One of Temple’s newest clubs expects prospective members to bring their membership dues, their driver’s license, an open attitude and, most importantly, a six pack.
The Craft Beer Enthusiast Club’s mission is to change the identity of beer drinkers by giving respect to the craft of brewing. The group was officially recognized by the university as a student organization in early November after months of applying.
To the relief of club organizers, administrators were open to the club despite its focus on alcohol-centric endeavors. Members are now hopeful for the future of the organization.
“It gives us a lot of credibility,” said Doug Friese, a senior marketing major and active member. “We want to start building alumni and have people coming back, so it’s exciting to have an official recognition.”
Two years ago, Michael McCloskey, a risk management professor, said he was approached by a few students who were interested in starting the club.
The homebrewed idea began with a group of about 20 students, most of them from the risk management program. Unlike a typical club, the Craft Beer Enthusiast Club is unable to advertise in the traditional manner of student organizations due the club’s strict 21-and-older policy. In addition, advertising on campus is not possible because Temple is a dry campus.
However, McCloskey sees the advertising limitations as a positive trait that sets Craft Beer Enthusiast Club apart from other student organizations.
“There’s something kind of cool about not being able to advertise in the same way,” McCloskey said. “It gives us that underground feel.”
Joining the club is not entirely about drinking beer, members said. The group’s mission is to promote sharing a passion for craftsmanship and the complex flavors of homebrewed beer. It also aims to increase awareness in students of different styles of beer and provide instruction on how to drink them.
“It’s about finding what style is yours,” McCloskey said. “It’s the same thing as wine. When someone says, ‘Oh, I don’t like beer,’ I just respond, ‘Well, what have you tried?’ because there are a lot of different beers for a lot of different palates.”
President Alyssa Montgomery, a fifth-year senior and risk management major, said the ideal candidate for the club is not an avid binge drinker.
“There is opportunity to educate and make this not about binge drinking.” Montgomery said. “Everyone who enjoys craft beer already drinks just to enjoy the good beer, not just to get drunk.”
Friese said the typical college-aged beer drinker may struggle to find value in the club since the objective is not to party or seek intoxication.
“It’s less of ‘let’s get drunk’ and more about sharing experiences, much like we do with foods,” Friese said. “People who are genuinely interested in it will know a little bit about brews, but now they want to try something new. They typically aren’t people who want to get wasted.”
Club leaders hope to bring together students of different identities who can relate to each other through one shared passion.
“It’s simply a social gathering of people who enjoy really good beer,” Montgomery said. “Everyone brings their own piece to the puzzle, but we all have that commonality.”
As membership increases, Montgomery wants to become connected to the Philadelphia craft brewing scene. Troegs, Yards and Brooklyn Brewery are all breweries that have expressed interest in bringing the club for tours and workshops.
Montgomery is also developing plans for the club to give back to the community. Teaming up with the North Kensington Coalition, the club will help clean up a Philadelphia neighborhood during spring. Participators will then enjoy a barbeque and brew tour of Philadelphia Brewing Company.
“Not only are we enjoying the really good beer brewed here in Philadelphia, but we’re also helping clean up a neighborhood, which is really awesome,” Montgomery said.
The next club meeting will host Philadelphia Daily News’ beer columnist Don Russell at its annual bottle swap on Wednesday at Rybrew, located at 2816 W. Girard Ave.
McClosky hopes that bringing in local celebrities will spark interest for the club.
“I want to see it grow and talk to art majors, fashion majors or even Shakespeare majors,” McClosky said. “We might not have the same educational interests in common, but we have the same beer interests and that’s really what it is all about.”
Patrick McCarthy can be reached at email@example.com.