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Distiller's Journal

December 13, 2013

New Pottstown distillery joins forces with Sly Fox Brewery

Currently, the whiskey barrels are stacked and awaiting the first batches to come off the stills.


POTTSTOWN — It’s unlikely that when the Lenape decided on “the place we meet to drink” as the name for Manatawny Creek that they had craft beer or craft spirits in mind. But that’s how it has worked out with the Sly Fox Brewing Company now being joined in Pottstown’s Circle of Progress industrial park by a new craft distillery called – appropriately enough –Manatawny Still Works. The 7,500-square-foot facility has been quietly underway for months and officially opens in February.

On Thursday, Manatawny Still Works announced a “working relationship” with Sly Fox, its neighbors across the street. The brewery will be producing the “wash” for the distillery. “Wash is the first step in whiskey production and involves the liquid produced by fermentation. “To make great whiskey, you have to start with great beer,” said Manatawny Still Works distiller Max Pfeffer. He would know, seeing as until taking his new post, he was the lead brewer for Sly Fox. “By focusing on the best ingredients, you’ve got a head start on bottling great spirits.” said Pfeffer, who is overseeing the installation of the Italian-made, 1,200-liter still from Barison Industry and will oversee the day-to-day operations at the distillery. Pfeffer studied chemical engineering at Penn State University before completing the Master Brewer Program at UC Davis in California. He honed his skills further with stops at Victory Brewing Company and Sly Fox before accepting responsibility of operating Manatawny Still Works.

The idea for the still works began as a casual conversation among five people, now partners – John Giannopoulos, Jeff Vaughan, Paul Czachor, Al Matarazzo and Derek Menaldino – and 12 months later resulted in “the first, small-batch distillery in Montgomery County since 1969,” according to a press release from the company. Currently, the whiskey barrels are stacked and awaiting the first batches to come off the stills. But it will be two years before for the new distillery’s signature spirit, “Pennsylvania Whiskey,” hits the market. In the meantime, the distillery has plans to launch with an unaged white whiskey aptly named Virgin Whiskey, and a light rum called “Sedition.” “There is a lot of history with liquor and spirits in Pennsylvania,” says Pfeffer. “Not only will we concentrate on the more traditional spirits like vodka, rum, and whiskey, but we’ll do some seasonal small batches that will only be available in our tasting room at the distillery.” Max isn’t revealing too many of his secret recipes, but he says, “I’ve got a few things up my sleeve, so stop in, get a tour of our facilities and taste the difference.”

Originally published by The Mercury- 12/13/13

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Manatawny Still Works, Pottstown, Pennsylvania

1603 E Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
p: 267-519-2917

Passyunk Avenue Tasting Room and Craft Spirits Shop
Monday - Thursday (5pm - 11pm)
Friday & Saturday (Noon - 11pm)
Sunday (Noon - 8pm)

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320 Circle of Progress Drive
Suite 104
Pottstown, PA 19464
p: 484.624.8271

Tasting Room HoursMon - Wed (Walk-in sales only)
Thursday (5 - 9pm)
Friday (3 - 11pm)
Saturday (Noon - 11pm)
Sunday (Noon - 5pm)

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