By Bill Covaleski
I have Etta James singing I’d Rather Go Blind playing in my head as I write this. Her take on the song is languid, soulful and resolute. More a statement than a lament. It’s perfectly aligned with the sobering news I have to deliver to you, so if you have it on your playlist, cue it up now.
Barely two weeks ago I was enjoying a great Philly Beer Week break by lunching with a friend at Garces Trading Company. While the two of us savored an outstanding appetizer — thin sliced asparagus and goat ricotta drenched in a porcini vinaigrette — I somewhat morbidly mused out loud: “If you had to make the terrible choice of losing your vision or your sense of taste, which would it be?” Simultaneously and immediately, both of us pronounced, “vision.”
As disturbing as this self-imposed dilemma may sound on the surface, the response and reasoning that come from considering it lead to a greater understanding of one’s priorities. For both of us, the sensual appeal of flavor trumped the impact that the visual world impresses on our brains. To never savor the bracing bite of a Tettnang-hopped pilsner or the cool harmony of malt and hops in a cask-conditioned beer ever again? I simply could not survive that reality. Hopefully, I’ll never have to make that call.
Unfortunately, there was a challenging call that did have to be made at Victory Brewing Company. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to have peeked behind the artisanal/industrial curtain by touring our brewing operations over the last 15 years, consider yourself lucky. You have a memory that no one else can now achieve. As of July 4, we are choosing taste over vision. The world will go “blind” to our brewery operations as tours will no longer be available.
Similar to the great dilemma discussion I had over lunch, we evaluated our priorities and needs in order to make this decision. The reality we now face, as brewing and cellar operations become a 7 day a week labor due to swelling orders, is that we cannot safely conduct both tours and business in tight spaces. In essence, you, as a consumer, made the dire decision for us. Your thirst for flavorful Victory beers has stolen your vision of their creation. We are truly sorry to present this news to you. At this time, there is no other option, despite the hand-wringing and postulating that took place during the many meetings we spent discussing this predicament.
So, let Etta soothe your soul and this time modify the lyrics you sing to “… I would rather go blind, boy, than to have you not make beer, for me…”
Please Note: While visiting the brewery for a first-hand tour will no longer be an option, you will still get a glimpse of our behind-the-scenes action through blog posts, videos, and photos.