Beer Week: Three-legged goats have more to do with a cool brew than you’d think

Three-legged Simon won the Sly Fox race, and got a beer named after him. Three-legged Simon won the Sly Fox race, and got a beer named after him.
/Photo courtesy of Teresa Van Wagner

Bock beer and goats go back like George and Weezie — actually, way further back.

One German definition for the word “bock” literally translates to billy goat. So when Phoenixville brewery Sly Fox first started putting on goat races as part of its Bock Fest in 2000, no one batted an eye. The event, which takes place during the first week in May, has morphed into a can’t-miss spectacle for beer lovers.

But something changed in 2011 when a three-legged goat named Peggy showed up. Colin Presby, an assistant brewer at Golden Avalanche Brewing, was working as a vet tech in Berks County when Peggy came in with an infected back leg. Instead of putting the injured goat down, they amputated and nursed her back to health.

Brian O’Reilly, the head brewer at Sly Fox, invited Peggy to enter the 130-foot race. Peggy not only competed; she won against about 50 regular goats.

“After she won the race, people were going crazy,” Presby says. “It’s for fun, of course, but it’s also an awareness campaign for animals and to show large animals can survive amputations.”

Peggy’s success paved the way for Simon, a goat with a broken elbow that Presby and veterinarian Christina Vittoria helped save. Long story short, a three-legged Simon ended Peggy’s quest for the three-peat.

“We’re here showing people that not only can your animal live a normal life [after amputation], they can race — and win!” says Vittoria.

Presby and Vittoria travel around with Peggy and Simon, and hold fundraisers at bars to support the Humane Society of Berks County. They have raised $6,500 to date, thanks largely to the success of their Team Peggy and Team Simon T-shirts. They have sold 1,300 T-shirts over the last two years.

“It’s a pretty big draw and we really like traveling with the goats,” Presby said. “If next year we get dethroned, we’ll continue to raise awareness.”

Meet the goats

Unfortunately, Peggy and Simon won’t be racing at Philly Beer Week. However, you can still meet them and grab a Team Simon or Team Peggy T-shirt on June 5 at Goats, Cans and Bocks, from 4-7 p.m. at Bainbridge Street Barrel House. The Simon Maibock 2013 (the winning goat gets a brew named after him or her) will be poured generously.

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