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How to Shotgun a Beer Using Just Your Thumb

by Iwan Palinski 3 years ago in how to

Want to be a hit at your next shindig? Shotgun a beer using only your bare hands.

Let's be honest, it's always in your best interest to avoid going to wild parties and grabbing hold of any of the number of sharp objects laying around when somebody asks you, "Yo, you want to shotgun a beer?" Don't think that we don't get it, either. Traditionally, people use a sharp object to poke a hole in a beer to shotgun it. What good is that really though if you're camping in the wilderness or sneaking beers into a movie theater?

If you like cool bar tricks, you need to learn how to shotgun a beer using just your thumb. It's an amazing party trick not only because it looks cool, but also because it saves a lot of time, and you can do it anywhere.

It sounds hard, but it's actually very easy to shotgun a beer using just your thumb. Sure, it can be hard at first, and you do run the risk of cutting yourself or breaking a nail, but that's why it's such an impressive party trick.

The Theory Behind Shotgunning a Beer

If you've ever dumped out a canned drink, you've probably noticed that the liquid pours out at a slower rate than it would if you were pouring it from a glass. Instead of flowing out in a quick, steady stream, the liquid glugs out in pulses.

This "glugging" was a huge problem for the binge-drinking community, particularly the young adults, who enjoy gulping down beer as quickly as possible. Luckily, some genius, most likely a frat boy studying engineering at an Ivy League University, discovered that punching a hole in a can before opening it makes it easier to pour beer down the throat at a rapid pace.

It's not always a good idea, or legal, to carry a sharp object around on your person at parties, and they're not always easy to find at, say, a concert hall or a movie theatre.

That's why it's necessary to learn how to shotgun a beer using just your thumb.

What You'll Need

Shotgunning can only be done with a canned drink. I recommend practicing with a Coca-Cola or another non-alcoholic beverage so that you can accurately measure your progress as you learn how to shotgun a beer.

You will also need a thumb with a thumbnail. The sweet spot for nail length is an eighth of an inch. If your nail is too short, it won't be sharp enough to puncture the can; too long, and you will, at the very least, end up with a bruised nail bed if you don't break your nail completely while punching a hole in the can.

That said, this is not a painless party trick, and you should also have a high pain tolerance if you really want to master the art of shotgunning a beer with just your thumb.

Be prepared to make a mess, especially if you've never tried this before. Once you punch a hole in the can, the liquid is going to spray in all sorts of unpredictable directions, and it's going to be sticky unless you're practicing with water. We also recommend trying this to supplement for summer camping guide for this reason, as the less collateral damage, the better.


I already told you that it's easy to break a nail when you try this party trick, but that's not the only way you put yourself at risk when you try to shotgun a beer using just your thumb.

There is a reason why shotgunners traditionally use a sharp object to puncture a hole in the can, and that is that broken cans are notoriously sharp. Exercise caution, and lots of it. Make sure you have some first aid items nearby in case you cut yourself, but moreover, exercise caution and try to prevent cutting yourself in the first place!

Position Your Beer Horizontally

Now that we've gotten all the introductory stuff out of the way, it's time to shotgun your canned beverage!

Hold the base of the can with your dominant hand and tilt the top of the container slightly toward the floor. Your thumb should be rested on the upper side of the can, and the rest of your fingers should be on the underside. If you've done this right, it will look like you have positioned the beer horizontally, at a slight angle.

The theory behind this step is that every canned drink has an air bubble that floats to whichever end of the can is facing upward. The air bubble needs to be under your thumb before you try punching a hole in the can.

It also helps to stretch your arm out so that the beer is as far away from your body as possible. This positioning will give your arm a bit of extra strength, and it will also prevent you from getting sprayed when you punch the hole in the can.

Create a Dent in the Can

Before punching a hole in the can, push down on the can a bit with your thumb to create a little dent on it. It should be about an inch to an inch and a half from the base of the can.

Creating this dent will soften the area of the container where you will be punching a hole in the can with your nail. In theory, this step makes the actual hole-punching step easier and less painful.

Puncture the Can with Your Thumbnail

This is where things can get a bit messy. Make sure you're positioned over a sink or outdoors. Definitely make sure you are far away from any carpets or furniture. I mean it. Canned drinks have the ability to spray inconceivable distances.

Move your thumbnail over to the sweet spot in the center of the dent you just created. Say a prayer, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and jab your nail forcefully into the can as you exhale. Once you've created a small hole, add a bit of extra pressure to make it wider.

When I tried to shotgun a beer for the first time using just my thumb, I found the experience to be very anticlimactic. It took several tries for me to succeed in punching a hole in the can. I was determined however, and now, I can do it on the first try every single time without fail. It's won me a lot of respect in my social circle, for sure.

Chug it!

Once you've successfully punctured the can with your thumbnail, don't waste any time before popping open the top of the can and putting your mouth over the hole you just created.

You must act quickly so that your precious beer doesn't go to waste! Once you put your mouth over the hole, you should be able to get all of the beer down your throat in just a few seconds.

Indeed, this party trick is particularly valuable because it saves time and you don't need any extra tools like you do when you shotgun a beer in a typical manner or try to strawpedo a bottle.

If you don't get it the first time, don't give up! It's not likely you weren't drinking like a champion the first time you snuck wine coolers into your bedroom for you and your friends, right? Anyone who can successfully shotgun a beer using just their thumb on the first try has obviously had a lot of practice. Don't believe anyone who said they got it right on the first try!

how to

Iwan Palinski

A lover of the IPA, sipper of the single malt, shooter of the hard stuff.

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Iwan Palinski
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