Thursday, August 28, 2014
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Hops to it: Victory opens new brewery for tours

Victory Brewing´s plant in Parkesburg.
Victory Brewing's plant in Parkesburg. DANYA HENNINGER
Victory Brewing´s plant in Parkesburg. Gallery: Victory Brewing's new plant

Beer-making has begun at Victory Brewing Co.’s second brew house in Parkesburg, less than 20 miles from Victory’s home in Downingtown.

The 140,000-square-foot facility was built to make sure customers get all the Hop Devil, Golden Monkey and Summer Love they desire - annual production will be 225,000 barrels, more than twice the original brewing line - while still allowing brewmasters room to experiment and create exciting new beers.

This spring, you’ll be able to get a personal look at the region’s biggest craft brewing operation.

Starting April 5 and each Saturday thereafter, ticketed tours will leave from Downingtown brewpub at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m, taking 40 guests on a 20-minute bus ride to Parkesburg. (Transportation? A repurposed school bus in full yellow dress, which harkens back to Victory co-founders Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet’s first meeting, in grade school. “I didn’t think the bullies should be picking on Bill, so I befriended him,” Ron says. “Turned out to be a pretty good idea overall, I think.”)

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  • After a welcome beer, you’ll don safety glasses and follow a guide through the state-of-the-art production floor.

    Between the huge lauter tun and brew kettles, through the array of 16 1000-barrel fermenters, cones protruding from a concrete ceiling that’s 30 inches thick.

    Past the yeast propagation cleanroom, where 40 different strains are grown. Into the packaging facility, where bottles are filled and boxed and carried away, Willy Wonka-style, on overhead conveyor belts that use 45,000 feet of wire.

    Then it’s back to the catering hall to get down on a unique food and beer pairing meal.

    The whole shebang will run $58 per person, and tickets go on sale Monday, March 3 at VictoryBeer.com.

    When the full-service, on-site restaurant launches at the end of this year, the Parkesburg brewery will be open to visitors whenever the dining room is serving. You can pair your lunch or dinner with a self-guided tour of the brew works - a mezzanine corridor stretches the entire length of the building and offers views of each room through wide, panoramic windows.

    That the restaurant isn’t quite finished yet is a symptom of how much money and effort was poured into the brewery itself.

    Located on the west branch of the Brandywine River to gain access to the same water used at Downingtown (situated near the east branch), and outfitted with the latest in environmentally friendly cooling and lighting, the facility was an impressive undertaking for the 18-year-old company.

    “Words can barely describe my and Ron’s enthusiasm for this new brewery,” says Covaleski, grinning like a schoolboy. “We hope our fans are just as excited.”

    Danya Henninger For Philly.com
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