This article was originally published in our June 2021 issue. 

The Original Snake Bite is the world’s first patented forked church key, which is a bottle opener and a tool beer lovers everywhere can appreciate.

This tool is 100 percent handcrafted and assembled in St. Louis by Snake Bite Co., a company that opened with the purpose of creating the modernized tool. People have been referring to bottle openers as church keys for centuries, but the origin of the nickname isn’t completely clear. The name may have come from early bottle openers resembling actual church keys. The Snake Bite Co. product is a new take on the classic church key and is something Snake Bite Co. owner Kevin Kelly thinks “Grandpa would be pretty damn proud of.” It is a modern, functional, and locally sourced tool that represents a return to making things consciously and celebrating hanging out in a backyard with a beer.

So why vent a can in the first place? This requires a little physics lesson: when you pour beer from a can, as beer flows out, air enters the can and rebalances pressure in the can. This causes that “glug glug” sound you often hear and also creates bubbles in the beer. By venting a can, air flows in as beer flows out simultaneously and allows for smoother transfer of beer and air. The more even flow also improves drinkability as it reduces the air bubbles whether you’re pouring it into a glass or drinking from the can.

The tool features a design similar to snake fangs, wrapped in leather, and held together with military-grade gun holster eyelets and steel split rings. The functionality mimics how a snake lifts its head to strike its prey. Landing on a final design took the creators, Kevin Kelly and a friend, down a long road of tough decisions with multiple design options.

Snake Bite Co. saw quick success growing from a Kickstarter Campaign in 2014 that took only thirty hours to fund. The product has received such a good response since its inception that Kevin represented Missouri at the Made in America convention in Washington, DC, in 2019 for the product.

“The product is a look at the real story of making things in America and representing the want and need for leisure,” Kevin says. “All of our grandpas had a church key. The Snake Bite is just a more useful and higher quality version.”

You can find the Original Snake Bite and more products, such as the Mamba, another popular bartending tool, pint glasses, and clothing online as well as at certain stores, including Craft Beer Cellar and Urban Matter in St. Louis. Visit to shop.