Sly Fox takes over the Tap and Mallet

Tap takeovers continue to be wildly popular at the Tap and Mallet here in sunny Rochester,

and Sly Fox proved why. The boys from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania hauled 30 beers up, one for each tap on the bar.

Events like this really showcase a brewery’s versatility and brewing prowess. Lots of places can pump out good beer in the IPA/Pale ale range, but frankly not every brewery can also excel at Czech pilsners, Doppelbocks and Helles.

I love Sly Fox’s commitment to central European styles. Brewer Brian O’Reilly’s passion for lagers of all types shows through in the fidelity of his work, and makes him a role model for neophyte craft beer discoverers. His Helles is clean, his Pilseners crisp, and they would make a Bohemian proud (the ethnic kind, not the guy with the hacky-sack).

The Sly Fox Standard Pils stood out, bolder in body than the more generally available Pikeland Pils, more of a homage to the beer of the Czech Republic. A soft, bready flavor profile gave way to a crispy Saaz hop finish with nary a hint of off-flavor. This beer would go over fine in the beer gardens of Prague and Pilsen.

I was also quite taken with the Jake’s ESB. Extra Special Bitter is an increasingly forgotten English style. It lacks the trendy caché of IPA or strong pale ale, and just doesn’t seem to find its way into beer bars very often. However, Jake’s ESB is a prime example of what an ale yeast can do when properly nurtured. The beer is soft, funky and fruity, swirled through with pear and plum flavors, lightly sweet with a toffee malt character.

We’re gonna see a great deal more of Sly Fox; they just plunked down the cash for a major expansion that should make them a big player in the northeast market. That’s a win for anyone who likes good beer in this neck of the woods.

-Mark

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