Happy Friday the Firkenteenth

Wow – it’s been a while since I actually completed a post (there are 7 half-finished ones in the queue, including the rest of our Texas trip posts), but today being the special day that it is, I had to post a short one.

See, today is Friday the 13th, and unlike most people who have at least some degree of paraskavedekatriaphobia, I actually like the day, as I usually have a good day. In fact, I revel in Friday the 13ths because of it. But there’s a whole other reason I love them – even if I’m not going to get to enjoy it today: the Grey Lodge Pub’s Friday the Firkenteenth Celebrations. If you like good beer like I do, this day is the equivalent of Easter (candy-wish) and Halloween wrapped into one.

Friday the Firkenteenth

So, what is this spectacle? Well, it’s the day when the Grey Lodge Pub brings in casks and firkins of beer. For those unfamiliar with the terms:
Additional hops and sugars or wort are added to cask conditioned ales when they are barreled resulting in a secondary fermentation in the barrel. These ales tend to have very pleasing natural carbination and are served at a higher temperature than regular draft beer. Due to the oxygen that enters the cask once it is opened, the shelf life is only a few days. This is beer at its freshest.

Firkins and pins are two sizes of casks. A firkin is 40.8 liters (10.8 US gallons). A pin is 20.4 liters (5.4 gallons). A typical US 1/2 barrel is 15.5 gallons.Grey Lodge Pub website

According to legend, the whole thing started when the owner of the Grey Lodge wanted to start serving cask-conditioned ales but needed a push to get the idea started with the guests there. In 1998, he realized that there would be THREE Friday the 13ths and realized that offering them on this day would be a great way of doing something different – and it became and instant hint. From their site:

“This whole thing makes no sense whatsoever. It’s totally random because the timing is entirely at the mercy of the calendar. It’s held in this tiny neighborhood bar in Northeast Philadelphia, an area which is not exactly your mecca for great beer. Yet virtually every brewer within shouting distance would kill to be a part of it and people come from all over to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and hope they can get a beer from bartenders who are incredibly overworked. Scoats is either a genius or an idiot savant, I can’t decide which. But God bless him.” – Jack Curtin, beer writer

SO, in short, they serve great cask-conditioned beers that have been brewed and stored in limited quantities – many just for the brewers own use and special events like Friday the Firkenteenth. Local brewers, in particular, are known for making special editions just for this irregular party. The beers are almost always poured using a gravity or hand pump – never with CO2 or nitrogen taps. And because of the way that they’ve been brewed and stored in casks, the moment they’re opened, they rolling downhill, usually having a shelf-life of less than a few days.

Here’s this year’s tentative line-up:
Looks like 20 firkins and a couple of Flying Fish golden gate casks. Our previous record was 18.5 firkins.
7 firkins will be pouring at any time (except when we get down to less than 7), tapping a new one as one kicks. The order of the casks will be random, but hey there should be no stinkers in the line-up.

Current Cask List (likely to change, it always does):

  • Appalachian Celtic Knot
  • Brewers Art Cardamom-Candy Sugar Resurretion Ale
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Flying Bison Blackbird Oatmeal Stout
  • Flying Fish Farmhouse dry hopped with Columbus and Amarillo
  • General Lafayette Chocolate Thunder Porter
  • Iron Hill (North Wales) American Pale Ale
  • Iron Hill (West Chester) Belgian Pale Ale
  • Lancaster Saison
  • Legacy Hoptimus Prime
  • Middle Ages Duke of Winship
  • Nodding Head Wumpus ESB
  • Ramstein Alt
  • Rock Art Magnumus ete Tomahawkus
  • Sly Fox Route 113 IPA
  • Southampton Burton Ale
  • Troegs Just Hopback
  • Triumph Jewish Rye
  • Victory Donnybrook Stout
  • Yards double-dry-hopped IPA

And that beer is usually fan-frickin’-tastic. I’ve only had the opportunity to attend two of these, and both times it was a good thing I was hanging out with locals – much of the reason that I don’t attend it as religiously as I would otherwise (it’s a good 20 miles from my house and no short-and-easy way to get from there to my house). I would have taken off today to go, except that we are having an art exhibition at work and some of my pictures are being presented, so I have to be there. The only other one for this year is in July, on my anniversary, so unless I can convince my wife to go out and drink lots of good beer on our Anniversary, I’m thinking I’ll miss that one, too. Oh well…

Either way, it’s still a great party and a great day. Here’s to hoping you all have a Happy Friday the Firkenteenth, as well.


3 Responses to “Happy Friday the Firkenteenth

  • What a cool tradition! I also tend to have good fortune on Friday the 13th (knock on wood (even though I’m not superstitious)). Usually it’s just that I have a decent day, but my completely awesome nephew was born on a Friday the 13th, as well. Beer is always a good thing 🙂

  • Thanks, I just covered my keyboard in my Homer Simpsonesque drool

  • It is almost midnight and because of this post that I just realized how imporant this day was! Should have known, this has really been a crazy day today! Thanks for the heads up on this crazy Friday the 13th day!

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