The Quest for the Ultimate Shower Beer
A beer expert sudses up.
Forgive me: I had no idea the "shower beer" was a thing. I mean, sure, I'd chugged my fair share of bathroom brewskis in my college days, but I didn't realize that drinking beer in the shower had become an actual phenomenon—much less a legitimate, commonly used term—until a friend of mine told me to Google the phrase. I was blown away.
And so, as an experienced beer writer (and Certified Cicerone) facing an embarrassing lapse in trend awareness, I now feel that it is my responsibility to take the plunge. If jumping into the shower with a crisp, cold one in hand is a beloved American pastime, I should know everything there is to know about the practice. I've decided to personally test five very different beers from five well-respected breweries to determine the style and qualities of a lager or ale best suited for the shower.
Let the immersion begin.
My first attempt to drink in the shower does not go smoothly, to say the least (pro tip: open the beer before you step into the stall). I am nearly blinded by spritzing water as I struggle to pop the slippery can, which slides out of my hand and onto a tender foot. Thankfully, once open, Sam Adams's excellent Downtime Pilsner quickly distracts from the disaster that is my shower-beer-drinking technique.
The crisp, refreshing lager has fantastic carbonation, with a lovely grassy hop character. While notes of citrus zest, a nice malt backbone, and a touch of spice and hoppy bitterness on the finish make this an excellent, well-rounded beer, it is—and I can't believe I'm saying this—almost too flavorful for the ridiculous task at hand. The beverage deserves to be savored in a glass, and practically begs to be paired with food. (Perhaps I'll do a follow-up story on shower charcuterie?)
For my next selection, I think I'll try a beer that's as stripped down as I am at this moment.
Shower Rating: 4/5 Soap Bars
The Mexican lager was invented at the end of the 19th century, when German immigrants in Mexico began brewing darker, Vienna-style lagers like those they'd grown up loving (ever had a Negra Modelo?). Oskar Blues of Longmont, CO, uses dark Munich and Vienna malts for a deeply colored lager with obvious German ties: Beerito showcases toasty bread flavors with a hint of spice from Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops. Despite its rich color, it's a deceptively dry, clean brew—one that's helping to scrub my palate as I scrub my hot bod. However, I find that it's too malty for the shower; I'm craving something lighter and a touch more exotic.
Unfortunately, my analysis doesn't last long: I still don't have the shower-drinking skills to keep water out of my beer can, and by the 4th or 5th sip, my Mexican lager tastes like beer-flavored agua. I apologize out loud to the hard-working brewers at Oskar Blues for shamefully vandalizing their work of art.
Shower Rating: 3/5 Shampoo Bottles
Perhaps Allagash Brewing has just what I've been longing for: Their Little Brett is a beautiful Mosaic-hopped beer fermented with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that produces a mild barnyard-like tartness that might just pair with the funk I'll be washing away.
Of course, as excited as I am to enjoy one of my new favorite summer beers, I forget that the beer only comes in bottles. Unwilling to use my teeth to open the stubborn thing, I hop out of the shower and make a soapy, naked trip to the kitchen for a bottle opener, prompting my wife and cat to stare at me in open-mouthed confusion as I leave a sloppy, wet trail behind me like Ghostbusters' Slimer.
Upon finally getting the damned thing open, I find that the light and citrusy beer within is just what I'm looking for, with those funky brett notes sitting behind delicate notes of lemon, pineapple, and freshly cut grass. Unfortunately, while the liquid itself is absolutely perfect for the shower—the bottle is a definite downside in this scenario.
Shower Rating: 4/5 Bath Towels
Alright: I admit that I feel somewhat guilty guzzling what many consider The Greatest Beer Ever while casually lathering my nether-regions. I should have learned my lesson that some beers are simply too elegant for the shower—and the nuances of The Alchemist's almighty Heady Topper are certainly lost here. This is a beer meant to be pondered; relished like a fine wine. Drinking it in the shower is like eating caviar from a paper plate; like sipping Champagne from a dog bowl.
But with massive tropical fruit notes in the vein of mango and papaya intermingling with citrusy pineapple and orange rind, the delicious hop profile is perfect for the shower—one that makes me feel like I'm rinsing off after a day on a Caribbean beach. The only problem with this perfectly balanced brew is that at 8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), I'm already wobbling, and dangerously close to an unintentional impersonation of the lady from that LifeCall commercial. If only there were a lighter, easier-drinking version of the style that provided less of a commitment...
Shower Rating: 3/5 Shower Caddies
By this point, I've really nailed my showering-drinking technique. I'm cracking cans open with one hand and shampooing with the other, belting out "Dreamlover" between sips like my name is Mariah. And I know what I want to drink, too.
The "session IPA" came into fashion in the last five years or so, particularly with the introduction of Founders' All Day IPA. The low-gravity style (generally four to five percent ABV) is basically a hopped-up pale ale that values easy-drinking above all else.
So I reach for Deschutes's Hop Slice, brewed with five different malts, five different hops and a kiss of Meyer lemon. The crisp, citrusy, slightly floral beer has just the right amount of flavor to keep things exciting without distracting from the true mission at hand. Yes, I think I've found my shower beer.
Now, if only I could find some waterproof snacks.
Shower Rating: 5/5 Loofahs