You’ve likely noticed the recent influx of lower-alcohol and zero-proof options in the land of beer. It’s part of a larger and perhaps overdue embrace of wellness and personal health. But there’s an especially fit demographic out there that’s finding use for this particular style of beer, too.
Athletes are pounding alcohol-free suds as a means of recovery. Word of Olympians guzzling these beers post-competition emerged a few years ago, in Germany especially. Photos sprouted up of some of the fittest people on the planet earth throwing back specialty beers at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. The word spread, especially after studies concluded that ingredients like phenols offered added health benefits and a combination of low or zero-proof beer with water could actually help a sportsperson bounce back quicker by replenishing glycogen levels.
The beers for Olympians tend to be a little more complicated, with additives like electrolytes and other things needed to maintain the level of performance expected of the world’s best athletes. Fans of the movement consider these beers to be a lot like sports drinks, minus the sugar. Yet, a fair number of hobby joggers and pick-up hoops players have long championed an end-of-the-day Beck’s or equivalent.
Lately, we’ve come to know beer as having anti-inflammatory properties via its hops, as well as digestive benefits. NA beer is far less of a diuretic than traditional beer, meaning it does’t dehydrate nearly as much. Some have even argued that low and zero-alcohol beer can help your immune system by fending off disease-bringing bacteria. And this is to say nothing of the camaraderie that comes with having a pint or two with your teammates, whether you’re shooting jumpers at the park or making a deep run in the NBA playoffs.
American breweries have caught wind. Colossal names like Budweiser have been faring quite well with zero-proof beer. Smaller outfits are taking notice, too, including Athletic Brewing Company in Connecticut. As the name suggests, the target audience is the ultra-active. The brewery turns out an IPA and a Golden, made from organic malts. Both clock in at well under the 100-calorie mark, for what it’s worth.
Other breweries, like Harpoon, are crafting even more complex beers specifically tailored to the physically restless. Ingredients like chia, buckwheat, salt, pollen, and more are being used all in the name of health and recovery. It’s unlikely that these beers will ever unseat the likes of Gatorade, but it’s nice to know that they exist, boast some real benefits, and are generally getting better and better in terms of drinkability.
It’s something to consider as 2019 comes to a close and lofty resolutions are thrown on the table. For the bold and brave willing to go all-out and embrace a dry January, keep alcohol-free beer in mind as not only a carrot to be dangled in front of the treadmill, but a genuine means of helping your body recover after a workout.
And it the popularity of these beers continues to swell, the recipes will continue to improve and we won’t shudder every time we hit the alcohol-free corner of the local beer aisle.
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