What Is Beer League Hockey?

To the casual observer, beer league hockey is a collection of players, most of whom underachieved and fell short of the dream of playing hockey in the big leagues, organized into a locally-played league.

But beer league hockey is much more than that.

It’s more of a need; a lifestyle.

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Breaking it down to its basic elements, beer league hockey is loosely defined as “organized hockey in its purest form, unencumbered by money, skill, ambition, fans or advancement.”

Unlike the pros, who get paid big bucks to play hockey, beer league players pay considerable money to play organized hockey.

Even though we take the league games seriously, we never take ourselves too seriously. It’s more about having fun.

What Is Beer League In Hockey?

On the surface, a beer league in hockey is an adult hockey league that caters to local hockey players in a community.

The beer part of beer league hockey accounts for the fact that most players drink beer before, during, or after league games.

In fact, it kind of centers around beer in one form or another.

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Beer is a primary ingredient included in the communal bonding ritual that takes place after each game.

Another ‘beer’ connection is the fact that sometimes beer league hockey teams are sponsored by local bars, pubs, and restaurants.

Why Is It Called Beer League Hockey?

Because in most leagues, there is always beer.

Tons of it.

Beer league hockey is for both adult men and women who are, more often than not, beer drinkers. Hockey and beer go together as seamlessly as salt & pepper. Or beer… and pretzels.

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Beer league hockey players come in all shapes and sizes. Mostly not in-shape.

Don’t get me wrong. Playing hockey, even at the beer league level, takes a lot of skill and stamina.

I’m just saying that you’re not going to see many 6-pack abs in the locker room. Only empty 6 packs.

Is Beer League Competitive?

Yes. Even though most leagues are surprisingly competitive, winning and losing a beer league hockey game is usually taken in stride.

This is especially true by the time you get to the over-40 leagues.

At that level, drinking beer becomes equally if not more important than winning the league t-shirt.

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How Long Is A Beer League Hockey Game?

It depends upon the league.

Nearly all beer league hockey games use the traditional three-period model.

Periods typically run between 12-20 minutes in length and can include either running time or stop time. Or a combination hybrid running-stop model.

If a game is tied after regulation, a short overtime and/or shootout normally follows. 

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Regardless of the format, most beer league hockey games are completed in about an hour or so.

Is There Checking In Beer League Hockey?

Usually not.

While checking and hitting is a key component in hockey, there is no point to it in the beer leagues.

Most of us are older guys who have no interest in cleaning somebody’s clock anymore. We would rather go to work in one piece tomorrow, instead of the ER tonight.

Although there is no checking, there is still bumping, pinning, pushing, shoving, hooking, stick-checking, and of course… chirping.

What About Fighting?

Fighting does happen sometimes. However, in the beer leagues, most players wear full cages and shields so it’s rather pointless.

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Further, most beer leagues are quick to serve suspensions and even fines to players who fight.

The guys who still don’t get it are usually banned from the league.

Those guys are called likes-to-go guy.


Beer league hockey is a beautiful world that allows us to play the best sport in the world with our friends, drink beer, share tall tales in the parking lot, and achieve the occasional glory of a highlight-worthy goal.

It’s more about the experience itself than it is winning the league championship t-shirt and hoisting the beer league cup.

But that’s cool too.

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