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A Knight’s Quest

A tasty challenge awaits at the BU Pub


Few ceremonies at Boston University rival the conviviality of the one held in the basement of the Castle several times a semester. Employing a sword and pewter mugs, it brings packs of friends to the BU Pub to celebrate the men and women who have earned the title Knight of the BU Pub by imbibing 50 types of a liquid so delicious that an ancient Egyptian king chose to be buried with it.

The Knight’s Quest, a BU tradition since 1988, has been conquered by more than 1,800 students, faculty, staff, and alumni, all of whom have devoted serious time, energy, and money to educate themselves on the different types of beer.

“It’s one of those things that everyone talks about, but few people actually accomplish,” says Emily Paccione (COM’13), who began the quest in January 2012, when she turned 21, and finished it eight months later. “The quest was on my BU bucket list.”

BU Pub manager Josh Brochu estimates that 200 people start the quest every semester, but only half manage to finish the requisite 50 beers, sometimes because they decide to drink only the beers they like and sometimes because of the steep monetary commitment (most beers range from $5 to $12). Another deterrent for some is the quest’s written-in-stone rules: imbibers must be over 21, they are limited to two beers per day and no more than two drinks per hour, and the quest cannot be completed in fewer than 12 weeks.

Boston University BU Pub, Knight Quest, beer bar drinks, knighting cere

Domenic Dion (CAS'13) tries a bartender's choice drink.

For those who accept the challenge, the Knight’s Quest is just another way to join the BU Pub’s community, says Brochu, who may have the most coveted job on campus: choosing the beers carried by the pub.

“I like the quest because the bartenders get to know you,” Brochu says, “and they love explaining the beers and educating people about beer and the different types to try.” Besides the quest, the pub has karaoke, trivia, and game nights.

To begin, hopeful knights sign up for the quest at the bar and put their John Hancock on the rules sheet. A Rolodex card keeps track of the beers they drink, and the list of available beers changes about twice a semester, with new seasonal brews added.

The quest is not just about quaffing quality beers. It’s intended to educate people about beer and expose them to new beers from all over the world. They range from simplistic—Sam Adams Seasonal and Coors Light—to the more adventurous, with names like Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, and the Harpoon Leviathan series.

Dan Plucinsky (CAS’13), who was knighted last semester, says education was a big reason he started the quest. “You try beers that you probably wouldn’t try if they weren’t on the list,” Plucinsky says. “There are lots of local beers and beers from around the world. It’s an achievement to be able to say that you’ve tried so many different types of beer and know what’s out there.”

In addition to getting to know various types of beers, Domenic Dion (CAS’13) is glad to be a knight because it gives him a reason to spend time at the Pub. “A lot of people come here between classes,” Dion says, “or come here to do work. It’s a good place to study. It has a chill atmosphere.”

Boston University BU Pub, Knight Quest, beer bar drinks, knighting cere

The Knight’s Quest has been a BU tradition since 1988.

Knighting ceremonies are held on Thursday and Friday nights, starting at 7 p.m. with knights-to-be drinking two bartender’s choice drinks. Each knight-to-be is encouraged to invite friends, and free appetizers like buffalo wings make the rounds.

The hopeful knight’s friends also have work to do. It’s their job to come up with potential names for the would-be knight, who kneels before the bartender as he reads the list of names the friends have suggested. The one with the most applause—and often the most embarrassing—is the one that sticks. Dante Smith (ENG’12, MED’18), a knight since spring 2011, earned the name Sir Magic the Gathering, Girls the Leaving, but many names are not suitable for publishing.

At this point the new knight is given a personalized glass and may drink out of a pewter tankard during any future visit to the pub.

Stella Shalita (COM’14) started the quest in October 2012 and was knighted in early May, wearing a fur coat her friends brought and using a personalized sword. “It was a big deal for us,” she says with a laugh. “The Pub is one of my favorite parts of BU, because on any different day you’ll see your friends, Dean Elmore, maybe a professor. The Knight’s Quest just furthers the sense of community here.”

Over 21 and interested in starting the Knight’s Quest? See BU Pub manager Josh Brochu for information.

The BU Pub is in the basement of the Castle, 225 Bay State Road; phone: 617-353-7782. The pub accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and dining and convenience points and is open to faculty, staff, and students who are 21 +.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

9 Comments on A Knight’s Quest

  • Questioning Parent on 05.07.2013 at 6:23 am

    With all the problems associated with drinking at BU, was this really a good article to have here? I get that you have to be 21 but really? here as one of the main articles on BU Today? I think this was a bad editorial decision.

    • Questioning Parental Skills on 05.07.2013 at 10:09 am

      Hey Questioning Parent, maybe you should concentrate on your parental skills and do a good job then trust your son/daughter to do the right things when they get to campus. Have you ever had a drink before? That was a typical comment you made, but also a comment that was expected by someone that probably doesn’t have anything better to do. Do all of us a favor and stop reading BU Today

    • BU Pub Knight on 05.07.2013 at 10:26 am

      I can understand your gut reaction but keep in mind the almost all, if not all of the issues that BU has had with drinking involve off campus incidents. The BU Pub is a safe space for students and professors alike to unwind in a responsible atmosphere. The bartenders do a great job and make sure there are no issues at the Pub.

    • Aficionado on 05.07.2013 at 11:32 am

      Also keep in mind that this is about appreciation of the craft of beer and exploring new varieties. This isn’t keg stands and beer pong. It’s good for new imbibers to learn some sophistication and reflect on what they’re tasting. I think that level of appreciation mostly leads people away from binge behaviors.

      • Yup on 05.07.2013 at 11:36 am

        I agree. Great beer is not meant to be chugged. Everyone needs to relax. This event happens every year and the BU Pub is not the location where binge drinking takes place.

    • Sir Is That a Rug or His A** on 05.07.2013 at 11:33 am

      Drinking is only a problem at BU because we’ve been trained to believe the mere idea of alcohol is verboten until age 21. That line of reasoning leaves freshmen, sophomores, and many juniors in the dark about how to consume responsibly and perpetuates a culture of drinking to excess.

      The Pub itself is an equalizer. In the classroom, a professor stands in front and the students sit in their desks. At the Pub, students and professors can sit at the same table to discuss class materials or even just to socialize. The mere fact that alcohol is involved does not an evil institution make.

  • Jeff on 05.07.2013 at 1:46 pm

    The Knights Quest for me was a great reminder to take a break from long study hours and have fun with friends. The night of my Knighting is one of my fondest memories from BU. All different friend groups got together to celebrate the accomplishment.

    -Sir Bilbo Chaggins

  • Mo on 05.07.2013 at 2:17 pm

    Love it!

  • Brian Gambi on 05.08.2013 at 4:44 pm

    Honestly, I didn’t start drinking until I was 21 and had my first beer at the BU pub. It wasn’t that difficult to stay sober at parties and the pub helps discourage underage drinking.

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