Amidst all the fuss yesterday about Terry Hawbaker moving to a new boutique brewpub in Philly, I wouldn't want to overlook the significant local anniversary coming up this month: Victory turns 15. I was struck by this today, because it's looking like the first time I visited Victory, which was actually before it opened.
That was January 19th, 1996, the day the snow from Philly's biggest-ever snowfall -- all 30.7 inches of it -- all melted at once under the hammer of 60+ degree breezes and three inches of warm rain. I had scheduled a series of brewery visits -- including Ugly Dog, God help me -- that had me driving through lashing rainfall and deep run-off. A couple of times I drove through running water that by all rights should have killed my Jetta (the second one, the red one), but managed to keep going. Finding Victory that first time wasn't easy, particularly since the main roads to it were closed (I slipped around the back way, past Bishop Shanahan), and there was a foot of brown water running swiftly through the parking lot. Wonder what it's going to look like later today? Not nearly as much snow, and not nearly as warm; I'm still staying home.
Victory's celebrating with what I think is a more significant beer than the anniversary brews they've done in the past: Headwaters Pale Ale. It's a celebration of the Brandywine Creek, the source of their brewing water -- a lot of water at their birth, to be sure! -- and it's a drinkable pale ale, not a whack over the head. Cheers to that, Victory! I'll have to make plans to be there on February 15th to try some.
I remember sitting on the outdoor patio at Arroyo, in Manayunk, with Harry Renner IV, in 1996. With some trepidation, I ordered a Brandywine Valley Lager, hesitant because I WANTED this all-malt (shall I say Pre-Prohibition lager) to be good, but knew, as a brewer, that a good lager was a very difficult thing to brew. I sipped; I smiled, and I've been a fan of all things Victory ever since.
Go Ron! Go Bill!
Pound for pound one would be hard pressed to find a better brewery in the US. Back in the day we would drive all the way up to Columbia, MD (well for us city folk it's a long way) to sample Hop Devil at the Last Chance Saloon. The hop forward but malt balanced brew is still top of the game even in this day of Nuclear IPAs. Prima Pils stands with any other Pils/Pilsner in the world. The worst beer I ever had from Victory was still very good.
I couldn't agree more with Kelly's post above. People ask me the desert island scenario all the time, you know how it goes, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only drink beer from one brewery which one would you pick? Victory is and has always been my answer. They excel at almost every style they brew. Cheers to another 15 years!
Old? I do not remember bearing witness to this enterprise when my own brewery was producing stout, porter, stock ale, IPA, cream ale, lager and half and half during the last two centuries!
Yeah Louie, it's too bad you "gave up the ghost" over forty years ago.
30 minutes away and I wouldn't cross the street for a Victory product, even for nada. I used to love their beers but two unforgivably poor brewpub experiences have place them on my 'dead to me' list.
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