POTTSTOWN, Pa., September 17, 2012 — Sly Fox beer is currently available in only New Jersey, New York, and its home state, Pennsylvania. That may not be true for much longer after a recent major expansion into a larger production space in Pottstown, approximately forty miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Old-timers might think of Pottstown as the home to Mrs. Smith’s pies, created from a kitchen recipe in the 1920s and grown into a commercial enterprise, the private boarding establishment Hill School (since 1851), or the bellowing industrial property of Firestone Tire & Rubber (and later Occidental Chemical), just across the borough’s eastern border.
Pottstown is also home to the once time-honored “cruising” of High Street. Cruising may no longer hold the same panache, Mrs. Smith’s was gobbled up by a conglomerate, the Firestone/Occidental site has turned into a Superfund cleanup site, and the Hill School is attempting to recast itself into a modern 21st century boarding school. Attracting businesses to Pottstown has been a priority in recent years as the borough attempts to recast its image.
While Pottstown Memorial Medical Center employs the most in the borough, the rapidly growing Sly Fox Brewing Company brings 15 employees (more than twice that number at their original home in Phoenixville) to its newly incorporated brewery location in a commercial development just off the tip of the Pottstown Municipal Airport property in the northwest corner of Pottstown.
Recently, I was a guest on the Beer Yard’s “employee, friends, and family” tour of the new facility. The beer distributor’s owner Matt Guyer hosted a group of nearly 25 people who were there to check out the greatly expanded operations.
The new Sly Fox Brewery sits at an optimistic-sounding address of 331 Circle of Progress. But it is all about the building and the brews inside, and not the street name, that makes the recent opening of its new brewery the crowning achievement in Sly Fox’s history that dates back to 1995.
The intervening years have seen Sly Fox grow out of its original location on the outskirts of Phoenixville and into a new location across the street in 2010. A full production brewery had been opened in 2004 a little farther west in Royersford, which has recently been closed in favor of this much larger production facility even farther west in Pottstown.
The new brewery boasts a whopping 30,000 square feet of space for the brewery’s operations where once an office desk/cabinet/cubicle manufacturer once existed. Brewmaster Brian O’Reilly, Director of Brewing Operations Tim Ohst, and their staff have never had as much room to brew as they will now enjoy in their German-built BrauKon 50-hectoliter brewhouse. The larger brewhouse should allow the brewing team to efficiently triple their existing production.
A combination of 150-hectoliter new fermenters and 50-hectoliter existing fermenters will serve as the basis for a fermentation room that also has room to grow with the business.
Cans, as many are aware, have been an important component of Sly Fox’s success for more than five years. A new canning assembly line will likewise increase productivity on the packaging end. Speaking of cans, as part of Sly Fox’s introduction to Pottstown, the creative folks put together short video entitled “Welcome To Cantown”.
One of the final major pieces to their new site in Pottstown, Sly Fox recently unveiled its Tastin’ Room where customers can enjoy the fullest lineup of Sly Fox beer available anywhere along with a limited, but well-conceived, menu and home team sports on the television. From the Tastin’ Room, brewery operations can be observed through large windows. Tours of the brewery conveniently begin from there as well.
Sly Fox is also no stranger to success outside of the brewery with its its extremely popular events, notably the Bock Festival and Goat Races held every May. In addition to this coming weekend’s Kan Jam and Live Music Festival, the ample industrial park setting should provide a venue for many future events.
Sly Fox has a solid 15+ year track record and this recent expansion should position them well to take advantage of continued growth.
For more about Sly Fox Brewing Company and a full picture gallery, please visit TheBrewLounge.com
–Read more of Bryan’s work at After Hours in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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