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Say what?! The LAST IPA Project Day?!

Yes indeed. IPA Project Day 2009 will be the final one in the series we began five years ago... but it will not mark the conclusion of our annual varietal brewing program. See the story right below this one and brewmaster Brian O'Reilly's column farther down for more details and discover why this is not The End, but rather a New Beginning.

But before we starting thinking about 2009, let's all get together and celebrate 2008.

To mark our 13th anniversary this year, we brewed 13 different IPAs: our flagship Rt. 113 IPA, eleven single hop variations (Amarillo, Aurora, Cascade, Cluster, Fuggle, Galena, Horizon, Mt. Rainer, Perle, Sterling & Styrian Goldings) and, making its debut December 12, Odyssey Imperial IPA, which was brewed using all eleven varietal hops and which will also be debuting in 22oz bottles and cases. In addition to all those beers on tap, there will be three more on the handpumps: a firkin of both the 2007 and 2008 renditions of Odyssey and a cask of Rt. 113.

As usual, the beers will be available in three different flights and in 12oz and 16oz servings or by the pitcher. While we are unable to fill growlers that day because of the crowds and the limited supply of the varietals, we will have pre-filled growlers of Odyssey Imperial IPA for sale. For further details on all this and the rest of the day's plans--including the return our special HopHead Package--check out our website in early December.

We believe that this marks the greatest variety of IPAs ever served by a single brewery at one time. We hope you can join us in making history and thank you for all your support, enthusiasm and passion over our first thirteen years.

The successful and popular IPA Project program of brewing single hop variations throughout the year for release at both Sly Fox pubs and to selected venues in the Delaware Valley and New York City will morph into the Hop Project in 2009 and the featured style will be Pale Ale rather than IPA.

"We're excited about the challenge," director of brewing operations Tim Ohst says, "and to make it even more fun, we've contracted for nine new hops varieties for 2009, including some very rare ones from Argentina and Poland."

The change, as brewmaster Brian O'Reilly explains in his column below, was primarily a brewers' decision. After five years and 48 different IPA variations, it just seemed time to experiment with a different style of beer.

For general consumers and especially dedicated fans of the varietal releases, the new approach will have the benefit of increased availability of the beers. The Royersford brewery should be able to double its production of each varietal, meaning Hop Project taps will appear at more locations.

Most importantly, the Pale Ale program will maintain the basic experience of the original concept, exploring how the use of a single hop changes the nature of the beer and how the characteristics of the hops manifest themselves. Because Pale is a less complex and less heavily hopped style than is IPA, nuances are likely to be more subtle and rewarding for the true connoisseur.


Phoenixville, January 23
The Seventh Annual Robbie Burns Birthday Bash will, as always, feature bagpipers and kilts, customers reciting the great Scottish poet's verses, and the traditional carrying in of the Haggis, as well as the release of Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale 2009. Both Gang Aft Agley and Burns Scottish Ale, well-crafted interpretations of Scotland's two signature beer styles, will be on draught. The Burns birthday celebration has become one of the most anticipated Sly Fox annual events and of the many Delaware Valley residents of Scottish descent flock to each gathering to celebrate their ancestries. The fun starts at 6pm. Mark your calendars now!

Check our Monthly Calendar for full details and more events...

Every Sly Fox Beer aficionado is familiar with these monthly events...

On the First Friday of every month, Incubus Tripel goes on tap at Noon, only in Phoenixville.

On the Second Friday of the month, February through November, a new Varietal IPA Project beer is released at both the Phoenixville and Royersford pubs.

On the Third Friday of the month, a firkin of cask ale goes onto one of the hand pumps in Phoenixville at Noon. These beers pour until they're gone and that's it until the next time.

Check our Monthly Calendar for full details and more events...

Last Friday, after a long week of brewing, Steve, Ricky and I made sure to grab a pint of Aurora IPA before we headed out for the weekend. The last beer of this years IPA project was brewed with the hop I anticipated most. Aurora is grown in Slovenia and Styrian Goldings grown there have always been a distinct favorite of mine. It has a wonderful balance of fruit and fresh chewing tobacco. Aurora seems somewhat similar, but it has a more pungent spiciness. Upon reflection after the first sips, almost in unison, Ricky, Steve and I said, "I'd like to try this hop in a Pale Ale."

We all were thinking that way because we had decided a while back that the 2008 IPA Project would be the final one for this annual varietal hop program in its current form. Those of you paying close attention might have gotten an advance clue about this when we redesigned our website this summer and the event logo changed from "IPA Project" to "Hop Project."

For Hop Project 2009, Instead of IPAs, we will brew 11 varietal Pale Ales. We have gone as far as we can with IPAs.

The few people that I have mentioned this to have all responded that they could understand why, with the price of hops soaring over 400%. It's true, we will be able to make more beer this year by brewing Pale Ales instead of IPAs, but the real reason we are making a change is that we want to do something new. The IPA project has been great for our customers and for the brewery staff, but about half way through the year it really started to feel like we were just repeating ourselves.

Since 2004, we have brewed 48 single hop IPAs, using 37 different hops. And even though there are new hop varieties to try, the hops we had used started to blend together for me and I wanted to try these varieties in a more social, drinkable and subtle beer. This is the next step in our hop experimentation.

We will keep the base beer the same throughout the year, just like we did with the IPAs, but we will simplify the hopping. The IPAs were hopped 5 times throughout the boil. The pale ale recipe will be simpler, one addition will be added at the beginning of the boil for bitterness, and one addition will be added in the whirlpool for aroma. Even though it may seem like a step back to brew Pale Ales, I'm excited to experience the new, and some of the old, hops in a brand new style of beer. We will still brew the Odyssey Imperial IPA with all those hops at the end of the year and we will save a keg of each Pale Ale to be poured at the annual December day-long Hop Project party.

I hope you get a chance to stop by Phoenixville on December 12. I know it will be a blast saying goodbye to the IPAs and, in a way, hello to the Pale.

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