Shotgunning a beer  with Tom

Pikes Pub writer Stephanie Earls gets a refresher on how to shotgun a beer, and then a Rolling Rock to power chug, from colleague and pandemic bubble crew member Tom Roeder.

Let’s pretend the idea of shotgunning a can of beer “correctly” is not a total oxymoron. If you’ve ever done it, you know there’s an art to doing it right.

I’m not saying you won’t still wake up on a pile of coats with Cheetos in your hair. It just won’t be because of chug fail.

Drinking from a can is such a tedious process — slurp, slurp, slurp — because you’re working against the vacuum created when your mouth covers the can’s only hole.

Shotgunning taps science to goose the alcohol delivery system. Punch a vent near the can’s base, then pop the tab, and there’s suddenly air movement. The suds erupt like a geyser, into a mouth, sometimes everywhere else.

Shotgunning a beer is what you do when you don’t have the equipment or ability to do a keg stand, when you want a brewski (and a buzz) but only have time for three swallows. It’s what you do at frat parties, on a dare, and maybe just for laughs — once a day, for an entire year, if you’re L.A. TV producer Aaron Semmel.

“When you set out to shotgun a beer every day, you guarantee that at least 15 minutes out of that day is going to be absolutely fun and silly,” said Semmel, the pastime’s unofficial ambassador, in a 2015 interview with the drinking website Punch.

The piece included a thumbnail about the history of power-chugging, shotgun style, placing the origin — naturally — sometime soon after 1958, when beer was first released in aluminum cans. Steel cans, which came before, were too “well-armored” to lend themselves to such modifications.

From there, the frothy, sticky, stupid, everyman’s game was on.

Semmel’s philosophy? “Life’s not that serious, man. Just shotgun a beer.”

And when life goes and gets serious? Hey, shotgun a beer!

It’s helping lighten moods among players in the “NBA Bubble,” the isolation zone at Walt Disney World near Orlando during a season cut short by the pandemic, where a chug challenge started making the rounds last month.

I’ve shotgunned a beer or two in my time. I’ve never done it like Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard, whose technique involves an oversized vent hole, pretzeling of arms and a 12-ounce Coors Light quaffed and crushed in three seconds.

“King of the Bubble,” Leonard tweeted with the July 12 video of his feat. “Accepting all challengers.”

My biggest challenge these days is making beer last longer. But I really need 15 minutes of fun and silly. Don’t we all?

Since I hadn’t shotgunned a beer in decades, I turned to my own “pandemic bubble” crew, and friend and colleague Tom Roeder, for an assist.

As with jump-starting a car battery, it seems people have different tried and true techniques for making a beer shotgun. Leonard cut a window in a Coors Light can. Tom used a 10-penny nail on a Rolling Rock.

It was messy, goofy and nostalgic, and unfortunately the beer still went down slow enough for me to taste. It wasn’t a chug fail of epic proportions, but I feel like I could have performed better.

Next time, maybe I cut a bigger hole?


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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