Story by Amneris Solano
SOUTHERN PINES - At The Sly Fox, beer carries as much weight as the shepherd's pie.
Beer, the pub's website says, is a part of the restaurant's "soul." The proof is in the variety of beers the pub offers - 12 on tap and roughly 60 in the bottle.
That's a lot of brew.
General manager Andy Heisinger explains the pub's affection for the libation.
"Mass marketing has done an excellent job of funneling beer drinkers toward a relatively small number of mass-produced beers that for the most part lack complexity and character," Heisinger says. "Offering an array of beers that can't be found just anywhere has been gratifying for us, as it has proved that people are willing to try things that the television doesn't necessarily tell them that they should enjoy."
The pub's devotion to beer, he says, appeals to well-traveled customers such as the men and women serving in the military.
"Military patrons, in particular, have been very supportive of our more esoteric selections. I think that demonstrates that they are a well-traveled demographic that has experienced beautiful beers through their travels and are glad that they can find some of those beers close to home."
The Sly Fox Pub is owned by chef Mark Elliott, known for Elliott's on Linden, his fine dining restaurant in Pinehurst. The pub - on the corner of Broad Street and Morganton Road in downtown Southern Pines - opened in June and is classified as a "gastropub," which combines British pub food with gastronomy to create upscale tavern cuisine.
The 4,000-square-foot restaurant has an outdoor beer garden made of brick that is landscaped with lots of vegetation.
The menu offers a variety of British pub favorites made with flare, including a shepherd's pie prepared with ground lamb simmered in herbs and red wine, and topped with mashed potatoes.
Heisinger says the pub prides itself on its ever-changing beer selection. Sly Fox, he says, is constantly searching for seasonal brews, from microbrews to imports, to offer its customers. The pub plans to present "beer dinners" in the future. The meals will be served in courses, Heisinger says, and paired with a specific brew. The goal, he says, is to eventually get a brewery representative on hand to pour the beer and explain the pairings.
For now, customers can order beer samples in flights, which are three six-ounce pours served on a wooden paddle.
"Guests may choose the three to sample, and we think this is an ideal way to sample different beers without getting stuck with a beer that doesn't match the flavor profile they're looking for," Heisinger says.
Flight prices range from $7.50 to $10.50, depending on which beers are selected. Each brew arrives with a name card and tasting notes.