The Art of Beer Die

The Art of Beer Die

Photo Credits: ROSIE SCHWARZ / AGGIE

Where creativity, drinking come together

Most college-aged people have heard of the sport “beer die,” a drinking game involving four glass pints, two dice and a large table. Unlike many other drinking games, beer die revolves around culminating an atmosphere of relaxation and camaraderie through its dependance on good weather, the outdoors and team building.

When walking through Davis, students can be seen outside throwing die. Most of the time, there is music playing, people watching and the expectation that many games will be played. Because of the specific dimensions of a beer die table (8-by-4 feet and at least ½ inch thick), many students build their own tables to customize their experience.

After embarking on a trip to Home Depot and participating in the group activity of building the table, many students decorate their tables. Often, they personalize the tables with the Greek letters of their organizations which serve as markers of friendship with whom they built it or to show their love for the game. This degree of personalization reflects the unique nature of beer die as a drinking game that centers around community and leisure.

Sally Ellberg, a third year biological sciences major, painted her table with a friend in tribute to their shared love of their hometown.

“I am from Ventura, Calif. where I grew up swimming in the ocean [and] bodysurfing,” Ellberg said. “One of my friends Joe Terre, who gave me the table, is also from my area so we brainstormed a design that was ocean inspired for the both of us. After brainstorming, we chose to mimic the common outdoor company called Patagonia. Patagonia started in my hometown and its logo embodies adventure and most importantly the ocean that I miss on a daily basis.”

The process is time-consuming, but worth it.

“I remember the first Thursday of Fall Quarter when I painted the table white first as a base coat and drew the design in pencil,” Ellberg said. “Friends kept stopping by to see the progress and help me color between the lines … Overall, the whole process of acquiring the table, deciding on designs, picking the colors and having people over to play die on it has been a way to bond with my friends and an excuse to have fun whenever we don’t have any class. It might be cheesy, but the table has totally brought us closer together.”

For Noah Yardeny, a second-year pharmaceutical chemistry major, the inspiration for his table centered around UC Davis pride in the style of one of his favorite artists.

“For our table my housemates and I really wanted to do something colorful, fun and for it to be bright because die is such a happy game,” Yardeny said. “We decided to go with gold and blue for UC Davis, and for the other side we chose green and purple because those colors create a nice contrast. We really like the artist Jackson Pollock so we were inspired to splatter paint [on] the table and the table came out all textured and organic and we were stoked.”

Spencer Katz, a fourth-year political science major, painted his table to mimic a classic ping-pong table.

“It was originally supposed to have a large Gunrock painted in the middle but once we got the line drawn we decided to take a tossing break and we’ve been playing ever since,” said Katz. “The table is a gathering place, a focal point to build community. We can all come together and debate which of the cheap beers are the worst — Rolling Rock — enjoy the outdoors, take the edge off and meet new people.”

Although beer die is a game often played on college lawns across America, it is customizable to each group of friends. For example, when it is played sitting down, it’s called snappa.

“I also love the house rules in beer die which allow each home to put their creative spin on the game and introduce new challenges which keep the game interesting and lead to a culture of idea exchange,” Katz said.

As each house or group of friends individualizes their table, they create a persona for their die table reflecting their shared interests. After graduating, seniors often pass down their table to a younger group of friends who are either moving into their house or share their love for the game. Although beer die is popular across the country, the welcoming and laid-back atmosphere of UC Davis fosters the perfect beer die environment for students to create something that is more than just a game.

Written By: Rosie Schwarz — arts@theaggie.org