I hauled myself the 43.5 miles (!) from out here where the bridges are covered, the streams rolling and the winds blow free over grassy green fields to the dim, crowded streets of Northeast Philadelphia, Mayfair to be exact, to enjoy the only Friday the Firkinteenth of 2008 today, to mark the tenth anniversary of the event, of which little, that is to say, nothing was made, since Mr. Scoats, the mad genius behind the glory which is the Grey Lodge Pub, he be clever as all get out but not a whit sentimental apparently.

There were three, count ’em three, Firkinteenths back in 1998, the third of which, that November, was the first one I ever wrote about, building my story about a guy from Oregon who was in the house that night. Scoats and I reminisced a bit about that this afternoon as I enjoyed a pint and then a smaller sampler cup of Sly Fox/Standard Tap Standard Ale and a sampler of Nodding Head IPA.

A goodly portion of my two-plus hours there was spent chatting with NH’s Curt Decker and Stockertown Beverage regional sales manager and industry vet Peter (Bear) Brett. We were eventually joined at our position just inside the door, from whence I never ventured, by He Who Must Not Be Named (more on that issue on the morrow).

News? While a goodly crowd was on hand, it was not nearly so crushed as last year, which I hope is a sign that the crazed throngs are spacing themselves out rather than one that this will be an off year for one of the best and most creative beer celebrations in the area. Also, Decker revealed, in hushed tones with the hopes that nobody would ovehear, that yes, there will be a Royal Stumble at NH on the second Saturday of the Seventh month this year (July 12) as most expected, but that he’s just not telling anybody about it because that would be crass.

I’d go to their website and see and then link, just to be sure, but the site appears to be down. Or non-existent. Whatever. I think he’s carrying this laid-back thing a touch too far.

The drive to and from the Grey Lodge was, as it almost always is, a huge annoyance, the trip there being somewhat brightened up by catching Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell on WIP 610, where he apparently is one of several experts featured on Friday spot interviews. He sang the praises of Victory Whirlwind Wit as a good summer beer, an opinion both hosts eagerly seconded, which was good; he apprised them about the Firkinteenth event and everybody went off on how great the Grey Lodge is, which was good; he was suddenly and clearly unexpectedly asked to name some of the great Mexican beers for summer and you could almost feel the sweat breaking out on his forehand, which was hilarious (although he recovered and said nice things while, politely, suggested that “great” was an inappropriate adjective) and then, just to help me make through a long, annoying Schuylkill Expressway mess, totally blanked on Negra Modelo when one of the hosts asked “what’s that dark Mexican beer which goes so well with food?” which had me giggling and screaming the name at the radio and that too was, well, good.

I am a simple man and it was a good day.

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