Last Tuesday I had the great pleasure of attending Victory Brewing Company’s 15th birthday celebration. I certainly was not alone; the parking lot was packed and the Brew Pub was filled with Victory fans eager to take part in the party. The large and enthusiastic crowd was true testament to the role that Victory plays in the local community, considering it was a Tuesday night in February. The evening festivities included the screening of short movie about Victory’s 15 year old story, a commemorative poster, an incredible “birthday” cake and most importantly, the tapping of a new beer (which I will talk more about later on in the posting).
I remember the first time I ever tried a Victory beer. It was a hand pulled Hop Devil and it was a life changing experience. I had no idea beer could taste like that-so floral, so full of flavor. Hop Devil has been one of my favorite beers ever since that moment. My relationship to Victory, however, goes far beyond simply being a drinker of their amazing selection of brews. At the time of my first Hop Devil sample, I was on the board of the local not for profit folk music hosting organization, the TurtleDove Folk Club. TurtleDove's artistic director Todd Tyson, was a big beer fan and lived fairly close to the Victory Brew Pub. We often had meetings at Victory and developed a longstanding relationship with co-founder, Bill Covaleski. Victory was an early supporter of TurtleDove, especially in regard to its annual folk festival at the Brandywine Valley Association. I have plenty of fond memories of hosting the Festival after-party at the farm, largely because it involved the consumption of Victory beer.
Over the years, as my attention moved from Turtledove to the local foods movement, I could always (and still can) count on Victory's involvement and support. Click here to read a blog posting from last year all about Victory’s support of local food/farm events. I am guessing Bill saw similarities between the craft beer and local foods movement. It also helped that Ron, Victory’s co-founder, has a sister with one of the biggest CSA’s in the state-Spiral Path Farm. It was Bill’s early concept of pairing beer with food that gave rise to the declicious and popular Brewers Plate event in Philadelphia. It is hard to believe that there was a time in our recent history without the wide-spread availability of craft brews, gastro pubs, and beer pairings; and it is even harder to believe that this “awareness” has occurred in my drinking lifetime. Although Bill seems to always pass it off as good business sense (which it is), beer lovers and local food connoisseurs owe Victory a huge amount of gratitude for the very active and collaborative role they have taken in championing the craft beer and local food community in our region. Below is a TEDxPhilly talk given by Bill Covaleski in which he mentions “the right here right now” of beer in Philadelphia (and the country) as well as referencing this fantastic beer/food pairing book of Garrett Oliver’s:
Speaking of Victory's contribution to the food and farming community, Victory Brewing Company has become such an important supporter of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) that the non-profit awarded Victory with a lifetime business award. Together PASA and Victory host the Bike Fresh, Bike Local that has quickly grown into the one of the most successful PASA fundraising events. You can watch a great clip from the WHYY Friday Arts program on the Bike Fresh, Bike Local by clicking here.
I could go on and on about events like the Bike Fresh, Bike Local that Victory has helped to make fun, successful and effective; instead I want to mention that beer that was tapped for the first time last Tuesday-the Headwaters Ale. This beer literally brought tears to my eyes and truly encompasses the spirit of Victory Brewing Company. Not only is delicious (a new favorite), it delivers a much need message of watershed stewardship. Protecting the local watershed has always been a cause near and dear to Victory's heart, water is after all, the main ingredient in beer. It was the quality of the water in Downingtown that was a major factor in choosing their location. Victory has since become active stewards and protectors of this resource. You can read all about the Headwater Pale Ale's inspiration here. One aspect of this beer that has not yet been mentioned on the Victory website, is that Victory intends to donate a portion of the sales of the Headwaters Pale Ale to watershed associations where the beer is sold. They are still working out all the details of this national grant program. Eventually all the details will be available at www.victorybeer.com/headwaters. In the meantime they are planning on presenting their first donation to a watershed of the Brandywine on April 22. What an amazing hallmark of character-to celebrate one’s birthday and successes by giving back to the community.
So cheers to Victory!!!!! Congratulations on your fifteen years of character and thank you for all that you have done to create a satiated, delicious, sustainable, happy and creative community.