August 28, 2012
William Reed of The Standard Tap and Mike "Scoats" Scotese of The Grey Lodge Pub are the embodiment of the classic "brothers from another mother" concept.
They share the same birthday and the same wedding anniversary, both own a Philadelphia craft beer bar which has received national accolades (Standard Tap has been recognized as the place where the "gastropub" model was born; Grey Lodge was named one of best bars in America by Esquire Magazine) and both also founded a second popular restaurant, Johnny Brenda's and Hop Angel Brauhaus respectively. There's more: they were also the guys who came up with The Hammer of Glory concept for Philly Beer Week.
Those resumes are reason enough for Sly Fox to respect and admire both men, but the attachment goes far beyond that. Quite simply, without the early support of both Reed and Scotese, Sly Fox might not be where it is today.
When Brian O'Reilly arrived as the brewmaster at the original Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in 2002, he began to explore off-premise sales, expanding a program he had begun on a much smaller scale while at the short-lived New Road Brewhouse in Collegeville. "William and Scoats were the two guys who bought my beer from the start," recalls O'Reilly. "I don't remember exactly when it was I met Scoats, but he actually bought some without even having tried it. Both of them became our primary off-premise accounts at Sly Fox and gave us a foothold in the city at arguably the two best possible locations, ones whose draft lists became a model for other craft bars as they came along."
As we all know, once demand began to outstrip the capabilities of the pub's 15-barrel brewhouse, the Giannopoulos family recognized the opportunity and began what turned into a two-year search for an expansion site, leading to the opening of the 20-barrel Sly Fox Brewery and Restaurant in 2004. That increased capacity and the addition of the first craft brewery canning line in the Mid-Atlantic region two years later propelled Sly Fox to a steady growth pattern for the rest of the decade and led to the opening of the new, modern 50-hectoliter brewery in Pottstown this year.
There's no reason to believe all that growth would not have happened in any case (the beer is pretty good, y'know?) but there's no denying that the early support of two of the region's best publicans was the magic moment when it all began to come together.