8 Tips to Shotgun a Beer

There are many ways to enjoy a cold beer. Sipped gently whilst lazing in a sunny garden. Accompanying conversation at a bar with friends. Refreshing your vocal cords as you shout at the game on TV.

Or drunk in ten seconds whilst trying to avoid soaking your clothes.

Yes, shotgunning a beer is a skill that few have mastered, and fewer want to. But if you dream of consuming the contents of your can in ten seconds flat, you’ve come to the right place.

We’re going to discuss how to shotgun a beer. And we’ll share the hints and tips of shotgun masters through the ages.

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What is Beer shotgunning?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly does it mean to shotgun a beer?

Shotgunning involves puncturing a can so that the beer shoots into your mouth at speed. You gulp like crazy to drink it and – hey presto! – it’s gone in record time.

It’s a time-honoured drinking game, and pretty much the opposite of responsible drinking. So don’t do it too often. And certainly don’t follow the example of this guy, who did it every day for a year. (There are some odd people out there.)

What’s the point of it, you ask? Well, often it’s a race – and as with all races, you want to win, right?! And if your beer doesn’t taste great, you won’t be savoring the flavor for long.

But really, this is like asking George Mallory why he climbed Everest. Like the mountain, a beer is just there – a challenge to be conquered. And there’s no more definitive way of conquering it than by shotgunning.

Tips for Shotgunning a Beer

1. Choose your beer with care

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There are people out there who’ll shotgun any old beer. Don’t be one of them! The shotgun afficionado knows that this hallowed tradition deserves the right beverage.

That doesn’t mean to say your beer needs to be particularly flavorful. Let’s face it, you’re not going to have much time to taste it as it’s going down.

But it does need to be light. If you’re going to hammer your system, at least give your gut a break. Shotgunning super-strength Belgian brew is not the way to go. And the flavor is just too much to drink quickly.

A light beer will go down easier, minimizing the risk of you shattering your Rockstar image by spluttering foamy liquid everywhere. Look for something that’s no more than 5 per cent alcohol by volume.

And just for the avoidance of any doubt, your beer needs to be in a can. Don’t try shotgunning a bottle, people. It won’t be pretty.

2. Choose your location with care too

We’re going to show you how to shotgun with minimal spillage. Even so, this is a technique that takes some mastering, so consider the location for your first attempts. Standing on top of Great Aunt Maud’s prized Persian rug is probably not the best choice.

An outdoor venue is ideal – an open field or the deck of a boat. Or for a decadent yet hygienic approach, opt for the bathtub. Just be prepared to shower afterwards if it doesn’t go entirely to plan.

3. Positioning for puncture

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The perfect shotgun technique begins with puncturing the can. And doing this right requires the proper preparation.

If this is your first shotgun attempt, it’s best to lay the can on its side on a firm, flat surface. Have the longer edge facing towards you. Experienced shotgunners may prefer to hold the can in one hand.

The point of positioning it this way is to move the bubble of air inside the can. When it’s upright, the air will be at the top. Turn it on its side, and that bubble moves to the side of the can. When you come to make the hole, you’ll waste less beer this way.

4. Denting the can

Now it’s time to make a dent in the can with your thumbnail – but first, make sure it’s in the right place. You want to position your thumb about an inch from the base of the can. (As the can is horizontal, remember, the “base” will actually be at the side.)

That inch is important because the metal at the base of the can is thicker. If you try to press your thumb in too far down, it’ll be tough to make a mark.

Make sure you position the can correctly for a smooth transition to drinking. If you’re left-handed, you want the tab on the left-hand side of the can. That means you’ll be making the dent with your right thumb. If you’re right-handed, it’s the other way round.

Now you’re in position, roll the can until you feel a pocket of air, instead of liquid, under your thumb. Press down to make a dent.

5. The perfect puncture

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That dent marks the spot where you’re going to make your hole. You now need to choose the instrument you’re going to use to do that.

Anything with a sharp pointy end will do. A sharp knife is great, but best not carried around outside. A key will work just as well. And if there are any wine drinkers where you’ll be chugging your beer – anything’s possible – you could use the end of a corkscrew.

Position the pointy end of your chosen instrument over the dent. Now push down with it quickly to make a hole. Be prepared for some beer to splash out as you do this.

Be careful not to push too hard! You don’t want to pierce both sides of the can.

Now use your key, or whatever you’re using, to enlarge the hole so it’s just large enough to drink from. Push the metal edges back inside the can so there’s nothing sharp to cut your mouth.

If you don’t have something sharp to hand, you can make a hole by pressing hard with your thumb. Brace the back of the can with your palm and other fingers, and it will work just fine. And you’ll probably find the hole is big enough to drink from without needing to enlarge it.

But take care. It’s easy to cut your skin on the sharp edges of the aluminum. For the same reason, do NOT bite the can. It’s a recipe for disaster.

6. Time to drink

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Your preparations are complete! It’s time to drink.

Lift the can to your mouth, keeping it horizontal so that the beer doesn’t spill through the hole. Take a deep breath, then place your lips over the hole. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps, or you’ll end up wearing your beer.

Now tip your head back so that the can is vertical, and reach up to the tab. Angle your head to the side slightly if you find it’s awkward to get to.

When you’re comfortable, open the tab. Don’t start drinking until you’ve done so. Opening the tab will introduce air to the can and keep the beer flowing smoothly.

There’s no need to suck on the hole unless you want to speed up the flow. Swallow rapidly. If you let the beer build up in your mouth, you’ll be spitting it everywhere before you know it. The movement you’re going for is a smooth pour and regular swallow.

When you’ve finished, recycle that can!

7. Know your limits

Shotgunning beer is supposed to be fun – so keep it that way by not overdoing it.

Remember that you’ll be drinking beer far more quickly than usual. That means the alcohol will hit your bloodstream faster and take effect faster too. Set yourself a limit before you start drinking, and stick to it.

And don’t forget, your judgement is affected when you drink – so repeat that limit like a mantra. You may feel sure in the moment that one more beer isn’t going to hurt. That’s the beer talking!

Stick to your mantra, safe in the knowledge you’ll soon be impressing your buddies with your lack of hangover.

8. Shotgunning other drinks

Want to practice your shotgunning technique without getting off your face? Happily, shotgunning will work for pretty much any drink that comes in a can.

If you do it with soda, though, just be aware that it’s usually fizzier than beer. Try not to shake that can before you puncture it, or you’ll end up drenched. And be prepared to drink even quicker as those bubbles stream out.

Bear in mind that any carbonated drink can irritate your stomach if drunk quickly. So shotgun your soda by all means – just be prepared for gas afterwards!

Ready, steady – shotgun!

You now know everything there is to know about how to shotgun a beer. Treat the information about this ancient art with care, and share it only with those who are worthy.

A little preparation will give you maximum impact. Choose your venue and beer with care. Position that puncture accurately for easy drinking. And don’t be the guy or girl who does it all the time. It’ll just get old.

We hope you’re now confident in your ability to shotgun responsibly. Bottoms up!

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