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Victory Chili Challenge

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I headed out to Victory Brewing Company this past Sunday for their 10th Annual Chili Cook Off. Five of us were selected to judge twenty-one different chili entries, and the entrants from Victory's staff ran the gamut - everyone from the brewers to the serving staff had a chance to submit a recipe and compete against one another for some quick cash and the coveted People's Pepper. I couldn't have been more excited to fill my Sunday afternoon with some fresh Victory brews and quite possibly the largest spread of chili I have ever laid my eyes on.

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No sooner than the doors had opened did the people come flooding in to try the wide array of chili. I have been to Victory more times than I can count on my fingers and toes and I have never seen it this busy.

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As judges we were sequestered away in the back of the restaurant, where all twenty one chili's were blind-tested and evaluated for appearance, taste, aroma, texture, and originality.

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Joining me on the judge's panel, we had Kevin McLoughlin from NFL films, Brian Kolesar from The Brew Lounge, Owen McCuen from Ferment Nation, and Amy Strauss of Downingtown Dish.

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Friend of Victory Brewing Company and nine year chili judging veteran, Rich Ruch also joined us on the judging panel and has had more chili than you could possibly imagine.

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As we got into our tasting, Chef Eric MacPherson came in to tell us a little bit about the entries and what we could expect in some of these batches of chili.

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You can't have chili without a palet cleanser.

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Souffle cup after souffle cup, I made way through all the chili's with a cleared sinus and no heartburn.

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After the tasting portion we had to set upon the controlled chaos of the restaurant and judge the entrants' presentation.

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Before I made my rounds I had to pick up one of these awesome Mr. Yuk Cancer Sucks pins. Props to Berry Woodrow for making these, they were well received - almost everyone in the place had one on their chest.

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As I started to make my rounds I came to notice all the clever gimmicks being utilized by the entrants.

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Some displays were bland while others went all out. I was a big fan of the lab set up by Revenge Of The Nerds chili. PS - they are actual scientists.

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Cowbell? I would love some.

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The Philly Chili team had this sweet cutout of Benjamin Franklin.

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Seeing as this competition is being held at the brewery, there was no shortage of Victory beer in any of the recipes (some for better and some for worse).

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After I made my rounds for the presentation it was time for another drink, and the beer everyone was buzzing about for the day was ECLAT Cocoa Lager - a specialty release lager brewed with cocoa created to celebrate their sixteenth birthday.

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The crowd also had a say in what chili they thought should be on top.

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With all the judging complete and all the chili consumed, it was time to announce some winners.

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The People's Pepper winners: Andrew McGarry, Alex Chryst and Ali Leaf with John Doe's Chili.

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Meg Davis, Amanda Hoffman, and Dillon Allen of Philly Chili found themselves in third.

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While the simple and solo effort of Chuck Golder with It's Just Chili too second place.

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And your winner is, Ian Jenkins & Megan Maska with their Beast Breath Chili. They walked away with $100 and bragging rights until next year's challenge.

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The book closes on another Victory Chili Cook Off, leaving some with the sweet taste of victory and some with the bitter taste of defeat. A big thanks to Victory for inviting me out to judge the competition and putting on this awesome event for everyone to enjoy. I know I had a great time and can't wait to do it all again next year.

Victory Brewing Company


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Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Very enjoyable article, easy length, great pictures an all around fun article.
    well done!

  2. Nice lens.

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