Victory Brewing Company

In 1996, childhood friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski founded Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pennsylvania in an old Pepperidge Farm factory. Over the years, Victory has grown into an award-winning brewery with distribution in 34 states and 9 countries. With three locations – Downingtown (the flagship brewery), Parkesburg (capacity of ten 200-barrel brews per day), and Kennett Square (produces unique beers that are available only in the on-site brewpub) – Victory Brewing Company is showing no signs of slowing down.

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When I was up in Pennsylvania with the kids last weekend, my sister and I decided that a trip to Parkesburg was in order because it was en route to Old Windmill Farm. Clay and I have been to the original Downingtown location many times during out visits to the area over the years but this was my first visit to the Parkesburg location (opened late 2015). I have yet to go to the Kennett Square location, which is a tad ironic because that is where I went to high school. Next visit – I’ll be sure to hit it up, hopefully with Clay in tow.

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While some may grumble at the changing culture of craft-breweries, I am #allin at bring children along to the increasingly family-friendly environments. Germans don’t bat an eye at families in biergartens and a lot even have playgrounds (I must live in Germany at some point in my life) so it is nice to see a shift over on this side of the pond as well. We ate lunch and then took the self-guided tour upstairs.

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We were very impressed with the self-guided tour. While not very long, it held the interest of the kids and adults alike. While we obviously don’t allow our children to drink beer, we don’t hide the fact that we enjoy it. We appreciate the history and craft – how water sources can affect flavor, how different grains impact balance, and the science of brewing. Our hope is that as our children age they don’t view alcohol as simply a vehicle to get drunk, but rather develop respect for beer, wine, and spirits and enjoy the nuances that consuming such beverages provide.

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All of the kids enjoyed the hopsniff.

It was like getting pelted in the face with the essence of an IPA.

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We were there on a Saturday so we weren’t able to see the production in action but it was still very interesting so have somewhat of a bird’s eye view on how the beer is made.

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According to the Victory Brewing Company website, the Parkesburg location “features a German-built ROLEC brewhouse with a production capacity of ten 200-barrel brews per day or a total daily capacity of 2,000 barrels (6,200 gallons). In one year we can brew 500,000+ barrels. Best-in-class brewing systems and installations allow for efficient use of energy and maximal hygiene throughout the process.

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Oh how I wish the bottling area was up and running. I started to sing the Laverne and Shirley theme song and my children, nephew, and niece proved that their side-eye game was strong that day.

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The Victory Brewing Company’s Parkesburg Taproom is located at 3127 Lower Valley Road, Parkesburg, PA 19365. If you ever find yourself in southeastern Pennsylvania, check it out. Bring the kids! Eat, drink, and take a self-guided tour. And don’t forget – Go Eagles!

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Old Windmill Farm

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that if the kids have a school holiday when Clay is TDY or deployed, we’re happiest taking advantage of the break and getting out of town if our schedule allows.  So when I realized that the kids has off Friday and Monday and Clay was going to be TDY, I made plans to visit my sister, Megan, outside of Philadelphia. We brainstormed outings and when we learned that the Herrs Factory did not give tours on Saturdays (boo!), Megan suggested Amish County and came across Old Windmill Farm after a simple Google search. My sister communicated with Jesse, the owner of the farm, via email to coordinate our visit so when we arrived at 1:00pm, he was waiting and ready to give us a tour of his family’s working farm.

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Lancaster County is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The rolling hills are peppered with horse and buggies and non-electric working farms. The Pennsylvania Amish of Lancaster County are the oldest Amish settlement in America and the area is known as a destination for visitors wanting to step back in time and experience a slower pace of life.

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Seeing as how it is January, the landscape wasn’t as lush as it may be for those who tour the farm during the other three seasons, but we still throughly enjoyed our visit learning more about the Amish way of life.

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Daisy, a pygmy goat, followed us around for the duration of the tour, much the delight (and terror!) of the kids.

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Jesse was the perfect tour guide, maintaining a low-key presence and answering all of the questions we had about his farm. The amount of work that goes into maintaining the land and his family’s way of life is astonishing and the tour gave us real appreciation for their dedication and astonishing work-ethic.

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We held roosters.

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We milked cows.

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We held 10-day old piglets.

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We collected eggs.

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We visit turkeys.

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And we chilled with some horses.

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This farm is totally worth a visit and after experiencing it ourselves, it is obvious why it is so highly rated on Trip Advisor and Yelp. Whether you’re local, driving through, or visiting Amish Country, be sure to check out Old Windmill Farm. It’s a great family-friendly activity that gives you a glimpse into the Amish way of life. And you may leave wanting a pygmy goat. Like me.

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