Every now and then you’ll see a truck or van from an exciting Ontario brewery driving along Ring Road. It will appear to be headed toward the SLC, but will take a sudden turn and instead drop its delicious cargo at the cloistered confines of Graduate House.
Like most undergraduates at this university, I’ve never been inside that fun little farmhouse. I hate paying $5 cover at bars, and blanch at the thought of doing so for lunch. But if you look at the delivery vehicles and the information on Grad House’s website, you’ll see that they serve beer from breweries like Beau’s, Flying Monkey, F & M, Silversmith, Wellington, and local stalwarts Grand River Brewing. They also include larger “macro-craft” options. There’s no question that graduate students have access to a diverse and pleasant array of beer options.
What do us undergrads get? A poor, paltry selection of macrobrews at Bomber that doesn’t change, and doesn’t in any way represent our area. The only Canadian companies represented at its bar are Waterloo Brewing co., Steamwhistle, and Mill St.. The rest are foreign owned beers that can be found anywhere, best suited for a kegger or paying entirely too much money for at a stadium.
Sure you could say, “Hey! Three Canadian breweries — including one from Waterloo — is pretty good!” You’d be wrong though. Those breweries in no way reflect the state of beer in Ontario and our region in 2015. Ontario has over 200 breweries now, Bomber’s selection represents around six. There are more breweries in a 20-minute drive than taps at the bar. Beers are being brewed down the street from this school, by UW alumni, so much more interesting and diverse than anything Bomber has on offer. And frankly, those three breweries, as important as they are to craft brewing in Ontario, are about as micro as Mumford & Sons is indie.
Bomber has one rotating tap. It comes from Mill St. and it changes maybe every six months. Go to a place like Imbibe in Kitchener and you’ll find taps that can change every day, and even their selection pales in comparison to what’s possible: Kitchener’s The Bent Elbow has near 40 taps serving all sorts of interesting and local beers and rotating all the time. Local beers are finding their way into even the least-hip restaurants now. Next time you visit your grandma, you might notice that she too has Block 3’s King St. Saison on tap.
Now before anybody argues that this would be all too expensive or complicated for a student pub, or that undergrads won’t drink good beer, let me point you no further than the University of Guelph’s Brass Taps. They have 26 taps pouring a wide variety of local and Ontario selections. They have rotating selections. They’re also often mentioned among the best bars in Guelph, a town with no lack of good places to go. I’m sure Feds would love it if Bomber were a place that people actually suggested visiting.
On top of all of this, I know it for a fact that local breweries have tried to get into Bomber in the recent past. They want to sell their beer here, and they’re trying. The demand is there: if you haven’t heard, young people in 2015 like good beer. They buy it. That’s why the industry exists. It’s why Grad Has delicious options, and it’s why the Brass Taps is so beloved. The Bombshelter Pub was never supposed to be a fancy institution, but it could at least try to be interesting.
Get with the times Bomber. Give us something good to drink, and help support UW alumni in the process.