A cents of drinking

Kristina Deckert

Partying may lead to financial headaches for college students

Last time Phil Burwell had a party, he and his roommates spent almost $400 on alcohol and things like cups and ping pong balls.

Partying comes naturally to Burwell, as it does to most college students, but the financial impact of hosting a party is often less obvious than a bad hangover – even though it might be as painful.

Burwell, a senior sports management major, prefers the price of kegs to the price of cases of beer, but said he thinks cases are easier to get.

“With kegs, you get more beer for less price,” Burwell said. “But buying a keg is a hassle. There’s gas money, and it’s time-consuming. Instead of getting 24 cases in 15 minutes, we have to drive 45 minutes each way to get them.”

Burwell goes to Pennsylvania to buy kegs, where there are more beer distributors than in Ohio. Beer distributors sell kegs both in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but kegs are somewhat cheaper in Pennsylvania.

The House of LaRose in Brecksville, Esber’s Beverage Co. in Canton, M&M Beverage and Erme’s Distributors, both located in Hermitage, Pa., are all located within an hour drive from Kent State and sell kegs.

With deposit, a keg costs:

– House of LaRose – a minimum of $109.74 total.

– Esber’s Beverage Co. – a minimum of $102.88 total.

– M&M Beverage – a minimum of $90.42 total.

– Erme’s Distributors – a minimum of $82 total.

Ohio law allows retail stores to sell only 1/6 barrel kegs, which hold about 60 cans of beer each. Ohio residents have to go directly to the distributor to get half-barrel kegs, which hold about 180 cans of beers each.

M&M Beverage in Hermitage, Pa., is one of the closest retail stores to Kent to sell half-barrel kegs.

“We get college kids from Ohio here buying kegs every week,” said Jared McGee, staff member of M&M Beverage. “We sell a lot of Natty Light barrels to them.”

For students who don’t want to deal with the hassle of buying a half-barrel keg and don’t mind having a smaller amount of beer, 1/6 barrel kegs are available at Campus Wine Cellar and 101 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, both located on Route 59.

“If you only want to drink, like, 40 beers, a 1/6 barrel has a novelty because then you won’t waste anything,” said Justin Clemens, 101 Bottles owner.

Clemens said Ohio law doesn’t have a limit on how many 1/6 barrel kegs he can sell to customers.

“If you want to try to control the limit of keg beer, this is pointless because I can sell you 500 of these if you want,” Clemens said. “But I can’t sell it in half-barrel increments. The only novelty to these things is that you can essentially tap three different flavors instead of one.”

At 101 Bottles, the cheapest 1/6 barrel kegs are Bud Select, Michelob Amber Bock, Michelob Light and Michelob Ultra, priced at $34 each. Customers must also put a $20 deposit on the tap and a $30 deposit on the keg itself. The cheapest kegs at Campus Wine Cellar are Bud Select and Michelob Ultra, priced at $36 each. Customers must put a $40 deposit on the tap and a $40 deposit on the keg.

Clemens said he sells, on average, about 30 1/6 barrel kegs to customers per week.

But for as many college students who are spending hundreds of dollars on alcohol for their parties, other students spend much less hosting dry parties.

Junior psychology major Shannon Duffy said she and her roommates typically spend $25 or less on parties they host.

“Usually, me and my roommates have about 20 people over to play games, watch movies and eat,” Duffy said. “There are lots of things you can do and be social without involving alcohol.”

Contact student finance reporter Kristina Deckert at [email protected].