltaic panels.” These panels produce “approximately 82,000kWh of clean, green electricity each year.” A photovoltaic panel is generally referred to as a solar panel. Victory has been recognized for their efforts in this area by PennEnvironment, which stated, “Victory’s solar electric project shows that businesses continue to turn to clean, renewable energy to protect the environment and reduce their costs.” Beyond solar power, Victory also has an agreement with a local farmer who recycles their nearly 25,000 pounds of spent grains a year to use as food for his animals. And Victory has initiated a composting project which has allowed them to compost 73 tons of food waste annually since 2010.
Quality of water and environmental impact were also taken into account when choosing a site for the new facility. The Parkesburg facility is located within 20 miles of the original Downington facility, and its water is supplied by the same Brandeywine Creek, though a different branch. Eight months of water-quality research revealed the mineral composition of the 2 branches is nearly identical, meaning the quality of the beer will not be compromised by this expansion.
Victory is also aware that ever-increasing competition in the craft beer market means ingenuity is at a premium. Toward that end, they have released several new beers within the last year and are moving into the 22oz bottle market. The Hop Wallop has been replaced by the already popular Dirt Wolf Double IPA. Victory sold 3,000 barrels of the Dirt Wolf from October to December alone. The Dirt Wolf, at 8.7% ABV, has a thick mouthfeel, but is wonderfully balanced; the use of whole flower hops gives it a floral, citrus character that is very refreshing. In the 12oz variety, Victory has also released a new spring seasonal called the Swing Session Saison, a holiday wheat ale called the Winter Cheers, and an Imperial IPA for the winter called the Hop Ranch.
In the 22oz format, Victory will be releasing the Mad King’s Weiss, a European style wheat ale. The Mad King (6.2% ABV) tastes strongly of cloves and other spices, but has a sweet, fruity aspect to it as well, typical of the effervescent style. This beer will also be available on tap from April to August. They are also set to release a special ale in honor of their 18th anniversary and the opening of their new Parkesburg facility, the 1337 Ale (6.0% ABV). It will be a throwback based on an older homebrewing recipe of Mr. Barchet and Mr. Covelski’s.
Of course, the innovative Victory Brewing Company plans on continuing to innovate in all aspects of their business, from ecological awareness, to marketing, to brewing, and 2014 promises to be another great year for the popular Pennsylvania brewery and its fans. For more information, please visit victorybeer.com. Victory is proudly distributed in Pittsburgh by Vecenie Distributing.
The New Victory Beers:
Swing Session Saison
Swing. It’s a lively jazz rhythm, a vigorous sway or even a serendipitous change of view. It’s also the welcome jolt of joy you’ll experience upon your first sip of this session saison. Swing into refreshment this season!
- Malt: German malt and grains (Rye, oats and wheat).
- Hops: Hopped with German and American hops. Spiced with peppercorns, orange peel and fresh lemon zest. Belgian saison yeasts.
- ABV: 4.5%
- Flavor: With its citrus swagger and spicyrefreshment, Swing Session Saison offers you a jazzy jolt of joy. This Belgian-style ale is bracing but benign and enlivens any experience.
- Availability: Spring seasonal in 12 oz. Bottles.
Dirt Wolf Double IPA
Darkly heroic, Humulus Lupulus (hops) have empowered brews with bite and character since the 11th century. DirtWolf is a tribute to these untamed vines which rise from the earth with the voracity of a “wolf among sheep.” Hops have made an assertive comeback in American craft brewing. Revel in the best U.S. varieties of hops, in their natural, whole flower form, as they bring a vital, pungent reality to the soul of a wild element in our dangerously satisfying DirtWolf Double IPA.
- Malt: Imported two-row malts
- Hops: Whole flower Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops
- ABV: 8.7%
- Flavor: This dangerously delicious recipefeatures often subtle, but sometimes assertive signatures of American hop varieties. Look for: Citra: heavy citrus aroma, fruity flavor; Chinook: grapefruit, resinous pine; Simcoe: dry, piney; and Mosaic: earthy and mildly floral, with notes of sweet citrus and spice.
- Availability: Available year-round in 12oz. bottles and on draft.
Winter Cheers Wheat Ale
Winter weather may drive us indoors but cannot dampen our spirits when hearth, home and hops meet in jubilation. Hoisted high in its golden glory, Winter Cheers lives up to its name, fueling festive times and chasing winter’s chill. Glowing and glimmering, frothy and shimmering, our celebratory wheat ale features luscious fruity and spicy notes, making it a perfect brew to brighten spirits even on the deepest of nights.
- Malt: German wheat and barley malts, and oats
- Hops: Whole flower Tettnang and Citra hops
- ABV: 6.7%
- Flavor: Light in body, this fruity and warming holiday brew delivers a crisp finish, with spicy hints of banana, clove and citrus.
- Availability: Holiday seasonal in 12 oz. bottles and on draft.
Hop Ranch Imperial IPA
To our hop ranchers, who coax and cultivate our enticing and flavorful hops, we raise this glass. Selecting the finest varieties in their natural, whole flower form, we craft our Hop Ranch Imperial India Pale Ale, as a celebration of their successes. Pungent, floral and intense, this represents America’s best, in every relaxing sip.
- Malt: Pilsner
- Hops: Mosaic and Azacca
- ABV: 9.0%
- Flavor: This powerful brew features full,juicy hop character, while expressing notes of mango, pineapple and the pleasantly sharp, biting edges of tart citrus fruit.
- Availability: Winter seasonal available in 12oz. bottles and on draft.
Mad King’s Weiss
Bavaria’s fabled Ludwig was said to be ‘mad.’ The same might be said of us for approaching this German beer style with fistfuls of hops beyond the norm for this style and yeast from Belgium!
- Malt: Imported two-row German malts, including wheat
- Hops: Whole flower German hops
- ABV: 6.2%
- Flavor: High-powered with all German malts and the subtle, spicy complexity of our special yeast, Mad King’s Weiss offers a quenching quality that can’t be beat.
- Availability: Available from April through August in 22oz. bottles and on draft.
- ABV: 6.0%
- Release Date: Late February
- Details yet to be released.