Passing the Torch

In 1968, my fraternity brother, Bud Shulman, and I, felt it was time to teach our younger brothers how to tap a keg of beer. The lesson, almost a sacred ceremony, took place in the kitchen of the Delt house at 115 College Place on the Syracuse University campus, a dry campus, but what of that? We chose as our initiates two worthies, Stan and Jim — Stan to drive the tap into the keg, and Jim to open and close the valve.

Beer is placed in a keg under a considerable amount of pressure, all of which wishes to escape. In 1968, the tapping apparatus was not a model of ease and convenience. If you opened the valve before the tap was inserted, you got a bath. If you closed the valve too slowly after the tap was inserted, you got a bath. But if you closed the valve too soon, the tap would stick before it was all the way into the keg, and you had an even bigger problem. Clearly, perfect coordination between the tap driver and the valve controller was critical.

One can teach so much, and after that, it’s up to those who learn. Stan and Jim listened carefully, and did their preparatory work in a thoroughly professional manner; brother Vito steadied the keg. And then, the moment of truth.

Without hesitation, the novitiates rose to the occasion, and performed an almost perfect tapping.

A celebration was in order…

… and brother Doug was on hand to be helpful with a pitcher. I can remember few other times when I have been so proud.


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