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Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski: Brewmeisters, Biz Whizzes

Victory Brewing Company's path to the craft beer big time.

Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski in 1996 | Photograph courtesy of Bill Heaton

At this point, ordering a Victory Prima Pils might be just as “Philly” as ordering a Yuengling lager — a stunning expression of the influence of the once-upstart Downingtown brewery. Over two-plus decades, Victory Brewing Company co-founders Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski have grown their footprint, thanks in part to a savvy, forward-looking partnership with New York’s Southern Tier, making them the 13th biggest craft brewer in the country. Their path to the big time:

1996:
Covaleski and Barchet, friends from grade school, turn an old Pepperidge Farm factory into the home of Victory Brewing Company.

Storm King Stout and Prima Pils | Courtesy of Michael Furman

2001:
BeerAdvocate names Storm King Stout the year’s top-rated beer.

2005:
Prima Pils tops New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov and his professional tasting panel’s list of 10 great world pilsners.

Ten Years Alt | Courtesy of Sean Quilty
Festibier | Courtesy of Michael Furman

2006:
Victory celebrates its first decade with Ten Years Alt — an 8.5 percent ABV altbier that single-handedly takes down the company’s anniversary party.

2007:
Festbier — the first beer Barchet and Covaleski ever brewed — wins a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

2011:
Victory celebrates 15 years with a new beer, Headwaters Pale Ale, sales of which support clean water advocacy in the region — a cause near and dear to any brewer.

2012:
Victory Beer Hall at Xfinity Live opens in South Philly.

Victory’s brewing facility and bottling plant | Courtesy of Andrew Hoffman

2014:
Victory opens a massive new brewing facility and bottling plant (complete with a brewpub and beer garden) in Parkesburg, tripling its production capacity.

2016:
As big breweries continue to acquire craft breweries, Victory and New York’s Southern Tier Brewing Company form a parent company, Artisanal Brewing Ventures, a strategic private equity move aimed at keeping craft beer actually “craft.”

Originally published as part of “The 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia” in the November 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine. See the entire list at phillymag.com/influential-philadelphians.