From the mind and desk of Victory founder and president, Bill Covaleski…
Saturday morning, I spent some time pondering the incredible news I heard last week. Fourteen of the top 40 U.S. craft breweries have reported sales increases of 30% or more for early 2011. We here at Victory have started this year by brewing and selling at a pace of more than 40% over last year.
While I could have mused about these statistics for hours, I forced myself to tackle a more pressing matter: spring-cleaning.
My rural township has a bulk trash collection day each spring, so I loaded my Subaru with a busted metal chair and some torn-down wall paneling that was taking up precious junk space and headed to the dumpsters. As I pulled up to unload, I was greeted by a middle-aged man who was lacking some essential teeth and was dressed head-to-foot in cammo. I hate admit it, but I immediately pegged him as a Keystone Light or Busch drinker. While offering me help with my items, he noticed the Victory Is Brewing sticker on my car and surprised me with an emphatic “Oh, that Victory beer is great stuff!” He then told me, “I hear one of the brewmasters there is from Germany.”
With that, I filled him in on Ron’s family heritage and the brewing education we both received in Germany. He spoke eloquently of his fondness for our now retired Brandywine Valley Lager and demonstrated further knowledge of our process by noting, “I hear that they located here because of great water.”
Needless to say, I was blown away as my initial judgments and expectations of the man were so far from accurate. He exuded knowledge about our brews and pride in our local brewery that left me feeling confused and stupid about my early assessment.
It struck me that he represents the individuals who are contributing to the wild craft beer growth I had been pondering earlier in the day. We didn’t discuss it, but even if he does have a fondness for Keystone or Busch, the fact of the matter is that he also buys better beer. There was appreciation and pride in his voice as he spoke about Victory — two things that you don’t often hear from macro beer drinkers, for the obvious reasons.
Retelling this incredibly uplifting (to me, at least) story, I heard someone remark that this was the year that craft beer has “become mainstream.” Though I don’t think the numbers support that statement yet, I do feel that craft beer has made significant strides in American culture, and now it is appreciated for the true virtues of flavor and freshness that it delivers. Long-held beer prejudices are being reversed by the appreciation of true quality and character.
Likewise, I realize that I my own prejudices are being reversed as I broaden my view of just who is in this growing audience of craft beer lovers.