Victory Brewing Co. (VBC) is a microbrewery including an on premise restaurant/pub located in the former Pepperidge Farm plant in Downingtown, Pa. Founded by Ron Barchet, former brewmaster of Old Dominion Brewing Co., Ashburn Va, and Bill Covaleski, former brewer at Baltimore Brewing Co., VBC features authentic German style lagers, distinctive American and English style ales as well as seasonal specialties.
Victory is committed to producing the highest quality beers, beers made by brewmasters for beer lovers. It will be a brewers microbrewery making big beers that cost more to make than other microbreweries. Victory will never compromise quality in pursuit of the bottom line.
Ron and Bill caught on to quality beers during visits to Germany in the mid 80s. They became homebrewers back home in the King of Prussia, Pa. area. Ron went on to help install and brew at the Baltimore Brewing Co. during its inception in '89 under the direction of Theo DeGroen, a Diplom Braumeister from Weihenstephan. When Ron departed Baltimore Brewing in '90 to attend brewing school at Weihenstephan in Freising, Germany, Bill became the brewer at Baltimore. Bill brewed at Baltimore between '90 and early '95, helping to expand the brewpub from ~500 BBls/yr to ~3,500 BBls/yr and winning several medals at the GABF, most notably for Baltimores distinctive Doppelbock. In '94 Bill attended brewing school at Doemens in Bavaria, Germany. Ron returned from Germany in '91 and became a brewer at Old Dominion. At the time Old Dominion was just getting established and was producing about 1,000 BBls/yr, with few different products. Under the direction of Ron, who became brewmaster in '93, Dominion has grown to over 23,000 BBLs/yr producing 16 different beers. During '94 Bill and Ron decided to form Victory Brewing and bring their extensive brewing experience to Pennsylvania beer lovers.
Victory has three flagship products. The first is a German Export style named Brandywine Valley Lager. Brewed with German malt and Noble hops and lagered 6 weeks, this beer is a poundable crisp lager. Fullness in flavor is added through the use of the energy intensive decoction mash program. The second flagship beer is a traditional Ur-Maerzen, Victory Festbier. Brewed using German Vienna malts, Noble hops and the decoction mash program, this will be the classic Oktoberfest style beer featuring malty toffee and nutty flavors. This beer is sure to bring a taste of Munich to Pennsylvania year round. The third beer is a homebrewers classic, Hopdevil IPA. Brewed using Vienna, Pils and caramel malts and abusively hopped at the rate of 2 Lbs/BBl this is certain to compete with the best of craft brewings IPAs such as Sierra Nevadas Celebration Ale. Specially developed in a one barrel pilot system, this beer features Centennial, Cascades and a mystery hop. It is brewed using the upward step mash program and weighs in at a respectable 50-55 IBUs. Hopdevil IPA achieves its abundant hop aroma by adding whole hops to the hop back prior to the whirlpool.
Victory brews seasonal offerings on a regular basis. The first seasonal is the classic Doppelbock. This decoction mashed strong lager is the beer that nourished the Monks during the fasts of Lent. A dark smooth richly warming malty lager perfect to see the cold winter months give way to spring. Patterned after the original Doppelbock, Paulaners Salvator, this is sure to become an annual classic. Unfiltered Pils is another of Victory's specialty beers, very reminiscent of the best Bavarian Pils with huge hop aromas from German Noble hops. Another of Victory's specialty beers is the traditional English Mild. Served cask conditioned from a beer engine, this is a 3.5% ABV dark session beer. Future specialties will include German weizens and Belgian Ales. In addition to the beers, Victory produces its own special recipe of all natural root beer.
All of Victory's beers are crafted from German malts from Weyermann malting in Bamberg, Germany. By using whole hops and imported malts, Victory is committed to being the highest quality microbrewery using the highest quality ingredients despite the extra costs. This is all part of the concept of being a brewers brewery first with the emphasis on high quality beers.
VBC was founded to produce authentic German lagers and flavorful ales. To meet the demands of producing stable high quality lagers a custom 25 BBl brewhouse was designed by the founders and fabricated by Century Manufacturing in Ohio. This brewhouse is specially designed to support full decoction mashing with minimal oxygen pickup. The lauter tun is the first flat bottomed tun ever made by Century and possibly the first of its kind produced in the US. It features 6 pull off points to draw sweet wort from the grains and feeds this inline to the kettle without the use of a lauter grant. By eliminating the use of a grant and by pumping all mash and wort low in the vessels the amount of oxygen pickup will be greatly reduced as compared to typical US fabricated brewhouses. Oxygen that is picked up during brewing is called hot side aeration and is known to reduce shelf life of the packaged beer. The entire brewhouse is steam heated which allows efficient mashing and boiling while minimizing caramelization reactions. Victory is one of the few microbreweries that uses whole hops, most brewers use processed pellet hops which have diminished essential oils. In order to use whole hops a special hop back is built inline between the kettle and the whirlpool. In order to make ultra clean lagers, the hot and cold trub that is produced must be removed prior to fermentation. The combination of a hop back, whirlpool and a floatation tank to remove cold trub ensures that Victory beers are clean and stable with long shelf life.
After the bitter wort is produced and the cold trub removed, the wort is fermented in either open fermenters located in a closed positive pressure room or in unitanks. Precision control of the fermentation and lagering is accomplished via computer controlled glycol valves. After primary fermentation, the beers are matured in closed tanks prior to packaging. The beers are naturally carbonated by spunding the tanks. Some beers are filtered and then krausened with young krausen beer. The finished product will be available in kegs and bottles. Victory has purchased a state of the art bottling line from SMB Technik, Mannheim, Germany. This bottling line features a long stem filling design that ensures gentle filling from the bottom of each bottle. This technique, in conjunction with pre-evacuation of the bottle will result in extremely low dissolved oxygen levels in the bottles. This will greatly increase the shelf life of the beers, which is an important factor in the warehouse distribution network that is common in Pennsylvania.
Brewing at Victory began in late December, 1995. Victory opened its doors in Feburary of 1996.
Victory selected the Downingtown site for its size, location near its target audience and ease of transportation of packaged beer. Victory contains a 122 seat inhouse restaurant and bar. The restaurant features handcrafted wood fired brick oven pizza, calzones and hearty salads. In addition to the normal lineup of Victory beers patrons will be able to drink cask conditioned IPA pulled from an English beer engine. Brewery tours are be conducted on a regular basis on weekends.
How to get there:
Downingtown is located off of Rt 30, a main route between Lancaster and Philadelphia. It is about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, and 5 miles west of West Chester. Coming from Lancaster get on Rt 30 east and exit on Rt 113 South. (You can also get there off of the PA turnpike, Rt 100 to Rt 113). Turn right on Lancaster Ave (Rt 30 Business). Turn left onto Chestnut St. Turn left onto Acorn St and a quick right into the Victory complex.
From Philadelphia, take Rt 30 west to Rt 322 South. Make a left onto Rt 30 business and a right onto Chestnut. Turn left onto Acorn St and a quick right into the Victory complex.
From the DC area: I-95 North. Take first exit after crossing the Susquehana. Make a right at the light, Rt 275-Rt 276 follow signs to Rt 1 North. Take Rt 1 North to Pa 10 North. 10 North hits Rt 30, make a right and keep right onto Bypass 30. Exit 113 South, make right on Lancaster Ave/Rt 30 business. First left onto Chestnut. Down about 4 blocks make left on Acorn and immeadiate right into the Victory business park. Follow lot forward and on the right is Victory Brewing.
Online questions about Victory should be directed to: Jim Busch,
Victory Brewing Co of Downingtown, Pa is now bottling. The new SMB Technik bottling line was brought online last Thursday and Friday. You can now buy cases of Victory Festbier and HopDevil IPA at the brewery. If your distributer doesnt carry it yet, ask em to. Coming soon, Brandywine Valley Lager, a German Export style beer.
Victory beers will also be available soon in the Pittsburgh and Reading, Pa markets.