Tapped out? Try peddling that empty keg

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It’s true. You can, in fact, sell anything on eBay.

For evidence, see lot #1124390907 – an empty Schmidt’s beer keg that recently sold for 20 bucks.

Not only was it empty, but its owner had the gall to describe it as an antique. “This will make a great decoration in your den or home bar. A genuine beer keg from C.S. Schmidt’s and Sons Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa., has a date of 1972. ”

Those are the kind of cojones Joe Sixpack respects. I got the seller on the phone and asked him whether he was parting with a treasured family heirloom.

“Nah, not an heirloom,” laughed Scott Melcher, a 44-year-old shipping worker for a Berks County trucking equipment company. “Let’s just say Dave wasn’t very good about returning things. ”

Dave is Scott’s longtime buddy. Twenty, 25 years ago, the two of them and a bunch of other neighborhood mooks would sit around Dave’s garage on Sunday afternoons, fixing Harleys and sipping Schmidt’s.

“That’s all we could afford back then,” said Scott. “We’d hit people up for money, buy a keg. There was always somebody who complained, but it always went down. I never complained. I thought Schmidt’s was pretty good stuff. ”

The friends went their way. Schmidt’s went out of business. And the keg, with its old pump-handle tap, got buried in Dave’s shed. It sat there for 20 years, drying out and collecting dust.

Years went by. Scott now describes himself as “a former, semi-retired biker. ”

A few weeks ago, the two of them were cleaning out Dave’s shed when they rediscovered the keg. It looked beat. The tap fell apart in a heap of rust.

But in a phrase that should be permanently embossed on the company letterhead, Scott declared, “I bet I can sell it on eBay! ”

He hoisted the dusty keg into his living room (no wife to complain), propped it up in front of the La-Z-Boy, snapped a couple of pictures and uploaded them to the online auction site.

“I got a couple e-mails from people, asking me if I would refill it,” said Scott. “Someone else asked me if I’d cut it in half before I shipped it out. No way! ”

Somebody named vmaxman2 bid 20 bucks. Add a few more bucks for mailing (“I’m just going to slap a label on the puppy, and here you go”), and this keg costs almost as much as a full one down at the distributor.

God knows what vmaxman2 is going to do with it, but Scott’s not surprised the empty keg sold.

“A while ago, I did the same thing with a toilet,” he said. “It came out of a house that was built in the ’40s. I saw that and said the same thing: ‘I bet I can sell that on eBay.’

“I sold it to a plumber in Philly. ”

So what’s he going to do with the double sawbuck?

Buy some beer, no doubt.

“These days,” Scott said, “I drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Everybody says that’s dinosaur beer. Light beer, ice beer, I seen them come. But I still drink the same old stuff. ”

Real ale

What’s gotten into Manayunk Brewing’s Jim Brennan? Normally, Brennan designs his beers for the less adventurous tastes of the Main Street crowd – light ales and lagers.

At last week’s Real Ale Rendezvous at Dock Street Brewpub, though, he had even the beer geeks coming back for more of his distinctive Kellerbier. The lager was fermented with steam beer yeast and heavenly hopped with the so-called American “sister hops” – Mount Hood, Crystal and Liberty.

Those hops were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in an attempt to duplicate the German Hallertau hop. (Think Samuel Adams Boston Lager, only fresher and more complex. )

Brennan told me he loved the Kellerbier, but it was likely a one-time brew. By the time it reaches the Manayunk taps, this terrific beer will be filtered (removing much of its mouth-tickling body) and called Golden Goose.

Beer fans can get one last taste of the original, though, when a second cask is tapped at the Grey Lodge (6235 Frankford Ave., Frankford), on April 13. That’s the night of the bar’s Friday the Firkinteenth cask ale fest.

Speaking of the Real Ale Rendezvous, the popular vote at the jammed fest went to Heavyweight Lunacy, the strong pale ale from Joisey.

Oh. . .never mind

“Nation’s thirst for specialty beers has gone flat.” – Associated Press headline, May 9, 2000.

“Craft beer industry showing signs of rebound.” – Associated Press headline, March 26, 2001.

Draft board

Here’s a chance to learn how to mix drinks just like those girls in “Coyote Ugly. ”

OK, maybe you don’t have the legs to do the two-step on a flaming bar, but Ardentspirits.com will teach you recipes for more than 100 cocktails.

The Web site is offering free bartender scholarships at Painter’s Tavern in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The two-day course, for amateurs and pros, includes Theory of Mixology, classroom lectures (“When to Shake, When to Stir”) and hands-on, non-spill shot-pouring technique.

Normally, tuition – including room, board and transportation from Manhattan – is $635.

But the fee is waived for a few, lucky, “qualified” students. Try to ace the booze SATs by writing (in 100 words or less) your reasons for wanting to learn how to mix drinks like a pro, and send it to gary@ardentspirits.com or by fax to 845-534-4398.


Saturday – Eleventh annual beer tasting with Michael Jackson. The Book and the Cook event at the University of Pennsylvania Museum is likely to be sold out by the time you read this. Dress like a mummy and try sneaking past the guards for tastings at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m. Info: 215-898-3900.

Sunday – Belgian beer dinner with Ruth Van Waerebeek. Seatings still open for three sessions at Cuvee Notre Dame. Info: 215-765-2777.

April 6 – Premiere tasting of Stoudt Y2K+1 and Anniversary Bock. Good beer and free stuff at the Khyber (2nd and Chestnut streets, Old City), 5-8 p.m.

April 7 – Great British Bike and Pub Crawl. Pint-swilling pedalers must ride three-speed bikes made in England for this annual tour de brew. The ride starts at Standard Tap (2nd and Poplar streets, Northern Liberties), and wanders through the city. Tix for the crawl are $10. Info: 215-625-7999 or www.trophybikes.com/events. Don’t forget to wear your helmet.

Joe Sixpack, by Staff Writer Don Russell, was written this week with a glass of General Lafayette 6.5.


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