Keystone Light's 30-packs are as ubiquitous as pong balls and muddy floors in fraternity basements, but that was not always the case. A look into the history of Dartmouth's favorite beverage shows Keystone Light to be a relative newcomer to the Greek scene.
Keystone first made its appearance in the summer of 2000 at Sigma Delta and Kappa Delta Epsilon sororities.
"[Chi] Heorot laughed at them and their choice of a blue can," Jack Stinson, owner of Stinson's Village Store, said.
However, the brew did not catch on until Winter term 2001, Chris Knight '03 said. Prior to Fall term 2000, the fraternities all had permanent tap systems and kegs filled with Budweiser, Bud Light or Milwaukee's Best in the basement.
The preceding summer, the College eliminated not only the standing bar, but also prohibited open sources of alcohol and required registration of kegs. When the taps were removed during fall, the campus turned to flats of Milwaukee's Best, affectionately known as "Beast."
Economic value soon became the deciding question in the battle of the beers. Milwaukee's Best comes in 16-ounce cans, four ounces larger than Keystone Light's 12-ounce cans. The fraternities thought Milwaukee's Best was a better value due to its larger size, even though students did not find it as palatable, according to David Alexander '04, who was a freshman at the time.
Yet a careful mathematical analysis that winter showed Keystone Light to be the same value with a slightly better taste, Alexander said, and thus the Keystone campus was born. Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity was one of the houses to make the switch, and Psi Upsilon and Alpha Delta fraternities were some of the last, Alexander added.
"As soon as the students figured out that Keystone was better, cheaper and more conveniently packaged, Stinson's began carrying more Keystone than Beast," Knight said. "For a year or so, Stinson's kept selling flats of Beast and had them stacked next to the Keystone in the cooler but the student's preference was clear. Stinson's eventually made the full switch and now it's almost impossible to find flats there."
Despite the hegemonic hold Keystone Light now has on the campus, there were other options at the time. As Knight mentioned, convenience of packaging became an issue. Natural Ice was one option, but Keystone Light's packaging of a 30-beer package versus a 12 or 24-beer package or flat ultimately won out, Stinson said. Coors also had a salesman, Gene Desjardins, doing aggressive on-campus promotion of Keystone Light, which may have swayed the choice, Stinson said.
Stinson is preparing for increased beer sales this weekend, but he said the only reason for this is the campus population spike due to the influx of returning alumni.
"To be honest with you, I don't think the students drink more" during Homecoming, he said.
Stinson did however warn those students picking up orders of beer to be extra careful about whom they have involved. During the last big weekend, he said there were three to five liquor inspectors at the store ensuring that there were no underage students involved in the purchase or transportation of beer.
Stinson encouraged students to not do anything illegal and said the liquor inspectors would not hesitate to make arrests or even follow students back to their houses.
"Make sure the pickup and delivery are very clean," Stinson advised.
The liquor inspector has also instituted some new regulations to slow down the process of purchasing Keystone Light. Now the door to the Keystone Light room is required to be shut after every sale.
The liquor inspector instituted this new requirement to ensure that all of the people involved in the purchase were of legal age and to ensure that only those cases ordered and paid for were taken.
"The fraternities haven't had any problem with it," Stinson said.