Beer Education

Jason O'Brien is a UC Berkeley senior majoring in business. Respond at [email protected]

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I went home to Southern California last week and realized that, for me, there really isn't any other place like Berkeley. I must admit that there are a great many things about UC Berkeley that will endlessly hold a place in my heart long after I have moved on from this wonderful university.

I will never forget the kindly gentlemen who take time out of their days to relieve me of spare change that is ever so burdensome on one's trek to and from class, nor will I forget the professors who teach you exhaustively about a subject only utilizing texts that they themselves have authored.

These and many others are aspects of UC Berkeley that I have come to adore, but there is one aspect of Berkeley which has found a permanent home inside of my heart, much like the fat deposits numerous Top Dogs have left in my stomach. Berkeley has shown me the vast wonders of what we so commonly call "beer." Berkeley has always been a place where people have fought so that all academic disciplines might be available to students and I am glad to say that education in the study of beer, so often forgotten by the academic community, is a flourishing part of the Berkeley experience.

UC Berkeley students are eased into their college careers so as not to be overwhelmed. (Yes, we all remember Astro 10.) So is the case in a student's study of beer. Berkeley fosters the exploration of students' intellectual curiosity through unconcerned security monitors and lackadaisical RAs. Thus making light beer, thought to be a "gateway" beer as it often leads to stronger forms of beer, a fixture in dorm life. As students hone their study habits, cases of light beer piled high in a corner room become quite common. It is at this point in life that students realize that an education in the field of beer will require a great deal of commitment, but most UC Berkeley students are up to the challenge. Through various studies it has been found that, in the long run, light beer accomplishes little other than providing a reason for running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. As most students feel quite accomplished at utilizing the bathroom prior to their enrollment at Cal, most feel ready to move on to more rigorous studies.

Sophomore year brings the challenges of living without the complications of RAs and the luxury of DC-cooked meals, but we somehow persevere. Berkeley students hunger for academic challenges and this desire is more than provided for in their study of beer. Fraternities near campus make it their goal to educate the student population about beer. These fraternities take on the awesome responsibility of introducing cheap ice beer to the masses. Knowledge regarding kegs, beer bongs and drinking songs is quickly disseminated to the student population thanks to the hard work of the men who toil endlessly to make sure that there is always a beer on tap and a toga party nearby. At these parties, which I prefer to call "study sessions," students are able to share their knowledge about beer with one another and to develop skills that could make even the most devout barfly jealous.

Junior year comes along quicker than expected and a great deal of time is spent recovering from the many lessons which were learned during the previous year. As juniors, most students turn 21 and are able to continue their studies at local pubs, which lead them to reflect with members of various majors who offer interesting opinions about beer. Math majors inform you that there are 24 beers in an hour and 24 beers in a case - think about it. A philosophy major told me about Plato - "He was a wise man who invented beer." American studies majors frequently yell out the word beer, run around in circles and fall to the floor in a fit of laughter. Once, I met an EECS major; he asked me what beer was. I don't talk to EECS majors anymore.

Eventually, senior year comes around and graduation is imminent. We can't stay in college forever, even though some try. Some fields have students write a thesis paper or do a field project which might lead them into a career, but students of beer are left with a sense of confusion. There seems to be a lack of graduate programs available for those well-versed in beer and its many facets. Many students are forced to go abroad to Germany, the Netherlands or other countries which herald beer as a way of life. However, there are those of us who desire something greater. There is a need throughout this great country to spread the word and educate people about beer. UC Berkeley students throughout history have been on the leading edge of academics and I feel that the field of beer will be no exception.

The future seems uncertain for all of us, and there really isn't any way to determine where anyone will be tomorrow or the next day, but let us not forget what we have learned and where we learned it. Some of us will start families right out of school, others will go on to grad school while others still will begin their careers; but somewhere down the line, each and every one of us will find ourselves in a familiar situation. You will be sitting in a pub when a waitress will come along and set a beer down in front of you. You will look at it and think about the impact beer had on you at Cal and you'll be happy with the way things turned out. So I ask you, no, I beg you not to let this educational opportunity pass idly by - drink more beer; life will be better that way.


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