Burgeoning regional brewery notches another Victory

Downingtown beer company wins state environmental award

Victory Brewing Co. co-founders Ron Barchet (left) and Bill Covaleski accept the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Business Leadership Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) earlier this month.

Victory Brewing Co. co-founders Ron Barchet (left) and Bill Covaleski accept the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Business Leadership Award from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) earlier this month.

The Victory Brewing Company was recently awarded the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Business Leadership Award by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), a Victory news release said.

Presented as part of the PASAbilities Leadership Award Series at PASA’s 23rd Annual Farming for the Future conference, the honor recognizes Victory’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, innovation and environmental leadership within the community, the release said.

“When we joined PASA many years ago, we recognized the group as a sort of refuge of like-minded individuals,” said Bill Covaleski, president and brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company. “At the time, local production and consumption were strange ideals to many, so we felt the need to band together with this group. It was ideological respect that drew us to PASA, and now, to earn respect from those whom we respect, is simply phenomenal in terms of the sensation it creates upon us.”

Since first opening their brewery in an abandoned Pepperidge Farm factory in Downingtown in 1996, Covaleski and Ron Barchet, co-founder and CEO, have emphasized environmental responsibility, implementing effective energy generation and conservation measures and practices there and at their new, second brewery in Parkesburg. The company plans to open its second brewpub in Kennett Square this summer.

“In a sustainable food system, we need skillful farmers and informed consumers, of course, but we also need hardworking, innovative businesses to draw them together,” said Brian Snyder, executive director of PASA. “We are so proud of what the Victory Brewing Company has accomplished, not only for connecting consumers with the sources of their food and drink, but also for setting an example of how a sustainable business is truly possible in today’s complex retail world . . . and for giving us all a venue for celebrating our accomplishments at the end of the day.”

In Downingtown, the brewery harnesses the energy of the sun through 345 solar panels, generating clean, green electricity to help power the facility; while Victory’s state-of-the-art Parkesburg brewery features high efficiency lighting, insulation, and recovery systems throughout to reduce overall energy consumption, the release said.

Also focused on decreasing waste, Victory recycles the nearly 25,000 pounds of spent grain generated every 24 hours through an arrangement with a local farmer who uses this brewing by-product as animal feed. In 2010, the brewery initiated a composting program in its restaurant and now composts more than 73 tons of food waste annually, according to the release.

“Sustainability, to us, means more than just implementing practices and policies that conserve our precious resources,” Barchet added. “We’re fortunate that our products and platforms permit us a unique opportunity to affect positive change in our communities.”

In 2012, Victory initiated the Headwaters Grant to support environmental advocacy groups working to protect the Brandywine Watershed. Funded through the sale of Victory’s popular year-round brand, Headwaters Pale Ale, one cent for every bottle sold is collected and donated to organizations such as the Guardians of the Brandywine and Brandywine Conservancy through the grant.

“If all Bill and Ron did was make amazing beer, we’d have ample reason to be grateful.  But Victory also has built a business that reflects their social and environmental values, and recognizes the interconnectivity of nature and healthy communities,” said Marilyn Anthony the former regional program director for PASA’s southeastern Pennsylvania chapter.

Anthony, current executive director at Lundale Farm, Inc. and longtime partner in sustainability, brought together Victory and PASA at their annual fundraising Bike Fresh, Bike Local ride, more than seven years ago. The event, which began in Chester County, has grown to include two additional locations and dates across the state. In Chester County, the ride begins and ends at Victory Brewing Company, where participants enjoy a post-race celebration after navigating and appreciating the countryside that is their local food shed.

“Through their generous support for clean water, clean energy, and sustainably grown local food and farms, Victory offers solid proof that a company can do well while doing good,” Anthony said.  “And their legions of loyal customers love them for it, as well as for the awesome beers.”

Covaleski said as the company looks forward, “we’re most excited by the progress we have made here in the U.S. as a consuming culture who now cares about the integrity, quality and source of what we choose to consume.  We’re excited to witness more Americans adopt sustainability and integrity as priorities in their food choices, thanks to the commitment of organizations like PASA and the business and farming leaders associated with this group.”

Covaleski and Barchet, childhood friends who met on a school bus in 1973, opened their Downingtown facility in 1996. The company now distributes its beers in 34. To learn more, visit www.victorybeer.com.

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