Victory Brewing Company
When it comes to great years, it’s hard to beat 1996, and while you might have your doubts, hear me out. It was in 1996 that we got the first clamshell flip phone, and everyone wanted the tiny StarTAC, it was the year interleague play in the MLB started, and it was year that the Java programming language was first released (ok, I think this one is impressive at least). More importantly though, 1996 was the year that Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pennsylvania opened their doors to the public. For those of us in high school during this banner year, 1996 doesn’t seem that long ago, but in the world of craft beer, the 22 years of operation for Victory is nothing short of amazing, and those same 22 years speak to the quality beer that continues to flow from their tanks and into cans, bottles, and kegs for us to enjoy.
Founded by Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, Victory Brewing Co. began its life in a retired Pepperidge Farm factory with a 144-seat restaurant, 70-foot-long bar, and a full scale professional brewery. In their first year, Victory brewed 1,725 barrels of beer. In the 22 years since then, Victory has expanded production capacity, increased their distribution, and when Victory celebrated 20 years in the business, they were producing more than 140,000 barrels of beer annually. How’s that for impressive?
Today, Victory Brewing Co. brews 10 year-round beers, 15 seasonal and specialty beers thanks to 70 yeast strains utilized by the brewers. You’ll find Victory in 35 states plus DC and in a total of 9 countries including Australia, Japan, Italy, and of course the United States amongst others. While that’s quite the lineup of beers, when Ron and Bill first opened for business they brewed HopDevil, Festbier, and Brandywine Valley Lager.
Along with a love of beer, the people at Victory Brewing Co. love doing good for the world around them, too. In 2015 alone, Victory Brewing diverted 7 million pounds of waste from landfills thanks to reuse, recycling, and reduction of waste. That includes more than 3,000 tons of spent grain that went to local farm animals that year, too.
Finally, if you wonder why Victory beers have that extra something special that sets them apart from others, it may very well be the freshness of the hops. Unlike many other breweries, Victory Brewing Co. only uses whole flower hops in every beer they brew. Most breweries use pelletized hops to save money and time, but the folks at Victory believe that by using the whole flower hops their beers get a purer flavor and aroma, and in turn give you the best beer they can brew.
Speaking of beers, Victory has some pretty special beers available this year, and since that’s why you’re probably reading this, let’s get to them. First up is the next special beer in the Golden Monkey family, Sour Monkey Remix. Much like the original Sour Monkey, this remix version starts with the Golden Monkey that we all love, and doses it with something special to make it tart, sour, and amazing. The remix comes in with aging in chardonnay barrels, giving this already amazing beer notes of vanilla and oak to round out the lemony tartness that Sour Monkey is known for. Coming in at 9.5% ABV, this special release will be available in 750ml bottles.
Next up is one of my yearly go-to beers that helps signal that summer is truly here. Summer Love is a golden ale that comes in at a sessionable 5.2% ABV that’s light enough for the hottest of summer days while still having flavor and aroma that’s impressive to say the least. This citrusy ale has notes of lemon and even a hint of pine on the finish that help to make this beer refreshing and exactly what you need after that marathon grass cutting session, possibly even as a shower beer after that very same grass cutting action. Just make sure you get the cans rather than bottles if that’s the case.
Speaking of summer beers, Victory is coming out with their Cage Radler yet again, and if you’re in the market for bright, refreshing beers, you should be very happy about that. This 3% ABV radler, or as you may know them, shandy, is a mix of lemonade and lager beer that’s made to be light on alcohol and big on flavor so you can stay hydrated and safe when summer activities start to heat up. When it comes to summer beers, it’s hard to do better than a fresh radler.
Not all summer beers have to be low in alcohol though. Take for example Victory’s new Mighty Things Imperial IPA. This 8.3% ABV beer gets its name thanks to a quote by the bigger than life Teddy Roosevelt, and much like the man himself, this beer is big, impressive, and inspiring. Expect to find pine, orange rind, mango, and some biscuit malt in the aroma and flavor of this beer, but be warned, the alcohol hides in this beer, so unless you want a rough ride(rs), sip on this impressive beer and enjoy.
Lastly, one thing that Victory Brewing Co. is known for is their experimental and special series of beers. Most recently this is their Victorious lineup of IPAs, with release numbers 1 and 2 already up for you to enjoy. Release number 1 is a bright, hop-forward beer that comes in at 6.4% ABV. Along with great hop bitterness, you’ll find lemon, berries, and pine in this beer thanks to the Lemondrop, Mandarina, and Citra hops, all of which are of the full flower variety.
Second up in the Victorious IPA lineup is release number 2. Continuing their exploration into the juicy flavors and aromas coming from the latest and greatest hop varietals, this beer is a hazy IPA that blends Citra, Mosaic, and experimental HBC 472 hops together to reward you with a beer that has hints of ripe mango, oaky vanilla, and a wheat character that’s impressive to say the least.
All these beers are more are available now at your favorite bars, distributors, and bottle shops thanks to Victory Brewing Co. and Vecenie Distributing.