Day of the IPA's
Sly Fox Brewery
Phoenixville, PA

After 9 years in business, Pete & John Giannopoulos wanted to do something special to celebrate the anniversary as well as the recent opening of their second location in Royersford. Brewer Brian O'Reilly suggested they do 9 IPAs each made with one style of hop and served throughout the year. But on December 10, they would serve all nine as well as a bonus on cask.
When I heard the news back in the summer, I immediately jotted it into my book and put in for the day off. What hophead would miss this!!!??? This event was the topic of conversation all over the area for several months prior. Car pools were set up, lodging booked and vacation slips turned in. Ground rules were also published on the brewery's website to accommodate the anticipated throngs. Doors would open at Noon and samplers of all nine (Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Styrian Goldings, Simcoe, Target & Odyssey) would be available as well as the Rt. 113 IPA, the Helles, the Stout and the Odyssey on cask. No growlers would be filled until 10PM. Pre-filled growlers of Odyssey would be on sale throughout the day for those who wished to carry some out.

The day dawned overcast and rainy, but our spirits undaunted, we set out early to stake our place in the expected line. We arrived at 11:30 with only several cars waiting on the lot. The rain kept us in our vehicles until we got the sign at 11:45. Writer Lew Bryson arrived at that time and we walked in to get our seats at the bar. A small contingent of fans were not far behind.
First order of business was to order our samplers and then look at the menu. A well-planned event, they had made up special sampler mats to keep the selections in some semblance of order for the taster. Special shirts were printed for the occasion as well. Even the menu got into the act. The soup of the day was a chili made with the Amarillo beer. The company debuted their newly-redesigned logo on coasters which I'm sure disappeared as collectors realized it.
Notebooks were opened by those of us who like to record our tastings. Lew and I discussed several of the profiles and queried Brian about them. All the flavor profiles were present and it was a wonderful comparative study for the true IPA aficionado. For the most part, the majority held up well, though some were beginning to show their age....a bit of diacetyl here, some tartness there, but all in all, the products were outstanding!
Before long, in strolled Jack Curtin, the writer and regular at Sly Fox. Another set of tastebuds to consult!
I can't do justice to how great an event it was and we are already making plans for next year's event.....10 IPAs!!!!
The crowd grew steadily over the hours we were there. Originally planning on spending the night locally, we had decided to cancel the hotel and make a stop at Iron Hill-Media on the way home.
I can only imagine the crowd that showed up after work that night! There were a lot of happy hopheads!
If all goes as planned, set your sights on Sly Fox for December 9, 2005!! See you there!
Brian is one of the best brewers to be found anywhere and we are certainly lucky to have him in this area. Look for even greater things with Royersford's production brewery up and running. Distribution will be much wider than at present. Maybe we'll even get some in NJ!!! Bottling on a larger scale will begin in 2005.