Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New ingredients at Sly Fox's kitchen

Haven't been to Sly Fox in Phoenixville since Robbie Burns Night back in January (actually have driven farther, many times, though to the HQ in Pottstown). Sounds like these updates, particularly the kitchen menu, are perfect reasons to get there soon. Here's the brewery's press release describing the recent changes.

Region’s first brewery retools original pub

Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery freshens up with brewery rebrand

JULY 10, 2018— Phoenixville, PA
— 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.


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.

Click here for a fun Q&A with Head Chef Jim Trainer conducted by Corey Reid

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Friday, July 06, 2018

Philly Beer Week 2018. Complete.

Feel free to read on for my half-baked attempt at wrapping up Philly Beer Week 2018 more than a month after it began. Or just click the picture above for a pictorial walk down memory lane as seen through my personalized schedule of attended events.

Still here? Ok, let's see how I do with this. What can I tell you? Did I give it the ol' college try? Depends what you call trying. I was absolutely prepared for PBW '18.

I was at inbox-zero. All computer and apps and phones were updated and backed up. All summertime power equipment fired up and working perfectly. Hot tub water chemistry spot on. Lawn and garden producing nicely. Office tidied up; printer toner replaced; papers filed; old documents shredded; (most) everything in its place. Contractor work on front of house/sidewalk finished. Gutters cleared; house and walkway powerwashing complete. Beer inventory squared away. Beer writing duties up-to-date and next deadline in mid-June after PBW.

I shared a bunch of stuff with you here in these pages leading up to June 1. I social media'ed the crap out of the events I attended. (You do know where to find me out there, right? On Facebook and on Twitter.)

24 events to be exact if you're counting or if you care. Pretty much like what I do every year to get a feel for the energy and the pulse of PBW. One year, I hit something like 35-ish events. Granted, it can be just for a beer, to get a headcount, and get a sense for overall effort that an establishment put into conducting a PBW "event".

So, yeah, I put in the effort as I always do out there on the street. But, here on the ol' Brew Lounge blog? Worse than last year, I not only did not post up a timely recap, but did no daily wrap-ups either.

That's what this post will endeavor to do. I don't really have many words to share at this point. Don't know that it really matters. Lots of "events" (see how I keep putting "events" in quotes?). Lots of beers. People? Yeah, there were people, mostly at the uber-dorky (I mean geeky, I mean geeky, in its most endearing sense, of course) beer releases/tap takeovers. To me, there were not enough creative events promoting at the median between mad-sick-yo-bro beers to the run-of-the-mill brewery feature. We do this year-round in the Philly region. We can do even better for ten days in June.

But where did I feel the "best energy"? Opening Tap for starters. It had something this year that I can't exactly articulate. But, it was there. Like I haven't felt for at least a few years. If I have a say, I'd like to see much better emphasis on local/regional breweries. For Opening Tap, this is our one chance to showcase the best of the region. Allow no other events to be posted during the time of Opening Tap. Make it the grandest showcase that serves as the appropriate kickoff for Philly Beer Week. The rest of the week can feel free to mix it up as much as consumers want with out-of-market features, but at least for one night under one roof, the locals should dominate.

And Monk's Cafe on Tuesday. Dogfish Head sent not just owner Sam Calagione but also his reunited former head brewer, Bryan Selders, area sales manager Wendy Domurat and brand development manager Jennie Hatton-Baver. It was a lunch befitting Philly Beer Week. There was talk of the past and talk of the present. It was a nice mix of industry folk and the consumer off the street willing to take an afternoon off work, plunk down upwards of $100, after tip. For the record, it was out of my own pocket as well, before anyone gets any ideas of bias. Then, the lunchtime soiree made its way down Sansom to Fergie's where Calagione and Selders recreated the days of their brewery rap group - The Pain Relievaz. Lunch, learning, eating, drinking, and capped off with some good ol' fashioned laughs. A very well-rounded day that lived up to the lunch's name - Olde School.

On Thursday, there was an educational type of event. I can not be quite certain that any non-industry folk showed up for it, even though it was absolutely open to the public. It was nicely attended for a Thursday afternoon by around 25 industry people listening to a panel discussion about quality beer, quality processes, and quality presentation for great beer. It was hosted at Urban Village which coincidentally was celebrating its first anniversary of getting its root down on Philly's brewing scene in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. Feels like there have been more panels, stuff that gets closer to educational, special guests, and events that have just that little something extra than just shoveling in a tap takeover's worth of beer. Eh, maybe the jury is in and beer drinkers aren't looking for that? Or did I miss a part of this year's schedule?

Everything else, to me, felt like just drinking (mostly) great beer. Something that we've done around these parts for many more years than many places in this country and something that has become even easier to do in just about every corner of this country in recent years from Alabama to Nebraska, not to mention Florida and Texas, also once considered vast beer wastelands, but no more. Philly Beer Week is still a great excuse to showcase what we make and what we have the pleasure of being sent to our blessed region and should have absolutely no reason to continue strong into the future. But, oh, that one other thing that I kept hearing (yet again)...

March. Think about it. What I heard from more than ever in at least the last five years was — March.

Link to Google Photos for a gallery of PBW '18 pictures.

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Monday, July 02, 2018

Can Yards can beer? Yes, they can and they are (let me know if you need more can jokes)

Yards invited me and some others in various forms of media to check out the new canning line, have a few beers, and get an updated tour of the brewery at the new location of 5th & Spring Garden. I hadn't been on site since Yards was a part of my never-ending post-Super Bowl parade party back in February. So I figured it'd be a timely opportunity to see how things have developed since then.

I think it's pretty clear that the Yards crew is settling quite nicely in to their new digs. Early visits of mine seemed to show a staff humming along as if they'd been working in this new space for years. In addition to the well-tuned beers that the brewery has trained its fans to expect, the kitchen was turning out some creative food from the get-go, taking the brewpub experience up a notch.

What's changed since then? Some of the empty space that I recall from early visits has been filled with more stainless steel and, most recently, a canning line. They've accomplished quite a bit in the last six months since making the official transition from the scenic home along the Delaware River up on to the western edge of the Northern Liberties neighborhood. The new location certainly gives it more of an integrated city feel and the hustle in the 70,000 square foot brewery and taproom shows that Yards is reaching its steady state and, likely, ready for some new growth. That's just me attempting to read tea leaves (or hop leaves, if you prefer); there've not been any new markets opened, nor has there been public talk of such.

They're currently running at a pace of around 42,000 bbls/year with the potential to ultimately go to 100,000, though the talk is not currently that aggressive (or reckless?) But, with more equipment (there's room) and more brewing hours (they currently have a 5 day/week schedule), there is support for potential growth. And some of that is being seen in the new cans coming off the line. They're doing Philly Pale, IPA, and Brawler first, three of the most popular brands and, not to mention, smart choices for this hot summer. Pounders too! The bold, clean, and distinctive design works well too for the ever more crowded retail shelves.

By the way, the tour? Yeah, you should do that too. You'll get plenty of information, plenty of laughs (expect a good dose of irreverent humor woven in with the brewing bits), and a parting gift.

Here's a bit more from the brewery's press release.

First Chance for Beer Fans to View New Brewery and Canning Line
This Summer, Yards Brewing Company invites Philly area locals, as well as visitors to this great city, to come have a beer in their distinct outdoor seating area located directly underneath towering steel brewing tanks along Spring Garden Street in the city’s bustling Northern Liberties neighborhood. The new Yards taproom and brewery at 5th and Spring Garden Streets offers patrons 20 taps of fresh, quality Yards ales and a full dining menu crafted by Chef Jim Burke. Curious folks can opt for up-close brewery tours to see how Yards beers are brewed, bottled, canned and kegged for the hard-working people of Philadelphia and beyond.

Founder, President and Brewmaster Tom Kehoe and the Yards crew have been brewing in the City of Brotherly Love since 1994. For the first time in Yards’ 24-year history, the regional craft producer has started canning their flagship beers: Philadelphia Pale Ale, Brawler, and Signature IPA. These go-to brews are available in traditional 12-oz. and 16-oz. pounder cans that can be found in the Yards Taproom and wherever Yards beers are sold – just in time for summer barbecues, ball games and weekends down the shore.

For those who don’t want to go too far to get away this summer, Yards Brewing Company’s front yard is the perfect spot to throw back a can or two in the shade of the tanks. Big round tables encourage friends to get together under the tanks and watch the day go by while enjoying everything Yards has to offer, like their behind-the-scenes brewery tours offered daily.

Brewery tours provide thirsty guests a behind-the-scenes look at how Philly’s Beer is made. Tour goers will learn about the brewing process and hear the Story of Yards, with plenty of comedy, beer samples, and giveaways throughout. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and cost just $5. Tours must be booked in advance through an online reservation system at Tours run Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, with 12 tours per day, from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

About Yards Brewing Company…Yards has proudly brewed Philadelphia’s beer since 1994. The regional craft producer has grown from a garage-sized operation in the Manayunk section of Philly to a 38,000-square-foot facility along the city’s Delaware River waterfront to a 70,000-square foot facility in the thriving Northern Liberties neighborhood. Philadelphia Pale Ale and Brawler, both nationally-recognized ales, lead a balanced portfolio of quality, handcrafted beers, including eight year-round offerings and several seasonal and limited releases. Founder Tom Kehoe and the Yards crew share a commitment to supporting the good people and organizations making their backyard a better place to live and work. It’s all about working hard, having fun and giving back. Brew Unto Others.

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at