What is beer league hockey? (Explained)

If you’ve never heard of beer league hockey, or you have but just aren’t quite sure what it is I can imagine you have some questions.

Questions like do the players drink beer while playing? The answer to that is no, well, not exactly.

I’m here to answer all your questions about beer league hockey, so let’s get started.

What is beer league hockey?

Beer league hockey is recreational adult hockey, you must be over the age of 19 to join. Recreational adult hockey leagues are often referred to as “beer league” due to the long-standing tradition of players getting together after a game to have a few adult beverages.

beer league hockey

If you meet the right people, they may even get together before the game to have a beer or two as well.

Beer leagues are typically filled with older players who have aged out of their respective leagues but still want to continue playing the game.

Despite the name “beer league”, you do not have to drink beer in order to play in one of these leagues.

Can you hit in beer league hockey?

No. Most beer leagues have a no checking rule. Hitting will result in a 2-minute penalty.

However, this doesn’t mean beer league is not physical. Incidental contact and contact against the glass while battling for the puck is generally fine, so long as you don’t hit the person or throw them down to the ice. It can get pretty physical out there.

These adult recreational hockey leagues (beer leagues) don’t allow hitting to reduce the possibility of injuries. Beer league is for fun, and people who play in these leagues have jobs to get to the next day and would prefer to do so uninjured.

Remember, not everyone will follow these rules, so always keep your head up.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. Some leagues will offer full contact, so if that’s what you are looking for, be sure to ask around.

Is fighting allowed in beer league?

No. Fighting is not allowed in hockey and is typically punished by suspensions and potentially expulsion from the league.

This doesn’t mean fights don’t happen in beer league, but they aren’t super common due to the punishments that are handed out.

Some leagues are better than others when dealing with fighting incidents.

Beer League Brawl, Both Goalies Ejected | GoPro Hockey Goalie [HD] - GAME 9

How many periods are there in beer league hockey?

All beer league hockey games have three periods that range from 10-20 minutes long. Some leagues will play with a running clock and others will have stoppage time.

Most beer leagues do not have overtime or a shootout. This is because teams pool money together for ice time and are typically not allowed to play past their allotted time.

Here are some typical formats you will often see at a beer league hockey game:

Periods Period length Stoppage time (Y/N)
3 15 minutes No
3 15 minutes Yes
3 13 minutes No
3 20 minutes No
3 20 minutes Yes

Unwritten rules of beer league hockey

Much like the unwritten rules of pond hockey, beer leagues also have their own set of unwritten rules that players should try to abide by.

1. Don’t be overly aggressive

No one likes the guy running into people full steam or handing out slashes. Everyone you are playing with has work or school tomorrow, and they would probably like to arrive there without any bruises or injuries.

Everyone is there to have a good time, don’t ruin that by people overly aggressive. If you have some steam to blow off, do it elsewhere.

2. Don’t yell at the refs

Beer league isn’t serious enough for you to be yelling at the officials, no matter how bad the call they made was.

3. Take short shifts

If you have more than 10 guys, take short shifts. No one likes a coaster who sits out there for a 3-minute shift. Give everyone a chance to get on the ice.

4. Don’t be a puck hog

This isn’t AAA tryouts, there are no scouts coming down to watch your beer league game.

We get it, you are good at hockey, but that doesn’t mean you should be trying to go end to end all night. Pass the puck.


Just because its beer league doesn’t mean you can be all offense and a floater when it’s time to backcheck.

Deep down, everyone on the ice wants to win, and nothing is more annoying than watching a forward hang a defenceman out to try by gliding back through the neutral zone instead of hustling back to backcheck.

Essentially it comes down to not being a d***. Be nice, have fun and try hard!

Final thoughts

Beer league is Adult recreational hockey. It’s a place where players who have played at all levels can come to have a good time and play the game they love and maybe even have a few beers after the game, although that’s not mandatory.