Horizontal Hibernation

By Bill Covaleski

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Snow made an early appearance this year when our first wintry storm of the season hit us this past Saturday. Clearing downed tree limbs at home the day after the storm, my freezing fingers yearned for a warming winter brew. As I endured the elements, I began to wish I could simply hibernate through the winter and wake up when it is warm again.

Of course, life won’t allow me to sleep through the season and worse yet, a Victory beer will be doing the hibernating on my behalf: Old Horizontal Barleywine.

Just as the moon catches its Z’s on the Old Ho label, our beloved barleywine will be sleeping its way through 2012.

Here’s why…

As we explained earlier in the year, Victory is experiencing incredible growth and impressive demand for our products. While this surge is mostly good news, it has forced us to make some tough decisions. In order to keep up with the demand for our core brands like HopDevil, Prima Pils, Golden Monkey and Headwaters Pale Ale, we have to take a pass on brewing our dear Old Horizontal.

If you’ve been lucky enough to taste the luxurious brew, you know that it is rich with hop aroma and dense with sweet malt character. These flavors come from the ridiculous amount of hops and malt we use when brewing Old Horizontal.  “Luxurious” is an appropriate term for this brew, as it is pricey in both ingredients and time. In order to get the candied fruit flavors we know and love, Old Horizontal requires an incredibly time-consuming brewing process. With most of our beers, we can use the second-runnings of sugar-rich wort (the pre-fermentation liquid from the brew) in the recipe. That is not the case with Old Horizontal, so we have to brew twice as much in order to make half the yield of a “regular” Victory beer. With our brewhouse running at peak capacity, we literally can’t afford the time for our precious Old Horizontal. For this reason, we’re saying “Goodnight Moon” as the brew takes an extra long nap this year.

Skipping Old Horizontal this year is as sad for me as it is for many of you. Even though I am the one making this decision, I still lament the choice. In fact, I’m ruining my own collection – I’ve hoarded a bottle or two of each vintage beginning in 1996, and now the chain will be broken. Yet another reason I’d like to cuddle up with Old Horizontal during its winter hibernation.

But there is some good news to keep me (and you) from too many depressed Old Ho woes. We’ve got a few kegs of vintage Old Horizontal still hanging out in our warehouse. Over the course of the year, Old Ho will wake up and make an appearance on draft here at the brewpub. Keep an eye on our draft list, like our Facebook page or join our mobile mailing list to be sure you know when it will be available.

18 Responses to Horizontal Hibernation

  1. keith stuart November 2, 2011 at 11:20 AM #

    I am truly heartbroken, as I patiently wait for the short periods that your delicious specialty brews can decorate the inside of my kegerator. Any way I can coax one of those vintage kegs from your warehouse?
    I LOVE You Old Horizontal and will miss you greatly!!!

  2. Andrew November 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM #

    Sad to hear this. Happily so, my local distributor has a few cases on 2010 on the shelf or in the stockroom. Enough to keep me satisfied for the upcoming season.

    Roll on Yakima Glory!

  3. Andrew November 2, 2011 at 4:41 PM #

    Primal Pils – would this be a less evolved forbear of our beloved Victory Pilsner? Perhaps an earlier draft of the recipe?

  4. Victory November 3, 2011 at 9:45 AM #

    Andrew: Our Primal Pils is available exclusively to our caveman contingent. You may have seen it advertised in ancient cave paintings.

    Kudos on the typo catch 😉

  5. Andrew November 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM #

    Now I keep thinking of the caveman ads of a certain insurer. Hard to come up with a variation on the slogan that works though. Maybe I need a Primal or two after work, and it will come to me…

  6. bennybrew November 5, 2011 at 10:36 AM #

    There are only a couple barleywines I look forward to each year and Old Ho is one.

    It is almost like Santa isn’t coming this year.

    Alright, now I’m just being dramatic but you get the point.

    Wait, what if Santa doesn’t come? Damn. This winter is going to suck.

  7. Dave November 8, 2011 at 11:09 AM #

    You make me sad. Old Ho is… was (*sniff*)… my only salve for Friday nights after long, dark, cold, long, cold, dark weeks of work. If I had known you’d’ve pulled a stunt like this, I would’ve bought extra cases last winter to see me through the drought.

    “He that is strucken blind cannot forget
    The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.
    Show me a mistress that is passing fair:
    What doth her beauty serve but as a note
    Where I may read who pass’d that passing fair?
    Farewell. Thou canst not teach me to forget.”

    Seriously though, I’m not so proud as the Bard: Can you at least recommend another local barleywine that you respect? It’s a long winter.

  8. Don Van Ollefen November 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM #

    Fortunately, I never drink all my Old “Horizonical” at once. Still have a few from previous years in my beer cellar. Not to mention a few World Wide Stouts cellared away for a blustery day!

  9. David November 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

    I never post online comments but this bad news warrents an exception.

    Old Horizontal is one of the great seasonals and so while I understand the larger business picture, I still had to close my door and have a little hissy fit after learning there won’t be any this year. Damn.

  10. Steve November 15, 2011 at 4:46 PM #

    No Old Ho this year? It’s your best product. That means I buy no Victory this year. Bah!

  11. Mark November 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM #

    Definitely sad to see this news. I really hope that in the future Victory will stick w brewing their regular seasonal beers. At least enough to supply the longtime faithful local crowd at the brew pub.

  12. Eriks November 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM #

    I just saw an update from a local distributor that they just received a shipment of Old Horizontal.. what’s up with that? Is these still some that got out this year, or did they stumble across some 2010, or are they just full of it?

    • Victory November 16, 2011 at 5:03 PM #

      They must have stumbled across some vintage Old Horizontal. Who is the distributor?

  13. Eriks November 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM #

    Pletcher’s in State College. They said that they got both Yakima Glory and Old Horizontal. Even if it’s 2010 that’s still good news..

  14. David November 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

    It is great news you found 2010 OH. As exceptional as it is fresh, it becomes arguably better with age and so I would not hesistate to buy anything you can find assuming is not past the “best by” date which I think is 5 years?

    I called around with high hopes of finding some new old stock locally (DC)to no avail… This winter it will be a real test of patience to not use up my little 2007-2010 vintage stash.

  15. amonotasker December 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM #

    What’s next are you going cancel Christmas and Hanukkah too?

  16. Dan December 10, 2011 at 3:18 PM #

    Bummer!!!!!!!! In my beer cellar, I have 3 vertical 12 packs of Old Ho from 1998 – 2010 (missing 2001). I have many more bottles of each year from 2006 – 2010. I always look forward to drinking the newest batch next to one or two from the last 5 years…2012 I hope!

  17. Anson October 2, 2012 at 5:15 PM #

    Will it be back this year?

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European Tradition.


American Ingenuity.

The Victory Brewing Story

The story of Victory Brewing Company starts on a school bus in 1973 when fifth-graders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski stepped aboard, on their way to a new school. The two became fast friends and remained so, even as they grew up and went to college on opposite coasts. Just months out of college, Bill’s appreciation of good beer and access to his father’s home brewing equipment inspired him to explore the hobby. That same year (1985), Bill gave Ron a home brewing kit as a Christmas gift. With that, both Bill and Ron developed their love of the craft…
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