The first time Gardner Reed tried Sly Fox’s O’Reilly’s Stout was his first day behind the bar at Race Street Cafe. “It’s been a dedicated line here for years and years, but I’d never tasted it until I started working here,” says Reed, now the bar manager at Old City’s beloved neighborhood haunt. Draught Lines stopped in to find out why Race Street Cafe has been so dedicated to this Irish stout over the years. When we walked into the pub one Friday afternoon, Reed already had two tasters of O’Reilly’s Stout on the bar waiting for us.
Since opening at the corner of Race and 2nd Streets 20 years ago, Race Street Cafe has succeeded because of two things: “Great beer and great food,” Reed said. “That’s always been what we’re about. If we can’t bring our customers those two things day in and day out, everything else falls apart.” Sly Fox’s O’Reilly’s Stout has been a central part of Race Street’s consistency and has remained on tap for the last decade.
“Most pubs dedicate their nitro line to Guinness. And we love Guinness, it was served here the first 10 years we were open. But Race Street is also dedicated to our local breweries, so Sly Fox has our heart,” says Reed, taking a long sip from the beer in front of him.
Brewed with imported pale and roasted malts, and hopped with Cascade and Target hops, O’Reilly’s Stout is a classic Irish-style stout poured with nitrogen for a rich, creamy pint. And at 3.6% ABV, it’s easy to pull down more than one or two pints. “It’s totally sessionable,” says Reed. “Every- one wants to make a session beer now. But the Irish dry stout is your classic session beer.”
But after all these years, you might think Reed and Race Street’s clientele have grown a little tired of their steady Irish stout of choice, right? “No way, there’s nothing like this beer.” Bringing the taster up to his nose, Reed takes in the aroma. “It’s slightly dry. On the nose you get a lot more of the roasty malt than with other Irish stouts, in my opinion. It’s comforting to smell that.”
While Reed and Race Street Cafe have remained loyal to this local brewery, Reed has never been there. “I’ve been meaning to go for a long time,” he says, finishing off the last of his beer. “Without a car it’s tough to get out of the city. But I’m going to make it happen this year.
And with a wave of his hand, Reed orders us another round of stouts, ready to be rediscovered…