Sly Fox Brewing held their 15th annual Bock Fest and Goat Race at their Brewhouse and Eatery in Phoenixville, PA on Sunday May 4. Which, you may recognize as the lisping pun-inspired Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be with You). SlyFox embraced the sci-fi holiday with many of the graphics at and promoting the event borrowing from Star Wars themes and imagery. A good number of the attendees were decked out in imperial or rebel garb as well.
The family-friendly annual event is held the first Sunday in May. It is a pretty standard beer fest with one exception, the main event, the goat race. Each year, several fleet-footed goats (and their handlers) compete over a series of heats to be crowned the champion and, most importantly, have that year’s batch of SlyFox’s Maibock named in their honor.
Steph, our DD/Photographer Rich and I arrived around 11:00am when the event began. We parked at the Kimberton Fairgrounds a few minutes away from the brewery. Buses shuttled attendees throughout the day from there to the fest.
All beer and food purchases at the event were handled through tickets, available for $5 a piece both at the site and, conveniently, at the parking area.
We stocked up on our tickets and boarded the bus. (A school bus, actually. It’s been quite a while since I sat in one of those.)
Once at Sly Fox we hit up the beer tent. 12oz. pours in plastic cups were available for 1 ticket, while half-liter souvenir mugs were available for 2 tickets with 1 ticket refills and liter mugs were 4 tickets with 2 ticket refills. Cans, including the It’s a can! It’s a cup! Helles 360 can, were also to be had.
The beers on draft were: Helles Golden Lager, Pikeland Pils, Royal Weisse, Instigator Doppelbock, Hefeweizen Doppelbock and Phoenix Pale Ale. The Maibock was poured only after the race. Steph and I opted for the half-liter mugs. My favorite brew of the day was the Instigator, Steph preferred the Heffeweizen Doppelbock.
Pretzels, Beerwurst and Weissewurst were also available at the food tent, and there were lots of mementos including t-shirts and hats for sale.
On the big stage, under an animated LED billboard displaying various Sly Fox-y and Star Wars-y distractions and also broadcasting the race, was the Emil Schanta Band filling the fest air with traditional German music to swig beers by. (Which, I guess, is any German music, really.)
We made our way to the tents where Colin Presby and his three-legged runners, Simon and Peggy, were housed. (You can hear Colin talk about his goats and last year’s race in his first appearance on the podcast, Episode 6: Back to the Brewture.) Team Simon and Team Peggy t-shirts and Frisbees were a hot item for sale at the tent, raising money for the Humane Society of Berks County.
This year’s race featured 40 goats in a series of nine heats, including reining three-legged champions Simon and Peggy. These two tri-pedal runners have between them won the last three races, Simon last year and Peggy the two years before (a distinction shared only with 2009 and 2010 winner, Dax).
Simon, being the more amiable of the two (Peggy’s a bit of a diva) was popular with the crowd. He politely posed for photo-ops with his fans and was an especially big hit with the kids.
The crowd swelled as the 2:00 race-time approached. Word on the street was that attendance throughout the day was expected to top previous years. Simon was slated to run in the fourth heat and Peggy in the ninth.
In a stunning upset, on Simon’s run he tripped up his co-runner Jeremy Drey, losing the sprint. But there was still hope for Peggy.
When her first heat came, running with Colin, the crowd erupted in chants of PEG-GY, PEG-GY, spurring her on to victory. She won her second heat as well and a spot in the final run.
Unfortunately, however, the rein of the three-leggers was not to endure. In the final heat Peggy, seeming to be distracted by the adoration of the crowd, was bested. The big winner and namesake of the Maibock, was Spartacus, owned by Bill Lucchessi of Frank A. Smith’s Beverages in Pottstown. Spartacus ran with “goat coach” Jeremy Woodside. But, if fate saw fit to give this year’s honor to a four-legger, I’m glad he had such an awesome name. Spartacus Maibock has a great ring to it.
After the races, the champion was paraded to the stage in victory to schmooze with the crowd. There, the first firkin of the newly christened Spartacus Maibock was tapped and doled out to the thirsty fans.
Though it was the end of an era, the fest was a blast. It seems that retirement is in the cards for two-time champ Peggy, but Simon will return next year.
Will the dynasty of Simon and Peggy return to power? Will Spartacus defend his title? Will a new (and hopefully as awesomely named) set of hooves sprint to glory? I can’t wait to find out.
But I do know, the beer will be delicious, the food will be scrumptious, the goats will be adorable and a festive time will be had again by all.