“We saw tremendous growth in 2011, and our plans to maybe need something in 2014 or ’15, we basically lost a year,” Barchet said. “We were able to brew 105,000 barrels in Downingtown, and there was no room to grow. Either we could stop growing, retract markets or roll the dice and make a really big plant.”
For these Pennsylvania natives, brewmasters and dream-seekers, the choice was clear. In July of 2012, ground broke and construction began on the impressive 140,000-square-foot space located at 3127 Lower Valley Road in Parkesburg, carrying with it a $30 million price tag.
“It was a major decision,” Barchet said. “We are setting ourselves back profit-wise for five years doing this, so it was a big question.”
But with craft beer accounting for just 5 percent of the overall U.S. beer marketplace, the opportunity to continue to grow the audience is significant. Never shying away from a challenge, Victory’s Parkesburg plant will be able to produce 225,000 barrels per year—over twice the current capacity—once fully operational later this fall.
“There’s a fundamental taste shift going on,” Barchet said. “Craft beer isn’t a fad. It’s a trend.”
The plant is expected to begin test brews in late August, running continuously by October. All bottling will shift to Parkesburg by November, freeing up the Downingtown location for “specialty, testing, fun stuff,” Barchet said.
Added Covaleski, “Our Downingtown brewpub has functioned for us as a great research and development facility, because we can put things out that are new, fresh ideas, and people drink it there in front of us and tell us about it. We feel like we’ve brought some exciting things to the audience, and they’ve responded quite well.”
Parkesburg also will feature a brewpub, though it will not open immediately.
“We’ve carved out the space and it will happen,” Barchet said. “A lot goes into it, but whether it’s this year, next year or even the next, we will bring one there.”
And fans anxious to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the new brewery will be able to do so. Featuring an upper-level walkway that overlooks the entire operation, Parkesburg visitors will be able to view everything from the research lab to the bottling line, and a 5,000-square-foot hop freezer, complete with a Wonka-esque button that unleashes the hoppy fragrance from within, when pushed.
“We wanted people to see the heart and soul of the brewery,” Covaleski said. “We want to make as much as we can visible and educational. We’re proud of our process and want to demystify the whole thing. Our fans want to know.”
And thanks to Victory’s loyal—and thirsty—fans, the additional production capabilities of Parkesburg means exciting things are in store for the now 26th largest craft brewery in the country, with roots that run deep in Chester County, Pa.
“I’m looking at 500,000 barrels. If we reach it, that’s phenomenal. If we reach 200,000, that’s phenomenal, too. Every barrel that we can sell is a great thing,” Barchet said. “We’re building for success, not just now but 20 years from now, and we feel like we’ve built a team that deserves this.”
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