Maybe you think it’s silly to call a shower beer self-care. I used to.
Of course, plenty of people love cracking a cold one in the shower, whether to unwind after a long day or rev up for a night out. One need only spend a few minutes on the decidedly not-safe-for-work Shower Beer subreddit feed to realize that the practice is alive and well — and that you’re never too naked or sudsy to proffer a serious beer review. (Recently, a condensation-beaded Mortalis Khione stout smacked of “peanuts, cacao nibs, coffee, and ice cream,” apparently.)
And indeed, scientists say drinking a beer or two floods our brains’ pleasure centers with endorphins; they also say taking a shower releases dopamine, promoting relaxation and even boosting creativity. Why not merge the two in moderation?
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Seemingly, just as many people find the idea stupid and unnecessary. Interest on Google Trends has inched down steadily over time (unsurprisingly as sober curiosity climbs among younger generations). The sole regional exception to this trend is the Midwest, where our love of drinking might only be exceeded by that of renegade drinking — as in, sneaking flasks into movie theaters and walking home with a road soda.
I never really subscribed to the shower beverage — largely out of ambivalence and the flimsy conviction that it’s too much work. (I have enough tasks to take care of in there!)
It doesn’t help that the products associated with the shower beverage are woefully unattractive, bulky, and impractical, like the 6-ounce bottled Shower Beer released in 2018 by Swedish craft brewery Pang Pang. (Seriously? A shower beer made of glass?) On a whim at the drugstore last month, I bought my husband a rudimentary shower beverage holder — essentially, a suction cup affixed to a beer koozie aptly inscribed with “Save water drink beer.” I presume an Ohio State University frat bro invented this in his dorm room using some Gorilla Glue and his favorite koozie.
I took said device into the shower on a recent Saturday afternoon with a can of Pacífico Mexican pilsner, and I instantly deemed it useless as my slippery fingers struggled to grasp the can to pull it from its holder. Even so, I found that first ice-cold, prickly sip of beer totally invigorating, supercharged by the contrast of volcanically hot water pummeling my backside. Never had an audible “Ahhhh!” satisfied more. But I quickly let the business of cleaning myself win out to the point where I forgot the beer was there.
The Business Pleasure of Showering
I found similar arguments against the shower beer when I polled my 3,000-odd Instagram followers for hot takes.
“Doesn’t it seem like a lot of multitasking?” asked one skeptic.
“It always seems like a good idea and then your drink gets hot and gets water in it,” said another. One went so far in the shower-as-task direction as to say he brushes his teeth in the shower to be sure he gets the dentist-recommended two minutes. (He’s not alone.)
This in turn begets the question of how showering can walk the line of business versus pleasure. The anti camp often gets hung up on the logistics — What if the beer gets warm, or soap or shampoo suds get in it? — and ultimately rejects the idea of mixing the two, even if both activities theoretically bring relaxation and joy.
“Drinking and showering are separately enjoyable activities that are not better merged,” one declared.
I can sort of relate. For instance, I love drinking beer in hot tubs, but I talk myself out of having booze in the bath all the time. Where do I put it? What if I knock it over, or it slips out of my hand? In my head, one signifies devil-may-care vacation behavior, the other relaxing self-care of the responsible-adult realm.
“I feel like the shower beer phase of my life ended with college,” my brother-in-law told me last week, his voice tinged with disdain. Several in my Instagram town square similarly bemoaned the fecklessness of pro family and friends whose empties litter the bathroom after a visit. One pro respondent even tempered her support by deeming the shower beer an outdoor-only activity: “It feels like I’m getting the shower dirty if inside.” (Don’t get my inner armchair psychologist started on associating alcohol with shame.)
Of course, I’m not advocating that you pop a beer every time you get the shower running. (Indeed, two pro respondents said they find an early- morning shower coffee just as fun and invigorating as an evening shower beer.) But I can’t help but wonder why we tend to disqualify ourselves from acts of immature silliness as we age. Doesn’t the prerogative to crack a cold one in the shower count among the things we envied when we were small and oh-so desperate to grow up?
“Everyone looks so happy,” my husband said when I first forwarded the Shower Beer subreddit to him. (Again, this online nudist beach of amateur beer reviewers really deserves at least one visit.) A similar delight overtook me as the surprising number of pro respondents flooded my DMs, proclaiming the simple, stupid joy of drinking a beer in a place where it’s categorically not “allowed.”
After all, doesn’t inane silliness qualify as self-care?
“If you have a beverage in the shower you’re not aiming to be a super responsible adult for the rest of the day,” one pro respondent wrote, “which is joyful for this usually responsible adult.”
Last Friday afternoon I wound down with another shower beer — this time abandoning the futile gadgetry along with the dispiriting remains of that week’s to-do list. The shower filled with steam, the satisfying “Crack!” of the can echoed off the walls. Ahhh!