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Inside Brew: Victory Brewing Co.

It was around 10:15am when the Drink Philly team rolled into the home of Victory Brewing Company. We were giddy as ever as we came round the bend to view Victory's signature red V atop a length of warehouse. The brewery/restaurant was nestled in the back of a wide commercial lot, accounting for at least 25% of the space. We exited, and followed the path to the offices.

The office space is young compared to the 13-year old brewery. Beer-related pamphlets and magazines, as well as a vintage 1983 Atari Star Wars machine indicated that we were in the presence of greatness.

 



We met with both Anne Shuniak, communications extraordinaire, and also had the honor of meeting Bill Coveleski, president and Brewmaster. They began to take us on a "backwards tour" through the factory, starting with finished product, and moving our way back to base ingredients.

 


The warehouse came first, and I found myself surrounded by more delicious Victory beer than I could have ever imagined. Hundreds of pallets ready for shipment surrounded us, spanning a larger catalogue than I expected. Victory presently produces over 20 different types of beer, some more exclusive than others. Anne explained that Helios had sold much faster than they had anticipated, and that they were brewing new batches to try and keep up with demand.

Passing through the double-doors, we entered the bottling facility, teeming with activity. Willy Wonka's plumbing system really had nothing on Victory's. Pipes feed the beer throughout the entire brewery along the ceiling of the refurbished Pepperidge Farm facility. We followed Bill and Anne through the facility, staring all the while at the autonomous mesh of manpower and machine.

We found ourselves next in a freezer for both hops and beer storage. Mountains of kegs and frozen hops adorned the room, as Bill began to give us a lesson in temperature control. Moving forward, we then passed to the brand new filtration system. Bill pointed to the old filters and noted that due to the expansion of the company and the beer's popularity throughout the US, they had to upgrade to a much larger filter. The old one remained dormant but usable, a trophy on Victory's memorabilia shelf.

After checking out their aging tanks and the brand new brewing tanks (800 gallons!), we moved up to the brewhouse to watch a brewmaster in action. Golden Monkey was on the menu, and we not only had the pleasure of watching the sacred adding of the hops, but also got to stand in their main hops freezer.

There is no aroma more unique in this world than that of a hops freezer: Spicy, floral, and delicious. The smells were nothing short of intoxicating. I'm thinkin' of getting me one of those.

As we wrapped up our tour, we ended in the restaurant. VBC prides itself in being a family-friendly establishment. The food itself was delicious (namely the hand-tossed pretzel). Part of the menu is dedicated to homemade barbeque, which will always win points in my book. Growlers are for sale, available for refill at the bar. Anne also informed me that they occasionally will sell beer floats. Imagine a tall frothy mug of Storm King Stout with a scoop of vanilla. Better still, imagine a delicious glass of Golden Monkey paired with ginger ice cream. Heavenly? Yes.

What was most impressive to me is Victory's dedication to energy conservation, as well as their firm belief in maintaining a degree of locavore status. All of their spent grain is fed to a silo that local farmers can access and use to augment their cattle feed. Their cattle in turn are used in Victory's restaurant. "A tasty experiment" is how Bill phrased it. In addition, the brewing equipment itself is designed to retain heat to reduce the amount of energy required in order to maintain the brewing process.

We also managed to sneak a taste of Victory's Harvest Pils, which is a rare wet-hopped pilsner. Hops are added fresh, rather than frozen or dried, which adds an incredible floral aroma, and a subtle taste reminiscent of sunflower seed oil. Most beers are brewed using frozen or dried hops in order to prevent spoilage. Victory has teamed up with a farm in New York, where hops are picked fresh, trucked down to VBC and then brewed upon arrival. This is a rare process, and the efforts clearly show in this pilsner.

Drink Philly sends a big thanks and a shout out goes to Bill Covaleski, Anne Shuniak, and all the other good folks at VBC. As our very first Inside Brew, we thank you.


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