Nearly two decades after conceiving Downingtown-based Victory Brewing Company, Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet have expanded their cult-following beer brand with the introduction of a new brewpub in Kennett Square. In between came the duo’s state-of-the-art facility in Parkesburg in 2014, which is now brewing a lofty 225,000 barrels per year)
The sleek, 220-seat outpost sits on the street level of Magnolia Place, a luxury complex in progress on the edge of town by the trail head of Red Clay Creek. The beauty of the new brewpub—heavy in glossed concrete and reclaimed wood—is its seven-barrel brewery. It’s on display near the entrance, with equipment—a custom hop back, open fermenters—that would make any beer geek swoon. The utmost care was given to the brewery’s 49-foot bar, which blazes with a large Victory logo on an 800-piece mushroom-wood wall. (This is the Mushroom Capital of the World, after all.)
With 30 beers on tap, including a rotating selection of Kennett Square-brewed beer, the pub pours fan favorites like Prima Pils and HopDevil aside its less known efforts, like brews from its Moving Parts IPA series.
But it’s not just about the beer in Kennett. Chef de cuisine Owen Kolva has put together a small but strong menu that features staples from Downingtown (hand-tossed soft pretzels, chicken wings) and other approachable grub (Cooper Sharp-topped burgers, P.E.I. mussels, fries with malt vinegar aioli). It’s a no-brainer, too, that he’s having fun with mushrooms. The roasted portobello sandwich, crafted on crunchy ciabatta, is texturally interesting, with layers of spiced eggplant-and-tomato chutney, Boursin cheese and fresh sprouts.
The menu is small for good reason. Kolva focuses on crafting a daily-changing additions menu, one that nears 15-plus picks and experiments with ingredients he can source from area farms. “This is our chance to step up our game,” he says. “The Kennett Square restaurant mirrors Downingtown in sourcing local ingredients, but we’re taking it a bit more to the extreme at Magnolia.”
Kolva is also pushing the boundaries of brewpub food. It may appear muddled to feature a menu with Middle Eastern, Asian, Spanish and German specials. But with powerful executions and captivating compositions—many of which you can’t get anywhere else in the suburbs—Victory is proving that brewpub food can be provocative.
Long gone are bar peanuts. Victory’s blistered shishito peppers, served with a simple sprinkle of sea salt and a dollop of zesty salvitxada sauce for dipping, were a finger-licking beer accompaniment. Fried cauliflower, crowning a pool of Lebanese olive oil, za’atar and tahina, was a test of the chef’s global inspiration. The classic sumac-and-oregano-seasoned snack complemented the bitter hoppiness of our beer, while the brew balanced the earthy, woodsy and nutty flavors of the plate. The crunchy, Thai-style ground chicken salad, constructed with bean sprouts and roasted peanuts, was equally interesting, bold in its snappy, spicy flavors.
Victory’s beer-infused ice creams anchor the eatery’s dessert program. The Strawberry Love is a cool, sweet treat spiked with chunks of angel food cake. Its rich and creamy first impression is promptly followed by Summer Love Ale’s refreshing citrus notes.
A retail shop equipped with six-packs to-go and brewery-branded swag completes the Kennett experience. So have a pint or two—with food—and grab some Victory for the road.
THE SKINNY: Victory at Magnolia offers a serious beer experience, elevated by an eclectic, well-executed food menu.
Victory at Magnolia
650 W. Cypress St., Kennett Square, (484) 730-1870.
Cuisine: Brewpub fare with global influences.
Cost: Small plates $5-$14, sandwiches $7-$9, main plates $10-$22.
Atmosphere: Industrial meets rustic.
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.
Extras: Takeout beer, happy-hour specials.