Fitness beer: Has craft finally jumped the shark?
Ok, I’m willing to admit it. Craft beer is a little goofy, usually in a fantastic way. I’ve seen just about every variation hop pun, fruit cocktail sour, 15% ABV hyper stout, and some of the wildest looking branding a marketing department could conceive of (here’s looking at you, Flying Monkeys). One thing I haven’t seen? Fitness beer. Until now.
To be fair, Rally Brewery isn’t literally marketing their lager and session IPAs as “fitness beers” exactly. Their Trail Blazer Golden Ale is “crafted with post-adventuring in mind” and “formulated with artisinal salts…for a highly electrolytic beer.” Electrolytes. Like PowerAde. Their Extra Mile IPA, which comes exclusively in a short can, is proudly touted as having only 99 calories, and formulated to “help you go the extra mile.” I think we can agree, for all intents and purposes, these can reasonably be described as fitness beers.
I want to say something up front. I grabbed a can of Rally for the laugh, but have to admit up front, the Golden Ale is pretty damn good. Like, really pretty damn good. It’s refreshing and well balanced, without being bland. Flavour wise, it’s not breaking new ground but it tastes great in its wheelhouse. Conceptually it might be a bit out there, but this is an archetypically good ale by any measure, so kudos to Rally.
The science of fitness beer
But what about the electrolytes? First of all what are electrolytes? Besides sounding positively sports-sciency, electrolytes allow electricity to be conducted in your body. Basically, in human consumption electrolytes mean “salt” (alongside glucose, for chemistry reasons I don’t fully understand). While too much salt over the long term isn’t good for your health, you need at least some, or you’ll die. Taking in electrolytes is especially important after strenuous activity, where you sweat out a great deal of salt and it needs to be replaced.
The vast majority of beer will have some salt (or electrolytes, if you will) in it. The USDA claims the average tall-can will have about 20mg of sodium in it. Rally’s Trail Blazer, on the other hand, contains 60mg. If getting more salt out of your beer is important to you, look no further.
This is the part where we review why beer isn’t normally associated with fitness. For one — alcohol. According to this article in The Conversation:
” Alcohol ingestion after sport and exercise worsens all major aspects of post-exercise recovery. Alcohol slows down the repair process of exercise-induced muscle damage by inhibiting the functions of hormones that usually aid this process (such as testosterone).
Alcohol also acts as a diuretic, which encourages dehydration after a workout. Add in the fact that it’s extremely calorie dense (especially when consumed as liquid bread), and it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to treat alcohol, and more specifically beer, as a fitness-focused beverage.
Be honest — you do it don’t you?
But let’s be real for a minute. Dear reader, who’s made it this far in a blog dedicated to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, do you really expect me to believe you’ve never enjoyed a cheeky beverage after some excersise? Tell me you haven’t cracked a cold one after a strenuous day of moving furniture. Am I to understand you’ve never ended a long ski session with a glass of wine? Or enjoyed a cocktail at that WAY overpriced restaurant at the top of the hike? Of course you have, and so have I.
Rally seems to have identified a gap in the market here. There is going to be that health nut that feels juuuuust a little bad about sipping something after a cycle. But if everyones enjoying a brew, and you’d like one too, what about something that at least did SOME good for your body? Replace some salt, not put back on the calories you burned, and have a low enough ABV you’re not jeapordizing your recovery? It seems to me, for those inclined to occasionally combine excersise and drinking, a Rally beer might be right up their alley.
The good kind of gimmick
If Rally sucked, I would have wrote a scathing review, condemned the very notion of fitness beer, and we’d be done with it. But the beer itself is actually pretty good. And as I was drinking it, I couldn’t help but empathize with the use case for a beer that made you feel slightly less guilty. And one that slotted right in to that lovely sweat-soaked toast to an obstacle overcome. I think, at the end of it all, fitness beer fits within the goofy craft beer pantheon, and is a worthy option to consider if you’re looking for something to sip slow after a workout.