Victory Brewing’s Faithful Fool Contest

By Andy Sparhawk

Are you the ultimate supporter of small and independent craft brewers? From now until April 1, Victory Brewing Company is accepting entries to recognize you as a Faithful Fool.

Below you’ll find out the details on the contest and can read Victory Brewing Company Founder, Bill Covaleski’s first-hand example of standing up for craft beer—a beverage he obviously believes in!

Faithful Fool Contest

“Share with all of us your best story of craft beer conquest or humiliation! Did you get your soul mate to say “I do” after pouring her a frothy weissbier? Or did a bottle of IPA get your mother-in-law to study and finally appreciate your full sleeve of tats? Did your lugnut cousin stop leering creepily at you after you impressed the savage beast with a saison? Tell us, oh brothers and sisters, how you ruled foolishness and made the world a cooler scene with your craft beer gesture.

Extra points awarded for Victory beer stories, of course (hey, this is about victories, not failures, ya know), but still the BEST STORY WINS. Emerge from the shadows oh geeks, oh zealots, oh fools. Your day is here.”

Learn more about Victory’s Faithful Fool Contest.

Victory Founder’s Faithful Fool Moment

by Bill Covaleski

Introducing people to the vibrant flavors of craft beer can be a lot like buying gifts for friends you don’t know really well. The coolest idea can often end up as a most epic fail. But peril should not stop us from trying, right?

I obviously felt strongly enough about craft beer to literally invest my life in it. So with the zeal of a missionary, and with the wolves at my heels in the form of a bank we owed our existence to, I jumped into countless “wet samplings” at beer distributors here in Pennsylvania to sell our beer when we launched Victory. Two ounces at a time, I’d serve up samples of our early bottled products, hoping a taste would lead to a purchase.

One somewhat slow Friday evening, I stood outside of Hatboro Beverage with my cooler of Brandywine Valley Lager, Victory Festbier and HopDevil Ale, like a spider with a sudsy web. A pickup truck rolled into the parking lot and a wirey guy bounded out.

For reasons I can’t recall, he did not strike me as the poster child for craft beer and enlightened taste. But, I dutifully smiled and inquired, “Care to sample some fresh, local beer sir?” He came back with a genuine, but not-so-promising, “What do you have like Coors Lite?” My mind raced through my possible responses, as at this point I’d become well-oiled by many evenings of this business.

“Our Brandywine Valley Lager is a golden lager like Coors Lite, but with more flavor from German malts…”

No. I could not do it. I could not pimp my beers of integrity to this guy as if they were some sort of enhanced versions of insipid swill. I think the futility of past failures trying to do just that struck me at that moment. So I closed the cooler lid and smiled. “I don’t think I have anything that you’ll appreciate, sir.” Damn. I just called him a wimp. And denied him a sip of cold beer.

Rather than kick my tail, my honest assessment of the situation provoked a more positive response from him. He did not want to be denied. He pointed to my bottle of HopDevil on display and said, “That one looks interesting.” With renewed commitment and sincerity, I poured him a sample while talking through a few of the virtues of the ‘menacingly delicious’ HopDevil.

Without making the bitter beer face but a few polite words, he ambled off and into the store. Minutes later, emerging with a 30 pack of Coors Lite cans, he waved and wished a good weekend.

Craft beer’s dignity survived the showdown. For that I was ecstatic. Neither party offended the others sensibilities. Great! It was a true win-win.

I wonder today if I could have converted him to craft beer had I been a better salesman? You see, I remain a Faithful Fool to this day.

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's craft beer program coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Arvada, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on CraftBeer.com.

Read more from Andy Sparhawk