Move over wine, it’s beer tasting time

Once a month, students and faculty meet in the Black Swamp Pub not only to hit the sauce, but to educate their taste buds.

This month’s beer tasting theme was East Coast beers, in celebration of Constitution Day on Monday. Mike Coomes, a higher education professor who runs the beer tasting event, said each month’s theme is relative to the season. Next month’s is “scary beer.”

For only $7, the first testers to sign up at the Information Desk in the Union can sample up to seven beers. Each person receives a 3- to 4-ounce pour, and then the table is open to discussion.

Coomes said he first learned an appreciation for beer in the mid-’70s when he went to San Francisco and tasted Anchor Steam beer.

Ever since his trip out west, Coomes said he has sought out micro brews and import beers and has even traveled across Europe exploring new hops varieties and brewing techniques.

Through the monthly beer tasting, Coomes said he aims to educate beer drinkers on what they are drinking, how it is made and even change the way they drink beer.

Paul Boellner, sophomore, said he has continued signing up for the events because he enjoys trying new beers that have much more flavor than the American pilsner beers he used to drink.

“It’s really hard to go back to a Bud Light kind of beer,” Boellner explained. “The beer we sample is much less goal oriented. You drink beer to enjoy it, not just to get drunk. Inebriation is just a side effect.”

The monthly beer tasting started in the fall of 2003 with 10 people. Now there are nearly 40 at each session and Justin Rudisille, who coordinates the events, said the camaraderie is one of the reasons people keep signing up.

“It brings lots of groups of people together,” Rudisille said. “Undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. Sometimes you see people there that were at first strangers, but then after a while it’s like they become family.”

Ian Short, a junior, said it’s just a really great time for drinking good beer and engaging in quality conversation without anybody tipping the table over.

With so many different recipes, brewing techniques and tastes, Coomes said it’s hard to choose a favorite brew.

“There are so many varieties and so many different tastes that your appreciation for the beer really matters who you’re having it with and what the occasion is,” Coomes said.

“Lots of people say their favorite beer is the one they are drinking, but that of course can’t be true because there are many beers out there that shouldn’t be brewed.”

After much contemplation, Coomes said if he had to pick just one beer, it would have to be the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Dortmunder Gold Lager.