Beer. Its delicious.
From a health perspective, a moderate amount of alcoholic beverages does correlate to happier lives and living longer. We aren’t writing this to prop up good or bad studies as proving the correlations we like. We want to talk beer and cycling.
Here is what we know. When you workout you become depleted. Dehydration is only part of it. Your muscles become depleted of fuel, your liver is trying to process byproducts and toxins. Your workout, as it is supposed to, created a stress on our your body that you have to recover from. When you recover, you will come back stronger. We aren’t writing this article to say that beer may be a good recovery fuel, that’s a lie and we don’t care. We know you are going to drink beer anyway, so we may as well go through which beers are the best post ride and tell you why they are the best beers, and sprinkle some science in as we go.
Here’s a bit on how your body metabolizes energy and alcohol in super simple terms. Energy in the form of food is made up of Carbs, Fats, Proteins, annnnnnd Alcohol. By grams here’s the breakdown

Caloric Content

  • Fat:1 gram = 9 Calories
  • Protein:1 gram = 4 Calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 Calories
  • Alcohol:1 gram = 7 Calories

Your body can burn Alcohol as fuel- cool! Why should you eat anything ever again?! Well, your liver process alcohol as a poison and puts all its resources to processing that ethanol before processing anything back to glycogen. That’s why after a workout you have a few sips of beer, and BOOM! You feel it instantly. Unfortunately alcohol has zero nutrient density so as a fuel source to make power on the bike it’s not ideal.
We know the general cycling population enjoys beers. We know that in athletes there’s also a higher indulgence level that may correspond to a work hard, play hard ethic. At the end of the day as athletes we enjoy beers and here’s a list of some good ones to try post ride.
As we start this list and some wise guys are saying “oh that protein muscle man beer will win.” No, just no. Call me old fashioned but at the end of the day we want to enjoy the beer we drink. As needed, make your recovery or protein shake and drink it before you partake in beer, but for the love of god, don’t mix your protein shake with a well crafted hand made beer. If you want to be disappointed, go seek out protein fortified recovery beer, but the camp consensus here is that its just not natural.

Here’s our list:

#1 – New Belgium French Oak Saison

This is a really specific beer, we know. We thought for awhile on what we are preaching and what is a really good beer post ride. This is a slightly sour farmhouse style saison. It has the best qualities of Hefeweizens in its sweet drinkability but, strong, smooth and balanced. It won’t hurt your stomach from acid and hops and won’t leave you wanting like after your second Coors. Good luck finding it. It is quite strong for a post ride beer, coming in at 7.5%.

#2 The American Domestic Lager

Examples – New Belgium Old Aggie, Budweiser, Coors Banquet, Pabst, you can name 10 more.
Lighter flavor, easy on stomach, nostalgic, easy-drinking lager. They also test with an odd amount of potassium which is good for your recovery.
Cons – These beers are bland in comparison to all the solid craft beers available these days.

#3 Hefeweizen

Examples – Easy Street Wheat – Odell Brewing – Haystack Wheat – Left Hand Brewing –  Schlafly Hefeweizen – Saint Louis Brewery 
These are wheat beers, smooth, light, arguably the highest nutrient density.
Cons – None really.

#4 Guinness

Smooth, light carbonation, great for stomach, highest protein, lowest calorie beer on the list. Real beer.
Cons – Imported, maybe you’re not Irish. 

#5 Great Divide – Colette

Another specific one but worth mentioning from its amazing taste, balance, smooth drinkability and balance. This is a farmhouse ale so it’s going to be stronger with a wild yeast flavor but it’s surprisingly easy drinking and and chewy, if nothing else giving you that amazing illusion of nutrients. A warning: although this beer is easy going down, at 7.3%, it doesn’t take much to have you loudly reminiscing how fast you were on a bike 10 years ago.
Post ride, stay away from Imperial’s, IPA’s and probably Doubles. Without getting too deep here, the hoppiness and brewing process of these beers drives acidity. Pushing the acid in your gut and blood isn’t good. We are almost splitting hairs here pushing a “recovery product” that is not going to help you recover but since we are all on the same page now, the listed beers should be your go to’s where an IPA will push the envelope and make your stomach upset from acidity, and bitterness on top of make you recover even worse than the if you stick to the above list.
Zack Allison earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at Colorado State University. As part of his education, he participated in many hands on exercise science practicum and internships, coaching many types of athletes, specifically cyclists.
Zack’s affinity for cycling started at the early age of 14 racing on the east coast. He quickly moved up the amateur ranks to race on the elite national circuit. This level of competition sparked his interest in exercise science, taking him to Colorado State University. While racing for his alma-mater and on various amateur teams he saw many podiums at the Collegiate Championships and Pro/Am events. Zack is currently living in Fort Collins, Colorado and has raced for Elevate Pro Cycling and currently races for Clif Bar.
Growing up with great mentors and coaches, Zack has a goal of paying it forward. He hopes to use his education and racing experience to bring success to Source Endurance and his clients. Zack also owns and operated theSource Endurance Training Center of the Rockies, a training and bike fit studio in Fort Collins, CO.