New partnership on tap for Victory Brewing Co.

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Victory Brewing Company co-founders Bill Covaleski (left) and Ron Barchet have forged a new partnership with Southern Tier Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Victory Brewing Company

Having just marked 20 years in the craft brewing industry, Victory Brewing Company, which opened two area brewpubs this past year – one in Kennett Square and one in Parkesburg – is continuing its growth spurt.

Victory has announced a landmark alliance with Southern Tier Brewing Company under parent company Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV). As the first major transaction of 2016 within the rapidly evolving craft beer industry, this union presents a new model for craft beer partnerships by preserving brewery independence while pooling collective resources, according to a Victory press release.

The new strategic framework between ABV, Victory and Southern Tier provides capital, security, and vision for the future. ABV, formed to unify independent craft brewers and distillers, embraces the collaborative craft spirit while administering crucial growth resources. The transaction is expected to close within the next 60 days, the release said.

Under the umbrella of ABV, Victory and Southern Tier will independently operate their breweries, commanding a joint capacity of over 800,000 barrels of potential annual production. This alliance creates one of the largest brewers in the Northeast and ranks within the top 15 craft brewing companies in the United States, according to Brewers Association criteria, with combined 2015 shipments of over 250,000 barrels.

With a world-class roster of complementary beer brands and an even stronger standing in the marketplace, ABV will shepherd Victory and Southern Tier in collaborative sales and marketing efforts to strengthen, support and expand its distributor and retail partnerships. Victory and Southern Tier brands will become increasingly available to loyal and new consumers across their combined markets as a direct result of this union.

“The craft beer community is at its most critical moment since its inception as larger brewing corporations have bought into our grassroots movement, irrevocably changing the marketplace. Like-minded brewers such as Victory and Southern Tier can preserve our character, culture and products by banding together,” Bill Covaleski, founder and brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company, said in the release. “Allied we can continue to innovate and best serve the audience who fueled our growth through their loyal thirst.”

Ron Barchet, COO of Victory Brewing Company, agreed. “One walk through their brewery, and I knew that Southern Tier had the same belief in quality and excellence that has driven our culture for 20 years,” Barchet said in the release.

The Victory and Southern Tier leadership teams and employees will remain intact. Covaleski and Barchet, who will become significant shareholders in ABV, will join the Artisanal Brewing Ventures’ board of directors. CEO John Coleman and CFO Bill Wild will lead ABV's management team, the release said.

“This is exactly the kind of alliance we imagined when we created Artisanal Brewing Ventures in 2014,” Phin DeMink, founder of Southern Tier Brewing Company and also a major shareholder in ABV, said in the release. “This is a concept that was specifically designed by and for craft brewers, so we can focus on the things we’re best at while creating meaningful scale advantages. I’m proud to see this model validated and am grateful that my friends Ron and Bill have become our partners.”

The Victory partnership between Covaleski and Barchet began in 1973 on the school bus in Collegeville as fifth-graders. They became friends – as did their families – and kept in touch when they went separate ways to college: Barchet to UCLA to pursue a political-science degree and Covaleski to Temple’s Tyler School of Art.

After Covaleski’s father piqued his interest in home brewing, he got Barchet hooked in 1985 by giving him a beer kit for Christmas. Less than a decade later, they were making plans to launch their business in Downingtown.

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