Sly Fox Brewing: Craft-Beer In-a-Can Pioneer
In this month’s installment of Legal Ink’s Craft Beer Showcase, we are joined by Brian O’Reilly. Brian is the Brewmaster of Sly Fox Brewing Company, headquartered in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The company was founded in 1995 when the Giannopoulos family opened the Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Brian O’Reilly came on board as brewmaster in 2002, where he developed a sales program to gain Sly Fox beers a place on the taps at some of Philadelphia’s best bars and taverns. His efforts greatly expanded Sly Fox’s customer base throughout the region. The company was an early adopter of the craft-beer-in-a-can movement and became the first brewery in the Mid-Atlantic region to put in a canning line in 2006.
LIM: What is your current production level in terms of barrels of beer?
Brian: In 2013 we produced 16,000 bbls of beer. It’s looking like we will produce a bit over 21,000 bbls in 2014 and we are adding fermentation early next year that should allow us to grow over 30,000.
LIM: Where can beer lovers find your products?
Brian: Sly Fox is available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland & Washington, D.C.
LIM: What are some of your most recent awards for your craft beers?
Brian: In 2013 we won two GABF medals: a silver for Grisette and a bronze for our Oktoberfest. Nihilist won “Best New Beer” for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s beer competition in June.
LIM: Which products are your best sellers?
Brian: Pikeland – Pils, 113 IPA and Phoenix Pale Ale. Our seasonal beers are also a big part of our production.
LIM: What’s on Tap?
Brian: Pikeland Pils is a Northern German-style Pilsner brewed with imported German Pils malt and hopped with German and Czech hops. Light in body, light straw in color and dry. Our 360 IPA (India Pale Ale) is a tallboy-style, with an exciting fusion of Bravo, Cascade, Centennial and Lemondrop hops that’ll enliven the senses. It’s wide open flavor and aroma “sing out” in this dry-hopped IPA, which is creatively packaged in our innovative “360” can. Last but not least, our O’Reilly’s Stout is an Irish-style Draft Stout poured with nitrogen for a rich creamy pint. Brewed with imported Pale and Roasted malts, along with Flaked Barley, and hopped with Cascade and Target hops. Black in color, light bodied and roasty dry.
LIM: How are new craft beer recipes developed at Sly Fox? What determines which recipes go into production?
Brian: Many of our year round beers were initially a seasonal or occasional beer brewed for the original brew pub. It is a myriad of influences that have influenced us to package and release a particular beer. Seasonal brewing schedule, uniqueness of the beer, and our feeling that there is a desire for the style or beer in the market are the three that come to mind.
LIM: Is the “foam still rising in the craft beer industry?” Or is the market flooded with labels and headed for an empty glass?
Brian: Craft beer has a long way to go. Growth is showing no signs of slowing down. I think there is room for more breweries that make great beer. I expect that the recent trend of “strange ingredient beers” to become old.