More than 40 Temple University alumni explored the patio of Fishtown bar Interstate Drafthouse on June 4 to network and meet Bill Covaleski, a 1985 graphic design alumnus and cofounder and brewmaster of Victory Brewing Company.
“My motivation for this event was less about the specific beers and more about the Temple connection,” said Michael McCloskey, a 1996 risk management and insurance alumnus and co-owner of Interstate Drafthouse. “I thought it’d be fun to get other people together.”
McCloskey, who is also a risk, insurance and healthcare management professor, organized the event with Covaleski and other staff members from Victory and Interstate Drafthouse for Philly Beer Week.
Special Victory beers were on tap all night to celebrate Philly Beer Week. Of the six draft Victory beers, Liberty Bell Ringer and Brotherly Suds were brewed exclusively for Philly Beer Week.
Brotherly Suds is a limited edition beer stemming from an annual collaboration between local breweries. Collaborators Flying Fish, Iron Hill, Troegs, Yards and Victory Brewing Company have joined together to brew Brotherly Suds for the past nine years.
Each year the recipe is slightly different than the last, which is why this year’s version is called Brotherly Suds 9.
“The really interesting twist to this beer is that the yeast that’s used in it is the yeast that used to be used at the Christian Schmidt Brewery here in Philadelphia,” Covaleski said.
Christian Schmidt Brewery Company was a popular local brewery operating from 1981 to 1986.
Philly Beer Week is an annual 10-day festival that celebrates Philadelphia as “America’s best beer-drinking city.” The festival, organized by non-profit organization Philly Loves Beer, includes several beer-related events thrown by organization members.
As guests arrived at the Interstate Drafthouse event, each received a name tag indicating their school and graduation year at Temple. Alumni were then able to chat with Covaleski or mingle with fellow alumni over glasses of beer.
“It’s good to see more alumni from different years and getting to talk to different majors,” said Daniel Barends, a 2017 media studies and production alumnus.
McCloskey served as the faculty advisor for Temple’s now dormant Craft Beer Enthusiast Club. Overseeing the group of 21-and-older students who were passionate for beer and brewing led McCloskey to connect with Covaleski about four years ago.
McCloskey reached out to Covaleski again when he became part-owner of Interstate Drafthouse. They discussed beer recipes and the possibility of a Temple-themed beer and an alumni event.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s do Philly Beer Week,’” McCloskey said. “‘We’re an active participant, so is Victory, and let’s do something Temple related.’”
The event was open to the public at 6:30 p.m., but Temple alumni were allowed to arrive an hour earlier.
Grace Givnish, a 2013 risk management and insurance alumna and Dave Schuetz, a 2014 risk management and insurance alumnus, had both members of the Craft Beer Enthusiast Club while at Temple. Givnish spotted Schuetz at the event and called out to him.
“Last time I saw him was 2012 because we were at a craft beer club event,” she said. “We had just got it formally recognized by the university.”
As alumni like Givnish and Schuetz talked amongst themselves, the patio at Interstate Drafthouse filled up. Besides the special Victory beer for the event, Interstate Drafthouse has strong Philadelphia and Temple roots as well.
McCloskey co-owns Interstate Drafthouse with two of his friends in the neighborhood they grew up in. McCloskey bought Interstate Drafthouse last March with Robert Ritchie, a 1995 risk management and insurance alumnus and Keith Dailey, president of the tax and accounting firm KD Financial Services in Philadelphia.
“We purchased it from another individual who’d been running it probably for about seven or eight years,” McCloskey said.
Ritchie, who was a patron of Interstate Drafthouse for a few years before ownership, was looking for a career change. He had been working alongside Dailey at KD Financial Services for 18 years.
“I was kind of getting a little bored with the accounting world,” Ritchie said. “It wasn’t necessarily my passion, and I am very passionate about beer and also food.”
Ritchie now works as the general manager of Interstate Drafthouse and is in charge of daily operations like payroll, inventory and ensuring the bar and dining area run smoothly. At the event, Ritchie was stationed in the back patio pouring Victory Summer Love golden ale and Home Grown Lager for the crowd.
“There are so many people who have graduated from Temple that stay in the Philadelphia area,” Ritchie said. “Many of us…bump into each other fairly often.”