Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Sly Fox jumped over the 15,000-barrel sales level

   A few miles west of Valley Forge, in southeast Pennsylvania farm country, I encountered the Sly Fox Brewery and Restaurant. Their tap list featured more lagers then one typically sees in this region--a Helles golden lager and an Alt, in addition to a pilsner, and I put them all on my dance card of small samples.
A saison and a pale ale rounded out the flight.
    Everything was full of flavor.  Sly Fox had been prominent during the Philly Beer Week just ended, and enjoyed a good rep with local beer writers.  It was founded in 1995 by the Giannopolous family -- the mid-90s were a boom time for craft beer startups all over, many of them coming up on twentieth anniversaries.
While Sly Fox has not taken off the way Dogfish has in that same time span, they have gone over the 15,000-barrel mark in annual sales, more than all but three or four Washington brewers.  It helps if you have something like thirty million people living in a hundred mile radius of your brewery.
  The brewpub here has a fifteen-barrel system shown behind the bar.  Sly Fox recently opened what they call a 50-hectoliter brewery (that's 42.5 barrels for all us non-Canadians) a few miles away.

The pub was doing a decent business on a Wednesday, a fair number of growler fills.  That was probably
due to their special price that day.  They knocked a couple of bucks off the price of a half gallon in your jug--from $8 for their regular non-imperial beers to SIX DOLLARS!  And they do it on a state-of-the-art growler filler from the Alfred Gruber Co. in Austria (the same firm Kulshan here in Bellingham ordered their new machine from).  Here's Britta the bartender filling my growler with Sticke Bishop Alt.

Sly Fox has been canning for a few years now.  Here's what their Helles lager looks like in cans.  Note the detachable lid, the wide-mouth design, and the six-ring plastic carrier.  Some of these choices are not the sort brewers are making in the Northwest.  In some states, regulations may bar the pop-top; even where legal, they seem to have fallen out of favor here.
Sly Fox says the wide mouth allows the consumer to better savor the aroma and flavor when there are no glasses in which to pour the beer; a good point.  As to the lid, well, they liken it to the cap on a bottle of beer.  Responsible drinkers will see that either gets proper disposal.  The six-ring carrier: it's both recyclable and photodegradable: the latter attribute was lacking on the old kind.

Every brewery has something new -- Sly Fox has plenty!

(Visited 6/11/14)

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