Gelande Quaffing at Wildlife Brewing

By Mel Paradis / Photography By Rene Ceja | December 02, 2016
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“Gelande” is a type of ski jumping with alpine skis in lieu of nordic free-heel skis. And “quaff” means to drink something quickly.

Thirty years ago, a group of freestyle skiers who called themselves the Jackson Hole Air Force developed a new drinking game. Bartenders at the Bear Claw Café in Teton Village, Wyoming, would slide beers down the bar to customers. One night, a beer launched from the bar top only to be grabbed by the handle midair and pounded by an Air Force member. Gelande Quaffing was born. 

“Gelande” is a type of ski jumping with alpine skis in lieu of nordic free-heel skis. And “quaff” means to drink something quickly. 

During that and many future winters, JH Air Force guys would make an evening of it, sporting numbered ski bibs and holding competitions. Over the years, Gelande Quaffing evolved from merely catching and chugging a beer to adding tricks. Competitors would spin around before catching the mug or would grab
it behind their back or under their leg. 

Past participants have pulled out Hacky Sack kicks and yoga moves before chugging their beer. 

“All sorts of crazy ways of catching the beer as it fell off the bar were added,” said Ric Harmon, owner of Wildlife Brewing and Pizza in Victor.

Harmon knew when he opened the pub in 2008 that Gelande Quaff would be part of its culture. “I’m an old JH Air Force guy. I thought it would be great to adopt it here since we made and sold beer,” he said. When designing the brew pub, Harmon built a separate guard rail next to the dart boards so the event could be held there. 

In early December, Wildlife kicks off each new ski season with its annual Ski and Swill Party. In addition to the Gelande Quaff, the party includes a DJ and retro ski costume contest. 

Winners receive a gift card for 20 free beers, a Mug Club Membership and bragging rights. 

At the party, one person slides the beer down the rail to a teammate who catches it mid-air and chugs it, spilling as little as possible. “The game has become like ‘Horse’ where you have to accept the tricks that were added before you,” said Harmon. Past participants have pulled out Hacky Sack kicks and yoga moves before chugging their beer. 

Teams are eliminated once they drop the beer or cannot perform the tricks. Difficulty goes up because of the tricks, but also because of the beer. Wildlife starts the first round with the lightest beer and moves onto higher-alcohol-content brews as the game continues. Winners receive a gift card for 20 free beers, a Mug Club Membership and bragging rights. 

Wildlife Brewing and Pizza
145 S. Main St., Victor, ID
WildlifeBrewing.com
Open daily 4–10pm

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