WHEN word spread earlier this spring about the upcoming Bare Beach Beer Bash at a Poconos nudist resort - where attendees must get nekkid for a microbrew sampling-the reaction was predictable.
There were the eww-yucks: Victor Fiorillo at Philadelphia magazine said he'd never met anyone at a beer festival he'd want to see naked.
There were dumb jokes: How do you toast a naked beer drinker? Bottoms up!
There were puns: Would you go? Depends on the tap list.
And there was a lot of nervous laughter, as if mixing exposed flesh and booze was completely unknown. Have you people not heard of Dionysus, the god of drink and ecstasy? Have you never been to a topless bar?
Ah, but that's America for ya.
We gawk at TV and billboards populated with buff, barely clothed, beer-swilling babes. We click on titillating beer videos, like the naughty one on YouTube featuring Guinness and a rockin' foursome. We pay admission fees at precious art museums to view Renaissance masterpieces of drunken letches and fair-skinned virgins in flagrante delicto.
But pull off your pants and join the fun? Not me!
When I reached out to Rob DeMaria, of Prism Brewing, about the festival, he agreed that it's "sophomorically funny." He attended last year and poured Naked Blonde and Summer of '69.
But he added: "The people there are no different than anyone else and deserve a bit of respect."
Indeed, he and others involved in the event told me that the naked fest is one of their favorites.
"I found the people to be some of the nicest beer-fest attendees, and sharing the beer with them was a fun time," DeMaria said. "When everyone is naked, there is no cultural bias on who or what they are; everyone accepts everyone else for just being human.
"And there's nothing better than having beer without cliques."
Now in its third year, the festival is the brainchild of Halsie Shoemaker, general manager of Sunny Rest Resort, in Palmerton, Pa.
Her family bought the 190-acre facility in 1978, five years before she was born. It now includes a hotel, campground, volleyball court, heated pools, a restaurant, a bar called Streakers, a nightclub called Flashers and, naturally, a hot tub.
It's one of about 200 nudist resorts across America, she said.
"It's a growing industry," Shoemaker said. "They did a survey among the general public awhile ago and found that more people are willing to try nudism than golf."
Last year, the fest attracted 300, and she considered it a success.
This year, as word of the event went viral, every room is already booked and they expect 500 to drop trow and throw down.
"It's a great festival," said Anthony Serafino, who lives at Sunny Rest year-round and happens to be brewmaster at nearby Red Castle Brewery, in Carbon County.
"We had about 10 breweries last year, but we've already got 16 or 18 signed on for this year," he continued. "Even Naked Brewing [from Huntingdon Valley] will be there."
No, he underscored, the brewers "don't have to be naked. A lot of them do, though. After a while, they start taking off their shorts."
And how about Joe Sixpack?
I can't make it to the festival this year, but I've got a confession to make:
I like to get naked and drink beer, too.
Of course, this usually happens in the shower.