Drinking Games: Beer Pong (Beirut)

College life isn’t complete without a few games of Beer Pong. A staple amongst the drinking youth, people look for a social reason to drink above and beyond sitting around a table and talking. Sometimes repeating the same patterns over and over gets old and you look for a way to spice it up, thus the advent of Beer Pong or Beirut.

In my youth I too partook in a few games of Beirut and took the game style out of my college years and into social events as I learned to live on my own for the first time. You probably won’t find yourself outgrowing the game if you’ve learned to express your inner youth… or you’ve had a few too much to drink and agreed to the terms when a drunk buddy yells, “BEER PONG!”

Beirut is the less-common name for Beer Pong, its origins are not fully known, but folks believe it goes back to the conflicts in Lebanon. Given you’re “battling” for bragging rights at the game, it sorta is a “civil war” of a different color. However, CollegeHumor once did a study showing 77% of respondents called the game “Beer Pong” with the rest going by Beirut.

The concept of the game is simple, of course, because drunk people rarely over complicate life. It should be known, when dorks start drinking, new games like Wisest Wizard arrive to take the drinking game to the next level (pun intended). However, Wisest Wizard is a game with its own story and beyond the scope of this writeup.

Beer Pong is played with two teams, a playing field, a ball, a bunch of cups and, of course, beer.

According to the World Series of Beer Pong, the regulation table size is 8 × 2 feet (2.44 × 0.61 meters), and it stands 27.5 inches (69.8 centimeters) above the ground. Although the game is typically played on either a ping pong table or a folding banquet table, beer pong enthusiasts may create a personalized table for use by friends and visitors. In general, this will be a plywood board cut to proper size, sometimes painted with sports, school, or fraternity symbols and given a liquid-proof coating. (wikipedia)

Although there are “official rules” to beer pong, typically rules and table designs are spur of the moment ideas that arrive out of desperation. Only a true university member predicts the outcome of a beer pong game prior to playing it, a pre-meditated beer pong game if you will.

Solo cups, the 16-ounce variety, are the most common house hold party staple so they fit well into the game of beer pong. The ridges on the edges of the cup allow you to measure each cup easily and accurately so that both teams have a fair playing field. Once you’ve filled six, ten or fifteen cups with beer (depending on how bad a decision maker you are) you’re almost ready to go.

Placing the cups in what could only mimic that of a bowling pin setup gets you to the next stage. Each side sets their cups in a triangle shape, tightly positioned near each other and teams get on their respective table sides and begin the game.

Lobbing ping-pong balls from one side of the table in the other in, hopefully, predictable arcs, can drop your ping pong ball right in the cup, which you then drink. You may also quickly flick a fast ball at the cup hoping for a quick dunk, or bounce the ball more like true “ping pong” into a cup.

The game is not complete without a number of house rules; rules which explain what happens if you only touch the glass, re-racking glasses as they’re cleared and even streaking rules for losers of the game. As you may have guessed the winners and losers tend to be doing a lot of drinking, thankfully most beer pong games are played with 3-5% alcohol by volume and are not always full cups (another house rule perhaps).

Although I’ve seen beer pong played with Tequila, I highly suggest that course of action as the night’s events get out of hand fast and hangovers occur quickly (along with other projectiles). Since the creation of beer pong there have been fully fledged Las Vegas tournaments and events for the game and “official” Bud Pong from Anheuser-Busch, however, the directions state to “use water.”

Of course, under-aged drinking can be a problem, with high schoolers getting into Beirut, but we won’t discuss that as it’s illegal in the US and nobody should condone this behavior. Beer Pong is a great social game with friends, college or beyond, and is a staple beer drinking game in the United States (probably an International affair).

If you’re looking at colleges for the upcoming year, prepare yourself for some of the events you’ll experience while there. Beer pong, like college courses, is a good “life lesson” and will give you plenty of great stories to talk about with friends in the years to come.