Now they're celebrating sixteen years of success:
|Bill & I with Batch #1 of Baltic Thunder|
- Experimentation: V10, Mad King Ludwig, the ground-breaking Braumeister single-hop Pils series, Wild Devil, the American/English Pale Ale Experiment, and now the Tettnang Terroir pilsners.
- Pizza Plus: Victory grew from a friendly hangout with a wood-fired oven to the county's biggest volume restaurant (still with a stone hearth pizza oven), going through some growing pains along the way that led to a solid rep as a favored destination.
- Variety: Victory makes exemplary beers from multiple canons: lagers, British ales, cask session ales, Belgian-types, American craft classics, and brett-laced bug beer, and all of them with their own spin.
- Quality: the company has spent literally millions on the very best equipment and ingredients to make their beer as good as it can be. They've invested in equipment -- like their wetmill and automated brewhouse -- that usually belongs in breweries much, much bigger, because no excess in the service of the beer is unnecessary.
- Determination: they did it their way. Victory has stuck to their guns on a number of issues that many said were bad ideas...and some turned out to be just that, but others, most others, turned out to be visionary.
|Ron by the open fermenter: Golden Monkey?|
Are we in danger of that again? Is dumb money coming in, are expectations rising, will bad beer flood the shelves? I'll be honest: I did think so, a few years ago. I was worried. But now? No, I don't think so. First, and most convincing, solid bank money is available to established breweries, even in the current economy. Three years of unstoppable growth in the face of a general downturn in beer sales is quite a convincer. It may not be cheap money, but it's there. Second, brewers like Victory have done their part to nail down the quality of American craft brewers. I'm talking about safe in the bottle quality, no infected beer (not unintentionally infected, anyway!), solid shelf-life quality. It used to be a crapshoot; now getting a sub-par beer is much, much less likely.
Finally, and maybe this won't mean as much to younger craft drinkers...there's no raspberry beer. Cheap sweet raspberry beers were huge in the run-up to the shakeout, but when the trendy drinkers tired of them, they moved on to the next thing, and it wasn't a beer thing. No, the beers you see selling big today are beers like Victory makes. They're beers that rely on solid cornerstones of brewing: malt, grain, hops, yeast, and what brewers and maltsters can do with them. That's the story at Victory -- always has been -- and that's what's selling craft beer to America.
Happy birthday, Victory! Keep at it, we'll keep drinking.