The Beer Idiot's Guide to Olympic Drinking Games
Illustration by Adam Waito

The Beer Idiot's Guide to Olympic Drinking Games

Normally I’d be the first guy to tell you that drinking games are for frat boys and other repressed types, but the summer Olympics in Brazil call for desperate measures.
August 5, 2016, 6:00pm

If you ask me, putting yourself on a diet is a lot like going to war. It always takes longer than they said it would, nobody sane actually wants to do it, and there's rarely any candy. If that comparison seems glib and inappropriate, you're right, but you also probably haven't washed down a WheatFIBR PowerCookie with an ice cold glass of fat-free, original flavor almond milk for your past 45 lunches like I have.

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Maybe it's just the dump trucks full of Stevia scabbing over my brain's empathy lobe, but this is an awful process and no damn fun at all. War is hell, no doubt, but dieting is at least heck.

Give me this much, at least: when it comes to religiously watching what you eat, there's often considerable culinary collateral damage. After weeks of shrinking portions, you might find yourself working through lunch; I mean, who watches the clock til it's time to eat handful of raisins and a rice cake anyway? Going out to eat becomes a chore, too… just adding up all the fat grams in those sauces is enough to make you opt out and stay home. Indulging in a treat or even having seconds is almost out of the question for many dieters, especially those of us who have conditioned ourselves to associate pleasure with guilt: Is that cookie REALLY worth it? and so forth.

Which brings me to beer, at last. Sadly, beer consumption around the Farrar estate has been in decline of late, and although I'd quickly point out that "less beer" is not the same thing as "no beer," it is nevertheless true that I'm popping fewer tops these days out of an abundance of respect for my (uhh, abundant) midsection.

Before this diet, though, cracking open a couple of brewdogs was just an old-fashioned pleasure… not a guilty one, and to get back to those simpler times is going to take some creative engineering. Normally I'd be the first guy to tell you that drinking games are for frat boys and other repressed types, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Let's talk gamifying.

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(Also, Brazil bribed me with a cargo plane full of chicken hearts to make this about them somehow, so without further ado, here are the competitors for best drinking games for the 2016 Olympic Games!)

China Team USA takes the court for the first time versus intra-group opponent China on Saturday, in a matchup that pits last year's gold medalist against a team that has never finished better than 8th in Olympic competition. The teams last met in 2008—a 31 point, group play drubbing in front of the Chinese faithful at Wukesong Indoor Stadium.

The 2016 iteration of Team Dragon finds itself lacking both former captain Yao Ming and home court advantage, but don't expect Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson et al. to offer much sympathy. After all, those guys spend seven months out of the year mercilessly ripping apart hapless teams of inferior construction. Or they will, anyway.

Between quarters, or when you simply can't bear to watch anymore, grab a sixer of the widely available middling pilsner Tsingtao and play the game made famous in America by the equally mediocre Shanghai Noon, Finger Guessing:

Two drinkers each throw out a handful of fingers simultaneously, while shouting a number from zero to ten. If one of the drinkers somehow guesses the sum of fingers on show, they win, and the other takes a quaff. If both guess right, or, more likely, neither does, the game goes on. In anticipation of a late night, one rule states that the fool that shouts a number lower than the fingers they've actually shown is immediately due for a drink.

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Playing in the bathtub is optional, but recommended.

Spain For whatever reason, the international beers that end up being exported to the US are some of the least inspiring, skunkiest beers on the planet. Like Tsingtao, Spain's Estrella Damm is not exactly a taste sensation, but still manages to be on enough shelves for most of us to snatch some before a loaded Spanish swimming team makes its debut on Day 1 of the Games.

In Spain, the classic game of Quarters is known as "moneditas," and if you remember how to play that one at all, I bet you'll be appropriately thankful for Estrella Damm's 4.6 percent ABV.

Australia Look, I know Australians don't drink Foster's any more than they eat whole fried jumbo onions or wrestle gators in khaki shorts. But on such short notice, the oilcan lager will just have to do. It's not great, but you can drink it while playing the Aussie drinking game Goon of Fortune, which my friend from down under Mitchell (@Ulillillysses) assures me is real, and spectacular. His rules of engagement follow.

Goon of Fortune makes use of an earlier Australian invention: the Hills Hoist spinning clothesline. To play, attach a goon sack (a bag of cheap wine, aka "goon") to the clothesline. Participants stand around the Hills Hoist and spin it. When it stops, the player under or nearest the goon sack has to drink an agreed-upon amount from it. That's basically it.

If you can make heads or tails of that, be sure to gather your supplies (at a hardware store, it sounds like?) before catching the first-ever female Chef de Mission for the Australian delegation, Kitty Chiller, lead the team on Opening Night. Kitty Chiller. Goon of Fortune. Australia is a hoot, man.

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Canada Aside from its role as a running gag in perhaps the most criminally underrated comedy of this century, I'm not sure I've heard many Americans ask for a Molson in all my years of imbibing, and that's too bad. Molson makes a terrifically drinkable—if generic—lager with a profile that definitely befits its being chugged as a mild punishment. Hell, I wouldn't mind taking a few of those lashes.

Being so close to America geographically and culturally, it's no surprise that Canada shares many drinking games with the US. There are a few outliers, however, that may not be quite as familiar to American gamers. Here's one my Nova Scotian friend Rylan (@neonwario) related to me this week:

Nothing gets you more [messed] up than Liar's Deck. A perfect metaphor for life—whether you're a king or a queen, you'll find hearts in spades…As long as you watch out for those two jokers. Plus, nobody from west of Brandon, MB knows how to play, so you can guarantee you'll make your fellow players even worse off than you are.

Alright! Just for good measure, here's another wacky game from north of the border, courtesy everyone's 2nd favorite Vancouverite podcaster Stefan Heck (@boring_as_heck):

If you ever find yourself on campus at a Canadian university, be it Simon Fraser, Mt. Allison, or Concordia, you're more likely than not going to end up playing a rousing game of Leslie Nielsen. The rules are simple. Everyone posts up at one end of a long hallway. At the other end of the hallway is a garbage bin. You then take turns hawking a loonie at the bin. The first one to get the loonie in the bin is "Leslie Nielsen." He or she dictates what everyone drinks for the rest of the night, and also has to wear a box as a hat.

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I am about 50/50 on those guys just having a laugh, so just play Beer Pong, alright? Promise me. Don't go trying to find a loonie when you could be home watching Canadian archer Crispin Duenas, ranked 20th in the world, shoot arrows at stuff this weekend.

Germany If the Olympics is about coming together, learning about each other, and embracing our fellow humans, you gotta give it up for the Germans, who very memorably did not do that for a good number of these shindigs, but kept on getting invited and doing pretty well in the canoeing events for some odd reason. You might think the stereotypical German dourness and reverence for beer would preclude our Bavarian friends from doing much gaming, pre- or otherwise, when it comes to the Real Yellow Stuff. You would be, as you often are, wrong.

"The goal of the game is to finish your 0.5 liter bottle of beer as fast as possible," explains one German flunkyball player. I caution you: it is not as easy as he makes it sound. Germany won't be getting demolished in the Track & Field events until next Friday, though, which leaves you plenty of time to find the relatively common and deliciously cloudy Paulaner Hefe-Weizen in your local bottle shop. And a dodgeball, apparently. And a measuring cup. And like ten friends.

Italy Peroni is awful and so are Italy's drinking games. In lieu of explaining how they roll a die around a table in Sicily, I will simply warn you, as an Italian friend explained to me years ago, that the traditional Italian toast "Cin cin!" ("Cheers!") means "Penis!" in Japanese. So, don't do any of that stuff while you're watching multiple guys named Andrea stab each other on Monday.

Enjoy the games, everyone: the (semi-)professional ones, and your own. Oh, and drink responsibly (don't open your mouth if you're a watersports athlete.) So here's to sport, to togetherness, to simple beers, and fun. "Penis!"