With graduation right around the corner and the prospect of real life barreling toward us quicker than we might have liked, we decided that it would be a good idea to keep our final review close to home. With that in mind, we decided to head to the UPub in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus Center, just a floor up from The Massachusetts Daily Collegian headquarters — a place that Chad Stoughton, as a responsible Collegian staff writer, has definitely been to multiple times.
So for you, the graduating senior in denial, the freshmen who look on longingly as they walk past, waiting patiently to turn 21 then suddenly graduating much sooner than expected, we present our final unofficial review.
Chad: It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these reviews. I kind of forget how this works.
Mad: What’s your name again?
Chad: Don’t worry about it. I’m just a made-up character anyway.
Mad: You know what rhymes with Chad?
Chad: There are lots of things that rhyme with Chad. All of those words rhyme with Mad, too.
Mad: Sad. Moving on to the point of the article … the UMass UPub.
Chad: The UPub is the self-proclaimed best bar on campus. It also happens to be the only bar on campus. Featuring a respectable draught and bottle list, as well as a small wine collection, the UPub is a cheap and convenient place to grab a drink after class or a long stint in the library.
Mad: Or between classes, considering it is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can bring food in from Harvest Market or Blue Wall to enjoy as well, as long as you’re buying a drink or something from inside to go with it. Grabbing a Sam Adams is a great way to balance that superfood spinach salad you bought at Green Fields.
Chad: I feel like “undermine” might be a better choice of word than “balance.” The UPub’s drink selection is decent, but you probably won’t find anything particularly exotic or unusual, and its beer and wine license means you won’t find any hard alcohol on the menu.
Mad: To be completely honest, I was really intimidated by the UPub before I actually went inside. I feel like the first few years I passed by it in the Campus Center it always seemed like it was for people a lot older than I was.
Chad: Well it was. Remember kids: The UPub is only for guests 21 years old and over.
Mad: One fated day, my senior year, I finally stepped foot inside this fine campus establishment. I took a deep breath and placed one foot in front of the other, making my way from Harvest through the rectangular doorway of the UPub, finally breathing in the sweet stench of on-campus afternoon alcohol, finally witnessing the beautiful over-sized metal bottle caps lining the walls as decoration. I sat with friends on the one corner couch. I played pool (for free, thank you UMass tuition and fees for pulling through on that one). I sipped the winter lager. Just like that, I, myself, was old enough to go inside the UPub, spoiling the once-secret mysteries of this corner bar in a building that I had passed through nearly daily since freshman year.
Chad: There are still some unsolved mysteries for me. For example, the UPub is not usually a very loud establishment, but for some reason I can never hear the person I’m talking to. What’s up with that?
Mad: To be fair, when we went to the UPub for this article, we had both pulled an all-nighter on essays the night beforehand so I think that may have been the fault of your body slowly shutting down, rather than the UPub itself.
Chad: Do the readers really need to know that? Anyway, it turns out that the UPub holds regular events too. We happened to show up for the weekly open mic comedy night.
Chad: So, to get this out of the way, I’m pretty sure all open mic comedy is terrible, and UPub lived up to my expectations.
Mad: Don’t be mean.
Chad: That sounds harsher than I mean it to be. Open mics are where people go to try out new material, weed out the bad stuff and get better. The regulars were all very supportive of each other and there were some genuinely funny moments. It’s worth checking out; just don’t expect the next big HBO special.
Mad: That’s a fair description. In general, the UPub has a very low-key atmosphere, with some people performing, others catching up with friends and a few people who go in there to finish up homework. When we were there, we ran into one of my friends polishing her thesis.
Chad: It’s a really nice spot to relax with a drink on campus. It’s not out of the way, but not frantic and busy. It’s the kind of place you can get some work done, but can also visit when you don’t have to.
Mad: My childhood is over.
Chad: You’re 22. Calm down.
Mad: Please don’t patronize me. I’m an adult.
Chad: Is there anything else we should cover before we wrap up here?
Mad: A few more facts, and maybe one more emotional tangent. In terms of logistics, YCMP swipes and dining dollars aren’t accepted, which means you need to dish out actual money, like at a real bar.
Chad: Are you saying the UPub isn’t a real bar?
Mad: I’m saying that a small room that happens to serve alcohol in between Hasbrouck and the library doesn’t exactly feel like your typical bar.
Chad: A small room that serves alcohol sounds exactly like my typical bar.
Mad: I think it’s always going to occupy this sort of liminal space in my mind. Of course, it is, for all intents and purposes, a bar, but it remains in its own category to me. On the bright side, you don’t have to tip, and actually aren’t supposed to.
Chad: So with the logistics out of the way, do you have any more existential crises to share with us?
Mad: Oh boy, do I. You can take the floor first though. If senior-year Chad was sitting down with freshman-year Chad at a table in UPub, what would you say? Something profound, preferably.
Chad: Remember, no matter how badly you mess up, at your age and in your position, I would have done the same thing.
Mad: It gets you here.
Chad: Cheers to that.