Sly Fox 13th Anniversary bash at the Grey Lodge Pub and how we got there.

Let us start at the end, since we have this fine photograph available to us. That’s fine publican Mike “Scoats” Scotese in the center,smiling happily and hold the cake at last night’s celebration of the 13th Anniversary of Sly Fox Brewing Company which took place at the Grey Lodge Pub because, well, that’s where 13s go to be celebrated and honored in these parts. Around him, from the left, are Sly Fox brewmaster Brian O’Reilly, director of brewing operations Tim Ohst and beer lass/sales rep Suzanne Woods. I suppose this photo might be considered historic since a major participant, the cake, didn’t survive the evening.

The crowd was certainly decent, if not overwhelming, a testament, I’d guess, to both the weather, which had been lousy all day but cleared while we were inside the Frankford Avenue pub, and the fact that it seems like, swear to God, there has been a Sly Fox event somewhere in the area every other night for the last month or so. Four Sly Fox beers were on draught: Aurora IPA and Black Raspberry on the taps, British Pale Ale on the hand pump and a gravity firkin of Phoenix Pale Ale. I drank the latter two through the evening, and also had a glass of Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale from a bottle that Suzanne purchased.

Not a lot of familiar faces in the crowd–Ed Friedland was on hand, as was Christine, the Good Gummper, Chris LaPierre showed up late and there were probably a few folks I’m forgetting, but mostly it was a Grey Lodge crowd, much of it neighborhood “just regular folks” sorts who were clearly regulars. One of singular achievements Scoats pulled off when he took over the place and christened it the Grey Lodge was to slowly build into a craft beer spot while not annoying or driving off the existing customer base. Among those, as I referenced in this post yesterday, were several Gentlemen of a Certain Age (all of them, curiously enough, bearing a strong resemblance to an elder version of  Tom Mariano) upon whom Suzanne worked her wiles to a fare-thee-well. I suspect more than a few of them awakened quite happily this morning while wondering why they had an irresistible urge to go buy a case of Sly Fox cans.

The night began early. Brian, Tim and I drove downtown around 1pm through dreary rain and fog, which would continue throughout the day, stopping first at the definitely unpretentious Khyber to await Suzanne and allow Brian to “charm” the new beer buyer there, likely making her job more difficult on the next sales call while she undoes the damage. That gave us time for a couple of beers and I had my first pint of River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout (which was nice, smooth and drinkable) and a second pint of some beer from Delaware, of all places, called 60-Minute IPA.

Then it was off to Memphis Taproom for lunch. I suggested we stop at Yards Brewery on the way but Brian said we didn’t have time for that. We did have to to swing by Standard Tap and pick up William Reed to join us at Memphis. Management was not on the premises, likely hard at work getting this place ready to open (I’m hearing, not from anybody official and not from anybody at Memphis yesterday, that New Year’s Day is a tentative target). I finally got to order the getting-to-be-legendary Port Richmond Platter (grilled kielbasy, pierogies, potato pancakes and sauerkraut) and was duly impressed if somewhat overwhelmed by the quantity. Lunch gave me a chance to try my new favorite beer, Yards Brawler, on draught for the first time. I did so twice, just to be sure. Still very good but not as good as in the bottle, I think, because the malt character is more upfront in latter.

Speaking of Yards, darned if Brian didn’t suggest we stop there after lunch. The  boy is just replete with good ideas. We arrived there around 5:15 and found Tom Kehoe, his dog, and Steve Mashington still in the house (I think that’s the management team, top to bottom), along with a couple of other staff. Bottles of Brawler were passed around (life is good) and Brian and Tom talked about brewer-type stuff as we walked around. The place is freakin’ huge (the original two-vessel brewhouse from 1995, stored away in a corner behind the fermenters for now, made me smile widely and wonder how the hell as this happened) and the new brewpub/tasting room/whatever is gonna be something else when and if it gets ready and approved.

And then we went to the Grey Lodge, which brings up back up to the top of the page and the end of the story. Except for the part where we drove home through a bright, crisp clear night that was a treat and a half.

‘Twas a very good day.

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