Recently being promoted to the ranking of “regional craft brewery,” you would think Sly Fox Brewing Company owner, John Giannopoulos, would have enough on his plate to keep him busy for a while. The brewery is now producing beer in their Phoenixville, PA brewpub, as well as their recently opened production facility twenty minutes away in Pottstown. This location also features what became an unexpectedly successful tasting room, bordering on a brewpub of its own. Always being an innovator in the local industry and having already helped pave the way for what is now a phenomenon that’s taking the craft beer world by storm with canned beers, Giannopoulos is looking to innovate yet again, becoming the first local brewery to open up a distillery.
Manatawny Still Works will be Giannopoulos’—along with partners Jeff Vaughan, Paul Czachor, Al Matarazzo, and Derek Menaldino’s— first foray into the world of spirits. Though technically not a part of the Sly Fox business, Manatawny does have a working relationship with Sly Fox that will keep them working closely together, outside of just sharing ownership.
Located just a few hundred feet across the street from the Pottstown brewery, the collaborative effort between the two fermentation facilities is a logical and simple business plan. The collaboration starts with former Sly Fox lead brewer, Max Pfeffer, taking the reins at the Still Works and continues with Sly Fox producing all of the wash for the whiskey. With the state-ofthe-art brewhouse at the brewery, making the wash there will keep everything more efficient, while also saving room at the distillery for extra barrelage.
The goal for Manatawny is to focus on aged whiskey, with their signature whiskey being called J. Potts Whiskey. Quality aged whiskey is something that takes time though, and you’ll have to wait until about 2016 before you’ll start to see bottles show up. That’s a long time to go without selling any spirits, so Pfeffer will start by producing an un-aged white whiskey called Virgin Whiskey and Sedition, which will be their light rum. There are also plans to produce Three Bitches Vodka, but that will go under a separate name from the Manatawny Still Works. Pfeffer also plans to play around with some seasonal, extra-small batch spirits that will only be available at the distillery.
The distillery itself is offering tours, but more importantly, it is home to a large tasting room that will be serving cocktails made with their signature spirits. Adorned in reclaimed wood tables and a similarly made copper-topped bar, the tasting room has a rustic charm, making it a great destination for a few drinks. Plus, being located just steps from Sly Fox makes the perfect reason to take that trip to Pottstown.