Start with a macro lager. In Brazil, they tend to use Skol or Brahma, but any loosely German-style light beer made for high-volume consumption will do. Flip the can upside down and give it a good wipe. After all, that’s where your mouth is going.
If you’ve ever made a makeshift weed pipe out of a Sprite can, this next part will feel familiar.
Using a knife or a nail, poke a hole in the center of the bottom. Careful; some beer will fizz out. Poke two or three more holes. Poke one more on the bottom rim, about the size of a straw. Fill the divot on the can bottom with coarse salt. Squeeze a quarter lime over the salt. Then, place your lips to the hole on the rim and drink it down, taking in the beer, lime, and salt all at once.
Call it a beergarita. A pour-over beer cocktail. An inverted chelada. Brazilians named it “cerveja na bundinha,” a prickly little phrase that translates to “beer in the ass.” The anatomical metaphor becomes apparent the moment before you affix your lips to the can.
“It’s a very primitive way to drink beer with your family—sometimes you even use the same can to drink together, laughing about it,” says Aline Ferreira, a Brazilian Cicerone, beer educator, and co-founder of Work a Beer Marketing. “It’s funny for us. We use any opportunity to make a joke.”
Ferreira says serving beer na bundinha is typical among young college-aged kids who simply can’t resist a good joke. Upside-down beers are often consumed in a ceremonial round. Sometimes, drinkers will poke a hole in the opposite side and suck down the beer as fast as possible—a seasoned shotgunning.
But it’s not limited to co-eds. People all over Brazil are turning their beer bottoms skyward to inject some citrus and salt. Mercado Livre, a popular shopping site in the region, sells customizable machines that poke a series of holes in any 12-oz. can. TikTok and YouTube are awash with instructional videos trying to turn the trend global. Does it have breakthrough potential?
Getting to the bottom of na bundinha
Cerveja na bundinha is fun, but it’s also practical. And it’s symbiotic with life in Brazil.
Brazil is warm, even through the winter. In the hot sun, the addition of lime and salt makes the beer even more refreshing. Both are ubiquitous ingredients in many South American dishes, and lime trees grow abundantly in the region. When the beer you’re drinking isn’t very good, it only makes sense to reach for something to spice it up.
“Drinking beer in Brazil is very associated with cheap beers,” Ferreria explains. “We drink a lot of American light lagers. You can find it anywhere in any supermarket, and it’s very affordable for most people. And we drink a lot on the beach or at barbecues on the weekend.”
According to Douglas Mero, a beer sommelier and certified beer judge living in Santa Catarina, cerveja na bundinha likely arose out of the flavors popular elsewhere in Brazilian drinking culture. Cachaça, the national liquor of Brazil, which is derived from sugarcane, is most commonly served with lime, like in a caipirinha cocktail.
Mero points to another common drink: cu de burro. Another entry in the tradition of Brazil’s anal-named beer preparations, cu de burro—“ass of the donkey”—is when you mix salt and lime in a separate glass and alternate sips of the mix and the beer. You can also toss the add-ons into the glass with the beer, like a chelada.
“When you don’t have a glass to make cu de burro, it is made like [cerveja na bundinha],” Merlo says. “This habit is very old, mainly used by the elderly in the interior of Brazil. In recent years, it has become more common among university students as a trend.”
If you can dodge the first initial spray of beer, cerveja na bundinha is very easy to enjoy. The lime diffuses more and more into the drink as you go, taking on the saltiness as it passes into the beer. Tastes kind of like a lime gose with a salt rim and a much lower price point.
Enjoyable or not, Merlo says cerveja na bundinha is not very common. Two other Brazilian sommeliers contacted for this story had never even heard of it. Ferreira, as a marketer, has seen buzz around, but it’s more something she learned while having fun at home. The first time she ever drank cerveja na bundinha was with her mother, a sentence she admits sounds shocking in Portuguese.
But that’s the utilitarian appeal of cerveja na bundinha. Getting bored halfway through your 24-pack of Miller High Life? Try drinking out of a salty pinhole at the bottom. Tastes great if you can get over the pornographic connotation. Brazilians have.
“If you’re in a fun moment with your friends and family, it’s not offensive,” Ferreira explains. “We are very ironic people.”