When the family behind local, award-winning craft brewery Sly Fox opens a new outpost, they immerse themselves fully into the lore of the community. The opening of Sly Fox Wyomissing – their third location (opened before downtown Pittsburgh and Malvern) – sparked the Giannopoulos’ interest in updating a regional classic, Reading Premium.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Sly Fox Brewing Company? Great beer, of course. With five “destination” pubs scattered across Pennsylvania, the Giannopoulos family – founders of Sly Fox – doesn’t duplicate their other restaurants. They approach each location as an opportunity to connect with the community and explore its history.
When plans were in the works to open the Taphouse in Wyomissing, the family became more and more determined to keep Reading Premium alive. “I grew up seeing old tin signs and lamps in taverns with the slogan, ‘The Friendly Beer for Friendly People’,” says Peter Giannopoulos, sales director for Sly Fox. (The slogan changed to “The Friendly Beer for Modern People” in 1958.) “The mantra is great, but even more than that, we learned from the community that this beer is important to them. It’s been around for generations. The memories attached to the taste and enjoyment of this beer are very strong. People don’t want to lose those kinds of things. And keeping Reading Premium alive for our new neighbors in Wyomissing is something we had to do,” Giannopoulos explains.
“I always thought there was something unique about it. The original beer was first brewed 133 years ago. This lager survived Prohibition.” -Peter Giannopoulos
The family challenged Sly Fox Brewmasters to “reinterpret” Reading Premium. Sly Fox certainly knows how to brew great lagers. Among the brewery’s many awards, its Pikeland Pils and Oktoberfest Lager each medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. But brewing an American-style, light lager created a “sticky” situation for brewer Tim Ohst and his team.
Light lagers are clean and crisp. Brewing them isn’t easy. Then having to recreate Reading Premium’s authentic, nuanced flavor profile, on modern brewing equipment, using corn – an ingredient craft brewers don’t usually cotton to – was difficult. “We hit a few speed bumps along the way. But when we got the grain ratios just right, we got a beer that pays homage to Reading Premium’s original recipe, while keeping it friendly enough for the modern people of Pennsylvania,” Ohst quips. “And it’s approachable like our Helles lager, so I think the team got it just right. I hope fans of Reading Premium agree. It was a labor of love, something we wanted to do for our new friends.”
If you can’t make it to Wyomissing, Reading Premium is available on tap and in 16 oz. cans wherever good beer is sold.