By Sally Gammie
The clacking of billiard balls and clinking of beer glasses resonates throughout the jam packed Depot on a Friday afternoon. Humboldt State students are gathered after class to have tipsy conversation and play a few rounds of pool while enjoying a pint of their favorite local Humboldt brew.
Having the option to grab a beer with your lunch or dinner on the HSU campus, so long as it’s past 3 p.m., is a pretty popular attraction for students.
Bri Jensen is a psychology major at HSU. She says having the option to meet up with her friends to get a beer at the depot after classes has been great, especially with this being her last year at the University.
“I like coming to the depot after class to get a beer,” said Jensen. “For whatever reason it just feels kinda fun to be drinking a beer on campus, but it’s pretty expensive so it’s definitely a once in awhile thing.”
The purchase of alcohol on campus is of course heavily regulated, and the regulations have become more and more strict in the last couple years. Mario Leandro and Sam Pew have both worked at the depot for two years now. They say they’ve had the chance to witness first hand some of the events that led to stricter regulations.
“One time some girls started dancing on the pool tables, then proceeded to try and smoke weed in the Depot,” said Pew. “The morning after that I came into work and they had the three-beer stamp up.”
The three beer stamp limits students from ordering more than three beers. Mario Leandro wasn’t there that shift. She says she hasn’t seen anything nearly that crazy but there have been nights when they’ve been obnoxiously busy.
“It’s definitely super popular, some shifts it’s a full house until closing,” said Leandro.”There’s a solid group of regulars that we’ll see weekly.”
The majority of local beers are usually on the stronger side, like an IPA or a Stout. So they’ve had to regulate the highest percentage a beer can have and still be sold on campus as well. Even the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, one of the weaker beers offered, is a solid 5.6 percent.
“We stopped serving Eye of the Hawk after my second semester,”said Pew. “That was an 8 percent beer, now the highest we have is 6.8 percent, that’s the Anderson Valley.”
While having alcohol available on campus can be viewed as controversial, having local beer available at the Depot has been good for supporting local businesses, as well as providing a safe drinking environment for students. The HSU depot currently offers a variety of local California brews, predominantly from Humboldt County. Some of the local brews include Mad River, Lost Coast, Eel River and The Emerald Triangle.
The depot definitely is not the place to go if you’re looking to buy a Coor’s light or a Budweiser. Sticking to all local beer is a great way to market the Humboldt County breweries to students. It also stays in line with Humboldt State’s ethical policies in supporting the local community, and trying to stay away from working with big corporations. On HSU’s website, it is proudly stated:”Buying local supports our county’s many eco-friendly farmers and businesses, and reduces the energy required to bring you breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
In general, college students at HSU are purchasing more local beers like Lagunitas, Lost Coast, and Mad River than beer owned by any of the larger companies. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research Estimates, only four big beer companies, AB InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, and Carlsberg, control nearly half the global market, and account for 74 percent of industry profits. By not supporting the big name beer companies, students say HSU’s Depot is contributing to this push towards exploring local beer options and even helping popularize some of the lesser known local breweries.