Downingtown brewery will lower its sights and aim for a more comfortable niche, founders say; Easton brewery offers no objection to returning brewhouse

Co-owners Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski of Downingtown's Victory Brewing Company, one of the real success stories in local craft brewing, say they will shut down their recently installed 50-barrel brewhouse "as soon as we can manage it" and reacquire their old 25-barrel system from Weyerbacher Brewing of Easton as part of a revised business plan that "will enable us to rediscover our original vision." As part of the downsizing, the on-site brewpub will also cease operation.

"When we were just a couple of kids on a schoolbus in Collegeville, with some bottles of lager stolen from our parents' refrigerators in our lunch boxes, we wanted to grow up to be brewers, not businessmen," said Covaleski. "We have seen the mountain, climbed to the top and, well, it just wasn't all that much fun."

Covaleski said he and Barchet will "go back the way it was," doing everything themselves and letting most of their employees go. "It will mean an entirely different lifestyle," he added, "and we will produce many fewer beers in much more limited distribution. Even our old plant will be more than we really need. The thing is, we'll be doing what we love." Barchet nodded in agreement throughout his partner's presentation and later told bystanders, "this will mean I'll have more time at home to grow hops and other stuff."

Contacted in Easton, Weyerbacher owner Dan Weirback said his company will not object to giving up the old Victory plant, and in fact was looking forward to it. "To tell you the truth," he said, "with the added capacity, we're were brewing all too many bourbon-barrel aged beers and it's been debilitating our staff. Somebody's got to empty those barrels, you know. Now, if you'll eschshuzz me, I gotta go take a nap."

Victory's far-reaching decision immediately inspired legal objections. A laws suit filled within an hour of the news conference by a person identified in court documents only as "major investor Richard R.," demanded that the brewery continue to operate its on-premises restaurant. His argument: "If they close, where the hell am I going to go every day?" He was supported in his action by his wife, who filed a separate affidavit urging the court to "force Victory to maintain its brewpub and my sanity."

Automated printing system sends sexy tome to market as "Brewing Up a Business" when wrong manuscript sent to Wiley Publishing

An almost unbelievable series of circumstances has resulted in a spicy, no-holds-barred novel written nearly two decades ago appearing on bookshelves between the covers of the eagerly anticipated new business book by Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, "Brewing Up A Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery."

"The manuscript had been approved and corrected and was sent back to me for a final reading," said a bemused Calagione this morning. "I didn't see any problems so I emailed it to the address I was given, where it was automatically typeset and bound. The books were shipped to stores and national distributors last week and we didn't learn of the mistake until someone finally opened a copy yesterday."

Instead of "Brewing Up a Business," customers will find the x-rated "Wild Nights with an A-B Salesgirl" inside the covers. The book, which recounts the amorous escapades of an insatiable sales representative for a major brewery and a thinly disguised character called Randall, the Available Animal, was written by Calagione while a college student. "Hey, after a couple of hours of naked ice hockey, you gotta go back to the room and do something," he explained.

Calagione said the "A-B Salesgirl" featured on his "Pain Relievaz" rap CD (with Bryan Selders, who when approached for comments, released a written statement: "I ain't talkin' about any of that stuff, I be cool") is not the character in the book. "There are a lot of those salesgirls, you know," he said, smiling.

A spokesman for Wiley Publishing said the book would not be withdrawn, indicating that the mixup and sure-to-develop controversy would only increase sales and make Calagione even more of a beer industry icon. In response, Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company announced he would soon release Samuel Adams Triple XXX, an account of his company's controversial ad campaign which led to his seemingly endorsing a young couple having sex in a church.

On the West Coast, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company said that a special limited release, Stone Kama Sutra Ale, was being rushed to market two months before its intended release. "I thought I was going to be one step ahead of Sam this time," said Koch, "but, damn, that boy's good."

An FBI sting reveals that the owners and founders of Harrisburg's popular Troegs Brewery are not brothers; in fact, they're apparently not related at all

Chris and John Trogner, who claimed to be two brothers who dreamed of creating a successful microbrewery and then saw that dream come true when they founded Troegs Brewery in Harrisburg, are actually not brothers at all, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today. Neither reputed Trogner (or whoever) was available for comment.

"Our investigation, conducted over two years, has shown that there is no record of either a 'Christopher Trogner' or a 'John Trogner' ever existing," said the FBI statement. "We still have no idea who these two individuals are, but we definitely know who they are not."

The FBI investigation was conducted by undercover agent Marvin Smedley, who managed to wrangle his way into a job at the Troegs Brewery under the non-de-plume "Ed Yashinsky." Smedley told local news outlets, "I never thought they'd fall for such an obvious alias, but damned if they didn't. You just never know."

Instant polls taken immediately after the FBI report was released to determine if the news would influence their opinion of Troegs and its beers showed public reaction to news to be "So What?" over "You Bet" by an 87-13 margin. For a reason not entirely clear, the 13% appear to be almost exclusively homebrewers who had once taken the time to give brewing advice to John Trogner(or whoever). Asked about seeming public indifference, Smedley replied, "I risked my life uncovering this scandal and I think the public will eventually see its importance. Hey, we're the FBI. We must know what we're doing."

Flying Fish renames Farmhouse Ale, new Sly Fox varietal (?) project, Tom Kehoe recreates the past and you'll never believe the truth about Fergie

New Jersey's Flying Fish Brewery announced today that it will change the name of its best-selling "Farmhouse Ale" to "Traffic Circle Ale," effective immediately. "We want to fully identify with the culture of our home base," said brewery founder Gene Muller, noting that "Strip Mall Ale" was considered and rejected because "people might then think we're located in the Greater Northeast."

Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly, who was so excited about "serving and pouring greatest variety of IPAs ever offered by one brewery at the same time" in his 2004 IPA Project that he could hardly control himself, told the Beer Yard exclusively today that he will attempt a similar feat in 2005, brewing "12 distinctive Light Beers to all go on tap the day after Thanksgiving." When asked about which hops and malts would be used, O'Reilly snorted, "Hops? Malt? Are you kidding? Have you ever tasted a light beer?"

Yards founder Tom Kehoe announced this morning that, to help perpetuate a sense of the wellspring from which Philadelphia's craft brewing tradition sprung, he will partition off the rear third of his new SUV and install the complete original Yards brewery in the space. "It will be a traveling exhibition of living history," said Kehoe. "I'm also thinking of filling the back seat with oyster shells to promote our Oyster Stout. Whatever works."

In a real shocker, this week's installment of "Ask Fergie," the Philadelphia Weekly advice column penned by Fergus Carey, of Monk's, Grace and Fergie's Pub fame, reveals that Carey is neither from Ireland nor Irish at all, but actually the black sheep scion of a Main Line family who took up the identity of "some guy wandering through town back in the '80s; I gave him bus fare to New York for the right to use his name. It was just a lark, but it turned out it was a good way to avoid going into the family business. But now that me...I mean, my...income from 'Ask Fergie' has made me rich beyond my wildest dreams, I thought it was time to come clean." The good news is that, while Fergie isn't Irish, partner Tom Peters, despite reports to the contrary, is...


Beloved owner cashes in and disappears

Matt Guyer, a familiar figure to those few customers of the Beer Yard who happened to catch him in the store during one of his increasingly infrequent visits, has sold the business to the Mississippi based beer and tobacco retailing chain, Big Brands & Nothin' Butt, long time employee Mark Sauerbrey told customers today, reading from a note he found on the door in the morning when he arrived to open up.

With the money they gave me, I should be able to survive for several years," Guyer's note read, "especially since I plan to stay for free with all those people I've been sucking up to every time I've gone over there.

The new owners have asked him to stay on, Sauerbrey said. "Not that I'll have to do anything. Big Brands & Nothin' Butt will be ordering all the beer directly from their headquarters, using the standard beer lists they've developed for convenience stores all across Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

"Weapons of Mass Drunkenness” are inappropriate in these troubled times, says Homeland Security directive; Tom Peters accepts new post as Anti-Trappist Ambassador

In a move which startled beer drinkers both at home and abroad, the Department of Homeland Security today abruptly banned the importing of all Belgian beers into the United States.

"These high quality, high taste beers are nothing more than Weapons of Mass Drunkenness," said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, "and we're pretty sure we know where to find them and destroy them." Even as he spoke, government agents throughout the country were stripping Belgian beers already in the U.S. from retail shelves. Ridge stressed that a new provision added to the Patriot Act requires all good citizens to immediately turn in their Belgian stashes at "security sites" which are being set up in every major population area.

Philadelphia's Tom Peters, the co-founder of Monk's Café, was announced as the nation's Anti-Trappist Ambassador and will head up the fight to keep destructive and dangerous foreign beers out of the hands of the American public. "I have seen the light," Peters told the Washington press corps," and I will do whatever I have to do to win this battle for our country, even if it means I have to go directly to Belgium and consume all the beer slated for export to the U.S. by myself."

Peters' holdings in Monk's will be put into blind trust, he said. Partner Fergus Carey will continue managing the bar and restaurant, which will be renamed Fergie's Too!

Only eight kegs of high octane Raison C’est Fini will be brewed and they will be released one at a time; brewer Bryan Selders comes with each keg

Declaring his brewery the final winner in the ongoing competition with Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) to brew the world's strongest beer, Dogfish Head founder, CEO and former Hagar Slacks model Sam Calagione announced today the release of Raison C'est Fini, a 100% abv brew which is also "hopped continuously with a blend of every hop variety grown on every continent in the world during the year 2003, plus some stuff that looks an awful lot like hops which I found out behind our Milton brewery."

Boston Beer's Jim Koch was not available for comment. Some reports have him retiring in disgrace to Costa Rica.

Calagione noted that Dogfish Head's high end, high octane beers "have always been designed to draw wine and cognac drinkers into the craft beer market, but we realized recently that we were focusing on only one segment of the wine market. With the flavor and character of grain alcohol, Raison C'est Fini will attract those consumers at the other end of the spectrum who favor brands such as Thunderbird.. Not that we're ignoring our established base, of course. With all that alcohol and all those hops, I think we can safely say this beer will be very highly rated by the online beer groups, even by those members who never get to taste it."

In order to constantly hop the beer, Dogfish Head engineers took a set of Barbie and Ken dolls and paired them in a manner which Calagione described as "very, very friendly but not `family' friendly, if you know what I mean," to create a unique hopping mechanism. "This is so far beyond Randall the Enamel Animal that I get giddy just thinking about it," he admitted.

The invention, Barbie & Ken Hop Climax, is proprietary and being held in strict security at the brewery. Thus, in order to insure that Raison C'est Fini is being hopped right up until the last pint is drawn, brewer Bryan Selders will be packaged with each keg as it is released. His job is to force hop pellets into the top of the keg as rapidly as he can until it is tapped, then throw fresh hop flowers into each glass as it is poured. Each keg will be priced at $250.00 plus room and board for Selders.

Serving only draft local beers at Standard Tap was “intellectually dishonest,” says co-owner William Reed; a new approach will attract a different breed of customer and fend off an incipient law suit

Budweiser, Miller and Coors drinkers who felt left out of the fun as The Standard Tap became established as one of the city's hippest pubs-dissatisfied to the point where there was talk of a class action lawsuit charging that the Tap unfairly discriminated against consumers who choose their beers based upon multi-million dollar advertising campaigns-can breath easier today. The Northern Liberties hotspot is changing its tune.

"I was lying in bed last night trying to think of the next rundown and financially deprived section of the city that Paul (partner Paul Kimport) and I could help be rediscovered if we created yet another cool bar, when I had an epiphany," co-owner William Reed said, talking loudly in order to be heard over the sound of workmen removing the draft systems from the Tap's two bars. "If we call ourselves the 'Standard' Tap, then shouldn't we adhere to the accepted standard? Shouldn't we be selling only the standard beers that can be found almost everywhere else? Otherwise, our name is nothing but a lie and we're being intellectually dishonest, not to mention disingenuous."

Kimport was doubtful at first, Reed admitted, "but when I pointed out that we could also get rid of all this fancy-shmancy food and stop running around looking for fresh and unusual ingredients and just whip up tubs and tubs of wings and stuff like that instead, I could almost see the light bulb go on over his head."

All the taps will have been removed and bottles and cans of big name domestic beers and top selling imports, including "the finest selection of light and low carb beers on the market today," will be the only beers available when Standard Tap opens this evening. Reed said that a similar change is in store at the recently opened Johnny Brenda's. "In fact, over there I think we'll rip out the kitchen entirely and put in a big six-pack cooler in that area. We'll just serve beer nuts and maybe a couple of pre-packaged sandwiches we can warm up in a toaster oven or something. It's gonna be great."


Today’s New Beers
These beers arrived today. Will you be drinking them tomorrow?

Due to computer problems, we are presently unable to update our New Arrivals list of beers you've been waiting for. We'll catch up with complete listings, labels and other information as soon as things are fixed. Meanwhile, this is what's being unloaded from the trucks this very morning:
Victory Ultra
Weyerbacher Green Strawberry Stout
Heavyweight Cask Tofu Pale Ale
General Lafayette Double Imperial Nada
(draft only)
Flying Fish Fish-Kill Ale
Moore's Select Hop Death Fest
(draft only)

If you want a case or sixtel set aside from you, e-mail Mark right away.

Friday Tasting: The Beers of Red Bell & Independence
The founders of two legendary breweries will be here to ply their wares and tell sad stories of the death of kings

This Friday's regular tasting at the Beer Yard will feature bottles of the cult favorite Red Bell Philadelphia Lager and a recently discovered growler of Independence Blonde. Company founders Jim Bell and Bob Connor will be on hand (separately) to discuss their industry leadership during the glory days of their legendary Philadelphia breweries. Join us, 5-7pm.

Coming Next Week: Yards Millard Fillmore Ale

Stone Horizontal Epic Ale Arrives Soon
Vertical Epic is just so yesterday, y'know?

The ever-creative brewers at Stone Brewing have taken their Vertical Epic brewing program to the next level. Horizontal Epic Ale will be released one bottle at a time, one day at a time, for the entire year. Each bottle will be a totally different beer made from a totally different recipe. No information about hops, malt, abv or anything else is either available or applicable.

In PA, this beer will be sold in case lots, with a yellow stick-it note on each bottle to indicate the day of its release. We have April cases scheduled to arrive in early May. Supply limited. If you want to reserve your case now, e-mail us immediately.


Bryson vs. Alstrom Brothers Mud Wrestling
July 17, 2004
Nodding Head Brewery & Restaurant

Replacing the popular Royal Stumble on the Nodding Head schedule is this "by popular demand" mano-a-mano between beer writer Lew Bryson and the Alstrom brothers, founders of the Beer Advocate website. "First Lew's on Beer Advocate, then he's kicked off it, then he's back on again," says Nodding Head's Curt Decker. "It's just too confusing for everybody. We're going to let them go at it, head to head to head, and settle things once and for all."

The Alstroms, Todd and Jason, will wear traditional wrestling garb, according to Decker, while, curiously enough, Bryson has opted for a fencing outfit. "Hey, whatever works," said Decker. "The only thing that can mess this up now is if Lew can't find a place to park."

Nodding Head brewer Brandon Greenwood has created a special beer for the afternoon event, which he has named Mighty Wet Dirt Slap. It is an Imperial Berlinerweisse, which will be served through a Dogfish Head Randall the Enamel Animal which has been packed with fresh Woodruff.

Curtin’s Last Beer
June 12, 2004
Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, Phoenixville

In July, the man many suspect of being the world's oldest semi-working beer writer, Jack Curtin, will consume the final pint of his life as a small and generally disinterested group of hangers-on observe. While Curtin's exact age remains a mystery, he has been informed by the National Statistical Institute that he is nearing the ultimate limit for beer consumption by an individual during a lifetime. Based on his current consumption rate, he will arrive at his final pint on the afternoon of July 23. He has chosen to have that pint at Sly Fox and will be driven to the event by Mr. Steven Rubeo. Mr. Dan Bengel will help him to his chair when he arrives. Both will expect free beers in return.

Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly will create a special, one-time-only beer in order to make the last one a memorable one. "I'm honored to do this for Jack and am looking forward to finally pouring a beer for him and not having him ask for another one," O'Reilly said. He noted that the rest of the special batch would then be destroyed so no one else would ever taste it, "unless, of course, I can sell it to the Standard Tap, Grey Lodge or some place like that."