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Hop Project Day at Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery has made the second Friday of December an unofficial holiday for beer aficionados in the Delaware Valley and beyond since 2004. December 11, 2009 will be no different in that respect as fans come from near and far to have one last chance to experience the 11 varietal ales brewed during the year and the release of 2009 Odyssey Imperial IPA.

This year's gathering will be different from its predecessors in two important ways, however: this will be the first time that all the single-hop brews will be Pale Ales rather than IPAs and it will be a bittersweet farewell to the Hop Project itself...but not to the annual December party.Hop Project: Sly Fox Beer

Brewmaster Brian O'Reilly explains all that in his column below-a Must Read if you want to get really excited about what's happening at Sly Fox in 2010-but first check out all the fun to be had on December 11 as we revel in the infinite variety of hops goodness one last once.

As usual, the day will mark the annual release of our Odyssey Imperial IPA, which is brewed with all eleven of the hops which were used in making the year's varietal releases (this year's hops were Amarillo, Argentinean Cascade, Boadicea, Columbus, Crystal, Liberty, Marynka, Palisade, Sovereign, WGV & Willamette). All those varietals and 2009 Odyssey will be on draught. Plus both 2008 and 2009 Odyssey will be pouring from firkins and flagship Rt. 113 IPA from the handpump.

The best deal of the day will surely be the special HopHead Package (see below). Otherwise, you can choose to sample one or all of the three different flights of Odyssey and the varietals which will be available, or you can order any of the draught beers in 12oz and 16oz servings and by the pitcher. While we will be unable to fill growlers because of the crowds and the limited supply of the varietals, we will have pre-filled growlers of Odyssey Imperial IPA for sale.

Also, because you've demanded it, the doors will open and we'll start selling food at 10 am. There will be two brunch specials: Lump Crab Benedict and Country Biscuits and Gravy.

It will be a day to remember and cherish until next year when we begin a brand new December tradition.

Sly Fox Hop Project
All Three Varietal Samplers
Case of 2009 Odyssey (12- 22oz bottles)
Special Commemorative T-Shirt: With Entire Hop Project Varietal History

$79.95 (no extra price for XXL)

You've heard that old cliche before, but this time it's definitely true. We're not cutting out the Hop Project so we can make less beer; we're cutting it out so we can make more beer.

To make the Hop Project work, we had to commit to have 12 beers (the varietals and Odyssey) available for release at exactly the same time every month. That meant that sometimes we couldn't do other things because we had to be sure we had the kegs and the tank space ready at just the right time. We often had to push the filtering and packaging of other beers back a week as a result. It was a monthly roadblock we had to work around.

Our decision doesn't mean that we are never going to brew a varietal again-in fact, we already have two planned for 2010 using some upstate New York hops. It just means that we are not going to commit to doing one every month on a fixed schedule. We're not done doing varietals, we're just done doing them as a scheduled pre-sold project.

Our need to make this change to improve our brewery operations, as it turns out, ties in nicely with our history. We've always considered Hop Project Day as our annual anniversary party and, with 2010 marking the fifteenth anniversary of the opening of Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery and our scheduled move to the new location, it is the perfect opportunity to make that history the primary focus of the celebration.

We will make Anniversary Day on the second Friday of December an incredible event, I promise, especially this first one. We haven't worked out all the details yet, but we will have more beers available that day than we ever have in the past and it will be an Hop Project 2009all-day affair, starting with breakfast and running until closing. There will be so much going on that I expect we will have to publishe a schedule in advance so that people can plan when to get here. For now, the one definite is that it will still be the day we release Odyssey on draught and in bottles.

Taking the longer view, now we can get back to brewing not just new beers but more of the old favorites. For example, I think we did only one or two batches of Jake's ESB this year; it would be nice to be able to do three or four batches given its popularity. As for new beers, we'd like to make a Dortmunder or maybe an extra Bock beer and I've talked about doing an Imperial Stout forever it seems. With a less constricted schedule, those things are more likely to happen.

Plus we have some very cool things coming up in 2010. We are going to do a special brew with T.J. Sheehan Distributing, our Upstate New York wholesalers, for example. Their specialty sales guys are coming down to brew a beer with us which they will divide among themselves as a special release for their accounts. I'd like to find time, assuming our schedules can be worked out, to do a collaborative beer with the guys from Southampton Publick House and Brewer's Art, since we already brew and package their 750ml bottles at Royersford. We already collaborate with William Reed of Standard Tap to do Standard Ale for Philly Beer Week and there is another potentially very big special brewing project exclusively for Philly Beer Week that we're working on with some of our friends in the industry.

2010 is going to be great fun, I promise. This month, please join us for a final celebration of our unique and unparalleled varietal brewing program and for the launching point of all the unprecedented things we intend to do in the future.

Chester County Bitter Cask Conditioned logo
2 incubus
Real Cask Ale on the handpump at Phoenixville every Friday, beginning at Noon!
On the First Friday of every month, Incubus Tripel goes on tap at Noon, only in Phoenixville.
On the Third Friday of the month, a firkin of cask ale goes onto one of the hand pumps in Phoenixville at Noon.

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