Sly Fox Brewing Company

Region's first brewery retools original pub

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery freshens up with brewery rebrand

In late 2017, Sly Fox Brewing Company evaluated their twenty-plus year old offering and instituted some seriously creative innovations including a revised portfolio of beers featuring all new packaging and an updated brand with an exciting new logo.

Only one brewpub in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania was first. In 2018, the small southeastern Pennsylvania town of 16,440 ranks in the national top 10 for most breweries per capita, but it all started twenty years ago with the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery.

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery


Pennsylvania's original brewpub, the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, recently applied the exciting modifications to the restaurant, overhauling the inside with a fresh new look that underscores what Beer Advocate called, "America's third best brewpub." Beyond a new coat of paint, the Phoenixville restaurant modified the bar and dining room layouts and opted to use brewery event and product promotion in the interior decoration plan. All new carpeting and a decluttering of the pub has created a new, inviting space. 

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, the only Sly Fox outpost that offers full table service, also upgraded their exterior facade—incorporating an aesthetic that complemented the brewery rebrand. Outside, inviting cedar fencing now encloses a charming outdoor patio and tasteful signage summons passersby to acres of free parking, while a long list of award-winning fresh beer and an original pub menu with rotating specials await inside. The East Pikeland Township pub also offers Penn's Woods select and premier red and white wines.

"The Eatery is unique even within our own company," says Pete Giannopoulos, brewery founder and manager of the first pub—one of the longest-lasting brewpubs anywhere. "With the rebranding of the brewery and excitement generated by the new beers added, it was a logical time to examine what we were doing on the restaurant side."

Sly Fox recently announced a new pub coming online in Wyomissing, PA as well as plans for several other locations and it's expected that Trainer will consult on those menus while maintaining the creative new style of the Phoenixville food offering.


Besides the rebranding and the interior and exterior upgrades, Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery has retained a new chef with a first class pedigree. Chef Jim Trainer, who last ran the kitchen at the Kimberton Inn for twenty-seven years, has revamped the Sly Fox menu and introduced daily specials as inviting as the new decor.

Trainer has been a fan of Sly Fox beer since the beginning, sitting on the other side of the bar after long shifts preparing wonderful cuisine. He'd often commiserate with the bartender so, in true Sly Fox style, we enlisted a part-time bartender to introduce you to the new head chef. Corey Reid, part-time beer-slinger at the Brewhouse & Eatery and full-time sales manager has come to know a lot of customers well, and he recently sat down to interview the man who is reshaping the food offering in Phoenixville. 

Sly Fox Phoenixville Head Chef Jim Trainer

Q&A With HEAD CHEF Jim Trainer

COREY REID, sales manager, Sly Fox Brewing Company: How did you get into cooking?

JAMES TRAINER, head chef, Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery: Well, my Mom didn't make my eggs right when I was a kid.

CR: Haha…

JT: It's true. She'd do over easy but they'd be brown and I didn't like them so I taught myself how to make them perfectly.

CR: So who taught you how to cook?

JT: My Dad was a regular at the Phoenixville Moose and the cook there also cooked at the Columbia Hotel in Phoenixville. He got me a job busting suds at the Columbia Hotel and I went through the ranks there. One of the most memorable things there was when I once did a night of 100 people on the line by myself!

CR: Oh wow! What year was that?

JT: Like '84… Heh, it was lobster night, it was easy. All I did was boil lobster all night.

CR: When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

JT: I guess then, because I liked doing it and it came to me naturally and it was fun.

CR: What is the best part of your job?

JT: I'd have to say, almost the best part is eating the food but the most fun is getting people to try foods. This past week we did a smoked duck breast and salmon ceviche and showing the staff and telling them what it's about and having them try it and watching them go, "wow!" and hearing reactions from the customers… that's the best.

CR: How do you stay inspired?

JT: It's always exciting everyday. Another favorite thing about the job is teaching people how to make things and it seems like I am with a group of people right now that want to learn and make Sly Fox better.

CR: What are your essential kitchen tunes?

JT: My favorite thing to do these days– because I have been doing this for a long time– is to put my Pandora on shuffle. Everything from Miles Davis to the Beastie Boys… It's a fantastic mix from Government Mule to Bloodhound Gang to old school jazz that's fun to listen to. Some crooners are in there, Elvis… Anything really as long as it's not repetitive.

CR: I knew that would be a cool answer! So, what's your favorite thing about working here at Sly Fox?

JT: Coming from a fine dining background, the best thing about working here is discovering that it isn't that different. You still need to know how to butcher, to work with fish, to cook just about anything… it's not about doing some super refined dish that has a lot of elements that all have to be refined and composed on the plate– even though it's a lot more simple, like a sandwich, you still have to be able to do it really well over and over again. That's the fun part, because we can take a sandwich and elevate it to another level. It's all about using the best ingredients and that's what we're doing at Sly Fox. Even a hot dog can be great!

CR: My favorite Italian Chef is Giada De Laurentiis, who's yours?

JT: Bourdain. I've read his books and even though he wasn't much of a chef in his later years, he told it like it was.

CR: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

JT: Butter! It's versatile. Like in the cookbook, Culinary Artistry– I don't know if you're going to ask me what my favorite cookbook is but that's up there. A section in the book includes an alphabetical list of foods that go with other foods… bacon, corn, crab, salmon. Butter is listed with about every other food. That same book has a list of desert island ingredients to have where they asked a whole bunch of celebrity chefs to list ten things they'd have if they were stranded and almost everyone included butter.

CR: Yeah, I probably would have said bacon nine times and beer… So, what's your favorite meal?

JT: I think my favorite meal to cook is something I am always trying to prefect in every way… using any type of tough cut beef to where it is absolutely perfect like a short rib, or brisket, or even a beef bourguignon. One of the secrets is not to add too much liquid. It's also one of my favorite things to eat.

CR: Did you get a kitchen nickname here yet?

JT: You'll have to ask them, I'm sure there's one floating around. They call me Chef which isn't something I ask for. I don't mind it and I answer to it for sure.

CR: If you had to pick, what is your favorite Sly Fox beer?

JT: Well, tonight it's Panacea but here's the caveat, it's on the hand pump. I love Chester County Bitter that's always on the hand pump. I enjoy beer that's not quite super cold or super carbonated so you can really taste all of the flavors in the beer.


Sly Fox Phoenixville Head Chef Jim Trainer


CR: I know and you know about your unusual tradition when you sit down at the bar at Sly Fox. Would you explain that a little bit?

JT: I don't tell the bartender what beer I want… I let them select.

CR: Why?

JT: Because they're all good. I recommend everyone try it.

CR: Do you have any advice to anyone who wants to become a chef?

JT: Understand that you're giving up your nights, weekends and holidays for the rest of your life. That's the first thing I'd tell anyone… you'd better really mean it. Then it's like the caddy's credo in golf, "show up, shut up and keep up."

CR: What's your go-to guilty pleasure food?

JT: Hot dogs. I have a thing right now for Dietz and Watson Black Forest in natural casings. A lot of people boil them but I like to get some fire on them. Meat in tube form on a bun… We did the Bock Festival and Goat Races in May and I brought in some really great brats and made a rauch beer barbecue glaze for them that came out really good. Cooking with beer is something I am working on…

CR: So, if you weren't a chef, what would you be?

JT: I'd either be in the construction business because my father was a mason and I did that for years and can still mix a mean batch of cement. I thought about it like making soup. Either that or I wouldn't have had such a misspent youth and would have gone to college to have been a doctor or lawyer or…

CR: Or a harmonica player?

JT: Haha, yeah, or a musician! I never considered that for an occupation because I know people like you who are decent but it's tough to turn into a career.

CR: Past, present or future, who are the five people you'd invite to dinner?

JT: Who made up these questions? Five people is way too many. Abe Lincoln. Caligula would be fun. Winston Churchill– he was kind of asshole but he was good at it and we could have drinks and cigars. You, Corey Reid and my lovely lady, Lia. I love cooking for her because nobody eats like her. I love the way that she eats and I love to feed her. It would be even better if I was cooking!

CR: Salty or Sweet?

JT: Salty, but I love to make desserts and we're starting to make our own here. Chocolate mousse is going to be around on a regular basis and some form of a fruit crisps. We are starting out basic and getting rid of the desserts aside from those, I like making desserts but I'd rather have a cheese plate.

CR: Where do you see Sly Fox in five years from now?

JT: There are a few places I have been– Standard Tap, Johnny Brenda's, places that are referred to as gastropubs… It would be great if we could start to bring in customers not just because they're local but because of our food reputation. People that visit because they know they can get a great sandwich or they know they can get a meal that is basically healthy from top to bottom.

Something that has been happening since I came here is the cultivation of local providers like Stoney Hill Farms in Coventryville. They brought us the duck breasts that I talked about earlier. They're bringing in sugar snap peas and other vegetables once a week for me, going into the weekend for our specials. Also the Why Not Farm and their grass-fed beef for our burger specials… I've had customers tell me that has to be the burger on the menu all the time. Right now, the direction we're going in is that we want to have a menu where the foods are either local or naturally raised and we're going to do that without raising prices because it is possible with effort insourcing.

I want to open up the menu and the specials, especially to people who are not here just for burgers and wings. Not that the burgers aren't great already, because they are and they're only going to be getting better, but I want to have a more balanced menu that has a lot of other offerings.

CR: Well, I love it. I can tell you, just from my perspective of being a part-time bartender it's exciting to come to work, hand out the specials and watch people's reactions. I think the next five years are going to be awesome.

JT: When Sly Fox first got started, I was there from day one. I always enjoyed the beer, the company, the atmosphere– the family atmosphere that you get at Sly Fox. But over the last few years I recognized the under-realized potential and knew that I could contribute positively right away.

Even before he started working at Sly Fox Trainer contributed. The chef played harmonica and Reid played drums for the brewery band, The Slackers, that competed against other breweries in a battle of the bands. The band will have to evolve without recently departed brewmaster Brian O'Reilly who played guitar.

"Maybe we'll put instruments played on the kitchen employment application," Trainer jokes. "Everything evolves. The menu is evolving and there are specials every night. Sometimes there are 7-8 specials, sometimes 11-12, and they change almost daily.




About Sly Fox Brewing Company

Since its inaugural brew in 1995, Sly Fox has crafted more than 100 different top-notch craft beers. Its critically acclaimed year-round lineup and highly anticipated seasonals are available in its brewpubs in Phoenixville and Pottstown, as well as top bars and restaurants in PA, NJ, NY, MD, VA and Washington, DC. Sly Fox was the first craft brewery in the mid-Atlantic to put in a canning line, adding it to the facility in 2006, and with it, earned the first-ever Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medal awarded to a canned craft beer, in 2007. Sly Fox has earned GABF medals virtually every year since and is widely recognized as among the region's best and most enduring craft breweries.



Pottstown Airport Business Center
331 Circle of Progress Drive
Pottstown, PA 19464
P: 484-524-8210



Maple Lawn Shopping Center
520 Kimberton Road (Rt.113)
Phoenixville, PA 19460
P: 610-935-4540

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