This is almost like when Serena goes up against Venus. After four rounds of voting to narrow down a field of 32, we’re at the championship round in our search with Philly Loves Beer to name the best brewery in the US — and our two finalists have followed such similar trajectories they could almost be considered siblings.
How’d they get here? In the Final Four competition, Victory took the top spot over Yards, 69 to 31 percent, and Dogfish Head put down Sierra Nevada by a margin of 72 to 28.
Now they battle each other. So how’d they get here, really?
We traced a quick history of each operation, both of which started around two decades ago and grew to become one of the top 20 independent breweries in the US. Read up, then cast your vote to help decide who becomes ultimate Beer Madness 2017 champion.
A short timeline of Victory Brewing Co. history:
- 1973: Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet meet while riding the school bus together in the fifth grade
- 1985: Covaleski gives Barchet a homebrewing kit as a Christmas gift
- Late ‘80s: Barchet studies brewing at the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan; Covaleski studies brewing at Munich’s Goemans Institute
- Feb. 1996: Brewery opens in a former Pepperidge Farm factory in Downingtown, Pa. with 144-seat restaurant attached
- 2008: Downingtown restaurant expands to 300 seats
- March 2012: Victory Beer Hall, a bar not owned by the brewery but affiliated via a licensing deal, opens in Xfinity Live
- Feb. 2014: Brewing begins in Parkesburg, Pa., a 200-barrel brewhouse in a 140,000-square-foot facility set on 42 acres
- April 2015: Victory at Magnolia, a seven-barrel brewpub and restaurant, opens in Kennett Square
- Nov. 2015: Parkesburg restaurant opens to the public
- Feb. 2016: Victory merges with Southern Tier Brewing, becoming a privately held company called Artisanal Brewing Ventures
- 2017: The combined brewing operation (called ABV, how cute) is ranked No. 13 in the US by sales volume, according to the Brewers Association
- Now: Victory alone distributes to 35 states and nine countries around the world
A short timeline of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery history:
- Oct. 1995: Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats opens in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
- 1997: Calagione rows a keg across the Delaware Bay to NJ to make his first out of state delivery
- 1999: Calagione collaborates with Dr. Pat McGovern of Penn on Midas Touch, the first of what will become a repeating “Ancient Ales” series based on recipes from antiquity
- June 2002: New 30-barrel brewhouse opens in Milton, Del., taking over most brewing operations
- 2002: A distillery is added to operations at the Rehoboth brewpub and Dogfish Spirits is born
- April 2009: Documentary film Beer Wars debuts, turning Calagione into a minor celebrity and solidifying his prominent voice in the craft brewing movement
- July 2014: Dogfish Inn, a beer-themed hotel, opens in Lewes, Del.
- Sept. 2015: Private equity firm LNK Partners buys 15 percent stake in company
- Nov. 2015: Larger distillery opens at Milton facility
- March 2016: Chesapeake & Maine, an alehouse and restaurant run by Dogfish, opens next door to the original brewpub in Rehoboth
- 2017: Dogfish is ranked No. 14 in the US by sales volume according to the Brewers Association
- Now: Dogfish Head distributes to 35 states across the US
Cast your vote below: