Patting Furbies and Tapping Firkins



As a wanna-be writer, I pride myself on having an above-average vocabulary. Even if I can't define a word exactly, contextual clues are usually enough to help me decipher a general intention. However, at least twice a week, an unusual term sends me scurrying for Mr. Webster for some assistance. This week is no exception.

Today I received an e-mail from Matt Gelsthorpe, who must have saved the lives of many drowning orphans during an earlier incarnation, as his enviable job in this lifetime involves selection and purchase of beer for the Boise Co-Op (I can only imagine that tasting is a prerequisite). His missive alerted me to the latest local brews news, specifically mentioning that Kevin and Jake, brewmasters at the Ram Restaurant and Brewery, would be releasing their cask-conditioned Taildragger IPA (which incidentally won a gold medal from the North American Brewers Association) for a limited engagement, starting Wednesday, Aug. 25. Matt went on to assure me that by 4 p.m., we beer-drinkers would be having a "firkin-tapping good time."

My first thought was, "What is a firkin, and why would I want to tap it?" My second thought veered toward dyslexia: "Maybe he meant Furby, and that we would pat it."

But no, he meant firkin which, like a fathom or a furlong, is an old English unit of measure and in the context of beer, it refers to a quarter of a barrel or half a kilderkin (a what? thanks a lot, Wikipedia).

Now that I know what a firkin is, I'm still most interested in a pint, and now I know where I can get that pint: the Ram, the Taildragger IPA, on Wednesday, Aug. 25 after 4 p.m.