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Originally Posted November 15, 2006

As was the case last year, Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery bar manager Corey Reid has arranged with the Hampton Inn at 4 North Pottstown Pike (the corner of Rts. 100 and 113) to set aside a block of rooms for out-of-town or out-of-area attendees to Sly Fox IPA Project Day at the Pikeland Village Square pub on Friday, December 8.

"There are a lot of strong beers being poured that day," says Reid, "and a lot of people who travel a long way to be part of what is probably the largest IPA celebration by a single brewery ever...I can say that because it gets bigger every year. It just seems like a good idea to make it as easy and affordable as possible for anyone who wants to have a good local place to spend the night."

The Hampton Inn is located roughly eight miles west of Sly Fox and getting to the pub from the hotel is an easy trip straight up Rt. 113. Anyone registering and mentioning "Sly Fox" will get a special $99 rate for Friday evening. Then they can either set a designated driver for the day or use Restaurant Valet, an inexpensive local shuttle service.

For reservations or more information, interested parties can call the Hampton Inn at 620.363.5555.

"Last year, several people turned the trip into a whole weekend," says Reid, "and took the opportunity to come back here Saturday to try the rest of our beer lineup or to visit our Royersford brewery and restaurant, which is located only another 15 minutes drive from here. Or both. There are also many other attractions for the beer lovers in the area, including The Drafting Room, one of the area's best beer bars, just a short ride down Rt. 100 from the Hampton. Iron Hill in West Chester and Victory in Downingtown are both within about half an hour as well."

IPA Project Day, which is the culmination of Sly Fox's year-long program of brewing single varietal IPAs, is marked by having all the varietals on tap (ten of them this year), plus the annual release of Odyssey Imperial IPA, a double IPA made with all those varietals. 2006 will mark the first release of Odyssey in 22oz bottles, adding to the historic aspect of the event.

Full details on all the IPA Project fun are available here.

Originally Posted November 6, 2006


Despite a report here two weeks ago, it turns out that Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale, released every January in conjunction with Sly Fox's annual celebration of poet Robert Burns' birthday, will not be available in bottles come January 2007.

The original plan to do 22oz bottles of the popular brew was sidetracked by scheduling and space issues and the "startling" advance demand for Odyssey Imperial IPA, which will be released in 22oz size for the first time in conjunction with the IPA Project 2006 celebration day on December 8, according to brewer Brian O'Reilly.

"There is just no way to fit it into the schedule," O'Reilly said, "even though we know that it is a perfect beer for cellaring and enjoying from a bottle. Despite the fact that our packaged beers are going out the door to wholesalers almost as fast as we can make them, a lot of floor space is tied up with pallets waiting for pickup, not-yet-filled bottles and cans and stock for the two pubs, not mention bags and bags of hops and malt. Plus we added two bright tanks recently to free up our fermenters, which we use to have to tie up when our beers were lagering. To tell the truth, if the Black Raspberry Reserve hadn't already pretty much sold out, we'd be in a real bad space problem right now.

"Add in that we ran through the first canning of Dunkel Lager within days so we have to do a second one right away and that advance orders for Odyssey indicate that sales are going to be off the chart, which means we have to bottle a whole lot to be sure and meet the demand, and it just became impossible.

"With a year under our belts and all sorts of information to help our planning and scheduling, we will definitely plan to bottle Gang Aft Agley in 2008. For now, I remind disappointed fans that good things are always worth waiting for."

Originally Posted October 22, 2006

Sly Fox's popular dark lager was released on draught and in cans on Friday, October 20. Dunkel Lager became the third Sly Fox beer to be packed in cans, joining Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale and will be available to wholesalers and retailers starting tomorrow.

Dunkel Lager is a traditional Bavarian-style dark lager made with Munich, Pils and German Roast malts and a variety of Bavarian hops. It is 5.3% alcohol by volume and the canned version will be a seasonal release for fall and winter on the brewery's schedule.

Royal Weisse will be added to the canning lineup next spring and will be a warm weather seasonal in cans. It is available on draft year-round and is one of Sly Fox's most popular beers both at the pubs and with the growing lists of restaurants and taverns which have added one or more Sly Fox taps as part of their regular rotation.

Two more packaged beers remain to be released to complete an impressive line of bottled and canned products which began with the debut of Saison Vos and Christmas Ale in caged, corked 750ml bottles last November. Since then, in addition to the three canned beers, the brewery has produced Ichor (Quadruple), Incubus (Tripel) and Black Raspberry Reserve in 750ml and Rt. 113 IPA, Instigator Doppelbock and Oktoberfest in 22oz size.

The 2006 Christmas Ale (750ml), scheduled to be released the week of November 6. and Odyssey (22oz), the Imperial IPA which will be released at the annual all-day IPA Project party on Friday, December 8, are the two beers still to come. For those keeping count, that's 13 new Sly Fox beers on the shelves.

Sly Fox beers are now available in the Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh regional markets in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey and metropolitan New York.

Originally Posted October 14, 2006

Sales representative, public relations person or just, you should excuse the expression, Sly Fox Beer advocate? Call her by whatever title you wish, but Ms. Suzanne Woods is the new and lively face of our favorite brewery in and around Philadelphia.

Woods, who had much the same duties for Boston Beer/Samuel Adams a few years back, returned to Philadelphia in 2004 to become special events coordinator at World Cafe Live and created the very successful B.E.A.T.S. Blues & Brews Exposition in January 2005.

One of her early moves was to upgrade the draught beer list at World Cafe Live, adding Sly Fox and other local micros to the taps. "I'm a homebrewer and beer is my passion," she said at the time, "and brewing seems to attract a lot of people who also play music, so the combination seemed perfect."

After leaving that gig, Woods did a stint at Eulogy in Old City before joining Sly Fox a few months back. She is also currently working at Royal Tavern in South Philadelphia in addition to helping the brewery expand its market. "Brian [O'Reilly] and Tim [Ohst] make great beer, so it's a joy to turn people on to it," she says. "This is more of a grass roots effort than my job at Sam Adams was, of course, since they were already well-established. I'm out there talking to the owners of bars and restaurants, setting up tastings and events and doing other cool stuff to get the whole city thinking Sly Fox."

If her name seems familiar, that's because Suzanne Woods has gotten a lot of press attention of late. She is the founder of the Ladies of IPA (In Pursuit of Ale), a women's beer club in the city which meets regularly at various good beer venues to drink and talk about outstanding brews (their most recent gathering was at Brigid's in Fairmount this past Wednesday). Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell of the Philadelphia Daily News broke her cover in an an August column and stories about the group have appeared in City Paper and other venues as well. The group also has a popular MySpace site and she says she is contemplating putting a Sly Fox page up there as well.

"I'm talking to everybody from a chef at the French Culinary Institute in New York to the cheese experts at Di Bruno Brothers in center city to any bar owner interested in great beer," she says.

Originally Posted October 14, 2006

Respected Drinks writer Ron Givens, in a Sunday New York Daily News story on September 25 used a political analogy to sing the praises of Sly Fox's arrival in the Big Apple.

" I would like to nominate the Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager as a beer to lead this great nation of ours," Givens wrote, after noting that it's easier to campaign for politicians than it is for beers.

He went on to explain:

"The Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager has recently come to our fair city from the honorable state of Pennsylvania. It should be on tap in every bar in this great nation of ours.

"My friends, this Sly Fox promises something better with its aromas of soft malt and delicate hops. Then it delivers on that solemn pledge with solid flavor - not too much to scare away the common folk, but enough to even satisfy the nattering nabobs among us.

"It is, I dare say, an Abraham Lincoln of beers. And it happens to be produced in Royersford, Pa., scarcely more than 100 miles from a little town called Gettysburg."

After providing some background on Sly Fox and its history, Given's concluded this way:

"For Sly Fox, [Brian] O'Reilly has created a melting pot of beers that pay tribute to styles from around the world. Several of the brewery's year-round offerings will be sent to New York City on a regular basis: Phoenix Pale Ale (All-American), Pikeland Pils (Czech), Rt. 113 IPA (Anglo-American), O'Reilly's Stout (Irish), Saison Vos (Belgium) and Royal Weisse (German). Other seasonal offerings will also come our way."

"Any of those six have the strength of character to make them a fine running mate for the Helles Golden Lager."

Ron Givens is the regular beer columnist for the Daily News and writes about beer and other beverage alcohol for a variety of other publications. He is also the author of Bourbon at Its Best: The Lore and Allure of America's Finest Spirits, published last March.

Originally Posted September 6,2006

One of New York's most respected beer bars will play host to a Sly Fox extravaganza tonight, Wednesday, September 6, introducing the brand into that market and fulfilling the brewery's commitment to make Sly Fox beers available in the Harrisburg and Pittsburgh markets and in New Jersey and New York in 2006.

Spuyten Duyvil, located at 359 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn (phone: 718.963.4140) will have six Sly Fox beers on draught, including Simcoe IPA on the hand pump, as well as most of the bottled and canned line available. Brewers Brian O'Reilly and Tim Ohst will also be on hand.

A second Sly Fox release event, the Manhattan kickoff, will be held at The Collins Bar in Hell's Kitchen on September 13, beginning at 6pm.

At Spuyten Duyvil tonight, in addition to the Simcoe IPA, Black Raspberry Reserve, Helles Golden Lager, Oktoberfest, O'Reilly's Stout and Royal Weisse will be on draught, while Ichor Quadruple, Instigator Doppelbock, Oktoberfest, Rt. 113 IPA and Saison Vos will be available in bottles, as will Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale in cans.

Niche Brands, a division of Altmann Bottling Co., will be marketing and distributing Sly Fox in New York. A shipment of 98 half barrels (Helles Golden Lager, Phoenix Pale Ale, O'Reilly's Stout, Royal Weisse, Pikeland Pils, Oktoberfest, Rt. 113 IPA, Rauch Bier & Saison Vos), plus 90 cases each of Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale in cans is on its way to their warehouses this week.

Niche Brands is still awaiting label approval for packaged products and will pick up a shipment of packaged brands when approval is received. That is anticipated to happen within days. The cans currently in their hands will be used only for samples and promotional efforts.

Manny Calderon of Niche Brands said that Sly Fox products will begin appearing on draught in New York the second week of September, with packaged products to follow when label approvals are received.

Originally Posted September 1,2006

Sly Fox Rt. 113 IPA was named the best India Pale Ale in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast Region in the recently completed 12th Annual Summer United States Beer Tasting competition.

Sly Fox Saison Vos won Honorable Mention its category, finishing a few points behind McKenzie Brew House Farmhouse Amber Saison, which was named the Grand Champion of the style (Championship beers are the top rated ones among beers from all 12 regions in the USBTC competition).

A total of 358 beers from 129 breweries were examined across the 12 different beer categories from each of six U.S. regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic/ Southeast, Midwest, Rockies/Southwest, California, and Northwest/Pacific. Grand Champions are named in each category, along with Regional Winners. When the voting is particularly close, Honorable Mention Winners are also named.

In addition to the McKenzie Brew House beer, other local Grand Champions were Appalachian ESB and Victory St. Boisterous Maibock. Other Regional winners were Troegs HopBack Amber and Victory Lager. Additional Honorable Mentions went to Victory St. Victorious, Victory Prima Pils and Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat.

This was the first time that Sly Fox packaged products were part of the USBTC judging.

Originally Posted August 30, 2006

The September issue of Philadelphia Magazine takes note of the major role of Sly Fox O'Reilly's Stout in the erosion of Guinness' market share in the local region.

Writer Marnie Old's Dining, Food & Wine column points out that O'Reilly's Stout is "Guinness's most successful challenger" and goes on to note the beer's success in two prominent local beer venues:

"Brewed in a dry Irish-stout style from premium ingredients, [O'Reilly's] has a dark, chocolaty richness that simply tastes fresher and more vibrant than the Irish import. O'Reilly's is muscling its way onto nitro taps in former Guinness strongholds like McGillin's Olde Ale House below Broad and Chaucer's on Lombard. This spring, the Drafting Room had customers participate in a taste test of Guinness vs. O'Reilly's. The results so heavily favored the local contender that both the Exton and Springhouse locations have switched to Sly Fox permanently."

The column is accompanied by the striking photograph at left, which is credited to Clint Blowers.

O'Reilly's Stout, a nitro-based beer, is one of Sly Fox's best-selling brands in the regional draft market and at both Sly Fox Phoenixville and Sly Fox Royersford. It is the featured beer during Sly Fox's ten-week long St. Patrick's Day "Boot Camp" in which one lucky patron wins a free trip to Ireland each year.

Originally Posted August 10, 2006

Consider Sly Fox Head Brewer Brian O'Reilly a man of his word. He told us that the first ever bottling of Sly Fox Oktoberfest would be released on August 11 and that's just what's going to happen.

The 2006 version of this popular seasonal will become available both on draught and in bottles at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville and Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant in Royersford tomorrow.

The Sly Fox interpretation is not a big Marzen style, but rather a medium-bodied, smooth and malty beer made with German Vienna malts and German hops. "It has been very popular with our customers as a draught offering in the past because it is so drinkable and refreshing," said O'Reilly. "I'll be very interested to see how it does as a packaged product."

The hits just keep on coming. The next Sly Fox beer to make its bottle debut will be Black Raspberry Reserve, debuting on September 1. And Sly Fox Dunkel Lager, the third canned beer from the brewery, should appear in early October.

Originally Posted July 17, 2006

Sly Fox head brewer Brian O'Reilly today revealed the official schedule for four eagerly awaited beers, each to be released to wholesalers in bottle and on draught and available at the Phoenixville and Royersford pubs.

Three of the forthcoming beers will be bottled for the first time.

Oktoberfest 2006 will be released on August 11, Black Raspberry Reserve on September 1, Christmas Ale 2006 (the only one previously bottled) on October 30 and Odyssey Imperial IPA on December 11 (although it will make an "unofficial" appearance three days' earlier at the IPA Project 2006 day-long celebration in Phoenixville on Friday, December 8).

Christmas Ale and Black Raspberry Reserve will be released in 750ml bottles and will have a more limited draft availability; Oktoberfest and Odyssey will be in 22oz bottles.

O'Reilly also said that a third canned beer, Dunkel Lager, will be released this Fall at a yet-to-be-determined date and will be a winter seasonal in the canned product line, rotating with Royal Weisse, to be introduced next Spring.

"By next spring, we will have introduced 13 packaged beers and extended distribution throughout most of Pennsylvania and into three or more additional states in less than a year and a half," O'Reilly said. "I think that's an amazing performance."

If everything goes according to schedule, he added, there's more expansion news to come over the next few months. "We'll be adding two bright tanks to the Royersford brewery this Fall and we expect to be announcing a new capability in Phoenixville which should really excite serious fans of our beers."

Originally Posted July 12, 2006

Sly Fox Brewing, in addition to participating in the July 22 Good Food, Good Beer event at the Shambles in Headhouse Square, Philadelphia which is the culmination of Buy Fresh, Buy Local Week in the region, will also help kick off a Phoenixville prelude to the official week of praising local food, beer and music by donating beer for the thirsty riders of a unique biking event.

Sixtels of Helles Lager and Phoenix Pale Ale from Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Pikeland Village Square will be available to cool down participants in the Bike Fresh, Bike Local tour on Saturday, July 15. This 20-mile bike ride will roam through Kimberton and Charlestown to visit a trio of local sustainable farms. The bikers will stop at each farm for fresh food tastings and informative presentations from the farmers. They will visit Sankanac at Camphill Village in Kimberton Hills, then do a 10-mile ride to Charlestown Cooperative Farm before returning to Kimberton Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA).

Participating in Bike Fresh, Bike Local costs $25 and registration begins at 2:30 on Saturday at the Phoenixville Farmer's Market at Bridge Street and Taylor Alley, which will be the center for the day's events. The tour will leave promptly at 3pm from 415 West Seven Stars Road in Kimberton. Under 17 riders must have parental consent and all cyclists must wear helmets and sign waivers. For more information or to register, use email or call Tom at 215-620-5042.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local is a promotion developed by the Philadelphia Convivium of Slow Food and Farm to City four years ago. Special events at the Phoenixville Farmer's Market will include cooking demonstrations by Philadelphia author and chef Aliza Green, "the Culinary Farmer," who also will be signing copies of her books, and the "Three Sisters Planting" which will take place in one section of the garden, demonstrating a Native-American system of gardening that combines corn, legumes (or beans) and squash or pumpkins, all of which benefit each other. For youngsters, Sparkles the Clown will be on hand, and there will also be face painting and an opportunity to participate in the planting of the Children's Garden, located near the soon-to-be completed Schuylkill River trail. Additionally, Bluegrass musicians The Joe Hillman Band will play and the Phoenixville Hospital will be on hand to do health screenings.

The week officially kicks off on Sunday, July 16, with a gathering at Yards Brewing Company in Kensington. The $16 price for the 12-4:30pm event includes local food, beer, and a donation to the campaign. Local celebrations throughout the week will include free tastings of different food products, including jams, honey, free-range eggs, raw milk, pickles and farm-fresh organic produce at Kimberton Whole Foods in Kimberton Village and, on Wednesday, July 19, a celebration festival in Eagleview town center in Exton conducted by the Eagleview Farmer's Market, followed by movie night at the Sankanac CSA, 1852 French Creek Road, Phoenixville, where farmers will hold a film screening at the Hritz Barn. The audience will sit on hay bales to watch a movie projected onto the side of the barn.

The second annual "Good Food, Good Beer...The Rest Is History" at the Shambles will match the food of local chefs with local craft beers and is a fund-raiser for the local Slow Food group. The event runs from 5:30 - 8:30pm and tickets are $30 for five-sample food plates or $22 for three-sample food plates. For tickets, call Slow Food at (718) 260-8000, and ask for the Rest Is History event.

For a complete listing of Buy Fresh, Buy Local events throughout the week, visit

Originally Posted July 4, 2006

Sly Fox shipped its largest beer order to date at the end of June, sending some 65-70 bbl of beer to Pittsburgh to fulfill its promise to open the western Pennsylvania market this summer.

The 10-pallet shipment consisted of 23 half kegs and eight sixtels each of O'Reilly's Stout and Rt. 133 IPA; 13 half kegs of Phoenix Pale Ale ("It would have been more but that's all we had available," said brewer Tim Ohst); 70 cases of Saison Vos and Rt. 113, 28 cases each of Incubus, Ichor and Instigator Doppelbock, and 90 cases each of Phoenix Pale and Pikeland Pilsner.

Sly Fox signed on with Tony Savatt, Inc., one of the big players in the Pittsburgh market. The family-owned distributorship was founded in 1935 and is the wholesaler for Pittsburgh Brewing (Iron City) in the region, as well as for Jones Brewing (Stoney's) and High Falls (Genesee). They also carry a wide range of Belgian and other imports.

Sly Fox will apparently be the major craft product for Savatt, which covers 27 counties and services hundreds of accounts in what is one of the nation's best beer markets. "I guess that, just as Anheuser-Busch has been working feverishly to align their distributorships with craft breweries in order to play a role in the only part of the beer business which is showing steady growth, Savatt has signed Sly Fox with the same idea," opined Ohst. "This should be a very good fit for us."

Good fit indeed. Let the record show that two Pittsburgh Sly Fox fans were so eager, they went directly to the Savatt warehouse as soon as they heard the news to claim the honor of making the first purchase of Sly Fox beers in western Pennsylvania.

Sly Fox is distributed in the five-county Philadelphia market by Kunda Beverage of King of Prussia, in the nine-county Harrisburg Market by Westy's Beer Distributors of Camp Hill, in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding counties by Stockertown Beverage of Stockertown, in Berks County by The Beer Mart of Reading and in New Jersey by Hunterdon Brewing Company of Phillipsburg. Negotiations are ongoing for distribution in New York.

Originally Posted May 30, 2006

In the May feature article at Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer website, the renowned beer writer waxes rhapsodic about the beers of Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly, using the introduction of Phoenix Pale Ale and Pikeland Pils in cans to argue that canned brew may well be the future of craft brewing.

After describing his visit to the Royersford brewery in March and noting that "Sly Fox is a brewery that has made its presence increasing felt on the mid-Atlantic beer scene, largely through such impressive ales as their Jake's ESB, Saison Vos and a 10% alcohol quadrupel called Ichor," Beaumont writes of an April visit to Finland where "most packaging craft breweries...have willingly, even enthusiastically embraced the half-litre can."

"And to that I say, why not?" Beaumont continues. "Here at home, particularly in the summer, I am not adverse to the occasional 500 ml can of Pilsner Urquell, which, despite the fact that it is also sold locally in two different bottle sizes, I will buy instead of the green glass bottles ten times out of ten. True, they're not as aesthetically pleasing as the bottles, but at least I know with a can that I'll be getting non-light struck beer, a quality I can in no way guarantee from the bottles, unless I choose to endure the grumpiness of a clerk when I ask them to get a fresh case from the back and open it in front of me.

"As I understand it, micro-canning lines like that of Sly Fox are now available and affordable for the small brewery. Which leads me to expect that other craft breweries may be following the Oskar Blues and Sly Fox lead sooner rather than later, and that some day a Pittsburgh or Seattle beer fest might feature as much canned ale and lager as did the Helsinki Fest.

"It's a development that I, for one, will embrace wholeheartedly."

You can read Beaumont's "Talking Tin" in its entirety here.

Originally Posted May 8, 2006

He came, not from a galaxy far, far away, but nearby Kulpsville, and when a goat named Han had finished his work yesterday, he had garnered for himself the distinction of having the 2006 Sly Fox Maibock named in his honor (complete with a fancy medal to wear around his neck), and he had also earned for his owner, Brett McFarland, $75 gift card good at Sly Fox pubs in Phoenixville and Royersford.

Han, named for the popular Star Wars character, Han Solo, was the winner of the fifth annual Sly Fox Goat Race yesterday, triumphing over fellow ruminants Hella (second)and Willie (third) in the day's final heat. Defending champion Savannah was a late scratch, withdrawing Sunday morning due to a hoof injury.

The race is the centerpiece of the yearly Bock Festival at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville's Pikeland Village Square, held the first Sunday of May. Saying that each year's edition draws record crowds is almost a standard line in newspaper reports of the event: a front page story in this morning's Phoenix by reporter Dennis J. Wright estimated yesterday's massive gathering in bright warm sunshine at 1,800 people, nearly doubling the crowd estimate from 2005.

The day celebrates not only the new Maibock, a traditional spring beer which is tapped and poured by head brewer Brian O'Reilly and the owner of the winning goat immediately after each race as eager beer lovers crowd around, but the entire range of O'Reilly's bock brews, which are quickly gaining a national reputation. Slacker Bock, Helles Bock, Instigator Doppelbock and ice versions of the latter two (beers which have been frozen to allow the water to be removed, creating a stronger, even tastier beer) were also on tap, along with other German style beers, throughout the day. A German menu and German band added to the festive atmosphere.

McFarland said he was told about the Sly Fox race by friends and entered Han "to have some fun. I was surprised when we won but he was focused on getting to the finish line in both his first heat and the final one." McFarland did acknowledge that he'd trained Han a bit for his racing debut. "I ran him around few times to get him used to the leash." Han's sister, Leia (what else?) was also in the final heat, finishing back in the pack.

Wright's story in the Phoenix can be read online right here.

Originally Posted April 6, 2006

Call it serendipity. Ted and Amanda Siuta of Phoenixville certainly do. The Siutas, who live on Hunsberger Road, were the grand prize winners of a trip to Ireland at a drawing held at the Sly Fox pubs in Phoenixville and Royersford on St. Patrick's Day..

The prize was the culmination of the ten-week Boot Camp Program in which customers who signed up attended weekly "meetings" at either Sly Fox location to earn raffle tickets which were tossed randomly into tubs at the pubs on March 17. Tickets were drawn alternately at the sites until the winner, who had to be present, was selected.

The Siutas, who had more than 50 tickets entered, earned at both sites, won on a ticket they got at Royersford and were at that pub on March 17 to claim their reward. Last year's winners, Bob and Priscilla Sager, also of Phoenixville, won with a ticket garnered at Phoenixville.

Ted and Amanda, a computer programmer and data control supervisor respectively, are both from Yonkers, NY, and have lived in this area for 23 years. They have two children and have been regulars at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Pikeland Village Square almost since it opened in December 1995.

They added Sly Fox Brewery and Restaurant on Lewis Road in Royersford to their pub-crawling last year, alternating between the two locations, on the advices of an old friend. And therein lies a story.

"We started coming to Royersford because Scott Klossman took a job bartending here," Ted explained. "We've know him for years and he's very good at what he does. Then I ran into him when he was visited the offices where I work in January and he suggested to me that Amanda and I ought to sign up for Boot Camp and maybe win a trip to Ireland. We did, and we were faithful to the program, coming every week. And look how it worked out."

Serendipitous indeed, but there's more.

"When we came here on St. Patrick's Day, our plan was to sit at the bar and check our ticket numbers, which I'd entered into a spreadsheet to make it easier, as numbers were called. But we ran into some old friends and ended up dining in the restaurant area. We were in the middle of dinner when they started announcing numbers for the earlier prizes and we found we couldn't hear or understand them.

"So I came up front and asked Stacy (Stacy Hebert, Sly Fox Royersford General Manager) if they could make the sound work better in the dining area. She couldn't, but she offered to take our ticket list and give it someone at the bar who would check them for us. So we did. Then, around 9:15 or so, she came back with the list and said that the winning ticket had just been drawn and we didn't win. We took the list back and shrugged. Hey, we got into this thing basically to win the official t-shirt, anyway.

"Then, ten minutes later, she came back and asked for the list again,. 'Nobody's claimed the prize,' she said. Right after that, we heard this big roar and I said to Amanda, 'well. somebody's won' and here came Stacy, rushing in all excited and smiling, to tell us 'You won!' A few minutes later, (Sly Fox Managing Partner) John Giannopoulos verified that we did have the ticket and handed us the prize."

The Siutas plan to take their trip in September or October. For Ted, who hasn't been to Europe since visiting England in 1976, and Amanda, who's never been out of the U.S. except to visit Canada, it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Other prizes awarded during the St. Patrick's Day festivities included Sly gift certificates, a "six-pack" of growlers and a mixed case of Sly Fox beers.

The highly successful "Boot Camp" promotion was conceived by Phoenixville Bar Manager Corey Reid in 2003. The Ireland trip has been the grand prize for the last two years.

Originally Posted March 23, 2006

Back in 1996, Phil Markowski, then in the early stages of a career that would make him one of the most famous and respected craft brewers in the United States, did young Brian O'Reilly a great favor, offering him a brief internship and then hiring him for his first professional brewing post as the assistant brewer at Brewers Bier Haus in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

When Markowski left shortly afterwards to create Southampton Publick House, O'Reilly took over as head brewer until the Bier Haus closed, then was hired by the John Harvard's chain where he was head brewer in Cleveland for two years before coming to Pennsylvania in 1999 to help create the short-lived New Road Brew House in Collegeville. He became head brewer at Sly Fox in 2002.

Last week, O'Reilly returned the favor.

Markowski brewed Southampton's Anniversary Old Ale at Sly Fox's Royersford Brewery on March 13-14, with O'Reilly's help. The beer is currently aging in the Royersford tanks before being bottled and shipped to Southampton's Long Island location. Old Ale is a one-off brew which kicks off a four-beer series of Southampton's Belgian Ales in 750ml bottles scheduled to be contract-brewed and bottled at Sly Fox.

The ongoing Southampton 750 Series will consist of Grand Cru, Saison, Abbot 12 and Christmas Ale (a Biere de Garde).

Working with Sly Fox allows Southampton to release its popular and award-winning Belgian styles in larger volume than they could manage in Southampton, Publick House owner Don Sullivan announced in a posting at today. "Phil is pretty excited after brewing with Brian due to the quality of their brewing equipment and level of commitment on the part of Brian's team," Sullivan wrote.

Southampton brews and produces 12oz bottles of several of its other beers at Old Saratoga Brewery in Saratoga Springs, NY.

"It's great to help Phil out and to work with him again," says O'Reilly. "I was recently out of college, teaching, playing in a band and doing an internship at another brewery when I stopped in at Brewers Bier Haus to leave Phil a sample of my latest homebrew. He called me a couple of weeks later and my brewing career and everything I'm now doing started from that point."

Originally Posted March 13, 2006

Sly Fox Managing Partner John Giannopoulos sat down for an interview in his office at the Royersford Brewery last Monday afternoon to discuss the canning of Phoenix Pale Ale and Pikeland Pils and where Sly Fox goes from here. It turned out that he'd received exciting news just minutes before.

Hey, [brewer Tim Ohst] just told me that the entire first canning run sold out as of this afternoon, less than a week after we installed the line and started using it. We have an order for Westy's in Harrisburg waiting for pickup tomorrow and Friedland just called for another pallet of each and we're going to have to short him a few cases to do that. That leaves us with just the cases we've set aside for our pubs and they're going fast. I think that's pretty impressive.

We'll see, but the first indications are pretty solid. We knew that, since craft beers in cans are still relatively rare, there would be an immediate rush in sales because of the novelty, but this was much faster than we expected. The beers are just so good and similar to the draft versions that I'd assume the word will spread fast and the demand will keep growing. As an experiment, we took only canned beer to the Main Line Brewfest this past weekend. We poured everything we served from cans and the response was great.

Yes and no. We weren't considering it when we started the brewery but Brian said something to me back then that intrigued me. Then, when we went to the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia last spring and talked to the people at Cask Brewing Systems about their canning lines and what they could do for us at a reasonable price, I really got excited. Cans and our 22oz and 750ml bottling program give us a unique niche in the industry.

That we would spend months and months just continuing to lay out cash (laughs). You spend a lot of money up front to get going and then you just keep on spending before you start getting it back. We knew that going in, but it's still quite a shock as it happens. Cooperage is a good example. For the first half year, it seemed like we just couldn't get on top of it. We had to buy kegs and more kegs almost weekly. That's a good thing in the long run, of course, because it meant the beer was selling, but it was a strain.

Hey, we need the money (laughs). Seriously, things are on the right track and I think we're just about to really launch, to find our market. The brewery started being profitable at the end of last year and I think we'll stay profitable from here on out. And our restaurant is settling in and doing more volume now that we're over the growing pains, although they lasted longer than we'd expected. We're not over the hump yet-maybe we're just starting to see the light from the other side of the hump-but we're seeing a lot of progress and the pieces starting to fall into place.

Basically, our mission now is to produce all the beer we can sell and that means we have to start thinking like a manufacturing company.

Our big issue for 2006 is managing production, being able to support what we have going on. We have to do some serious planning, create schedules and systems that will facilitate having the beer we need when we need it. And we have to be smart enough to know what we can do and can't do.

For example, if Phoenix Pale and Pikeland Pils sell in cans at the pace we expect (especially after we start shipping them to New Jersey in April and New York this summer), we will have to be brewing those beers regularly. Plus we've signed to have the Pils in Citizen's Bank Park for all Phillies homes games this year. That means even more demand for Pils and it's a double hit for us since lagers need time in the tank and, since we don't have a brite tank yet, every batch ties up a fermenter for an extended period.

Poor Brian [head brewer Brian O'Reilly] is coming back from his honeymoon to face those kinds of issues. Plus there are a lot of other things going on. We already have Ichor Quad in 750ml bottles, almost ready for release. We want to get our Instigator Doppelbock into 22oz bottles and out to the market by mid-April at the latest. We want to get our Incubus Tripel into bottles by summer. O'Reilly's Stout seems to be taking off and if Beamish really is going to be pulled out of the U.S. market, a lot more taverns and restaurants are likely to put it on, given all the incredible world of mouth support it gets. And we want to add three cask lines to the bar at Phoenixville-Brian laid the groundwork for that when we put in our new tap system over there in 2003 and it would be one more step toward becoming the best and most complete brewery in the region, which is our ultimate goal, but there's just been no time to get it done.

That's not all. We expect much wider draft distribution in the suburban counties once Kunda Beverage completes its acquisition of Friedland. And we're already near an agreement to distribute Sly Fox in New York by late spring or early summer. Plus there are several special projects which are important to us going on right now. Next week a well-known and award-winning brewer will be here for two days as we contract and bottle a very important beer for him. We're making a special one-off beer using corn that Michael Jackson requested for his beer tasting at the University of Pennsylvania Museum on March 18. And there have been a couple of inquiries about our making a house beer for one or two good accounts.

We have to do all that and continue to make the beers for our two pubs, which are both selling more beer faster than ever before.

We've been very good at being creative and innovative and coming up with products and events that people love-Brian's almost a genius in that regard-and we want to keep doing that, but we also have to make sure we have a firm grip on the production and business side of things.

I'm not complaining. None of us are complaining. Look, we're doing something we all love and we're fortunate enough to be in the right business at exactly the right time. Craft brewing is the only part of the beer market which is growing and we have a record of producing beers that customers want and enjoy. We're at a stage where a lot more people are going to have an opportunity to try our beers and all our experience tells us that they will be pleased and want more. We'll do what we have to do, but it might mean some short term sacrifices.

For example, there may be times when we'll be unable to make all the beers we want to make. I'm talking mostly about the small batch draft beers which we serve at the pubs. We've pretty much kept at least 10-12 beers on tap at both pubs all the time, sometimes more, and there will probably be weeks in coming months when we just can't maintain that pace. Most of our smaller batches are done on the original 10-barrel system in Phoenixville whenever Brian or, mostly, Tim, finds the time. We could do more over there-we did 1500-plus barrels there in 2004--if we had another brewer but that's not something we can afford right now. Maybe a bit further down the road, we can hire an experienced part-time guy, possibly someone who's gotten out of the business and misses it. We'll see.

As it is, Brian and Tim are already often working six-day weeks and ten hour days. We hired Steve Jacoby as a part-time brewery worker a couple of weeks back and immediately made him fulltime because there's so much to do. Karl Shoemaker is our Mr. Fix-It, the guy who figures out how to keep things running. I mean, that's the brewery staff and they've got a heckuva year in front of them.

Yeah, we all do, especially consumers who are clamoring for Sly Fox beers. We're working as hard as we can to make it happen for them. Like the guy said in The Godfather, this is the business we have chosen.

Originally Posted March 1, 2006

Shortly before leaving on his honeymoon this past weekend and within hours of the installation of a new canning line in the Royersford brewery, Head Brewer Brian O'Reilly sat down for an interview in which he discusses Sly Fox's release of its Phoenix Pale Ale and Pikeland Pilsner in cans and the brewery's overall approach to packaging its beers.

First of all, we like the package. It's convenient. It takes up less space. Cans have the benefit of chilling down quicker and they don't allow any light to touch the beer, so consumers never get "skunked" beer from a reaction of the alpha acids in the hops to changing light from the sun or artificial sources. Those are great arguments for cans.

Secondly, canning is a bit more cost-effective for us. For a fraction of what it would have cost-maybe as low as one-fifth-we can achieve the same results in the can as we would have by spending much more for a standard bottling line. Plus the equipment is kind of ingenious. These guys [Cask Brewing Systems, Inc. of Alberta, Canada] designed a machine that produces very, very low dissolved oxygen in the finished product, which is important for shelf life. And it's a pretty efficient machine, turning out 30 cans a minute when everything is going smoothly.

Cask Systems was very smart. They negotiated with Ball Corporation, who prints the cans, to be a broker for smaller can purchases, which makes it more affordable. But you're right, you still have to buy a lot of imprinted cans to make it feasible for them to take on the job. Ball wouldn't even talk to us about quantities we could afford, much less have room to store. Even buying through Cask, we had to buy more than 186,000 of them.

In large part, it goes back to cost again, as most things always do. There wasn't an inexpensive canning line available until Cask come up with theirs and, having invested in a bottling line, most smaller breweries didn't have the money to afford a second packaging investment.

There used to be, back when cans were made of tin and that held over to some degree even when they changed to aluminum. Now the cans are lined as well, and blind taste test after blind taste test has shown that people can't pick out canned beers from bottled ones. I think a lot of people were astonished when a panel put together by New York Times drinks writer Eric Asimov picked a can of Dale's from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado as the top pale ale in a tasting last summer. We are looking forward to conducting some of our own taste tests in the months to come and allowing people to see for themselves.

Cans, together with our large bottles, give us a distinctive profile among craft brewers. The are a lot of breweries doing a lot of different things, but nobody's doing exactly what we're doing. If you want to sit down with a really high class beer, something a bit more complex and ornate brewed in one of the classic styles, we have some of the best-tasting beers on the planet in our 750ml and 22oz bottles. And if you just want a great, drinkable beer in a package which is easy to carry and easy to store, we've got that covered too.

More broadly, from a marketing standpoint we recognized 750 bottles as a way to take advantage of the national attention Sly Fox began to attract while we were building the brewery. Once we get rolling and have the production we need, we can look at sending those beers to markets outside our immediate area. The bottles are very attractive and appealing which makes them great for states where single bottle sales are the normal. People are commenting all the time on how good the bottles look, by the way, so I definitely should give a shout out here to Virtual Farm Creative, who developed our logo and packaging. Another advantage is that the big bottles have a long shelf life because of their high alcohol content, so we don't have to be concerned about customers getting outdated beer. Our cans fit right into that approach. It's a packaging which protects the beer from light, lends itself to a wider range of shipping and which is a good entry into new markets. We're already in New Jersey with our bottles and will be shipping cans of Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale there later this month. We also expect to be in New York by this summer.

Honestly, we didn't have canning in our original thinking. We always liked the larger bottles because bigger, high alcohol beer are, quite simply, better in bottles than on draft. Specifically, cork finished, bottle conditioned beers are ideal for our Saison Vos, Ichor [quadruple] and Incubus [tripel]. To make sure we could bottle those beers up to the standards of the great Belgians, we did small, hand-bottled batches for ourselves and were delighted with how they matured in those bottles. We originally thought about doing small batches by hand and just selling those, as we'd done early on with Ichor in Phoenixville. But when we were able to acquire a bottling line which could handle larger bottles from Dogfish Head even before we had a brewery site, we committed to a full-scale effort, also seeing the possibilities for wider marketing, as I said before. Big corked bottles will also be the ideal way to produce limited packaged releases of our major seasonals for sale primarily, or maybe even exclusively, at our two pubs.

Canning ultimately came about for much the same reason that building our Royersford brewery did, the great demand for our beer. Draft sales were, and are, growing steadily and people keep asking for some of our standard styles in bottles. For all the reasons I said here, cans just seemed a better answer to that demand than did the bottles everyone else is doing, better because they allow us to meet customer demand in an affordable fashion, better because they are a packaging which is still relatively unique in the craft industry and therefore attracts considerable attention and better because they work so well in combination with the big bottles to create a distinctive niche for Sly Fox.

We'd certainly like to can some additional beers but, again, it's a major commitment in terms of cost. For one thing, we'd have to buy a lot of packaging and store it somewhere and own it until we can sell it. Realistically, any further releases could take a while, at least a year, unless these first beers really fly off the shelves. I guess the answer is, the more beer we sell, the more beer we will have in cans sooner.

Probably, at least for now. Our deal with Cask is that they give us one change of plates with each purchase of cans, so it makes sense to do it that way. I guess there could be a possibility that if we sold a lot more of Phoenix Pale than we did the Pils or anything else, we would order a run of Phoenix cans and one other brand every time, but that sort of thing can get really tricky when you're only ordering five times a year, especially in the early going when you don't have a real handle on sales. You don't want to run the risk of having one of your major brands unavailable for an extended period. If you're always running two brands, that's less likely to happen. We'll see.

I'm really excited about the possibility of Royal Weisse in cans. I could imagine it becoming our best seller in the line. When John [Managing Partner John Giannopoulos] and I were discussing putting beer into cans, we knew we wanted the pale ale, because that's a popular style and one of our signature beers. We talked about the Helles, which we really like and are proud of and which we sell a lot of in draft, but we thought that style might not be quite exciting enough for the craft market. So we decided to go with the Pils, which also sells extremely well and has a real following. The Weisse was third on our list and would be one of the next two for sure. The other? Maybe the Rt. 113. A lot of people are asking for it and I don't think it would conflict with our bottle sales, since the 22oz size seems just right to sit down with in the evening to enjoy a good, hoppy IPA by yourself and a sixpack or two would be great to share at the beach or lake or after a tennis match.

Never say "never," as they say. If that happened, it would probably be because we were really, really growing and were brewing at another, larger plant and it just made good business sense because of automatic sales. It would be simple to do at that point and, if we had achieved that level of success, then our distinctive "big bottle/cans" niche would be something we'd clearly outgrown. I suppose we could learn to live with that.

Originally Posted February 22, 2006 (Photo Updates February 23)

Both its new canning line and more than 186,000 newly imprinted cans arrived at Sly Fox Beer's Royersford brewery today and canning of Sly Fox's signature Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale will begin tomorrow.

pils_canphxcanSly Fox announced last fall that it would be the first Mid-Atlantic microbrewery to begin a full-scale canning operation and that the canned products would be a key to its expansion into New Jersey and New York this summer, targeting the resort and summer activity markets.

Not so coincidentally then, Sly Fox also announced today that it has signed a contract with Hunterdon Brewing Company of Phillipsburg, NJ to be its wholesale distributor in that state. The first shipment of Saison Vos and Rt. 113 IPA bottles will be sent to Hunterdon tomorrow, said head brewer Brian O'Reilly, and cans will be shipped to them in mid-March.

Canned Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale will be released in the Philadelphia regional market next week and in the Harrisburg area in early March, O'Reilly said.

"Craft beer consumers have a real craving for high quality, full flavored beers packaged for consumption at the shore, the mountains and on the golf course and around the swimming pool," said managing partner John Giannopoulos today, "and we're going to give them just what they wanted.

"Not that we want them to drink these beers only at the shore or around the pool," he added with a laugh. "We believe the convenience and easy storability of popular Sly Fox beers in cans will make them the perfect beer for any place and any occasion."

Originally Posted February 8, 2006

Cascade IPA, the first IPA in the 11-beer series which will comprise Sly Fox's IPA Project for 2006--the third year for this unique brewing program--is in the tanks. And if the name sounds familiar, that's because it is.

"We're changing things around some this year," says brewer Brian O'Reilly, "repeating three of the best single hop beers from both 2004 and 2005 and adding four new ones. The Cascade IPA was first brewed in 2004, for example. As usual, all the varietal hops, ten of them in this case, will then be incorporated in the 2006 Odyssey Imperial IPA, to be released next December."

Each IPA Project event celebrates the number of years since the doors opened at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville's Pikeland Village Square and consists of a series of varietal IPAs over the course of the year, culminating in a day-long event in early December during which all the varietals are on tap at once and a new version of Odyssey is introduced. Last year, that day also marked the release of Sly Fox's signature Rt. 113 IPA in 22oz bottles.

It is, in fact, the popularity of Rt. 113 that has inspired another change in this year's IPA Project. "We're scaling back production," O'Reilly said, "because the demand for Rt. 113 is such that we have to concentrate our efforts in making enough of that to fill orders in a timely fashion." "Scaling back" means that the varietal series will be available only at Sly Fox's Phoenixville and Royersford locations and "a few selected pubs who have been with us from the start," rather than being offered as a general release.

"In effect," he explained, "we're make the IPA Project beers part of our specialty line, beers which are served primarily at our pubs and released for distribution elsewhere only by special request. Our canning line is scheduled to arrive this month and that means we will be making a lot more Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale, plus we'll be adding Ichor Quadruple and Instigator Doppelbock to our large bottle series in March and April." The bottle series already includes Rt. 113 and Saison Vos.

The additional ten varietal hops to be used in 2006 have not yet been chosen, O'Reilly concluded.

Originally Posted December 13, 2005

The first major storm of the winter was no match for the enthusiasm of dedicated craft beer aficionados as Sly Fox's IPA Project 2005 came to a successful conclusion last Friday. The day was topped off by the debut of Odyssey Imperial IPA 2005 and the release of the brewery's flagship Rt. 113 IPA in 22oz bottles, as well as by the eagerly-awaited opportunity to enjoy an 11-beer "Super Sampler" featuring all nine varietal IPAs brewed during the course of the year, as well as Odyssey and Rt. 113.

In the photo at left, morning sunlight brightens the happy countenances of the first (of many) customers who order samplers during the day, Phil Joyce and Becky Lee. Exton residents and Sly Fox regulars, the duo was undaunted by the six inches of snow which blanketed the area, arriving shortly after the doors opened at 10am.

"The weather certainly slowed down the breakfast business and had some affect on the late night crowd," said brewer Brian O'Reilly, "but overall the day went very well and the changes and adjustments we made, especially offering pre-filled growlers, kept things going very smoothly. We were especially pleased with the reaction to, and sales of, the Rt. 113 cases. In fact, we're going to have to do another bottling run this week to keep up with the needs of our distributors."

This was the second IPA Project Day at Sly Fox Phoenixville and also marked the 10th anniversary of the pub, which first opened its doors in December 1995. "We're already thinking about 2006 and the ten varietals we'll be brewing," O'Reilly admitted. "We have a couple of ideas to further tweak the event which I think everybody will be very excited about."

The IPA project involves brewing one single hop IPA for each year that Sly Fox has been in business. Those beers are released during the year and one keg of each is saved for the December celebration during which that year's Odyssey, made with all of the varietals, is released.

Originally Posted December 3, 2005

It just keeps getting better. A special package designed to fulfill the dreams of both local beer geeks and those traveling from long distances will be offered during the day-long IPA Project/Tenth Anniversary Celebration at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville on Friday, December 9.

Sly Fox has created a "Hop Head Dream Package," according to bar manager Corey Reid. "We've put together a case 113 IPA, which will be release in bottles for the first time that day, a pre-filled Growler of Odyssey IPA, a RT. 113 IPA T-Shirt and Super Sampler of 9 Varietal IPAs. It will be sold for only $70, a savings of more than $10 over what those items would cost separately. The Hop Head Dream Packages will be sold on a first-come basis until they are all gone."

Sly Fox also announced that, in addition to a Breakfast Menu (10am - 12pm) offering such fare as Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Sausage et al, the regular Luncheon and Dinner Menus (11:30am - 10pm) will feature three special items to match the theme of the day: Galena IPA Chili; Chinook IPA Seafood Pasta & Challenger IPA Roast Pork topped with Northdown IPA Gravy.

Finally, because of the number of special beers being offered and the anticipated attendance by Sly Fox fans traveling from other regions and states, arrangements have been made to set a side a block rooms at The Hampton Inn at the junction of Rts. 100 and 113, about a 20-minute drive from the pub. There will also be transportation to and from Sly Fox available from the inn, provided by Restaurant Valet, a local company, at a price of $15 round trip. Anyone interested can call the Hampton at 610-363-5555 for more details; mention "Sly Fox" and you'll receive a special rate of $89.

For out-of-towners, the Hampton may have additional appeal because it is located within easy reach of The Drafting Room Exton (one of the western suburbs best beer bars), Victory Brewing Company and Iron Hill West Chester for a Saturday visit. A return trip to Sly Fox Brewhouse or Sly Fox Brewery and Restaurant at 312 Lewis Road in Royersford is also a possibility.

All this, plus 13 India Pale Ales on draught: all nine Varietal IPAs brewed during the past year, Sly Fox's linchpin Rt. 113 IPA (which will also be available in bottles for the first time that day), Odyssey 2005 and Cask versions of both Odyssey 2005 and 2004. 750ml bottles of the recently released Saison Vos and Christmas Ale will also be available. (For more details, see story below).

Originally Posted November 25, 2005

IPA Project 2005, which reaches its culmination on Friday, December 9, with day-long celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville, has expanded to include a beer breakfast and the availability of pre-filled growlers of Odyssey Imperial IPA, which will make its debut that day.

There will be a presumed world record (from a single brewery) 13 India Pale Ales on daught: all nine Varietal IPAs brewed during the past year, Sly Fox's linchpin Rt. 113 IPA (which will also be available in bottles for the first time that day), Odyssey 2005 and Cask versions of both Odyssey 2005 and 2004.

Things kick off with a Breakfast Menu at 10am, featuring a tentative lineup of Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, French Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Sausage et al. This menu will be available for roughly three hours and all the beers will be available when the doors open. The regular Sly Fox Menu then goes into effect, with the addition of a still undecided special item or two complementing the IPA lineup.

In addition to debuting of Rt. 113 in 22oz bottles, Sly Fox will have 750ml bottles of the recently released Saison Vos and Christmas Ale for sale, says head brewer Brian O'Reilly, "although the Christmas Ale may be very limited, as it is selling very fast and we only made a small batch. I'm not sure how many bottles of 113 we can have ready by then, but there will definitely be some available.

"Because so many people brought along growlers to get filled last year and it was impossible to do so for the most part because of the large crowd and constant demand on our bartenders, we will have 50 pre-filled growlers of Odyssey available for sale. As an accommodation for anyone who has a clean 'new style' Sly Fox growler with the contemporary logo, we will accept those in trade for a pre-filled growler at the refill growler price. All the varietals are in limited supply and will not be sold in growlers and bartenders will most likely not have time to fill customers' own growlers."

The Sly Fox IPA Project, first done in 2004, is built around the release of a series of one-hop IPAs throughout the year and the creation of an Imperial version, made with all the varietals, on the day of the event. IPA Project day marks the anniversary of Sly Fox opening its doors for the first time in December 1995.

Originally Posted November 25, 2005

Sly Fox Brewery in Royersford released its first bottled beers this month, beginning with Saison Vos, a full production run, and followed by Christmas Ale, a limited seasonal offering. Both are in caged, corked 750ml bottles and available at both Sly Fox locations as well as at finer beer venues and distributors around the area.

22oz bottles of Rt. 113 IPA will be released in December to coincide with IPA Project 2005 day on December 9 (see above story) and the near-legendary Ichor is scheduled for release in 750ml size in early 2006. Black Raspberry Reserve will follow sometime in the Spring.
Sly Fox has also purchased a canning line which, according to managing partner John Giannopolous, should be up and running by March. Phoenix Pale Ale, one of Sly Fox's core brands, will be the first produced in cans.

"As we move into summer, a lot of our customers are traveling to the shore and mountains and looking to take good craft beer along with them," says Giannopolous. "For them, and for others who own swimming pools or favor camping vacations, a beer like our Phoenix Pale Ale will be a perfect choice. It will also be the key to our expansion in the New Jersey and New York Metropolitan markets next Spring.

The Washington/Maryland/Virginia market would probably be the next area to look at, he added, but stressed that expansion would be undertaken at a slow, steady pace to match production.

Originally Posted November 25, 2005

Sly Fox's popular annual Robbie Burns Birthday Bash, honoring Scotland's greatest poet, has been scheduled for Saturday, January 14, at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville. The second annual Robert Burns Scotch & Ale Dinner will be held the following Thursday, January 19, at Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant in Royersford.

"The Burns Birthday Bash has always been held on the second Friday of the month in the past," said head brewer Brian O'Reilly, "but that's a Friday the Thirteen in 2006 and every beer aficionado in the local area knows that Friday the Thirteenth, whenever it occurs, belongs to our friend Scoats at the Grey Lodge Pub. Also, this gives us a chance to try out a Saturday date to respond to the requests of those who have to travel a great distance for the event."

The Birthday Bash always marks the release of Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale, readings of Burns' poetry by attendees, bagpipes and the piping in of the Haggis to mark a special Scottish menu developed for the occasion. The Royersford Burns Dinner features both Sly Fox beers and world-class Scotches with a multi-course dinner. This latter event is "reservations only" and tickets must be purchased in advance. It sold out last January.

More details on both events will be released soon.

Originally Posted July 17, 2005

Here you thought all those local brewers had bags under their eyes because they worked all night making good beer. While that's often the case, it turns out that they also moonlight as superheroes, prowling the mean streets in search of evildoers whose schemes they can thwart.

The proof of that came at the annual Royal Stumble, held at Philadelphia's Nodding Head Brewery & Restaurants, where many of the Philadelphia area's finest brewers showed up in full costume to pour their wares.

At right, we see Hopman, Sly Fox's own Brian O'Reilly, and the The Caustic Crusader, Heavyweight Brewing's Tom Baker, bonding during a slow moment.

Other heroes on the scene were The Six-Pack Avenger, Treated Water Man, Maltous Raven, Captain Bondage, El Spankador and Bird Girl.

The Royal Stumble is a unique beer festival in which the object is to be the first to empty your keg. Instead of standing in line trying to work their way to the keg as is the custom at most festivals, attendees are chased about the room by brewery advocates trying to force beer on them. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, which uses a bevy of attractive females to push their brew each year, won for the second straight year.

"In the noble tradition of superheroes everywhere, I would rather rely on the merits of my beer to win over the crowd than sink to chasing people around with it," sniffed O'Reilly. "And besides, my girlfriend had to work and couldn't be here."

Originally Posted July 4, 2005

Bob and Priscilla Sager of Phoenixville, the Grand Prize Winners of Sly Fox's Free Trip to Ireland promotion in a drawing held on St. Patrick's Day, took time out from their fun-filled adventure to send a thank you message back to folks at home.

Here are the Sagers atop Ireland's famed Cliffs of Mohr, unfurling their greeting to Sly Fox and all their friends back home. "Bob was the perfect winner," said Phoenixville bar manager Corey Reid at the time. "He comes to every Sly Fox special event and he's a regular here all year long. We couldn't be happier for him."

To participate in the drawing, customers at both locations had to be present for at least eight of nine weekly "St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp" sessions where were held on Wednesdays (Phoenixville) and Thursdays (Royersford) for nine weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day.

Other prizes awarded in a drawing that alternated between the two sites (managers at each site were in constant contract over the phone) were a $100 gift card good at both locations to the second place winner, a "six-pack" of growlers of choice for third place, $50 and $25 gift cards and various t-shirts and other Sly Fox merchandise.

The Sagers were present at Phoenixville, which won a coin flip and drew the first ticket for the grand prize. When no one claimed it (the winner had to be present), the Sagers ticket was then drawn in Royersford on the second try and the celebrating began.

Originally Posted June 23, 2005

Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly will be one of six brewers from across the nation to speak in the 2005 Beer Gazetteer lecture series at Washington, DC's famed Brickskeller Restaurant this summer.

The six-week event is conducted annually by the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program, which offers over 1,500 educational and cultural programs a year. The Beer Gazetteer series has as its long-term mission "showcasing the best of the nation's 1,400 specialty breweries and brewpubs."

O'Reilly will present and discuss his beers on July 25 at the Brickskeller. "It's a great honor to be chosen for something as prestigious as this," he said, "and to have an opportunity to showcase Sly Fox beers at one of the nation's best known and most respected beer bars."

Other participating brewers for 2005 are Vinnie Cilurzo of California's Russian River Brewing (July 11), Dick Cantwell of Seattle's Elysian Brewing (July 18), Chuck Skypeck of the Bosco Brewpub chain (August 1), Brian Dunn of Denver's Great Divide Brewing, and Greg Hall (August 8), of Chicago's Goose Island Beer (August 15).

The Smithsonian Beer Gazetteer series is coordinated by Jim Dorsch, publisher/editor of American Brewer, and Greg Kitsock, editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and senior editor of American Brewer.

Ticket information and more details are available on the Sly Fox Calendar.

Originally Posted May 16, 2005

Savannah reigned supreme over the largest field of entrants ever in the Fourth Annual Bock Festival & Goat Race at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville on May 1, earning a $75 Gift Card for owner Deborah Fried and the right to have the 2005 maibock named in her honor.

Savannah Maibock began pouring within minutes of the race's conclusion.

The largest crowd in the history of the event, 1000-plus people, filled the pub and outside patio and parking area to cheer on the goats and enjoy Savannah Maibock, Slacker Bock, Helles Bock, Instigator Doppelbock, "ice" versions of Helles and Instigator and an entire lineup of only German-style beers and a special German menu in perfect weather.

"Every year we think it can't get any better," said delighted owner Pete Giannapoulos, "and every year it gets better anyway. This has got to be one of the greatest beer events in the nation."

A record 24 goats competed in six heats before Savannah finally edged out Leo and Entrekin for the title in the championship heat. Leo was raced by 10-year old Alissa Zawlslak of Pottstown and entered by the Silver Pail 4-H Goat Club, which regularly brings several goats to the annual race. Entrekin, who finished second in 2004, was raced by Dan Bellay and is owned by Glenmoore veterinarian Leslie Gall.

Head brewer Brian O'Reilly said that Sly Fox sold 13 barrels (403 gallons) of hand-crafted brews created by him and assistant brewer Tim Ohst over the course of the afternoon. "Maibock was the big seller, of course, but we went through almost as much Helles Bock, Royal Weisse, Helles Golden Lager and Slacker Bock, showing that people really appreciate German style beers. Of course, both Helles Eisbock and Instigator Doppel Eisbock disappeared very quickly." Ice bocks are beers which are frozen to remove most of the water content, resulting in a stronger, more flavorful beer.

"The huge crowd was almost overwhelming," O'Reilly noted. "Our staff did an incredible job trying to cope, and I know that they, and all of us, appreciate all the kind words said about their efforts by people on that day and by others who've since Originally Posted comments about the event on the internet. We want to thank our customers in turn for their patience and understanding and let them know that we're already planning changes which should make things go more smoothly next year" (see next story below).

The Emil Schanta Band and dancers, which has performed at all four festivals, enthusiastically entertained the crowd throughout the afternoon. And a new feature, pony rides for younger children, also proved very popular.

The rides were added, Giannopoulos said, "because many people attend the festival with their families so the kids can enjoy seeing the goats race, and we wanted to try and make their experience even better. Sly Fox has prided itself for ten years now on being a family-friendly part of the community." Photos of the Goat Race and other activities can be see here.

Originally Posted May 11, 2005

Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly says that Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville is already making plans to improve its annual Bock Festival & Goat Race for 2006.

"This event gets larger every year," O'Reilly said, "and we have to adjust to that reality. Over 1000 people attended this year and that meant long lines for food and beer and put a severe strain on our staff, our supply of glassware and our bathroom facilities. We'll make changes next year to try and rectify all those situations."

Tentative plans include:

A second beer station on the patio. "It's tricky, because we have certain restrictions as to what we can do where under PLCB regulations, but I think we can set up a second station near the front of the patio. That will mean eight beers on tap outside instead of four and cut the lines by half at each station. We'll also add people behind those bars if need be."

A larger food station in the parking lot. "I don't think we need a second food station, but we have to make the one we have more efficient. We'll add space and people and do whatever else we need to do to speed things up."

A special Festival pint glass. "There is no way, with our facilities, we can store, much less use, as many glasses as it would require to provide every patron with a fresh, properly dried glass each time. So we'll create a special Bock Festival pint glass which customers can purchase if they choose and provide water stations around the area for people to wash out their glasses when they want. Those who don't want to buy a glass will be served their beers in plastic pints. We ended up using a lot of those anyway at this year's peak times; now we'll use them from the beginning. These changes should also encourage the use of pitchers and further cut down the lines."

Pre-filled growlers. "Next year, we will pre-fill a limited number of growlers with all the bock beers the way we did at the IPA Project event last December, so that customers who want to take beer home can do so, at least until the supply runs out. Growlers of Maibock, which isn't tapped until after the race, won't be sold until that time, of course. Please understand that it just isn't possible to fill growlers at peak times when serving the crowd individually is consuming all the time and people we have. Very early on, or later in the day, if things are calm, bartenders will have the discretion to fill growlers for anyone who wants them, but their first obligation at all times will be the customers at the bar and at the tables."

Porta-potties. "We will set up several of these at some convenient location in the parking area to cut down on the long lines at our rest rooms, which just aren't designed to deal with the number of people who attend the festival."

If other ideas develop, or are suggested, they'll be considered, O'Reilly stressed. "This has become a great event, and it's the support of our customers that has made it possible for that to happen. Honestly, we'd like to see it grow to an even larger crowd next year...and the next. And we'll do whatever we can do to make sure everybody has a great time and enjoys great beer."

Originally Posted May 11, 2005

Several people who scored less than a perfect 15 on the Interactive Online Goat Race here on the website have told us they were frustrated by not being able to figure out which questions they missed.

Our bad. And our apologies.

To see the correct answers, Go here, scroll down and click on View Correct Answers. The proper answer to each question will be shown in red.

Originally Posted April 5, 2005

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils was one of nine pilsners to win a five-star top ranking in a Blind Tasting Panel report judging 22 beers which is featured in the just-released April-May issue of Celebrator Beer News.

Tasting notes for Pikeland Pils read: "Light nose with hints of spice and citrusy fruit. Creamy, malt flavors with crisp hop character and good conditioning. Finishes clean, with a nice, warming quality."

"Pilsner is the epitome of the brewing art and science and it was the beer I spent months teaching myself to brew exactly right while I was with John Harvard's in Cleveland," said a delighted Brian O'Reilly. "I have a great passion for the light, dry, crisp flavor and character of this classic beer."

Pikeland Pils has earned a Gold and a Bronze medal at recent Great American Brew Festivals. The Celebrator article noted that "Among American craft brewers, [pilsner is] a growing style. It is by far the most popular style of beer consumed worldwide today."

The same issue also features results from a Double IPA Blind Tasting Panel in which 31 beers were involved. Sly Fox Odyssey Imperial IPA was awarded three stars by that panel.

Originally Posted April 1, 2005


A Robert Burns Scotch & Ale Dinner in January and a Cajun Beer Dinner in March served to kick off what is expected to be an ongoing series of beer dinners at Sly Fox Royersford.

Managing Partner John Giannopoulos says that the 300-seat restaurant which fronts Sly Fox's new production brewery was planned in part to accommodate special beer events throughout the year. "We have the perfect space available in our second dining area which can be closed off from the main dining room," he noted. "Even better, we have the two most important components for great beer dinners, a highly skilled, creative chef and a respected, award-winning brewer."

The sold-out Burns Dinner in January, which was inspired by the highly popular Robbie Burns Birthday Bash at Sly Fox Phoenixville, gave chef Matt Wieber an opportunity to build an exceptionally successful menu around classic Scottish dishes to be matched with world-class scotch whiskies and Sly Fox brews. For brewer Brian O'Reilly, it was a chance to showcase his eagerly anticipated annual release of Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale in an ideal setting. The dinner will be an annual event at Royersford.

Last evening's Cajun Dinner allowed Wieber to show his chops with spicy Creole-inspired cuisine and O'Reilly to debut the brand new Sly Fox Helles Bock and unveil the 2005 Instigator Doppelbock, beers which will be featured at the May 1 Bock Fest and Goat Race at Phoenixville, an annual event that draws hundreds of spectators each year.

Giannopoulos pointed out that, while the second dining area is ideally suited to events such as those two, its overall possibilities extend far beyond that. "The room is perfect for private parties, receptions, business dinners or just about any activity where you want everyone to enjoy a fine meal served in an appealing ambiance or in a buffet setting. We want it to be the first place everybody in the community thinks of when planning an event."

Originally Posted March 18, 2005

Bob and Priscilla Sager of Phoenixville were the Grand Prize Winners of Sly Fox Brewery's Free Trip to Ireland in a drawing held at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, Pikeland Village Square, Phoenixville, and Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant, N. Lewis Road, Royersford last night.

To participate in the drawing, customers at both locations had to be present for at least eight of nine weekly "St. Patrick's Day Boot Camp" sessions where were held on Wednesdays (Phoenixville) and Thursdays (Royersford) for nine weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day.

"Bob was the perfect winner," said Phoenixville bar manager Corey Reid. "He attended almost every Boot Camp sessions at both locations (there were 18 sessions in all), he comes to every Sly Fox special event and he's a regular here all year long. We couldn't be happier for him."

Sager says that, 24 hours later, his wife still doesn't believe it. "I keep telling her we're going to Ireland and she keeps saying 'did we win, did we really win?' We were blown away when they pulled our raffle ticket and we're still completely psyched. Priscilla has been to Ireland before but I never have."

Sager is employed by Pitney-Bowes Management Services in Malvern doing printing for Vanguard.

Other prizes awarded in a drawing that alternated between the two sites (managers at each site were in constant contract over the phone) were a $100 gift card good at both locations to the second place winner, a "six-pack" of growlers of choice for third place, $50 and $25 gift cards and various t-shirts and other Sly Fox merchandise.

The Sagers were present at Phoenixville, which won a coin flip and drew the first ticket for the grand prize. When no one claimed it (the winner had to be present), the Sagers ticket was then drawn in Royersford on the second try and the celebrating began.

Originally Posted March 16, 2005

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville is seeking contenders for its Annual Bock Festival Goat Race on May 1. The winning goat will have the 2005 Sly Fox Maibock named in his or her honor and its owner will receive a $75 Gift Card good at either the Phoenixville location or the new Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant at 312 N. Lewis Road in Royersford.

Had you run through the streets of Phoenixville and surrounding communities shouting for goats a few years back, it's likely people would have looked at you somewhat strangely (although, truth to tell, many of them did indeed have a horned, bearded ruminant or two in the back yard).

Send out a call for goats these days, however, and most will recognize it as an early sign of what has become one of the area's most popular rites of spring, the annual Sly Fox Bock Beer Festival and Goat Race. Now in its fourth year at Sly Fox (following two years at a since-closed local brewpub), this event has become one of the most popular and anticipated seasonal beer celebrations in the Delaware Valley.

The concept is simple. Competing goats race through a series of heats in the parking lot adjacent to the popular brewpub. Owners run with the leashed animals but may not lead or pull them toward the finish line. They can, however, motivate them with food or other inducements. The victorious goat earns the reward of having the pub's newly brewed Maibock named in its honor and the beer is tapped for the first time as he or she looks on proudly. The goat's owner basks in reflected glory and receives a $75 Sly Fox Gift Card which is good at either location.

Maibock is a full-bodied beer which was originally brewed in the late fall from the first hops and malts of the annual harvest and stored in deep caves to be drunk in the spring. Having Sly Fox's version bear his name is a distinction any goat will surely cherish, since the German word for goat is "bock" and a picture of a billy goat usually appears on the labels of Bock beer bottles.

The 2005 festival and race will be held on Sunday, May 1, beginning at 11 am with Weisse Wurst (a traditional German morning sausage) and Sly Fox beers served on the outside terrace. A traditional German menu featuring such items as Bavarian Beef cooked in beer, Weinerschnitzel, Bratwurst, Potato Goulash and Black Forest Cake will be served throughout the day, along with other Sly Fox Bock specialties such as Slacker Bock, Helles Bock, Instigator Doppelbock and Ice Bock, as well as the rest of the pub's extensive menu of craft-brewed beers.

Registration of goats begins at 12:30 and the race goes off at 2:00 pm. Interested goat owners can sign up at Sly Fox Phoenixville or by telephone at 610-935-4540.

Originally Posted March 3, 2005

It came as no surprise to the management and brewing staff at Sly Fox Brewing Co. when the Brewers Association, the Boulder-based trade association for the nation's smaller breweries, announced last month that craft brewers had increased sales by seven percent in 2004, making craft brewing the fastest growing segment of the U.S. beverage alcohol industry. Their own experience was even more impressive.

Sly Fox, which has a successful brewpub in Phoenixville, Chester County, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and a new production brewery and restaurant which opened in Royersford, Montgomery County, last November, recorded a 42 percent overall growth in production in 2004. Significantly, that growth rate was only minimally affected by the family-owned company's intensive campaign to widen distribution of its draft beers to restaurants, taverns and retail consumers. That effort did not get fully underway until the end of the year, suggesting that 2005 is likely to see another impressive growth spurt.

"The production figures are both satisfying and heartening," said John Giannopoulos, managing partner at Sly Fox Royersford, located at 312 N. Lewis Road. "While our two restaurants are the heart of our business and our commitment to the communities where we live, our new 20-barrel brewery is a major investment on our part which is expected to be a significant financial contributor to our continued success."

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville's Pikeland Village Square, opened by the Giannopoulos family in December 1995, has a ten-barrel brewhouse and could no longer produce enough beer to meet its own needs and those of off-premise customers, Giannopoulos said. "Phoenixville production grew by 30 percent in 2003 all by itself and there was no way we could ramp production levels up in that size brewhouse sufficiently to take advantage of the clear public demand for Sly Fox beers."

Head brewer Brian O'Reilly, who is a multiple medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver for his Helles Lager and Pilsner, said that the Brewers Association figures for craft beer growth indicate that "we are in the right place at the right time. The American public is beginning to recognize the quality and variety of the beers produced by dedicated smaller breweries. You can be sure that fact has caught the attention of retail establishments from the large chains to the corner taprooms and they'll be looking for good local beers for their taps."

O'Reilly noted that he and assistant brewer Tim Ohst are devoting time and effort to personal sales calls as well as brewing. "We now have wholesale distribution in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Berks counties, as well Lackawanna, Lehigh and several other counties to the north. By the end of this quarter, I hope we can be established in the Harrisburg area as well. We want the people who love our beers to find Sly Fox tap handles at all their favorite bars and restaurants and are working with our distributors to make that happen. At least one of us goes out to introduce ourselves and our beer to potential new customers one day every week."

Sly Fox also has a bottling line at its Royersford brewery which is expected to be up and running this summer, O'Reilly said. "We will be bottling several of our popular Premium and Belgian style beers in 750ml bottles for sale to restaurants and to consumers by the case at their local retailers, as well as here at the brewery Bottles will make our beers even more available in our immediate marketing areas, of course, and will eventually give us the opportunity to consider distribution in neighboring states where single bottle sales are permitted."

The first beer to be bottled will be Rt. 113 India Pale Ale, one of Sly Fox's flagship brews.

Originally Posted February 24, 2005

With the Annual Bock Fest & Goat Race at Sly Fox Phoenixville just a little over two months away, some sprightly new art and interactive promotional pages are beginning to appear on the Sly Fox website as well as in print.

These web and print initiatives have been developed by Sly Fox's advertising agency, Virtual Farm Creative, Inc., and include both original illustrations and the enhancement of previous Bock Fest branding. "The Bock Festival certainly has a lot of personality," explained Todd Palmer, Virtual Farm's Creative Director. "We intend to push the envelope for all Sly Fox creative in an effort to make their promotional materials match their incredible beer offerings, and this event is so over the top that we could really have some fun."

In addition to full-color collectible posters and other print support, the campaign features two multimedia web promotions: an online goat race which tests a participant's knowledge of Bock beers and Sly Fox history, and a short, original song reportedly sung by Weird Beard, the winner of last year's goat race for whom the 2004 Sly Fox MaiBock is named.

Palmer hopes to make having each new Goat Race champion (who earns the distinction of having the year's Sly Fox Maibock named in his honor) play a part in promoting future festivals a standard practice. "We're hopeful that we can persuade this year's winner, whomever it may be, to follow in Weird Beard's footprints. He's a truly gracious star willing to give something back, and that's something you don't find in a lot of younger goats these days. He hasn't forgotten where he came from."

You can participate in the online goat race or groove along with Weird Beard here.

Originally Posted February 5, 2005

The first IPA Project 2005 beer has been brewed and is in the tanks at Royersford. It will be released in late February or early March, according to brewer Brian O'Reilly.

The year-long IPA Project will consist of nine varietal IPAs, beers brewed with a single hop, and a reformulated Odyssey Imperial IPA, a beer created using all of those hops, for a total ten special beers in all. Odyssey will be released in December 2005 at a celebration marking the tenth anniversary of Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville.

The first varietal was brewed with Glacier hops. A list of other hops which will be used this year and further details about IPA Project 2005, including other venues where the beers will be available, will be Originally Posted here shortly.

Originally Posted January 18, 2005

Fun and frivolity, Haggis and heritage were the order of the day as nearly 300 revelers packed Sly Fox Phoenixville on Friday January 14 for the third annual celebration of the life and work of Scotland's greatest poet.

The photos above capture some of the excitement (left to right, click on photo to enlarge):
The evening officially begins when Pipers signal the arrival of the Haggis; many in attendance wore their kilts; Ian Turnbull of The Celtic Glen in Pottstown traditionally kicks off the poetry reading and just as traditionally finds a pretty girl to join him; brewmaster O'Reilly drinks a beer and charms a young lady simultaneously (don't try this at home, kids); the happy crowd follows O'Reilly's lead, at least the beer drinking portion; bartenders Tim, J.P. and Corey take a break from pouring both cask and draft versions of Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale and Burns Scottish Ale to enjoy a wee dram of fine Scotch whiskey (hey. they earned it).

Originally Posted January 11, 2005

Philadelphia Magazine has given the new Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant in Royersford extended and featured coverage in its "Restaurant Listings" section in the just-released January Dining Out 2005 issue.

Here's what they had to say:

For more than a year, Royersford residents have watched as an old Drug Emporium slowly, very slowly, morphed into the pubby Sly Fox Brewing Company, the second offering from the team that developed Phoenixville's Sly Fox, that award-winning mainstay of suburban microbreweries. Beer gets the emphasis here, and master brewer Brian O'Reilly's Grand Opening Alt, his first brew in the new digs, greets drinkers with a medium-bodied flavor in the tradition of a Dusseldorf favorite. (The rest of the brews currently doll in from the Phoenixville operations barrels, but O'Reilly expects to begin work on new offerings from the Royersford microbrewery this month.) The rotating selection usually includes O'Reilly's Stout, an Irish-influenced light-bodied brew, and the Route 113, a very hoppy IPA with an intoxicating alcohol level of just over seven percent. Not sure what to drink? Just ask for a sample flight to go with your dinner--a somewhat haphazard menu of Mediterranean and Mexican options and more typical pub fare, including what just might be the largest crabcake north of Maryland. If you aren't up to the hour-and-a-half wait in the miniature entranceway that often greets those who show up at a respectable dinner hour, hit the popular game room, filled with pool tables, shuffleboard and dart boards, or get brew to go. Growlers--64-ounce refillable jugs--of all the beers on tap are available for not much more than a commercial six-pack.--Laurie Stewart.

Originally Posted January 7, 2005

Sly Fox has launched its online store, Den of Antiquity, where a variety of items featuring the brewery's new identity and branding are available for purchase.

This is the second straight year that O'Reilly has taken a Bronze for one of his lager beers.

O'Reilly has won a GABF medal every year he has entered the competition since coming to Pennsylvania. French Creek Helles won a Bronze Medal in 2002 and an earlier version of Pikeland Pils, which was brewed at a now-closed Collegeville brewpub and then called Perkiomen Pils, won a Gold Medal in 2000.

Originally Posted January 2, 2005

Local beer writer Lew (Pennsylvania Breweries) Bryson named Sly Fox Phoenixville Pennsylvania's Best Brew Pub and brewer Brian O'Reilly Best Local Brewer in the January edition of his monthly Buzz feature on his website, Lew Bryson's Site of Malt Beverage Delight.

Phoenixville shared top honors with Selin's Grove in the Best Pub category. Here's what Bryson had to say:

Best PA brewpub: Tie: Selin's Grove and Sly Fox Phoenixville.I can't think of any brewpubs like Selin's Grove, and that's a shame. Excellent beer, real ale, great food...though you can find that a lot of places. What Selin's Grove has to ace that is the early American setting, the architecture, the groove and the mood, and owner-hosts Steve Leason and Heather McNabb. A wonderful place.
Sly Fox has made itself a completely different place in the past two years, largely thanks to the obvious efforts of brewer Brian O'Reilly, who has pushed new taps, new beers, new events, and a new spirit at Sly Fox. But equal credit should be given to the Giannopoulos family, owners of the Sly Fox, for hiring and empowering O'Reilly. It takes a special owner to recognize talent like this (unfortunately) and to let a guy run with what he has. Thank both of them for the new Sly Fox in Royersford and step back to watch what happens now.

And this is what he had to say about O'Reilly:

Best local brewer: Brian O'Reilly. Last year's winner, Marc Worona, has done amazing things at Stoudt's this year. Chris Firey is shaking things up something fierce at Manayunk. Bob Barrar rocked the GABF with his beloved big beers. The crew at Yards turned Philly Pale into a wonder and brought us a new sack full of Trubbel. The Dude continues to ably follow in the big footsteps of mentor Phil Markowski. Brandon Greenwood left us with a lot of great memories. Jeff Fegley has made some amazing stuff up at Bethlehem Brew Works. And poor Ric Hoffman always gets ignored at Stewart's.
What I'm trying to say is that lots of brewers deserved this award. But only one gets it: Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox. Is Brian a good friend? Yeah, he is. Do I spend a fair amount of time at Sly Fox? Yeah, I do. But you gotta give it to him. Look at what the guy has done: a brewer who has ram-rodded major events at his brewery, brought about a plan to build a production brewery masquerading as a second brewpub, mastered the full range of beers from stouts to lagers to Belgians, and outdone the West Coast by throwing a 10-tap all-house-brewed IPA festival. O'Reilly did all that, and still managed to be a cheerful, useful front man for Sly Fox, brew great house beers, and keep collegial contact with some of the best brewers on the east coast. What's going to happen in 2005? It remains to be seen. Watch the big brewery in Royersford.

The complete Buzz can be read here.

Originally Posted December 2, 2004

On December 10, a "Super Sampler" will be featured and Odyssey Imperial IPA and Varietal IPAs will be available in various sizes and pitchers; pre-filled growlers of Odyssey will also be sold.

"Given the expected crowd and the madhouse this place could become, we've tried to simplify our historic presentation of nine special IPAs at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville," brewer Brian O'Reilly said today. The culmination of Sly Fox's year-long IPA Project on Friday, December 10, will see the debut of its new Odyssey Imperial IPA and the first simultaneous availability of all eight Varietal IPAs offered during 2004. The event is believed to be the largest single offering of IPAs by one brewery at the same time and a large crowd is expected from when the doors open at noon.

Phoenixville bar manager Corey Reid said that all nine of the specials beers will be sold in 5, 12 & 16 ounces pours, including both the draft and cask versions of Odyssey. A nine-beer "Super Sampler" consisting of 5-ounce servings of draft Odyssey and the eight varietals (Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, East Kent Golding, Fuggle, Syrian Golding, Simcoe & Target) will be sold for $12.00. The casked Odyssey is not available in samplers. Pitchers of each draft beer will also be available, at $13.00 for each varietal, $16.00 for Odyssey. "This is the only time Odyssey will be sold in pitchers," Reid noted.

Due to the work-intensive process of bartenders having to pour nine different draft beers and casked Odyssey as well as the expected demand for samplers, Sly Fox will not be filling growlers on December 10 until late in the evening, assistant brewer Tim Ohst said. "We assume that the bar staff will not have time to fill growlers and also properly serve in-house customers until somewhere around 10 pm," Ohst said, "and we'd be reluctant to sell growlers of the varietals in any case because we only have limited quantities of each."

The pre-filled Odyssey growlers will cost $17.00 plus tax. "We regret having to require customers to purchase the glass," O'Reilly said, "but this seemed the fairest way to accommodate those who absolutely have to have Odyssey to take home without overtaxing the bar staff." He went on to note that most people who will be in attendance probably do not yet have one of the colorful new Sly Fox growlers and might want to buy one anyway.

Restaurant Valet, a shuttle service, will have buses stationed at the pub during the event, running trips for a flat $10 fee to destinations such as King of Prussia, Pottstown and West Chester. Longer trips will be available at slightly increased fees. Sly Fox is also encouraging customers to have designated drivers for the event. "We'll have free coffee and snacks for designated drivers throughout the day," Reid said. "We always want our customers to drink and act responsibly."

Originally Posted November 18, 2004

New Odyssey Imperial IPA, Eight Varietal IPAs & Flagship Rt. 113 IPA will all pour on December 10.

IPA Project 2004, a year-long celebration built around the creation of eight varietal India Pale Ales and the introduction of the brewery's first Imperial IPA, will culminate in an all-day festival at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery on December 10. The Pikeland Village Square pub will have all eight of those varietal IPAs-which were brewed and served from March through October-on tap and will introduce its new Odyssey Imperial IPA on draft and also cask-conditioned in a firkin on the bar. Sly Fox's flagship Rt. 113 IPA will be on tap as well, making a total of ten variations of the popular style available to the public when the doors open at noon.

"We believe that this is the greatest variety of IPAs ever offered by one brewery at the same time," says brewer Brian O'Reilly. "Based on indications from our regular customers and at online beer sites like, where people are already announcing they've taken the day off in order to get here early, we expect a huge crowd on hand to share in the ultimate IPA experience."

The varietal beers were each brewed with a single hop: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, East Kent Golding, Fuggle, Styrian Golding, Simcoe and Target. All eight of those hops were then used to create Odyssey, the brewery's first imperial (or "double") style beer.

Project IPA is Sly Fox's official acknowledgement of its ninth year in business at its Phoenixville location. A second location, Sly Fox Brewery & Pub, opened in Royersford, PA in November and is home to a 20-barrel, German-built brewery which will allow O'Reilly and assistant brewer Tim Ohst to meet a growing demand for Sly Fox products throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding region (Sly Fox Brewhouse has a 10-barrel system). The brewery already has a bottling line which will begin producing 750ml corked and caged bottles of its bigger, Belgian-style brews in late 2005.

"We've been very successful with off-premises draft sales over the past two years," says O'Reilly, "and we have distributors and customers clamoring for more availability not only in our current market area but throughout the state. Our first intention is to meet that demand and every effort will be concentrated on that. Then we'll take a look at other markets where interest has been expressed. Our bottled beers will certainly lend themselves to broader distribution, for example."

Originally Posted November 12, 2004

A throng of delighted patrons crowded the new Sly Fox Royersford Pub on November 8 almost from the moment the doors opened for the first time at 5 PM.

With standing room only at the bar and tables filled throughout dinner hours, opening night was termed a smash success by operating partners John Giannopoulos and Jimmy Wasko. "We're the hit of the town," said happy brewer Brian O'Reilly, who gave a few lucky visitors a private tour of his new 20-barrel brewery in the rear of the 12,500 square foot site.

Among the crowd for the opening night festivities was reporter Dennis Wright of The Phoenix, who has covered the creation of the new pub since its earliest stages. You can read his front page coverage of the event here.

Originally Posted November 2, 2004

Sly Fox Brewing Company's long-anticipated facility at 312 N. Lewis Road in Royersford will open its doors to the public on Monday, November 8 at 5 pm.

3The 20-barrel, German-built brewery at the site is already in operation. Brewer Brian O'Reilly brewed the first batch of beer there in late October, a German-style Alt beer. This new addition to the Sly Fox portfolio will be christened Grand Opening Alt to mark the debut of the Royersford location.

Sly Fox Royersford can seat roughly 300 patrons in its bar, main dining area and an adjacent second dining area which can be closed off when not needed. This room will also be available for private events and meetings. An outdoor terrace in front of the pub will offer an additional 35 to 40 seats when it is opened in the spring of 2005.

There are two gas fireplaces, one in the bar area and the second in the main dining area, and a large game room with pool tables, a shuffleboard and a variety of electronic games.

A 24-foot long bar has seating for 30 patrons and features two draft towers, giving Sly Fox the capability of having up to 16 different beers on draft at one time. The pub also has a full liquor license.

1Overall, the public portion of the site covers 7,000 square feet. The brewhouse occupies another 5,500 square feet in the rear of the restaurant area and has an 8,000-plus barrels annual production capacity, with future expansion possible. It includes seven 40-barrel fermenters and six 20-barrel fermenters. A 750ml bottling line which will produce bottle-conditioned, caged & corked bottles of Sly Fox's high end beers will go online in late 2005.

2Sly Fox Royersford will be under the direction of managing partner John Giannopoulos, general manager Jim Rittinger and manager Jim Wasko. O'Reilly and assistant brewer Tim Ohst will man the brewery and director of culinary operations Matt Wieber will oversee the kitchen and menu. Sly Fox expects to employ roughly 75 bartenders, servers, kitchen staff and other workers at the site.

Originally Posted June 30, 2004

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery was named "Best Local Brewery" in Philadelphia Magazine's Best of Philly 2004 issue, now on the stands.

Here's the award citation: Not because Beer Advocate anointed it third best brewpub in the nation last year. Not because Sly Fox got major props from beer guru Michael Jackson on a visit this spring. (His faves: the Pikeland Keller Pils, O'Reilly's Stout and Ichor). Not because of the Growlers, 60-ounce jugs you buy for $12--full--and get refilled for only $9 apiece (with every 11th one free). Not even for the annual Sly Fox Goat Race (toasted with Weird Beard Maibock). No, we go with the Fox because brewer Brian O'Reilly's idea of fun is to celebrate his ninth year in business by crafting nine different India Pale Ales.

Okay, they're off about the nine-year thing (it's Sly Fox's ninth anniversary, not Brian's), but otherwise we couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Originally Posted April 15, 2004

Tim Ohst, who was a member of the brewing staff at Flying Fish Brewing in Cherry Hill, NJ for the last two years, joined Sly Fox as an assistant brewer to Brian O'Reilly on April 5.

Prior to brewing at Flying Fish, Ohst was interim head brewer at John Harvard's in Devon for a brief period and was scheduled to become O'Reilly's assistant at the New Road Brew House in Collegeville before that facility closed.

Originally Posted March 19, 2004

Michael Jackson, the world's best-known and most respected beer writer, visited Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly on Thursday, March 18, to learn more about his beers.

When Jackson comes to Philadelphia's The Book & The Cook food and drink celebration each year, he generally spends one day visiting one or more of the area's premier breweries or pubs to familiarize himself with their brews and become better acquainted with the brewer.

Originally Posted September 29, 2003

Judges at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival in Denver this weekend awarded the Bronze Medal in the German-Style Pilsener Category to Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly and his Pikeland Pils.

This is the second straight year that O'Reilly has taken a Bronze for one of his lager beers.

O'Reilly has won a GABF medal every year he has entered the competition since coming to Pennsylvania. French Creek Helles won a Bronze Medal in 2002 and an earlier version of Pikeland Pils, which was brewed at a now-closed Collegeville brewpub and then called Perkiomen Pils, won a Gold Medal in 2000.

Originally Posted July 7, 2003
Voters at have selected Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery among the very best in the nation in its new listing of Top 50 American Brewpubs. Sly Fox is listed third in the 2003 voting.

"It's quite an honor," said Sly Fox brewer Brian O'Reilly. "It's not just about making good beer, although that's the most important thing. You have to get people's attention and let them know you're making good beer to be successful. It's great to be recognized."

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