Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer in Tacony Just Got a Little Cooler

This is the latest installment of our custom house beer program. At SawTown we're dedicated to working with local brewers to bring you beer you won't find anywhere else. We're very proud of our first two house beers, SawTown Pink Bunny Grapefruit IPA and SawTown Standard Lager.

Back in early July, Scoats and I took a roadtrip out to Round Guys Brewing Company in Lansdale for the brewing of our custom summer house beer. Scott Rudich and his team helped us to create “SawTown Blumon Ale”. This beer is crisp, light and refreshing, with the hint of blueberry on the nose and in the pleasantly tart finish. We brewed using lemon zest, blueberries  a wit yeast, along with PA Pilsner and Spelt malt from Deer Creek Malting. The finished product clocks in at about 5.4% ABV.

We tapped the first keg on Saturday, August 8, and immediately created a bangin' “Blumon Shandy” using muddled fresh blueberries, our house lemonade and a lemon garnish. As a pint or in a shandy, we're pretty
pleased with our first summer offering. 

I hope you'll stop in and taste the latest beer made exclusively for Tacony's SawTown Tavern. We'll offer this beer through the rest of summer until our custom fall beer arrives. We've chosen a wonderful fall flavor that brings back childhood memories for us, and may for you as well. Stay tuned for the details of our next brewing adventure!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Announcing Pink Bunny IPA, SawTown’s Latest House Beer

Folks, last Sunday was a pretty amazing day for the SawTown crew. The week before, Scoats and I sat down with Naked Brewing Company’s Brian Sucevic and Jim Crossland to discuss the recipe for our house IPA. And discussing required a lot of tasting. We do what we must. We wanted a big, juicy grapefruit IPA with lots of big citrus hops. We’ve also designed this beer to come in with a 4.9% APV, so you can definitely enjoy more than one.

Scoats had already named the beer Pink Bunny –“it’s hoppy, it’s pink… what else would you call it?” - so finding a way to create the color was also important. The beer is loaded with pink grapefruit juice and zest, but that wouldn’t get us color. Thanks to a suggestion from Jessica Streeter, we used dried hibiscus flowers to add another interesting flavor note and give the beer its natural pink color.

This brewing trip, we brought friends: longtime home brewer Blaise Fougere (St. Blaise Brewing) joined us and shared a jar of his amazing apple pie whiskey; Scott Taylor came along with Manny Alarcon and Scott DeGirolamo, our good friends from FargoSocial who are chronicling our brewing adventures; and my son Eric, a talented home brewer in his own right came along to beergeek it up with us.

Copious amounts of day drinking helped us all happily pass the time on a perfect spring day – Naked provides outdoor seating at this little gem of a brewpub located right in Huntington Valley.  As we all talked and laughed – and drank – I was reminded once again how cool it is to meet the folks who craft your beer. We’re brewing our house beers locally so you can also meet the craftspeople who take so much pride in what they do, and taste the difference that pride makes in the finished product.

There was quite a difference between our first two brewing adventures. Sly Fox has built themselves up over the years to a state-of-the-art brewery with an amazing, computerized, closed system. There are miles of stainless steel running through the place, and I started mashing in by pushing a button on a touchscreen. Here at Naked - as the name implies - the brewing experience is decidedly more hands on. We mashed in the old fashioned way complete with a paddle, rising steam and malt dust in the air!  There’s a lot of way cool homemade equipment here, and we all had a (literal)  hand in creating a beer we can’t wait to taste. These guys are much newer on the scene, but they prove that excellent beer can be made with simple tools in a modest setting - the way it’s been done for a very long time.

We brewed 45 gallons – a little under three kegs – of Pink Bunny IPA, 1.0. That means a second batch will begin immediately after we’ve had the chance to taste this one and gather some opinions from the usual suspects. Shoot me a message if you’d like to be a taster!

The Naked dudes will be on hand when we tap this beauty at the start of Beer Week on May 29. We hope you’ll stop by and give it a try along with our Vienna Lager, SawTown Standard by Sly Fox – debuting on the same day.

Naked Brewing Company offers live music on the semi-regular, so Brian’s guitars sit next to Jim’s kit in a corner of this very cool space. After Pink Bunny went to the fermenter, Eric picked up a guitar and jammed with Jim on the drums. The brew day ended with Eric’s rendition of William Elliot Whitmore’s, “The Old Devils”.  I love my job! Visit our Facebook page for even more photos from Pink Bunny brew day.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

BIG News: A NEW Brewpub Experience in Tacony

Folks, I had hoped our next big announcement would be our settlement date. Alas, it seems there’s one more administrative hurdle for the sellers to jump, but we expect good news in the next few weeks. We will announce  our first day of operations the moment we know.  

In the meantime, we’ve been working hard to be able to hit the ground running when we (finally) take the reins. On Wednesday, Scoats and I took a trip to Sly Fox’s Pottstown brewery with our good friend William Reed, owner of Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s. We had an amazing day at the brewery, but first let me tell you why we were there.

Back in the 90s when Scoats first started selling craft beer at the Grey Lodge Pub, he was one of very few in the city, let alone the Northeast. But in 2015, the field is considerably more crowded. We want to differentiate SawTown with the same attention to “craft” our Tacony ancestors used in creating the beautiful precision handsaws that built this company town.

So as we talked about our craft beer program for SawTown Tavern –over beers, of course – Scoats had an epiphany: What if he were to approach the local brewers he’s built strong relationships with over these many years, and asked them to brew house beers for SawTown? Using his recipe ideas, passion and knowledge (not to mention amazing palate) to create highly drinkable, delicious custom crafted beers that would ultimately only be available at SawTown Tavern?

Well, the plan that emerged means Tacony –the neighborhood where we LIVE- is getting an entirely new “Brewpub” experience! Think of this as a series of really cool conversations that will result in some awesome beer. We plan to choose our brewers based on their passions and expertise, and meld that skill with a style and profile of beer we’re passionate about drinking. It’s the “Chairman’s Select” of the Philadelphia beer scene, and we’re really excited about it.

We’re going quality over quantity, so we’ll stick to six taps: Five house beers, and one rotating, interesting (custom) seasonal beer. Every drop is to be brewed as locally as possible, given the parameters of production schedule, since the brewers need to be large enough to add us to their rotation so we don’t run out, and small enough to give this the attention we believe it deserves.  

We’ve also got Naked Brewing “on tap” to brew our IPA – also for Beer Week – and we’ll continue the search to match our other beer wants to brewers who share our vision. We’ll keep you informed as each beer goes into production.

So, back to our trip to Sly Fox. Scoats has talked about wanting to brew a Vienna Lager for a long, long, long time. So it was the natural place to start. He contacted Brian O’Reilly, Brewmaster extraordinaire at Sly Fox, and Brian was in! Scoats then asked if this beer could be ready to unveil (drink!) during Philly Beer Week in early June. Brian said: “Well, here’s the thing – I’m brewing a Vienna Lager for William Reed for Beer Week, I guess great minds think alike. I’m not sure we could (or should) do them both at the same time.”

What happened next is pretty epic, and speaks volumes about the camaraderie I love so much in the Philly beer scene. Scoats called William, filled him in on what we were planning, and suggested collaboration. Without hesitation, William said, “cool” and SawTown Standard Lager was born! Brian was pretty stoked when we told him we worked out the details, and we all met up at Sly Fox on Wednesday to brew! How cool is that? THAT’S how we roll in Philly!

That’s right folks, this is a BAR brewing collaboration – something that is definitely rare. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever happened before. You’ll be able to enjoy this beer as a limited edition at Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s during beer week, and we’ll introduce it as our House Lager at SawTown at the same time. I’m pretty sure we’ll tap an introductory keg at the Grey Lodge and Hop Angel, as well. And Beer Geeks, this will be your chance to weigh in with your thoughts before we brew the second batch. We want you loving this beer!

Thanks to our good friends from FargoSocial, Scott DeGirolamo and Manny Alarcon, (these guys ROCK!) who traveled to Pottstown and spent the day with us, we’ve got lots of photos and video from our adventure on our Facebook page.

We’ll chronicle each brewery trip as it happens, and keep you up to date as this project unfolds.

We’re determined to create a true destination right here in Tacony. We’re using our decades of experience in the industry to create a bar WE want to hang out in often. We’re hoping you’ll feel the same.