If you’ve ever been to college or lived to and through 18-23 years old, then you probably have a favorite drinking game. Despite having a go-to, it’s unlikely that you’ve come across anything quite like what we experienced at the Quaffing World Championship. This one of a kind drinking event takes place each year at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. It resembles something of a hybrid between the movie Beerfest and Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke. 

According to the wiktionary, the word Quaff means, “to drink heartily.” Jackson Locals have gone ahead and put their own spin on it. “Quaffing” is the art of sliding full beer mugs across a long table and catching them by the handle before they hit the ground. As soon as you catch the beer, you have to chug it down immediately. You get extra points for catching a beer between the legs, 360 spins, or launching it off of a snowboard. It’s actually quite simple said one of the competitors, “You throw the beer, catch the beer, drink the beer.”

Believe it or not the sport has been around for thirty years. Legend has it that Quaffing was originally started by a group of hardcore skiers known as the Jackson Hole Air Force. As the story goes, an old bartender from a local tavern used to slide mugs of beer across the counter to his customers. One day the bartender accidentally overshot the counter and one of the skiers promptly snatched the glass by the handle and slammed the entire beer. From then on, Quaffing would become a staple in Jackson Hole ski culture.

For the 2016 World Championship event, there were 16 teams battling head-to-head for a chance to claim the invigorating title of Quaffing World Champions. To keep things somewhat civil, teams would face off two at a time while catching mugs and downing beers, accumulating as many points as possible during the 60 second time frame. Each team member drinks anywhere between 4-8 steins of ice cold PBR over the course of a game. The winning teams would go on to play two, three, maybe even four rounds depending on how far they made it into the tournament. Their beer-stained uniforms help to inform the crowd which teams have made it into the final rounds.

One thing that sets Quaffing apart from the other drinking games is the level of crowd participation. Hundreds of drunken spectators line the tables just outside of a local gas station that serves endless amounts of alcoholic slurpees. Large men dressed in one piece american flag suits chanted poetic slurs as the teams faced off in the center of a large circle of humans. As we entered the crowd making our way closer to the playing field, we were met with splashes of beer from a cheers-ing crowd while some random guys handed us two tall boys (22 oz cans) of Rainer. The close proximity between the crowd and the players allows for heightened involvement and an adrenaline rush on both ends. Participants interact with the crowd, and visa versa. This requires that the athletes develop a heightened level of concentration during their matches.

throw the beercatch the beerdrink the beer

Naturally, the sport of quaffing forces competitors to be fast, highly coordinated and develop the intestinal capacity to drink copious amounts of PBR. None of which are possible without months of preparation and a disciplined training regimen. Two local teams in particular seemed to be most prepared for the challenge. Despite their alcohol-soaked veins, Team Hostel and Team Mangy Moose were able to stay composed and catch nearly every beer that was thrown their way. It was a work of art – a delicate combination between extreme focus, teamwork and sheer commitment. The two teams would eventually go on to face off head-to-head during the final round. And, for good measure, the judges scored a tie ball game, forcing both teams to partake in an additional two minute round of quaffing. In the end the local favorites from Team Hostel would come out on top to keep the trophy within Teton Village where it all started.

What seemed to be an exhilarating finish to the event, was apparently mild in comparison to the previous years. According to our sources, the finals in some of past competitions had resulted in unsanctioned fire work displays, bong-ripping, and gold fish chugging celebrations. Regardless, we stood alongside the energetic crowd in awe as five young women danced on top of the tables in bikinis, pouring beer on each other. The trophy was presented to the winning team and everyone proceeded into the village for the after party. The next morning we bumped into one of the players from the winning team with a frosty pina colada in hand. Still wearing his beer-stenched uniform, he made it up to the slopes just in time to catch the first tram up the mountain–true dedication and a testament to the love of skiing Jackson Hole locals have. For a town that’s recognized for it’s world-class skiing, I think it’s safe to say the party scene ain’t half bad.

extreme focus,teamwork andsheer commitment

If you’re interested in participating in the event, check out their site and mark down the dates on your calendar. Until next year’s Quaffing World Championship in Jackson Hole, here’s an outline of the rules created by the founders of this glorious sport. Quaff on!

Words by: Scott Proctor & Photos by: Will Saunders


Rules:

1. 4 person teams, no subs.

2. 1 minute for first 3 rounds, finals are 2 minutes.

3. Quaffer must be 2 feet from the edge of the bar.

4. Must rotate pitcher and quaffer every pitch.

5. You CANNOT pitch until beer is down and mug touches the bar again!

6. You must quaff the beer, not wear it.

7. No puking, puking results in immediate team disqualification.

8. In the event of a tie, each team will choose 1 quaffer and 1 pitcher, and the team with the fastest Gelande Quaff wins.

Scoring:

Round 1: 1 point regular catch, 2 points handle catch.

Round 2: The quaffer must do a 360 between leaving the pitchers hand and the quaffer’s catch.  1 point regular catch, 2 points handle catch.

Round 3: The quaffer must to a 360 OR under the leg catch.  1 point

regular catch, 2 points handle catch.

Finals: (2min) 1 catch of each… handle catch, 360 catch, and under

the leg catch. After the 3 required catches..Freestyle. 0 points

regular catch*, 1 point handle catch, 2 points 360 handle catch* OR under the leg, 0-5 points freestyle (at judges discretion)