Fill Me Up, Buttercup: The mugs of Campustown


Mug night

Cole Komma

It is a standard Thursday night in Campustown. Plastic mugs hit the legs of students and issue a hollow “thunk” as they make the trek to the bars. A handful of bars such as Cy’s Roost, Paddy’s, Mickey’s and Charlie Yoke’s, to name a few, carry on the tradition of making plastic 32-ounce beer mugs available for purchase. These mugs can be purchased and then refilled at a cheaper price.

“It was just a random idea that started about 10 years ago,” said Kyle Ishmael, manager of Paddy’s Irish Pub. “It wasn’t just one bar either, it was a collective idea.”

Even the newcomer to Campustown, Charlie Yoke’s, carries on the Thursday tradition, according to one of the managers, Jason Crimmius.

Some bar managers, however, had mixed feelings about the issue. Welch Ave. Station is one of the local bars to not serve the Thursday mugs.

“The mugs encourage binge drinking,” said Trent Fichter, assistant manager of Welch Ave. Station.

While the issue has been seriously considered in Ames, John Weekley, manager of Mickey’s Pub, said the event is more intended for tradition and memories.

“I think it’s more of a memorabilia thing,” Weekley said. “Going out on a Thursday night and getting these mugs is a tradition. It’s more of a social thing, people come out to socialize and have a drink. It doesn’t promote binge drinking.”

Ishmael, though agreeing with Fichter’s concerns, also noted that the Thursday tradition is not the only event of its kind.

“It 100 percent encourages binge drinking,” Ishmael said, “but drink specials also encourage binge drinking. I mean, anything closer to $1 pushes kids to kind of drink a little more, because it’s so cheap.”

But Crimmius, Weekley and Ishmael all agree they’ve never seen anybody drink more than a few mugs of beer during the tradition.

“I’ve seen three before,” said Ishmael, “but that’s pretty rare. We have a trashcan by the door and I cannot count how many full, three quarter, half full drinks get dumped in there.”

While responsibility and limits are encouraged during the event, the Thursday night outing is one tradition around Campustown.

“It’s been a Thursday tradition for a while,” Crimmius said. “I have friends that went here years ago, and they still have their mugs.”