Finding the Excuse for a Shower Beer

My friends were incredulous. There we sat, gathered on my back patio for what is absolutely a summer-time necessity (the copious consumption of beer and barbecue) when the subject of shower beers somehow bubbled up amongst our usual dithering of, well, beer drinking, mountain biking and the finer points of combining the two. It was then that I chimed in and revealed that I never in my life had a beer in the shower, much less drank one while simultaneously cleansing my body. All conversation stopped and every eyeball in the vicinity zeroed in on me. I think the dogs even ceased their begging for bratwurst and tilted their heads in confusion in my general direction (it’s scary how well they know English.)

Alas, it was true: I was a shower-beer virgin. Considering that my reputation of being a microbrew-lover of the highest degree is whispered amongst the pines, this revelation left my friends dumbfounded. They told me every outdoorsman worth his hops has downed a beer in the shower at least once. Even though it’s about the most white-trash thing imaginable (depending on the beer you use) there always comes a time when a shower beer is appropriate. Hearing this, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be in the club anymore.

Before I go any further, let me dispel any notion that I’m talking about “pre-gaming.” The most common shower beer comes in the form of drinking before going out on the town. Say you’re running late for a concert or to meet a girl at a club, and you have no time to “pre-game.” So you drink your pre-game beer in the shower. This form of shower beer is usually reserved for frat boys and douchebags.

In outdoor parlance, the shower beer is more about post-gaming. In this scenario, you enjoy a shower beer only after completely wrecking yourself in some epic battle between your puny, mortal form against THE MOUNTAINS. Following some-such successful adventure that leaves you so exhausted all you want to do is go to bed, you pretty much have to take a shower first, lest all that mud on your skin dirties the sheets. This especially applies when you are married. But let’s say you also want to celebrate your accomplishment with a well-deserved beer. That’s the time to take your beer into the shower. And if you’re married, it’s also the time to avoid any disapproving wife glances by sneaking said shower beer into the bathroom.

So after my verbal berating from friends about never partaking in the shower beer ritual, I became determined to try it out. But I needed a good excuse. No typical day spent outdoors would cut it. Mountain biking the Wasatch Crest Trail? No. Backpacking to Echo Lake in the Uinta Mountains? Not in the cards. Trail running the Mid Mountain Marathon in Park City? Should have had one then, but didn’t. Then, finally, my time for a shower beer arrived.

It was a blazing hot, summer day, and I was high on Monroe Mountain in Southern Utah. I wasn’t recreating per se, but was on assignment for work, videotaping a story about the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and their efforts to collar and track fawns for an important predator study. I got there thinking I’d spend a few hours hiking, find a fawn, then shoot footage of researchers weighing, measuring and collaring a cute Bambi post-haste so I could be home in Salt Lake before dinner. Turns out it took 17 hours and upwards of 17 hiking miles to find a single, damn baby deer. This wasn’t normal hiking either. It seems wild animals don’t stick to people trails, so we were scrambling, side-hilling, and bushwhacking through impenetrable forests the entire time, following faint transmissions using radio telemetry. Needless to say, when I returned to my car after dark for the long drive home, I was completely destroyed. Then it got worse. The high-mileage Ford “Exploder” I was driving broke down at the closed-for-the-day Chevron in Scipio, and not a single tow truck company was willing to come out and help at 1 a.m. They all told me to get a room at the motel next door. Turns out that motel is the only one in town, and someone taped a hand-scrawled “No Vacancy” sign to the door. I had no choice but to fold down the back seats and try to sleep under the impossibly bright, florescent lights that buzzed above the row of gas pumps.

With zero sleep, I was on my way the next afternoon. It took all morning at a mechanic’s shop to get the P.O.S. Exploder fixed, so by the time I made it home, dirty, sweaty, and dead-tired to the point of hallucinating, all I wanted was a shower, alcohol, and a soft pillow. It was time for my first shower beer.

Beer Shower inks 02

With exhausted anticipation, I placed a cold can of locally-brewed IPA on a tile shelf next to the shampoo at the back of the shower, turned on the hot water, stepped into the tub, and proceeded to carefully pull the tab at the top of the beer. The hot water and steam was already making the can sweat. When I pulled on the tab, it cracked loudly and echoed off the tile walls. I paused, afraid the neighbors might have heard. The mere act of opening a beer in the shower felt wrong somehow, yet it also gave me a thrill, as if I was about to get away with an unscrupulous act.

But then, being very careful not to get any hot water in my beer, I took my first pull of the IPA. It was delicious. In a way, it was the best IPA I ever tasted in my life. Perhaps it was because of the long two days and sleepless night that forced me into the shower-beer situation in the first place, or maybe it was the combination of the shower’s hot water paired with the chilled, hoppy goodness of the beer that amplified every flavor and subtle aroma. It was divine. I couldn’t believe I had never experienced this before. By God, my friends were right, as usual. The shower beer is not to be missed, but it tastes best when you really, really deserve it.

Of course, it was after my first shower beer that further research on the subject revealed that there is a whole industry surrounding the act of drinking suds with your suds. Websites are dedicated to shower beers, including one where people (even hot chicks) post photos of themselves chugging a brew under hot spray. A shower-beer Facebook page listed as a “religious organization” has thousands of “likes.” I even discovered that you can buy a ShaKoolie; a shower-mounted, suction cup/Velcro koozie produced specifically for holding a can of beer on the wall away from your soap while also keeping it cold. Classy!

Clearly the shower beer is more socially acceptable than I originally thought… I was just late to the party. So in the future, I won’t feel like I have to destroy myself outdoors to earn it. In fact, it might even become a weekly tradition as soon as I get my hands on a ShaKoolie. I’ll just have to find a way to sneak it past my wife’s criticizing gaze.

One Response to “Finding the Excuse for a Shower Beer”

  1. Always nice to find another shower beer enthusiast. Welcome to the team 🙂

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