The Best Beers for Runners
Even if you’re new to the sport of running, you have likely heard of the infamous “Carb Loading” the night or two before a big race. And believe it or not, beer can serve as a form of carb loading. While we certainly do not advocate drinking more than one or two the nights before a race, (for tips to running when hungover, see our blog post here) beer is made from hops and wheat – excellent sources of carbohydrates! Better than a pre-race meal is a celebratory beer (or two) after a really intense race. Getting in carbs after a race is important to, to fill those glycogen stores back up and help your muscles heal and recover more quickly. Plus, beer is over 90% water! But which beers should you go for? That all depends on your taste preference, innate beer affinity, and when you plan to throw one back.
But First.. What’s in a Grain?
Beers are made up of four main ingredients: yeast, water, a grain, and a flavoring agent. Most beer brewers use hops to flavor their beers. Hops provide the of flavor profiles to a beer: fruity, floral, grapefruity, grassy, piney, or bitter. So choosing the beer that you like as far as taste is concerned, really just comes down to your hop preference.
The grain component of beer is the carbohydrate source. Barley is the preferred beer grain among brewers. But you’ve probably heard of wheat beers too. Other grains include rye, oats, rice, corn, sorghum. Think of beers made from different grains in the same way as foods made from these ingredients: different ingredients have different macro-nutrient profiles, and thus lend themselves to different macro-nutrient profiles of the recipes that they are used in. If you are watching your carb intake, wheat beers and lighter barley beers are your best bet. In general, darker beers have higher alcohol and sugar levels.
Best Light Beers for Runners (AKA the Pre-Run Beer)
If you have a big race coming up, or an early morning workout, chances are you’re going to opt for a lighter beer. These options are great when you want to grab a drink with friends and not miss out on a good time with great company, but also want to be mindful of alcohol consumption.
Pro tip: They also make excellent options if you plan to do a Beer Run where you have to chug beers along the route!
1. Michelob Ultra
Michelob Ultra advertises itself as a beer for athletes because it goes down easy – much like water! It only has 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs so it will not weigh you down or make you super bloated. And folks agree the taste is great.
2. Corona Light
So you are at the beach on vacation with your family, and everyone is sipping Mexican style beers after a day of fun in the sun. You only get 10 vacation days from work a year, so you definitely do not want to miss out, but you also have a run scheduled the next morning. Corona Light is a great option if you want to feel festive and cultural but without the heaviness of the regular Corona. It’s a great, light option at 99 calories and 5 grams of carbs.
3. Amstel Light
Amstel Light wins awards year after year for being the least “light-tasting” beer of the light beers. We’re pretty sure that is because it is brewed in the Netherlands, (Amsterdam; hence, the name) and there really isn’t bad beer to be had in that part of the world! liBut its nutritional profile is great, with just 5 carbs and 95 calories. It is the best option if you don’t want to FEEL like you are drinking light beer, but still want to crush your tempo workout.
4. Bud Light
It’s a classic, and you can’t really go wrong with it. You can find Bud Light basically anywhere, it’s light enough that it doesn’t hold you down but still tastes like you are enjoying a good beer. It’s pretty cheap most everywhere you go too.
Best Craft Beers(AKA the Post-Run Celebration Beer)
Once you’re done with your workout, training, or race, it is definitely time to celebrate your hard work and accomplishments – and what better way to do that than to raise a pint or two to your successes! When the running is over, it is time to indulge. The sweets and fried foods that you have been avoiding to prepare for the race are great, but indulgences also come in the form of some tasty craft beers. (We also certainly won’t judge if you choose to mix yours in with some of the harder stuff to serve up a delicious craft beer cocktail.)
1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Basically, if you’ve ever liked any beer in your whole life, then you’ll like this Pale Ale. It’s bold but balanced and goes down extremely smooth – making it an easy choice for a post-race drink, especially if your tummy tends to be a bit unsettled after a run.
2. Terrapin Wake n Bake
This Atlanta-brewed beer is going to be on the heavier (and more alcoholic) side, so exercise caution and make sure you’ve had plenty of water and something to eat before. It makes the list not just because it’s delicious, but for its caffeine content, which will help re-energize you after a race once you start to feel yourself needing a nap.
3. Westbrook Mexican Cake
Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or just a party, celebrations need cake. And cake in the form of beer is pretty much the best thing ever, so celebrate your run with this sweet, chocolatey, spicy stout beer. It’s basically liquid dessert.
4. Samuel Adams Boston Lager
This one has become so popular that it can hardly be considered a craft beer any more – but it’s still the original craft beer and it still tastes great! Plus you can find it anywhere – meaning it’s the perfect celebration drink if you’ve just run an ultra, are kind of out in the middle of nowhere, but want to indulge in a really good beer.
- 100 American Craft Beers Every Beer-Lover Should Drink, Paste Magazine Article, May 30, 2014 ,