There is a spectrum of appropriateness when it comes to drinking beer. The shotgun method has always occupied some distant end, miles away from the aroma-heightening tulip glass or sleek and slender pilsner vessel. No, the shotgun tends to occupy the hangover-inducing territory mostly reserved for tailgating and absurd college parties.
Like merlot or ’90s fashion, the messy, beer-guzzling act is reemerging and we’re not entirely sure why. It’s no longer just the embellished theatrics of a blue-collar wrestler (here’s looking at you, Stone Cold Steve Austin). Celebrities and star athletes are sharing in the fun. But after shotgunning a beer for the first time in well over a decade — and once again feeling that silly, sticky, gut-punching, celebratory, woozy euphoria — I have a few theories.
"I just don’t like the idea of my franchise quarterback spending time at a baseball game. I mean, what are you doing, @bakermayfield? You don’t see guys like Aaron Rodgers shotgunning beers. Just not a good look. Go watch some film." – @ColinCowherd (probably)
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 4, 2019
Politicians once kissed babies and, largely still, visit small towns. It’s a sometimes patronizing act meant to exhibit some kind of folk sensibility — a closeness with everyday people. Social media makes our favorite people terribly accessible and we like love to ogle. So how better for a Heisman-winning quarterback or all-star influencer to prove their normality to countless followers? The shotgun, of course.
Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Aaron Rodgers have already been famously caught in the act. Tom Brady did it, but we all know it was Michelob Ultra. Justin Bieber has rather unsurprisingly attempted the shotgun many times. And Martha Stewart failed spectacularly under the tutelage of Snoop Dog. Some are better than others (and probably had more practice than others thanks to past fraternity lives) but there’s almost a nobility in just being okay at the shotgun. It’s not how much beer gets absorbed into your bloodstream. It’s how quickly you pour suds all over your face and shirt.
On a deeper level, the shotgun might be a subtle revolt against craft beer and high-IQ drink culture. After all, when the beer in question is there only to by punctured by a knife, key, or tooth and emptied in mere seconds, cheap and tasteless is probably the way to go. Though the thought of White IPAs and Belgian tripels entering the shotgun domain is pretty entertaining, at least in theory.
Then again, perhaps it has reemerged on account of its utter pace and efficiency. The world is not getting any slower. If Americans are thirsty for a swift way to enjoy their beer, there’s hardly any swifter. Beer-bonging is decidedly extra. Shotgunning is relatively quick and easy, without any bells or whistles.
There’s also the competitive element. Most icons caught on camera shotgunning do so by their lonesome, much to the joy of the masses. But the practice really came to be what it is as a race among friends with often drunk results. The looming climate of bravado and one-upmanship welcomes the shotgun with open arms.
Whatever the real reason, the shotgun refuses to go quietly. It’s the subject of a hilarious and quite literal Wikipedia page. And you might as well know how, just in case you’re at a raging party or want to take your celebrity status to even higher levels.
Someday soon, you too may only have a few seconds to savor a cold one.
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