The price of beer is too damn high: A look at Welcome Week beer gardens

By in Opinions

Welcome Week at the University of Saskatchewan is designed to give students a smooth and enjoyable transition into the new school year. Organized by the U of S Students’ Union, the beer gardens — featuring live music and DJs, food trucks, and of course, beer — are the week’s highlight.

Unfortunately, the beer prices during Welcome Week have reached exorbitant heights. As I recall, last year, a single 355 ml can from Saskatoon’s own Great Western Brewery sold for seven dollars. For a beer that retails for about $1.75 per can at the SLGA, this results in a 400 per cent markup. This year, I’m sure, will be more of the same.


Now, this is not an unheard of price. You can expect to pay the same at Mosaic Stadium. Going beyond that, a 473 ml tall can will set you back more than $12 at a Toronto Blue Jays game. For events, the Sasktel Centre actually offers cheaper beer, with a domestic bottle retailing for $6.25.

There are, of course, a number of legitimate reasons for a mark-up like this. The costs incurred, for both logistics and entertainment, are necessary and merit a slight increase in pricing. But — with all due respect to our notable perennial gardens favourite DJ Market Mall — the main attraction is the alcoholic beverage.

We’re not shelling out $80 for a ticket to see a concert or sports game, with beer being merely one more expense on an already highly expensive night. No, we’re simply in the Bowl, enjoying the last bit of summer and getting a necessary buzz in between the insufferable syllabi classes.

What reasons are there for this quadrupled price tag? And who is profiting off of our youthful exuberance, our lust for life? Just how much is DJ Market Mall getting paid for his services?

Perhaps the inflated price can be chalked up to a strategy of deterrence. In a misguided, paternalistic effort to limit students’ drunkenness, perhaps the organizers set the beer prices so high that students can’t possibly afford to get obnoxiously drunk.

If this was April, and our bank accounts were sufficiently drained, this strategy might work. However, after a summer of working hard, slamming down an unwise amount of Queen Lizzes — or even some Mackenzie Kings — feels acceptable. Perhaps even war- ranted. If deterrence really is the goal in mind, there are better ways to do it, such as implementing a drink limit.

As students, no matter how well we’re paid for our summer work or our continuous part- time jobs, money is a continual concern. Charging such a high price to students feels like a slap in the face.

I will not debate the merits of drinking versus sobriety in this article. Drinking certainly does not have to be an integral part of the university experience. For many of us, however, it is. The unfair prices at the beer gardens threaten to deprive students of these rare anxiety-free moments on campus before papers and exams consume us.

We live in a province where — according to the Saskatchewan Graduate Outcomes Survey released by the provincial government — half of post-secondary students finish their degrees with at least some debt, with an average debt of $28,000. With all this in mind, sharing a case of Brewhouse with your friends in the Museum of Antiquities starts to seem like the best reprieve.

Nick Hawrishok

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor