Campus Club samples beers and teaches their histories

Thursday marked the Campus Club’s fourth annual beer-tasting event.

by Marni Ginther

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

On Thursday at the University Campus Club’s fourth annual beer tasting there was plenty of happiness and beer.

Phil Platt, Campus Club’s marketing manager, said he began the event four years ago simply because, “I love beer Ö and the University community is interested in learning.”

Each year the event features five beers and one mystery beer that is kept secret until attendees arrive to taste it, Platt said.

Guests get to taste new beers and beers the Campus Club has served before, Platt said, while learning where the beers come from and how they’re made.

Generally, bar manager Bill Schmelzer chooses the five types of beer.

“We’ve got a wide range of good summer beer,” Schmelzer said. “Definitely things a lot of people haven’t tasted.”

Among Thursday’s beers were La Fin du Monde, a golden ale from Quebec, and the Belgian pure malt beer, Brasserie des Rocs, Schmelzer said.

The event also featured Red Stripe, a Jamaican lager, and the locally brewed Scandia from Summit Brewing Company.

Hilda Mork, an accountant in the University’s sociology department, came to the beer tasting for the second year in a row.

“I’m interested in food and cooking and all the beverages that go along with that,” she said. “Last year was the first beer tasting I’d ever heard of.”

She mentioned to Platt that wine tastings she’d attended were a bit more educational than last year’s beer tasting, so, Platt said, he tried to provide more information on this year’s varieties.

He also did a little research into the University’s connection to the beer industry.

On the event’s online advertisement, he included the fact that in 1992, two-thirds of all domestic beer contained varieties of barley developed at the University.

The Campus Club’s event comes just a few months after the University received a grant of almost $2 million specifically for barley research.

“The basic gist of the grant is to develop tools to help scientists produce new varieties of barley,” said Kevin Smith, a professor in agronomy and plant genetics. “And part of that is developing new malting varieties.”

He said there are two types of barley – one with two rows of kernels and one with six. Most six-row barley is produced in the Midwest.

In 2005 the American Malting Barley Association reported that four varieties developed at the University accounted for 67.4 percent of the total acreage of six-row malting barley planted in the United States.

Smith also pointed out that two major domestic brewing companies, Miller and Anheuser-Busch, use barley developed at the University.

But all industry statistics aside, Schmelzer leaned against the bar Thursday night and summed up the Campus Club’s atmosphere in one sentence: “It’s just fun to do a beer tasting in the summer, during nice weather.”