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Microbrewing Popularity continues to grow
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent
2014-09-03

Bryan McDonald, brewmaster at The Other Farm Brewing Company in Boyertown, checks a beer sample from a 100-gallon fermentation tank located in the storefront establishment on Philadephia Avenue. The microbrewery offers beers with an agricultural twist and uses locally grown peaches, cherries, pumpkins, blueberries and apples to produce their brews.

        The local popularity of craft beers is a natural extension of the public's desire to expand its pallet for food, according to Brian O'Reilly, the brewmaster at the Sly Fox Brewing Company.

        "They enjoy encountering new flavors and discovering those differences," said O'Reilly, who brews for the company, located in Pottstown and Phoenixville.

        The public's appetite for craft beers, as an alternative to the "yellow fizzy beers," is healthy and growing, he said.

        Jan Hench, owner of McCoole's Red Lion Inn at 4 South Main Street in Quakertown, says the incorporation of homebrewed beer adds to the uniqueness of her restaurant.

        Hench and brewmaster Edward MacAdams create the home brews in the neighboring old Main Street Theatre, which she owns.

        "I have plenty of space," Hench said. "So I figured, 'Why not.'"

        MacAdams says it takes four hours to brew 30 gallons, the equivalent of one barrel, of beer. He utilizes 55-gallon stainless steel drums and 40-gallon plastic conical fermenting tanks.
        According to MacAdams, the brewery currently uses the Ales fermenting process, which typically takes about two weeks.

        Hench called the production of microbrews - which includes Indian Pale Ales (IPA), which are more aggressively hopped  than other styles - a natural venture for a restaurateur.

        "Food and beer go hand in hand," Hench said.

        Using old recipes and classic styles, MacAdams says his goal is to create beers that appeal to customers seeking an alternative to Coors or Budweiser.

        "In the past five years, people have been branching out and trying new things," said MacAdams, of Homestead Product Supply, a Quakertown-based retail supplier of homebrew equipment and supplies. "They are tired of everyday, watered-down beers."

        The week before Thanksgiving, the restaurant introduced Wishbone Winter Ale, which sold out in four days, according to McCoole's website.

        In January, it offered an amber ale and an IPA. Then, on Valentine's Day, Hench started selling a wheat ale.

        In September, the Red Lion Inn expects to debut pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers, according to MacAdams.

        "The craft brew industry is not going away," Hench said.

        The Sly Fox Brewing Company expects to offer 18 microbrews for sale in six-packs and 750 milliliter bottles this year, according to its brewmaster Brian O'Reilly.

        He said an additional 20 to 30 beers will be available on draft only at the company's brewery and tasting room at the Pottstown Airport Business Center at 331 Circle of Progress Drive and its brew house and eatery at 520 Kimberton Road in the Maple Lawn Shopping Center in Phoenixville.

        The brewmaster identified Pikeland Pils – which won a gold medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival – as Sly Fox's signature brew. He described the company's first dry German style lager as light, dry, crisp and incredibly drinkable.

        The Pottstown brewing facility – which includes approximately 30,000 square feet – will most likely produce 21,000 barrels this year, according to O'Reilly.

        The Other Farm Brewing Company in Boyertown operates in the tradition of brasserie, a French word that means the business of brewing, according to Hank Frecon, one of its owners.

        The storefront at 128 E. Philadelphia Ave., a former café that still sells coffee in the morning, produces beers with an agricultural twist.

        Frecon said several tree fruits – including peaches and cherries – as well as hops, pumpkins, blueberries and apples grown on his family farm, are incorporated into the staple, seasonal and special microbrews produced on sight.

        The facility includes an entertainment component, according to Frecon. He said it regularly hosts local bands, comedy and theater events as well as an open mike night.

Frecon called it the community house of Boyertown.

        The company's staple beers include, according to its website,  Renart's Triple, light in color but infused with sweet cider initiating a secondary fermentation to finish dry; Dutch Hammer, a strong Belgian quadruple that includes "old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Butter made from apples picked out of the orchard;" Saisonner, a lightly hopped farmhouse styled Saison is "crisp yet malted for a slightly off-dry finish;" Bahr Hill Estate, brewed and dry hopped with Cascade, Chinook and Centennial hops grown in the middle of the Frecon apple trees on what is known as Bahr Hill; and Canoe Trip, designed and named in honor of the Frecon brothers' annual canoe trip with a lighter malt base and Mosaic hops that "provide it with a floral finish for this session-able ale."

        Four beers are on tap at any one time, according to Frecon. He said a tap expansion is planned next year.

        "We rotate the beers on tap very frequently," Frecon said.


 

 

 

 

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