Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sly Fox plans for the future

Not a whole lot of time this week for extensive (or intensive writing), but if you haven't already come across the news yesterday, I've pasted below the text from the Sly Fox press release.

I grew up in Berks County, never then and still not a hot bed of brewing or great beer bars (here and there, but not nearly overrun). From Lancaster County to the west and Chester and Montgomery Counties to the east, Berks County seems to have been skipped over in some regards.

But the encroachment continues. With this news of Sly Fox's intentions to close their Royersford location (the second of two current locations) and open a larger production facility in Pottstown, great beer is getting closer than ever to the home turf of my youth.

Here is the press release text:


June 14, 2011 — Sly Fox Brewing Managing Partners John and Peter Giannopoulos said today that the family-owned company, which opened its first brewpub in Phoenixville in December 1995, will open a large production brewery in Pottstown later this year. As a first step, the company is selling the restaurant side of Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant located at 312 N. Lewis Rd. in Royersford, which opened in November 2004, to a long time employee and her husband.

The 30,000 sq. ft. new brewery, situated on six acres at 331 Circle of Progress in the Pottstown Airport Business Center, has housed the brewery’s executive offices and been serving as a warehouse since the beginning of this year when Sly Fox took possession. In addition to the new brewery, a tasting room/pub will eventually be added if a zoning variance is granted by the township.

The brewery will feature a fully automated 50-hectoliter BrauKon brewhouse from Germany which is expected to arrive by November and be up and running by the end of the year. Production capabilities will be tripled with the new brewhouse. Currently, Sly Fox can brew 25 hectoliters twice a day but will be able to brew 50 hectoliters three times a day at the Pottstown location. The company will purchase three new 150-hectoliter fermenters from JV Northwest and will move 11 50-hectoliter fermenters from the Royersford location to the new plant. “We’ve already raised the roof over a 1,000 sq. ft. section of the new building to accommodate the bigger tanks,” John Giannopoulos said. A 2,500 sq. ft. cold storage box is already in place.

A new rotary Cime canning line from Italy will complete the Pottstown production facilities. That equipment, which will fill 60 cans per minute vs.the 28 cans per minute done by the existing line, will actually go on line in Royersford next month and then be moved to the new plant. The current brewhouse, several 25-hectoliter fermenters and the existing canning line will be sold when the new plant goes on line.

Peter Giannopoulos said that the sale of the restaurant will enable the company to concentrate on its core business and take advantage of emerging opportunities. “We have to be able to make more beer in order to meet the demand and we also want to grow the business in both our present markets and look to expand into some new markets. We want our focus to be entirely on beer going forward.”

The new owners at Royersford will be Bryan and Stacey Hebert. “Stacey has been part of the Sly Fox family for nearly ten years,” said John Giannopoulos, “and one of our best and most trusted employees. She started at Phoenixville and is currently the general manager in Royersford and she knows the business from every perspective. Best of all, she is a familiar face to all the regular customers and will maintain a sense of continuity for the restaurant. Under our agreement, Sly Fox will still operate the restaurant until the liquor license has been transferred and we will continue making beer in our brewery in the rear of the building until our new plant is operational, which we hope will happen before the end of the year.”

In a joint statement, the managing partners agreed that “building the new brewery is a major step forward in Sly Fox history and will give us the capacity to continue to offer the great beers produced by Brian O’Reilly and his team to the consumers who have been supporting us every step of the way and to also introduce those beers to new audiences. Between this new facility and Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville, where it all started, we plan to continue being a major player in what we believe is the best beer market in the entire country.”

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