A couple of weekends ago, the Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots (B.U.Z.Z.) hosted their 14th annual Boneyard Brew-Off. The event was a refreshing break from the binge-drinking culture that dominates most college campuses, including our beloved University of Illinois. It’s easy to forget the pleasures one can get from drinking a good beer, but the Zealots are dedicated to drinking, brewing and learning about these great fermented beverages. There were 239 entries within 26 categories in the competition, all submitted by home brewers. The categories varied from American wheat to brown ales to darker porters and vegetable and fruit beers. The variety was astounding, and reminds us that a 30 pack of ‘Stones isn’t the only way to go.
I was able to volunteer at the brew-off as a steward — bringing beers to judges, cleaning, organizing and maybe drinking some leftovers. I’ve never met a group of people more enthusiastic and appreciative of a good-tasting beer. I’ve also never met a group of people less willing to drink Anheuser-Busch, Miller or Coors products. While it would have been easy for the entire event to take on a pretentious air, it was anything but. I don’t know a great deal about beer, definitely nowhere near as much as the B.U.Z.Z. members, but the atmosphere was welcoming and overall just really enthusiastic.
And why shouldn’t we be enthusiastic about drinking beer? It can be complex, delicious and really enjoyable. There’s a beer for everyone, and if you think you just don’t like beer — you’re probably wrong. There’s fruity beers, bitter beers, crisp or heavy beers, even chocolate beers. And for those worried about the calories in beer, remember it’s not like Smirnoff Twists or Mike’s Hard are that light on the belly.
Granted, buying a pack of Bud or Keystone is significantly cheaper than buying a quality beer, but is it really worth it? No one really enjoys tasting foot all night. And that terrible empty and sickly feeling you get in the morning is enough to make anyone swear off drinking — for at least a night. Why have we put our bodies through so much pain and anguish? It’s time we end the assault on our taste buds.
While you might not want to do a case race, play some beer pong or flippy cup with anything but Keystone, it might be time to question our campus drinking culture at large. Why do they we seemingly always have to get blackout drunk? Since when did loss of mobility, coherency and logic become the necessities of a good night? Though it might be comical to have the night’s events relayed to you in the morning, it might be better just to both remember and experience the previous night’s fun.
And for those of us looking for anyway to stick it to The Man, the first (OK — maybe not first, but…) step is to stop drinking his beer. He’s just trying to like control us with his crappy beer, man. And by buying the smaller beers, we’re supporting independent and sometimes local breweries. There are a number of breweries that produce organic beers, and there are even some that are powered by solar energy. So not only can we drink a beer we actually want to drink, but we can actually support a company that is halfway decent for the environment as well.
The Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots have got one thing right, and it’s beer. They know how to enjoy a good brew, and they also appreciate the art and sophistication of beer brewing and drinking. I say it’s time our campus learns from their example. It is time we question the authority of Keystone Light and defend our taste buds; this is an official call to arms against footy-tasting beer.