Banter With Brewmasters: Victory Brewing’s Bill Covaleski (And a Prima Pils Review Too!)

This isn’t the first time that I’ve had Victory Brewing Company’s Prima Pils, nor is it the first time that I’m reviewing it (click here to read what I had to say about Prima Pils way back in late November of 2011), but it is the first time that I’m having it from a can. When I first heard that this beer would be released in cans, I was super excited by the news, but also a little bit concerned, i.e. would Prima Pils lose any of its deliciousness because of the new packaging? The short answer: no, it didn’t! Here’s the long answer:

As I reported in 2011, Prima Pils pours with a crystal clear golden color, but this time around, instead of zero head and lacing, there was a long lasting off-white head of foam, and it still has those biscuity malt and lemony hop aromas. The mouthfeel is as smooth and lightly effervescent as ever, while the taste is crisp, clean, and super refreshing with a delicious balance of mild bitterness and sweet malts. Prima Pils from a can is the superb, year round refresher that it’s always been. It’s a beer that’s great on its own, or you can pair it with just about any kind of food. My only question is this: What took Victory so long to make it available in cans??? Rather than speculate and hypothesize this conundrum to death, I decided to go straight to the source for some answers…

The can of Prima Pils that you see in the above photo was sent to us by the Victory Brewing Company. Whenever one of these little goodies arrives on my doorstep, it’s usually accompanied by a letter that explains the product in great detail. In addition to product details, the letter also mentions that if we’d “like to discuss anything Victory Brewing Company-related in further detail with Victory’s Bill Covaleski or Ron Barchet, they would be more than happy to arrange an interview” for us. The opportunity to review a new release from one of our favorite breweries AND the chance to interview one of their brewmasters was too good to pass up, so after a bit of thought and a major assist from Limpd, we managed to come up with six questions for Bill Covaelski. Here’s what Brewmaster Bill had to say in response to our questions…

i Bill Covaleski, Brewmaster & President Victory brewery ay Race St Pier,

Bill Covaleski, Brewmaster & President, Victory Brewery at Race St. Pier

Q1: Prima Pils in a can??? We’ve been asking for this to happen for several years. What took so long?

We have always been enthusiastic about taking suggestions from our fans into consideration. With the broad range of delicious beers we already offer in packages we had to work through our canned options methodically. By dedicating the canning line to nothing but Summer Love Ale last summer we proved it’s potential. Vital IPA followed in October and then wih Golden Monkey in cans we knew it was time to get Prima Pils, into a can, as summer was coming well. We lovingly labeled the new bottles and cans with “perfection since 1996” to point out that you can’t rush perfection.

Q2: From a brewer’s perspective, what are the real benefits of offering Craft Beer in cans to the public, i.e. cost savings, freshness, portability, environmental impact, etc.?

The major benefit that stands out to me in regards to canned craft beer is its portability factor alone, which led us to ‘portable Pils perfection’. We strive to make people happy with our creations and the way they are packaged, extending the locations they can be enjoyed in, adds up to a true product benefit in this situation.

Q3: Aside from the obvious financial incentive to Victory’s shareholders, how does the recent formation of Artisanal Brewing Ventures benefit both Victory and Southern Tier?

Most importantly, Artisanal Brewing Ventures has allowed Victory and Southern Tier to put their like-minded, yet distinct brewing caps on and work together to collaborate on innovate craft beers. Operating a brewery and running a business are demanding roles that share little in common. Fortunately, both Southern Tier and we excelled at both throughout our histories. But with the lift of additional, fully committed management partners in place we are freeing up more creative time for founders, brewers and managers to innovate. We’re both getting to share resources, techniques and ideas through this process, which is invigorating.

Q4: We’ve been fans of your beers for many years. We love how you take traditional beer styles from Germany, England, Ireland, Belgium, etc. and create your own interpretation of that style (It’s what great Craft Brewers do!). Which country has had the greatest influence on your brewing techniques?

Both Ron and I studied brewing in Germany, so that is a huge influence in how we approach craft beer. However, it is really more of a philosophy of brewing rather than a physical location that has been the greatest influence for us.

Q5: There’s no doubt that the Craft Beer movement has gained serious momentum over the past few years. Craft Beer is EVERYWHERE! And that’s a very good thing. But there is a downside, and that downside is beer snobbery (yours truly has been guilty of it on more than one occasion). Do you have any advice with regards to beer douchery and how to avoid it for our loyal readers?

Great question! Remember, beer is for social engagement! If you really want to drink beer alone then simply do so, rather than ruin others’ experience with pretentious blathering. The rules of not being a beer snob are pretty closely aligned with the rules of not being a mean person in general. Be a friend; don’t talk down to people; share your beer. Beer karma is real.

Q6: If you’re not drinking beer, what are you drinking, i.e. beer, wine, whisky, tequila, a cocktail? The Boozedancing Crew wants to know!

Chances are, you’re not likely to see me drinking anything but beer. That certainly comes with all of the other rewards of being a Brewmaster, craft beer is always nearby and nearly impossible to resist. There is a lot of field research that goes into the job. That being said, lush, honeyed Highland single malts and reposado tequilas find their ways past my lips with a decent frequency.


Many thanks to Victory Brewing Company and Bill Covaleski for helping us out with this post!


9 replies »

    • So so true! Throw a couple cans in the back of a cycling jersey and you’re good to go. Though I hope the pockets are insulated or that it’s a short ride, otherwise, it’s gonna be a rather warm beer. Ewwwww.

      Liked by 1 person

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