Tucked away in the quaint, quiet suburb of Downingtown, Pa., in the depths of an ill-fitting industrial park, there is a hidden gem. Amid towering glycol-jacketed fermenting vessels and immense grain silos stands Victory Brewing Co. Founded in 1996 by former financial professionals and homebrewers Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski, Victory shines as a beacon of competence and quality in the craft brewing industry. Since they opened, they have expanded distribution to 29 states, and they produced nearly 100,000 barrels of beer last year. Some Victory favorites include HopDevil, Golden Monkey and Prima Pils.
In addition to their standard brews, you can enjoy one-off cask and hand-pump specialty beers at their recently renovated brewpub, which has become a popular destination for craft beer lovers. Scattered throughout the restaurant you’ll find all sorts of brewing knick-knacks and memorabilia, like a pre-WWII German wort chiller, an antique brewer’s paddle, and a large flat-screen monitor showing the output of their newly installed rooftop solar power system. Also, if you come with a large group you may be lucky enough to be seated at a round table enclosed by a huge vintage copper boil kettle. This is really a special place for a beer nerd, and the food is pretty good too!
In search of a new summer barbecue beer, I stumbled upon a six-pack of Victory’s new golden ale called Summer Love. This new beer is a result of collaboration between Victory and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. (you know, the “With love, Philadelphia” billboard people). I enjoyed one after a brisk jog in front of the Art Museum on the Fourth of July. It doesn’t get much more Philly than that!
Out of a 12-ounce bottle and into a pint glass, the beer poured a brilliant pale gold with a noticeable hop aroma punching right out of the bottle. I noticed crisp, floral hop notes with a subtle pale malt aroma. The beer has a very clean and clear taste, with a punchy sweetness from the imported German malts. The relatively light body and bubbly carbonation make it an easy drinker, and the 5.2 percent alcohol content is not overbearing if you plan on devouring a few of these in rapid succession, which is not hard to do at all.
This beer pairs well with barbecue and is best enjoyed in the left hand, with a grilling spatula actively flipping burgers and chicken in the right hand. If you’re like me and have an integrated combination burger flipper/beer opener, then you don’t even have to release your grip of this fine brew! Victory Summer Love drinks like a lighter version of an IPA, with all the usual assertive hoppiness and malt flavors but without the larger body and resin tastes that might be too much for a hot summer day. Grab some while it lasts, as this is most definitely a summer seasonal brew.
$10 for a six pack of 12-ounce bottles
ABV: 5.2 percent
My ratings (out of 5):