We did get to the Sly Fox Goat Races on the 3rd. I hustled out of church (had to do 10:30 mass, I was the cantor), got home and changed (and waited around for Cathy to change...), and took off for Phoenixville...slowly. It was pouring rain (little did we know it was just the start of another week of the stuff), and we were wondering if the crowd would be as large or friendly as last year. "We can probably park on-site," I said optimistically. "We'll cruise by instead of going straight to the shuttle lot."
Wow. The size of the crowd in the parking lot made it clear that we were not going to be parking on-site. (But Sly Fox is organized: we took a shuttle bus from satellite parking, and didn't wait more than 3 minutes for it.) The rain had barely dampened the ardor of goat fans. The number estimated by Sly Fox was around 1500, down a bit -- okay, down a quarter -- from last year, though last year was a picnic afternoon on Olympus compared to this wet and raw rainfest (although we did have roving beer service this time). But do you get it? 1500 people came out in the rain to drink bock beer and watch goats race. Amazing.
Still, as I said, this is an important day for beer and while having all those good Sly Fox beers on hand must have helped, I believe that what really brought people out was the good times. People actually complained because they couldn't see the goat races!
The beer was pretty awesome, though. We ran into William Reed right away, and he insisted on getting us two cups of Vienna Lager (great, malty but not thick, wish they'd make more of this). I tried to return the favor with the superlative and much-welcome Charles Bridge Pilsner, but he'd wandered off into the crowd and I gave it to Richard "Victory" Ruch. The Maibock (destined to be named DAX after the winner, shown here in the center of a long shot on his victory strut) was gorgeous, beautifully drinkable, and if I hadn't been at the edge of silly at that point, I'd have had another. I did get one sip of one of the eisbocks, and it was scary good.
The cool kids were definitely in attendance -- brewers, publicans, and others of us in the biz -- but they were by far out-numbered by the general populace: I ran into my kids' elementary school music teacher (and her husband and two toddlers). There were still plenty of very well-behaved kids this year.
That's what had a somewhat blissed Brian O'Reilly and a very happy John Giannopoulis so pleased when I ran into them. The Goat Races was not only still big in the rain, it was still big with the same kind of crowd. Folks brought their families, they watched the silliness of racing goats, they ate good food (really: we had bratwurst, I got some Shellbark Farms chevre), and some of them had really good beer, too. It was a really normal kind of thing; wonderfully so.
Eventually we had to go, before things had wrapped up. We got back on the shuttle bus, went to the car, and I let Cathy drive. But we had one more wonderfully normal thing to do...and I'm going to tell you about that over here. Because it's much more appropriate.