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Despite its picture window, the common room in Mather 426 lacks light. Why? Beer bottles. Hundreds of them. Blocking the view of the courtyard. Blotting the rays of the sun.
A problem? Not at all. A presentation. An Alcohol of Fame. Over two hundred different ales, all consumed and colorfully arranged, an investment of over $1,500, stand as testament to four roomates' devotion to beer, a devotion that's excessive even for Mather House.
Last Sunday night Allen Baler '94, Marsh Gardiner '95, Mike Levy '94, and Mike Theriault '94 took a moment from their tireless pursuit of lager to reflect and answer some questions. Baler was refereeing an intramural and missed much of the interview:
Fifteen Minutes How did this all start?
Mike Theriault Allen and myself started it sophomore year. We had about 40 [bottles]. Last year is when we started our three six-packs a week so it really took off from there.
Marsh The original point was to try different types of beer--
M.T.... Which has made Marsh obsessive. He's got a computer listing by glass color, size...
Marsh No, not anymore. No glass color or size--just down to the name.
FM You had a computerized list?
M.T. Still have one. We had to bring one with us to the store sometimes. We'd forget whether we had some or not.
FM How far have you gone to get beer?
Marsh Germany, England.
M.T. Mexico. I think we're about the only people who went to Cancun to try beers.
FM How are they arranged up there?
Marsh We tried to make it random.
M.T. We actually went earlier this year and measured different sizes of bottles so that we could custom make our shelves.
FM You custom made your shelves?
M.T. Oh, yeah. To fit the different-sized bottles. (Pointing) You see, we left just enough room up top for the taller bottles, and yet these three rows down at the bottom fit exactly for the minikegs and the little bottles.
Mike Levy We also have our homebrews with our own label.
M.T. (handing a bottle) This is Mather Beer. We're planning on brewing a batch for the Mather Winter Formal.
FM (tasting a dark, vaguely fizzy ale): Mmm. Good. Do you know of anyone else with a beer collection?
M.T. I don't know. You see, the thing is, you could just go out and buy a hundred singles and spend, what, 200 bucks and throw them up there.
M.L. The idea is [each of us] actually drank one of these beers.
FM What's the worst beer in your collection?
M.T. I nominate Lion's Head (from Great Britain).
M.L. (reaching for a green bottle) No, no, no. This is. "The Beer of Love." "La Biere Amoreuse" from France. Terrible. It came with a top on like a hairspray bottle. (Reads) "Discover the beer for intimate occasions. Lovers come together, sharing their deepest feelings, their strongest desires, and the mystery of 361015."
M.T. So try to picture four guys sitting around drinking a sixpack of that stuff.
Marsh (reading ingredients) Ginger, kola, ginseng, licorice, myrtle, myrrh, cinnamon....
FM Is there a certain beer tasting protocol like wine tasting?
M.L. Oh God. We've sort of ruined beer for me. You can't have a new beer without ten minutes of conversation with Marsh about all the qualities of the beer.
M.T. The head, the body, the aftertaste, follow through, the aroma...
M.L. And then there's always a list of 20 beers it reminds him of. I can't remember from one day to the next but Marsh remembers a beer he had years ago.
FM What happens after graduation?
M.T. We talk a lot about what we're going to do after graduation.
M.L. I say a lockbox and when we come back in 25 years, we pull it out.
M.T. I say we sell it to the highest bidder.
M.L. There's other talk like, whoever gets a wife and house first, gets to put it up. But whoever's wife would let him put up a thing of beer...
(Allen Baler returns)
All Al, what's your favorite and least favorite beer up there?
Allen Baler Oh that's easy. Pilsner Urquel is my favorite and...this one right here (reaches for the French one).
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