Beer is a great reward for pushing yourself with your workout. It’s no wonder that we have plenty of traditions that center around that routine. Breweries have their own running clubs -- Mikkeller’s is particularly popular and has groups all over the world -- and tons more host everything from yoga to boot camps. There are whole websites dedicated to directing you to your nearest brewery offering group exercise activities. #EarnYourBeer is a consistently hot trend on Instagram, with users showing off how they celebrate particularly good workouts. A beer once you cross the finish line of a marathon is tradition. That beer is so typically tied to having fun with friends or blowing off steam makes it feel like a hearty pat on the back after we commit ourselves to taking care of our health.
It’s not recommended to immediately drink anything with too high of an alcohol content right after exercising, because alcohol dehydrates. However, drinks with no and low alcohol contents can refresh. A beer’s carbs can restore energy, and there are even anti-inflammatory properties in beer’s phenols. (When yeast converts a beer’s sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide during the fermentation process, it creates compounds known as esters and phenols. Esters’ flavors are often fruity, while many phenols tend to create spicy notes). When non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers started catching on here in the United States over the past few years thanks to so many breweries creating so many stellar options, we started hearing about practices like German Olympians following up their training with alcohol-free beers and realized hey, they might be onto something.
Even if you love working out (and congratulations on that), you deserve a reward for your efforts. We all know adulting is hard and it’s commendable when you take time to care for yourself. It’s a cause for celebration; you just have to drink some water, too, and keep your adult beverage of choice to something with low or no alcohol. Luckily, we have plenty of ideas for drinks that are super refreshing and do in fact feel like a party in a can. We happen to be in a golden age for easy-drinking, small beers, as well as hard seltzers, kombuchas, and other inventive treats. Here are some of our favorites.
Champion Brewing Company Shower Beer Pilsner
We love our dank and juicy New England IPAs and our bright and bitter West Coast IPAs, we love our rich and silky stouts, we love our dried-fruity and caramelly brown and amber ales. What we want after a workout, though, is something refreshingly simple, light, and smooth. The Shower Beer Pilsner from Champion Brewing Company hits all those marks and then some. It’s made with Czech Saaz hops, so there’s a hint of spicy flavor and aroma to further crisp up this brew. It’s also aged cold on lager yeast, meaning the yeast has more time and energy to create a clean-tasting beer with a dry finish. At 4.2% ABV, this one won’t dehydrate, either.
Rubsam & Hormann Brewing Company R&H Pilsner
Post-exercise beers are all about being crushable. How do you treat yourself to the deliciousness of a beer without feeling weighed down? The R&H Pilsner from Rubsam & Hormann Brewing Company is one must-try option. The malt is just a little grainy and sweet and the hops are herbal and citrusy, so this beer is all about balance. It toes the line at 4.9% ABV -- a fun way to kick back? Yes. A need to worry about dehydration? Nope. You can go ahead and crush this can.
Gay Beer Golden Lager
Another option for easy drinking beer that will recharge you post-workout is the Gay Beer Golden Lager. It clocks in at 5% ABV, so it’s got a bit of celebratory buzz without going too hard or running the risk of dehydrating your system. It’s also gluten-reduced, a huge plus whether you’re sensitive to gluten or just want to cut back. This lager has notes of nuttiness, honey, and citrus, for a perfect balance of sweet malt and dry crispness that is so refreshing after any fitness routine.
Collective Arts Brewing Audio/Visual Lager
If you’re noticing a pattern, that’s because lagers and pilsners are one of the best styles of beer to enjoy after a workout. They’re clean, light, and usually lower in alcohol. Don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re not packed with flavor, though. The 4.9% Audio/Visual Lager from Collective Arts Brewing is proof: it’s made with both pilsner malt and brown rice and is cold aged for four weeks so the result is a soft bready, grainy flavor that’s smooth and clean. Then, Wai-iti hops add lime and mandarin citrus notes so this lager is not only a little tropical (Greetings from our imaginary vacation, wish you were here!), but is also so refreshing after you’ve pushed your limits on a run, hike, or HIIT session.
Owl’s Brew Boozy Tea and Botanicals
If you’re looking for refreshing flavors of the non-beer variety, consider the hard tea. Owl’s Brew Boozy Tea and Botanicals are like drinking a classic iced tea, except with the added fresh feeling of fizz and the elevated quality of all these beautifully complex flavors. At 4.8%, these teas are a moment of self care with a fun twist. They come in flavors like Darjeeling Tea, Hibiscus, Strawberry; White Tea, Raspberry, Watermelon; English Breakfast Tea, Lemon Lime. A tea party might be our new favorite post-workout tradition.
Springdale Beer Company Lavenade Tart Ale
That doesn’t mean that all after-workout beers have to be lagers or pilsners, though! Sometimes a style like a sour comes along that is so fresh, bright, and fruity -- and has a low enough alcohol content -- that it’s just what the pilates fan ordered. The Lavenade Tart Ale from Springdale Beer Company comes in at 4.5%, and it’s fermented with lavender, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Lavender is calming while lemon zest will wake up your senses, so this beer and its bouquet of flavors will have you feeling very zen.
Kombrewcha Berry Hibiscus Hard Kombucha
Kombucha is already off to a good start when it comes to incorporating itself into our healthy routines. Combine your fitness regimen with some gut-pleasing probiotics and you’ve really done your body a favor. Hard kombucha makes that wellness wisdom decidedly more celebratory. At 4.4% ABV, Kombrewcha’s hard kombucha comes in Berry Hibiscus, a pairing that hits that perfect spot between tart and sweet.
Athletic Brewing Company Run Wild IPA
“Athletic” is right there in the name of this beer’s brewery, so you know you’re in good hands. Athletic Brewing Company’s Run Wild IPA is a non-alcoholic beer. It makes a strong case for just how delightful an alcohol-free brew can be, and it also makes something as complex as an IPA a perfect pairing with your workout. Thanks to a 0.4% ABV, you can go ahead and embrace all that piney, resiny Northwest hop flavor that you love without dehydrating your body or slowing down your day.
Two Robbers Hard Seltzer
Two Robbers also makes a strong showing in the hard seltzer game with flavors we’re craving after a spinning session. These clock in at 5.2% in alcohol, so they start to stretch a little more toward a weekend kind of post-workout revelry, but they remain super refreshing and reinvigorating. The flavors feel like fancy cocktails you’d sip poolside, which makes these even more appealing -- think Orange & Mango, Pineapple & Ginger, and Watermelon & Cucumber.
Loverboy Lemon Iced Tea
There’s something about the flavor of lemon that just feels so right after a good sweat. The mix of sour, tart, tangy, sweet, and bright that tends to exist in lemonade or lemon iced tea just gets your energy flowing again, quenches your thirst, and cools you down. Now add a touch of sparkle and an easy-going 4.2% alcohol content, and you’ve got Loverboy’s Lemon Iced Tea as a refrigerator staple you’ll reach for to wind down after your toughest workouts.
Great South Bay Brewery “Spiked” Hard Seltzer
Hard seltzer has been experiencing a stratospheric rise in popularity and it’s a no-brainer why. It’s super light and thirst-quenching with energizing, palate-cleansing bubbles. It typically has a low alcohol content that encourages kicking back without going too far or dehydrating. It also often comes in irresistible flavors. In particular, we’re fans of Great South Bay Brewery’s “Spiked” Hard Seltzer, at 5% ABV, in flavors like Sour Cherry, Lemonade, Watermelon, and Pineapple. It reminds us of playing outside all day as kids and punctuating all that activity with a well-earned popsicle.