If you’ve ever been to a fraternity party, a college campus, or even a tailgate, you’ve definitely played beer pong or at least seen it being played. Beer pong is one of America’s favorite drinking games, and it’s been around for a lot longer than you might think.
What is beer pong?
If you’re not familiar with what beer pong is, it’s a drinking game that’s incredibly popular on college campuses. It requires four players to play. The most basic version involves a long table, with an equal number of plastic cups arranged in a triangle formation on opposite sides of the table. It is frequently played with 10 cups on each side, but this number can vary.
Two players of each team must toss ping pong balls into the opposing side’s beer cups. When a ball is sunk into a cup, the opposing team must drink the beer in that cup. Since the balls often bounce off of unsanitary surfaces, such as the floor, the cups are often filled with water as a placeholder. When the ball lands in the cup, the opposing team takes a drink of a beer that has been placed off to the side.
Each member of the team gets an opportunity to throw a ball. If both team members sink their balls, they get to keep throwing until one is missed. When a cup is hit, it gets removed from the table. Teams take turns trying to hit all the cups and make their opponents drink. The team that sinks balls into all of their opponent’s cups first wins.
Who invented beer pong?
The original version of beer pong was invented at Dartmouth College sometime between 1950 and 1960. Allegedly, Dartmouth frat brothers were playing a game of ping pong during a party. People began resting their cups of beer on the table during gameplay. This gave them the idea to aim for the cups and invent a game that incorporated the cups.
Thus, Dartmouth pong was born. The game has thrived here ever since, and multiple variations of the game have sprung up on campus, including Shrub and Tree, Ship, Harbor, Slam, etc. The one important constant throughout all the versions of pong at Dartmouth is the paddle. Dartmouth students insist that true beer pong must be played with a handle-less ping pong paddle.
The most common version of beer pong in the U.S. isn’t actually true beer pong at all, but rather a derivative game called Beirut. Beirut is played by throwing ping pong balls with the hands instead of using a paddle. Beirut was adapted from beer pong by fraternity brothers at Lehigh University and was originally called “throw pong.”
Why was beer pong invented?
Beer pong was invented for the same reason every drinking game was: it’s fun! Drinking culture is incredibly important to American culture as a whole. Americans love to gather and drink together, and creating fun ways to spice up a party and get intoxicated is a time-honored tradition.
Beer pong also incorporates elements of healthy competition, which have been shown to stimulate the brain in a variety of positive ways. Competition is thrilling, and winning a low-stakes game allows people to feel confident in themselves and feel like they can impress their friends (and potential love interests, which is part of why beer pong is huge on college campuses).
Beer pong also provides a way to drink a lot of beer, really quickly. Beer at frat parties is typically cheap and not very high-quality. When playing a game of beer pong, you’re not focusing on the flavor of the beer but rather just trying to get it down as quickly as possible.
The history of drinking games
To understand why people love playing drinking games, it’s easiest to look at the history of drinking games and the reasons they were invented.
Evidence suggests that competitive drinking games emerged in Southern Germany around the early 1530s, the time of Reformation. The medieval way of life was beginning to falter, but young men were still training to become knights. Military tactics were changing, as was the economy. Fewer jobs were available, and many people felt their life had no direction or purpose. They turned to copious amounts of wine to fill the void in their lives.
While drinking heavily wasn’t a new phenomenon, drinking games definitely were. The best first-hand account of early drinking games comes from a poem written in 1536 by Vincent Obsopoeus. Obsopoeus describes a variety of drinking games, many of which look similar to the ones played today. One of the games he describes involves taking drinks in alternation until your opponent passes out. The last one standing is the winner.
Many modern drinking games have historical origins. Quarters, for example, is a derivative of an ancient Greek game called Kottabos. Kottabos was a game that Greek men played, which involved tossing the dregs of their wine cups towards a target, such as a dish or a saucer, seeing who could land the most.
What are the best beers to play beer pong with?
Beer pong can technically be played with any beer. However, some work better than others. You want something light and relatively low in alcohol because you’ll be drinking a lot. Cheap beers work best because there isn’t really time to savor the flavors and aromas during the game. We recommend saving your expensive IPAs for later! We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular beers for beer pong, so you can be fully prepared for the next party you throw.
Bud Light is the #1 best-selling beer in the United States, so it’s very likely you’ll find some at every fraternity party or tailgate you attend. Luckily, it makes a perfect choice for beer pong. It’s insanely drinkable, light, crisp, and refreshing. It doesn’t have too much alcohol, which is perfect for a game where you’re drinking heavily. Plus, it still tastes good after it’s had a few ping pong balls dunked in it.
Coors Light is a natural light beer with a well-balanced flavor, low bitterness, and a light body. It has a nice, malty flavor, but it isn’t at all heavy. It’s refreshing and crisp, which is exactly what you’re looking for in a game of beer pong. At an ABV of 4.2%, you can definitely play a few rounds of beer pong with Coors Light without getting hammered.
If you’re looking for something a bit more full-flavored for your game, you can’t find a more perfect beer than House Beer. House Beer is brewed with quality malt and noble hops, which gives the brew an incredibly balanced flavor profile. It’s got a lot of complex flavors, yet it’s simple and refreshing. House Beer tastes like summer in a can, making it perfect for warm evenings and BBQs.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Founded in 1844, Pabst Blue Ribbon, usually known simply as PBR, is an all-American lager. It’s brewed in Milwaukee at the largest US-owned brewery in the country. And it’s still brewed the same way as it was since its founding. PBR is light and refreshing, and very easy to drink, while still being flavorful. Pabst Blue Ribbon has been around forever, and it’s a classic. It’s probably what your parents played beer pong with in college!
No list of “best beers for beer pong” would be complete without the classic Natural Light. Natty Light is basically synonymous with fraternity parties and college campuses, and, by extension, beer pong. Natty Light is a perfect beer to play beer pong with because it’s light, easy to drink, and very cheap. Hey, there’s a reason why college kids love it so much! It’s wonderfully blended and balanced, it’s light-bodied, and it’s incredibly refreshing.
Beer pong has been around for a lot longer than most people realize. Not only did your parents definitely play it in college, but your grandparents may have, too! We know that the game originated at Dartmouth College sometime between 1950 and 1960. However, the specific details of its origins are fuzzy.
However the game was invented, it clearly caught on quickly. College students and young adults all around the country play beer pong to this day as a way to relax and have fun with their friends. Beer pong is a great way to get a party going and a really good way to drink a lot of really cheap beer.
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