Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sly Fox for the Holidays

Of late, I've dropped several notes about exciting things happening at West Chester's home of Iron Hill. From the German Pilsner back in the fall to the Tabasco "experiment" that they've jumped into, along with a new sister out in Lancaster, and a handful of other strong brewers and staff, Iron Hill as a family is primed to continue running strong throughout 2008. But, I haven't been saying as much about their compatriots further up the county in Phoenixville. I've mentioned in the past that Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox is, in my opinion, one of the region's finest and most talented brewers. That's saying a lot considering the group of brewers that the region fields. Throughout 2007, there have been no shortage of wide-ranging brews being pumped out of their two locations. In addition, they've had some capacity to undertake contract brewing for Southampton (NY) and Brewer's Art (MD). Earlier in the year they hosted one of the region's most eagerly anticipated (and unique) annual beer festivals, the Sly Fox Bock Festival & Goat Races. Next Friday December 14th, they'll reach the summit (pun intended) of the year-long IPA Project. During the year, they've crafted 11 single variety IPAs. All of these hops then become the basis for creating Odyssey, which is due to be unveiled when they open the doors on Friday morning. In addition to those 12 beers available on traditional tap, 3 cask versions (Odyssey [2006], Odyssey [2007], and Rt. 113) will also be available. That makes, count 'em folks, 15 hop delights to be had. The beers, fortunately, will be available in small flights to make tasting all of them actually possible. The hops used in 2007 include Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, First Gold, Galena, Pacific Jade, Magnum, Nelson Sauvin, Phoenix, Southern Cross, and Target. In past years, other hops used in "the Project" included Ahtanum, Cascade, Challenger, Glacier, Newport, Northdown, Nugget, Palisade, Progress, Santiam, Simcoe, Vanguard, Warrior, and Willamette. Should be interesting to watch how the IPA Project develops in 2008, based on recent events in both the hop and malt markets. Ooohhh, and one more thing! Did you ever try their Renard d'Or? Well, if not, here's a chance to jump into a full jeroboam of it. It is absolutely worthy of being put into such a regal package. Not yet released, keep an eye open for it. They'll be sure to go quickly....if I have anything say about it :) Then, as if you don't need a break from the holidays, they're coming right back atchya in January with their annual Boot Camp weekly extravaganza and the Robbie Burns Blowout Birthday Bash. Read more over at their website.


Anonymous said...

How long has Brian been with Sly Fox? I had one of their beers at a tasting years ago (maybe 8-10 years), and it was undrinkable due to diacetyl levels. It was a butter bomb to put chardonnay to shame. If they've improved since, I'm glad to hear it.

Eli said...

Looking forward to this year's Odyssey, last year's was great.

Anonymous said...

JP, here's a little bio of Brian from the SF website:

Head brewer Brian O'Reilly originally planned to become either a teacher or lawyer, but fell under the spell of good beer during an overseas study program in Austria while attending Franciscan University in Ohio, inspiring him to begin homebrewing. Following graduation, while substitute teaching in Boston and playing with his rock band, ScrapApple, he volunteered at local microbrewery, then was hired as assistant brewer at Brewers Bier Haus in New Hampshire. When his mentor Phil Markowski left to create Southampton Publick House, Brian took over. After the brewery closed, he was hired by the John Harvard's chain and was head brewer in Cleveland for two years before coming to Pennsylvania in 1999 to help create the short-lived New Road Brew House in Collegeville (where he won a GABF Gold Medal in 2000). He joined Sly Fox in March 2002.

A little known fact is Brian worked at Victory for about a year before starting at SF.

JP, you need to revisit SF and enjoy some of the fine brews.