Non-Alcoholic Craft Beers For Athletes

It's the ideal recovery drink (no, really).

Photo: Getty Images

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The biggest trend in beer today is the non-beer–non-alcoholic, that is. In the past few years, low- and no-alcohol beer has taken off in a big way in the United States, with recognized brands like Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon releasing non-alcoholic versions of their trademark brews. This non-alcoholic beer trend is spurred in large part by a demographic focused on fitness and wellness–people who don’t want to undo their hard work in the gym with empty calories and a next-day hangover.

But as it turns out, non-alcoholic beer isn’t just a way to avoid negative consequences–it’s actually a performance enhancer. Unlike traditional beers, which are high in calories, can exacerbate the effects of dehydration, and impede muscle recovery post-workout, alcohol-free versions are essentially a bubbly glass of carbohydrates (perfect for replenishing glycogen stores) and polyphenols, which can tamp down inflammation. Indeed, studies have found that non-alcoholic beers are a perfect recovery drink.

Big brands, quick to jump on the booze-free bandwagon, are making non-alcoholic versions of their most popular beers. But a more intriguing alcohol-free trend has emerged, with craft brewers going all-in on non-alcoholic beers formulated specifically for athletes. Innovations in brewing technology allow for brewers to create lagers, ales, IPAs, and even stouts–all with an alcohol content of .05 or less (for comparison, traditional beers contain an average of 4.5 percent alcohol). For the ultimate sport recovery drink, try one of these North American craft breweries specializing in near-beers.

non alcoholic beer for runners
(Photo: Courtesy Athletic Brewing Company)

Athletic Brewing Company

The Athletic Brewing Company was founded in 2017 by Bill Shufelt, a craft beer enthusiast who found his IPA habit was  getting in the way of his active pursuits. After partnering with brewmaster John Walker, Athletic has quickly gained recognition in the athletic scene, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign targeting runners and triathletes. Their nonalcoholic lineup includes Upside Dawn, a clean golden ale, and Cerveza Atletica, a refreshing summer ale.

Our Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Pick

Athletic Run Wild, a hoppy IPA that took a gold medal at the 2018 International Beer Challenge, is a perfect post-run pick-me-up.

RELATED: Our Favorite Post-Run Brews

non alcoholic beer for runners
(Photo: Courtesy Bravus Brewing Company)

Bravus Brewing Company

Rooted in brewmaster Philip Brandes’ firm belief that near-beers shouldn’t taste like watered-down versions of the real thing, Bravus Brewing Company specializes in bold, complex flavors. Though lagers and ales are traditionally made into alcohol-free versions, Bravus started with stouts and amber ales to add some forward flavors to the nonalcoholic scene.

RELATED: Alcohol and Athletic Performance

Our Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Pick

Bravus Oatmeal Stout, a dark, multifaceted brew with a velvety mouthfeel, pairs well with a post-race burger.

non alcoholic beer for runners
(Photo: Courtesy Partake Brewing Company)

Partake Brewing Company

After a 2017 Crohn’s Disease diagnosis forced Ted Fleming to give up alcohol, Partake Brewing Company was born. Their low carbohydrate, low-calorie beer makes craft beer accessible to those with medical conditions, like Crohn’s or diabetes; more recently, it has also become a popular option for those on carbohydrate-reduced diets, like the keto diet.

Our Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Pick

Get yourself a can of light, crisp, and bubbly Partake Blonde, STAT – it’s refreshing and rehydrating.

non alcoholic beer for runners
(Photo: Courtesy Surreal Brewing Company)

Surreal Brewing Company

Shortly after launching Surreal Brewing Company in 2018, husband-and-wife team Tammer Zein-El-Abedein and Donna Hockey propelled to the top of the World Beer Awards, winning a gold medal for their Chandelier Red IPA. In just one year, they’ve added even more popular brews to their roster, including a gluten-reduced Natural Bridges Kolsch and a Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA that clocks in at only 25 calories a can.

Our Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Pick

There’s a reason the Chandlier Red IPA won a gold medal – it’s delicious. Stash a few cans in a cooler to toast the start of your taper after your final long ride. Your training buddies won’t believe it’s not booze.

RELATED: How Alcohol Might Impact Your Recovery

non alcoholic beer for runners
(Photo: Courtesy Wellbeing Brewing Company)

Wellbeing Brewing Company

Is this the world’s healthiest beer? Wellbeing says yes. Founded in 2018 by Jeff Stevens as a way to provide a healthier, tastier, non-alcoholic option in bars and clubs, the Wellbeing Brewing Company has expanded its lineup beyond its flagship award-winning Heavenly Body Golden Wheat. Today, it offers four distinct flavors created for four distinct populations, including a Hellraiser Dark Amber and Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout.

Our Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer Pick

Wellbeing Victory Wheat, a “sports brew” infused with electrolytes for athletes, lets you toast your victory (responsibly).

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