Philly Beer Week is coming – and a new Lager from Sly Fox

Philly Beer Week starts this Thursday night with opening tap!   And Sly Fox has just announced that it has created a new lager that will be released for the occasion- the press release is below.

Hope to see you out and about during Philly Beer Week!

The beer is a collaboration between Brewmaster Brian O’Reilly, Standard Tap’s William Reed and fourth-generation brewer Bill Moeller, who worked at Philly’s historic Ortlieb’s and Schmidt’s breweries and developed the original recipe for modern classic Brooklyn Lager

On Thursday, June 1 at approximately 5:27 p.m. beer lovers following the Philly Beer Week Hammer of Glory (HOG) Relay are in for an extra-special treat: when the official keg hammer reaches Standard Tap, it will be used for a ceremonial first tapping of Northern Liberties Standard Lager. Brewed collaboratively by Sly Fox Brewing Company, Standard Tap owner William Reed and 91-year-old Bill Moeller, this extraordinary lager puts Moeller’s encyclopedic knowledge of beer as a fourth-generation brewer and brewing consultant on historic display on what is sure to be an instant classic in Philadelphia’s thriving beer scene. Standard Tap (901 North 2nd Street) will also host a debut brunch for Northern Liberties Standard Lager on Sunday, June 4 starting at 11 a.m. with O’Reilly, Reed and Moeller leading a meet-and-greet at 12 noon.

“Researching and brewing this beer with Bill has been an amazing opportunity, reminding me how much I still have to learn,” says O’Reilly. “Bill was brewing for 28 years in iconic Philadelphia breweries such as Ortlieb’s and Schmidt’s, at a time before home brewing was even legal in the United States. It’s a real honor to debut this collaborative brew with a true living legend – a man who helped put the Northern Liberties neighborhood on the beer map – during the 10th anniversary of Philly Beer Week.”

The inspiration for Northern Liberties Standard Lager struck when O’Reilly, Reed and Moeller were scrolling through Bills’ father’s malting and brewing notebook and discovered a lager recipe, dated February 6, 1920. At 5.8% ABV, the beer is very drinkable and fresh, brewed with German Two-Row, Caramel and Munich malts, and hopped with Cascade and Hallertau hops. They also used kräusening, a process that Bill requested, wherein about 10% young, still-fermenting beer is added to the aging beer, creating a secondary fermentation that adds flavor and carbonates the beer naturally.

“The long lager-ing period of near freezing temperatures is essential, as it smooths out the beer and rids it of rough-tasting tannins,” says Moeller. “I believe that kräusening produces beautiful complexity in a lager beer, and I was thrilled that Brian and Will were up for it. This is a beer with hair on its chest!”

Per Bill’s orders, a real lager must adhere to a “low and slow” fermentation process and age for at least six weeks. The final product is medium-firm bodied, with deep copper color, complex malty nose and balanced, brassy malt-hop finish. Northern Liberties Standard Lager is the latest installment in an ongoing series of collaboration beers started in 2008 between Sly Fox and Standard Tap and will be available at Standard Tap, Johnny Brenda’s (also owned by Reed) and at Sly Fox locations in Pottstown, PA and Phoenixville, PA.

“Reading Bill’s father’s meticulous hand-written notes made the family’s lengthy brewing tradition really come alive, and it’s very exciting to be able to pour the fruits of so much effort and history,” says Reed. “Fittingly, Northern Liberties Standard Lager will debut just a half-block from where lager brewing began in America.”

Moeller is a fourth-generation brewmaster and World War II veteran who has spent 67 years in the beer industry, tracing his brewing roots back to his paternal great grandfather, an accomplished brewer in his native Germany. Moeller started his own brewing career at Drewry’s in South Bend, Indiana and estimated that his family alone – his paternal great grandfather, grandfather, father, two uncles and Bill himself – have collectively produced about 110 million barrels of beer in America, including Bill himself concocting the original recipe for Brooklyn Lager, the same award-winning beer made today by Brooklyn Brewery. His beers have won critical acclaim both internationally and in the United States, including awards at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and at the International Institute for Quality in Belgium.

“When I approached my father about getting into the family business, he told me, ‘You are going to do it the right way, the traditional German way – or you are not going to do it,’” says Moeller, who also formulated the original recipe for Dock Street’s Bohemian Pilsner. “Lagers and pilsners are difficult beers to make because it is very hard to cover up any mistakes.”


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Sly Fox to Celebrate Earth Day with Spreekend!

Spring has sprung! Time again for beer outside! Photo by Matt Brasch

Wow!  If this weather doesn’t get you stoked for Spring and Summer, I don’t know what will!  And if you want to celebrate the change of seasons and give back at the same time, Sly Fox is celebrating Earth Day on April 22!  Here’s the press release:

The brewery is committed to caring for its community, and to celebrate Earth Day,
they will release a beer benefiting the Schuylkill River Trail and host a fun launch party

On Saturday, April 22, Sly Fox Brewing Company will celebrate Earth Day with the annual debut of SRT Ale, an American Pale Ale benefiting the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT). SRT Ale is a golden, hop-forward sessionable ale that, at 4.6% ABV, is perfect to drink after traversing its namesake, the SRT. From 2 p.m. until 8 p.m., the outdoor enthusiasts at Sly Fox will take-over St. Michael’s Park in Mont Clare, PA for their third-annual SRT Spree, featuring live performances by roots rock bands Chestnut Grove and Frog Holler, along with fresh food from the Sunflower Food Truck and Uncle B’s BBQ. The festive party will pay tribute to the serene beauty of the SRT, while raising awareness for environmental issues and preserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

“As we like to say, Earth is the only planet that has beer – so we’ll do whatever we can to protect it,” says Brewmaster Brian O’Reilly. “SRT Ale and our annual Earth Day SRT clean-up efforts are our way to give back to the community that we love and preserve our beautiful outdoor spaces for future generations. We work with earthen ingredients every day when we brew our approachable ales and lagers, so we know first-hand how important it is to support local environmental organizations and government works projects.”

The SRT is a 130-mile walking and biking trail that runs from Philadelphia north and west to Pottsville, PA, and is a work in progress; to support its construction and maintenance, Sly Fox will donate $1 from every case of SRT Ale sold to the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA). In addition, they will share 50% of the Spree’s proceeds with the Schuylkill Canal Association (SCA). SRT Spree is the kick-off to a five-month initiative starting on April 22 and ending on September 30 at Sly Fox’s popular Can Jam Music Festival in Pottstown, PA where the annual donation is presented on stage.

Since 2014, almost $9,000 has been donated to the SRHA for trail maintenance, improvement and advocacy; last year, the brewery raised $4,711 through the sale of SRT Ale. Sly Fox owner John Giannopoulos was recently honored with the Schuylkill River Legacy Award for his charitable and philanthropic endeavors during the 2nd Annual Evening for the Schuylkill River.

“The Sly Fox partnership bolsters our efforts to encourage recreation, build and improve the SRT and engage new audiences in our events,” said Tim Fenchel, SRHA Interim Executive Director. “We are proud to recognize Sly Fox for their meaningful contribution.”

To celebrate the launch of SRT Ale, Sly Fox will coordinate a weekend-long “SRT Spree,” inviting fans to kayak, cycle, run, hike or walk the trail and help roving clean-up groups, as well as the 50K Schuylkill River Relay. Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to register for any of the events; however, participation is NOT required, and guests are encouraged to come drink great Sly Fox beers and enjoy the party at St. Michael’s Park.

Trail Clean-Ups
Participants receive a free t-shirt and participants 21+ receive a free voucher for a can of SRT Ale.
Fri 4/21 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Pottstown Riverfront and Manatawny Creek (register online)
Sat 4/22 9 a.m. until 12 noon Schuylkill Canal Park Lock 60 (register online)
Sat 4/22 10 a.m. until 12 noon Thun Section, Berks County (register online for exact location)

Schuylkill River 50K Relay
Participants race in stages, beginning at 9 a.m., following the trail from Lock 60 in Mont Clare, PA to Conshohocken Brewing Company in Conshohocken, PA and back again; at the finish line, each runner will receive one post-race SRT Ale and the official finishers baton. Runners can register online as individuals, teams of three, and teams of six.

Group Bike Ride in Mont Clare
Sly Fox has partnered with Bikesport on a roughly 15-mile group bike ride along the SRT on Saturday, 4/22. The ride will leave from Reynolds Dog Park/Longford Park at 9 a.m. before stopping at the Sly Fox Tastin’ Room in Pottstown for lunch, then ending back at St. Michael’s Park in Mont Clare. The ride is free to join and all riders will receive a voucher for a complimentary SRT Ale at the party.

Kayak Paddle at Lock 60
On April 22 from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. experienced and novice kayakers can embark on a 17-mile paddle along the Schuylkill River, starting in Pottstown and ending at St. Michael’s Park. Paddlers will be able to enter Lock 60 of the Schuylkill Canal, the only operating lock remaining on the Schuylkill River. To register, please click here – and remember to wear appropriate footwear and drink responsibly.

Celebrate in St. Michael’s Park
All are welcome to join the fun in St. Michael’s Park from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, 4/22. Chestnut Grove and Frog Holler will play live music, and Sunflower Food Truck and Uncle B’s BBQ will provide food. Participants will have the opportunity to taste the first release of this year’s SRT Ale. Registration is NOT required; guests are encouraged to consider carpooling or arrive via kayak, bike or foot along the SRT.

About Sly Fox Brewing Company…Since their inaugural brew in 1995, Sly Fox has crafted more than 100 different top-notch craft beers. Their critically acclaimed year-round line-up and highly anticipated seasonals are available in their brewpubs in Phoenixville and Pottstown, as well as top bars and restaurants in PA, CT, NJ, NY, MD, VA and Washington, DC. They were the first craft brewery in the mid-Atlantic to put in a canning line, adding it to their facility in 2006, and with it, earned the first-ever Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medal awarded to a canned craft beer, in 2007. They have earned GABF medals virtually every year since, and are widely recognized as among the region’s best and most enduring craft breweries.

Hope to see you at one of those events!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Craft Beer Memories Relived: What Is Your Groundhog Day?

In my recent article in Ticket to Entertainment, I asked several people in the craft beer industry to describe a day that they could relive over and over again (beer related of course!), as Bill Murray did in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day.”  Due to space limitations, I had to edit their responses – so below are their full, unedited responses!  Cheers!

Bill Covaleski, Victory Brewing Company, Jan. 17, 2017

“This is a great question that everyone should answer because, hopefully, it rewards a person with a backwards winding movie off all of the moments of their lives in which the experienced great fulfillment. For me there were many candidates for this honor, but one offered great clarity so I’ll go with this…

Years ago Greg Koch (Stone Brewing) had invited Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and I to participate in a big way in the opening of Stone Berlin, with a special version of our Saison du BUFF to be brewed there. Time went by and the day arrived, September 20, 2016. I walked to Sam’s hotel and there he was, as planned, with bikes for us to make the 45 minute trek. Greg rolled up at our arranged meeting point, Brandenburg Gate, a historic spot indeed that added some gravity to what was feeling like a very exciting day. I have to admit, the importance of this American craft beer flag that Stone had so boldly planted in Germany was thrilling me, a student of German brewing school (Doemens, 1993) whose earliest flavorful beers were German imports. I could not wait to experience it.

Along the bike path the folks from BRLO Brewery were starting another busy day of construction on their brewery built into shipping containers so we stopped in to meet them, Greg being the friendly neighbor he is rather than the American beer icon. A sense of anonymity and freedom were a big part of the blissful experience that day. The peak of which may have happened as we rode the quiet path. Just three anonymous friends sharing the path with pensioners and their pets, off to a great, secret adventure like grade school pals skipping school. The sense of promise and place were rich and immediate.

Stone Berlin exudes a calm confidence. It is impossible not to be impressed with the way grand spaces lead to cozy nooks and interesting views, all designed to enrich the experience of flavor and conversation. The artist in me found delight in the facility at every turn. We were joined that day by friends and guests from the UK and America and eventually got to work sorting the rosemary, sage, lemon thyme and parsley that make this winning collaboration beer so delicious. The staff were wide-eyed as well, only one week into the brewpub’s operation. All around was sense of promise, and risk, an intoxicating combination that we entrepreneurs can’t get enough of. Speaking of risk, I recall that the menacing traffic at more than one intersection nearly claimed Sam though we laughed right through it with shouts of encouragement.

Similar to the Stone staff an incredible and close-knit bunch of beer lovers gathered throughout the day, culminating with magnificent beer dinner in which a commemorative boot of Saison du BUFF was passed around and enjoyed by each dinner guest in a somewhat irreverent take on a highly codified German beer drinking tradition.

We shook ourselves from this dream to remount our bikes, this time a larger group including friends and family. At one point I dashed ahead into the darkness to live a moment within my own thoughts. I wondered what force brings busy friends, competitors some might insist, together to a foreign place to add vitality to the vision of a friend It is friendship itself, and the promising energy that flows from a group on the same mission. That’s how you should drink beer, with friends on a mission of discovery. Doing so will make each day different, better and memorable.”

Sam Calagione, Greg Koch and Bill Covaleski celebrate after brewing Saison du BUFF in Stone’s new brewpub in Berlin, September 20, 2016. Photo courtesy of Bill Covaleski.

Julius Facenda, The Brick & Barrel, Jan. 21, 2017:

“Something I’d love to relive every day….One of my most enjoyable beer experiences:  When I started working at Iron Abbey, I had a lot of friends that were judgmental to craft beer scene at the time – it was fancy for them.  And I was getting into it because we had 36 lines on and 300 bottles – so I’m tasting 40 different liquids every day – sour, hoppy, imperial stout, all this crazy stuff.  The boss plans a trip to Sly Fox Bock Fest.  Bock Fest is at Sly Fox, in the parking lot of a shopping center.  We took a bus there – we had 5 cases of Sly Fox “113 IPA” and a good selection of the Sly Fox cans (this is before cans were cool, too!)  So we’re on the bus with a whole bunch of people and I brought a bunch of my non-craft friends – cause they like to party.  Everyone is singing on the bus, and we pull up to Sly Fox and there’s 1000 people in the parking lot – it maxed out at 5000 people!  There’s busses from all kinds of bars and god knows – just random people!

There’s trailers and people with their goats for the goat races.  When we get off the bus, the first interaction we have is with a bunch of goats who are just standing around with no one watching them!   We look at the goats, and one comes out and head butts my leg!  Not vicious, a black goat with huge horns – my friends start laughing;  they are not used to drinking this stronger beer, so they are starting to have a good time.  We came across this beer called EisBock – I was not aware of it prior to that day.  I went into the brewpub – they served the Eisbock in 5 oz servings – so I ordered a few for me and my friends.  It’s different but it’s good – I think it was 14% ABV.

I remember there were people in the trees watching the goat races; I was sitting on a bench with some regulars from Iron Abbey.  Meanwhile, I’m sipping this 14% beer – and my boss comes up and says, “Let’s go – you’re racing this goat!”  I said “I’m drunk bro – I’m not doing that.”  But I chugged the beer and went to get the goat.  It was cool because I have a little salt and pepper in my beard and I got a goat that was salt and pepper too!  One of the guys that worked at Na Brasa also got a goat, and before the race began, the goat took off on him.  He chased it down and finally got the goat back.  I was in the second heat, and I was watching the first heat.  I learned  after the fact – there’s a trick to racing goats – you can’t get in front of your goat, because if you do your goat stops.  Whichever goat wins, that name is used for that year’s bock beer.  Peggy was a three legged goat that may have won a few years in a row and was racing the year I was there.

It was an amazing time – and it wasn’t just all about craft beer.  It was more about the camaraderie with my friends between the beer, the event – Bock fest – being an old german festival.  And my friends were really into this idea because they were partying but there were still people drinking PBR cans.  As I was waiting for my turn in the second heat of the goat race, I look over and my friends are standing next to some random guy with a cooler of PBR cans and they are waving PBR cans! On the way home on the bus the whole bus was singing.  It was such a cool event because it brought non-craft beer drinkers to the real craft beer world where its like every one was just enjoying the time together.  And it was one of my first beer events, to tell you the truth!

Daniel Endicott, Forest & Main Brewing, Jan, 22, 2017

In January of 2009 I traveled to England to study brewing at the University of Sunderland. After a long over night flight and a day of exhausting traveling I arrived in York, where I would spend a few days before classes began. After a quick nap I set out to enjoy the history and beauty of York. I wound up in the Minister Inn, a little bar that makes our bar look enormous. Over pints of bitter I made friends with the locals. Over pints of bitter I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama. It was a momentous time, both for my country and myself. It was a night full of optimism, joy, and pride… and some of the best beer I’d ever had. I returned to the Minister Inn the next night and enjoyed more pints with my new friends, it was one of the most welcoming pubs I’ve ever set foot in. If I could relive one beer related day of my life I think I would choose that one.  It was a big inspiration for our pub.

John Remington, Founder, Conshohocken Brewing Company, Jan. 22, 2017

“This is an easy question for me!  May 2016 – when we won the Silver at the World Beer Cup right here in our backyard in Philadelphia for our ‘Puddlers Row ESB.’  It was amazing to win at the world level, but to do it in Philadelphia made it that much more special to us.  The festivities afterward got a bit hazy after hitting several of our favorite Philly local spots into the early morning.  Definitely worth reliving a few times!”

Jim Carter, Ambler Beverage Exchange, Jan. 22, 2017

“Hahahaha….the one day I’d relive over and over is when I went to Monks Cafe for the 1st time…I could live with doing that for the rest of life…hahaha.  The beers that I had were unbelievable …each one was better than the next ( can’t even remember how what they were but definitely Belgian) the food was spot on and the atmosphere was perfect…I would do it everyday if I could…”

* * *

As Covaleski said, “This is a great question that everyone should answer because, hopefully, it rewards a person with a backwards winding movie of all of the moments of their lives in which they experienced great fulfillment.”  And truly, the question helps one recognize the real value of beer; it should not just be a liquid consumed in a vacuum, but a vital part of a social experience that becomes inexorably intertwined with our life experiences.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2017 – all rights reserved

Welcoming the Christmas Season in Style at McGillin’s Old Ale House

While many people mark the beginning of this hectic season by “shopping til you drop” on Black Friday, I tend to take a more reflective approach.  I can’t think of a better way to reflect on the past year than to sit in a warm public house with a craft beer and comfort food.  In my opinion, there is no better place for this than McGillin’s Old Ale House in the “MidTown Village” section of Philadelphia. Located on Drury Street, a narrow, not well-maintained, alley, McGillin’s has provided a safe haven for those looking to drink and eat in a comfortable atmosphere since 1860.

IMG_7832On Thanksgiving weekend, McGillin’s transforms itself into a Christmas wonderland.  As described on their website, “It’s like Christmas with steriods at McGillin’s – with more than 1,000 feet of garland, 1,200 feet of lights, 350 bows and ornaments.”  It’s the perfect place to stop in for a meal and a drink while enjoying Philadelphia Christmas activities like the Macy’s Light Show and the Dickens Village, the Philadelphia Christmas Village and the Comcast Spectacular.

In what is becoming an annual tradition (see my post from 2013), McGillin’s is definitely my choice to jump start to the holidays.  Stop in and have one of McGillin’s specialty brews, crafted only for McGillin’s by Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, or try another local Philadelphia craft brew like Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Walt Wit or Sly Fox’s Christmas Ale.


Philadelphia Brewing Walt Wit upstairs at McGillin’s

Sly Fox Christmas Ale - glowing red for the season.

Sly Fox Christmas Ale – glowing red for the season.

So here’s to the beginning of the holiday season – and cheers to McGillin’s!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2014 – all rights reserved