Victory’s Headwaters Pale Ale
I had the honor of being invited to attend Victory Brewing Company‘s sneak-peek brunch on Sunday for the release of their new year-round staple and 15th anniversary beer: the Headwaters Pale Ale. The beer is officially released to the public at Victory’s 15th anniversary party on Tuesday, February 15, but a few of us were able to get an advance taste of the beer with brunch and sit with brewer Bill Covaleski and pick his brain for a few hours.
Sipping a new brew around a table with fellow beer writers Lew Bryson, Jack Curtin, and the brewmaster himself was one of the best ways I could have spent a Sunday afternoon. Seated in the dining portion of what I consider to be the best brewery in Eastern Pennsylvania, it was a special way to introduce the beer to a thoughtful yet excited group of individuals who all, needless to say, quite enjoyed this sociable brew.
The beer, a 5.1% pale ale made with all German malts and mostly Citra hops, is a bit of an anomaly for an anniversary beer; usually, breweries opt to issue a one-off specialized big beer to commemorate. “Giant anniversary beers are good for sharing just a little bit of,” Covaleski said. “This is good for building a party around.” And indeed it would be–the moderate ABV and crisp, lemony taste from the Citra hops make it an excessively accessible beer. The lemonyness is followed by a slight earthiness to pay homage to the waters of the East branch of the Brandywine river. The Citra never quite goes away, though, and the beer finishes with the refreshing citrus taste it began with.
After we’d all had the opportunity to get acquainted with the beer, ask our questions and have some lunch (Amy and Mary of The Town Dish and I shared the Reuben meatloaf, creamed chipped beef and French toast), Bill pulled out some maps to explain the Brandywine River and how Downingtown acts as a perfect drain to catch the water Victory uses. He then went on to mention that many of the river’s protection agencies will be receiving some of the profits from the sales of Headwaters–more details of which will be released in the future.
In a video on Lew Bryson’s blog, You can listen to Bill as he talks about the beer having “a melange of hops” with a “leafy, black tea earthiness.” He goes on to mention, “We wanted this one to be very bright and refreshing.” Further into this clip, you will hear Bill express the significance of this 15th anniversary beer being more about the ability to share it with supporters, friends and family than it is about being one of those rare beers that are hard to come by. While I’m incredibly thankful to have been included in this beer blogger’s brunch, I am even more thankful for the fact that the year-round Headwaters Pale Ale will be accessible to me for my own enjoyment and to share with others, just as Bill and Victory had intended.
Suffice it to say that the new Headwaters Pale Ale is not only delicious and an exemplary anniversary beer, but socially and ecologically conscious. Keep an eye out for the beer to hit shelves on Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on your location) and to be phased in to some of Victory’s farther-reaching markets as the months progress.