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Beer Camp Across America

Brewing with Victory

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On a cheery, Friday conference call with Victory in late August, we talked about unicorns and playgrounds. Brewers know beer, but they can also run with similes and other literary devices.

Bill Covaleski, co-founder of Victory, first thought about pitching a Pilsner as the style to pursue for Beer Camp Across America, but he eventually had a change of heart.

A collaborative Pilsner from our two breweries “is like a unicorn to me and probably many craft beer fiends,” he said. It’s a “dream of exceedingly high expectation” and would ideally turn out beautifully with “herbal [and] bitter sparkles trailing from its rainbows of delight.”

“But [a Pilsner is] almost expected,” Bill said, when the craft beer community “sees us two in the sandbox.”

An Altbier, however, is a style that isn’t in the American craft beer limelight, and particularly isn’t so within our two breweries. (Victory does have a limited draft Altbier.) Our founder, Ken Grossman, liked the vision.

“Pilsner would be in your wheelhouse,” he said, “but an Altbier is more of a statement.”

This German-style brown ale—whose ‘Alt’ means ‘old’—conditions for a bit longer with an ale yeast to develop a smooth, nuanced brew. Instead of European or Germanic hops, though, Victory’s Director of Brewing Operations Adam Bartles suggested we take a stylistic tangent with American varieties.

“Newer, in-your-face varieties?” Ken asked. “[Or] there are some in Idaho that have Germanic influence.”

Adam figured we should “maintain earthy, mineral qualities” as the German standard typically exhibits, but the final verdicts are far from in. We’ll tinker with specialty malts, yeast strains—Kolsch? Altbier-specific?—and hops to land on the best liquid to put in the variety pack.

As test batches emerge, we’ll relay the approving nods, recoils (hopefully few and far between!) and next steps right here.