Ice. Cold. Beer.
Few things sound as appealing after a long and sweaty ride. But should you feel guilty that you’re cancelling out all your hard work with a sudsy seductress? We’re here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with hitting up a brewery after your ride to reward yourself — so long as you know how to do it properly.
Remember - never ride or drive while impaired.
Let’s get the basics out of the way
Uncle Sam (or rather, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans) recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation — up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men — and only by adults of legal drinking age. To be a boss at balancing beer and biking from a calorie standpoint, you need to weigh your caloric intake against your biking output. Calories are just a way to measure how much energy your body expels and absorbs, so if you’re drinking more calories than you burn off, your caloric surplus will turn into unwanted fat. But — big surprise — beer companies usually don’t put calories on their labels, so how do you strike this balance? Don’t fret and save your sweating for the trail — that’s what we’re here to answer.
Every beer is different
The next thing you should know: not all beers are created equal! They come in a wide range of styles and calories.
Rule #1: The higher the ABV (alcohol by volume), the more calories each beer will have. On the lighter end, a 5% ABV lager might run you 150 calories per pint, whereas the same amount of a 12.5% stout could be up to 500 calories.
Rule #2: A beer’s particular style is also a factor in the total number of calories. You can safely estimate that there are about 2.5-3 calories for every percent of ABV per ounce. Most beers are 2.5, but sweeter and more full-bodied beers (like stouts) are closer to 3.
What’s the magic number?
Put these rules together and what do we have? A handy-dandy equation to help you estimate the right amount of beer to enjoy without feeling like a dog who just got caught chewing up some shoes:
ABV x 2.5 (depending on style*) x ounces consumed = calories per beer**
Use this with the caveat that even if you did just bike a beastly 100 miles, that doesn’t give you license to down a case of beer. (Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an easy rule of thumb to enjoy your beer without packing on the pounds, avoid these two simple words: “barrel-aged.”)
Applying it to the real world
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty now. How much beer is okay to drink after your ride? We’ve put together a helpful graph that measures volume (of the most common beer types) against the intensity of your ride. We’re big fans of the “drink smarter, not harder” philosophy, which is the beauty of modern craft beer and breweries. Want to try multiple styles? You can usually order smaller pours, tasters and flights to easily regulate your ounces per calorie and sip a wider variety of beer.
Long story short: everything in moderation. Feel free to celebrate your ride by kicking back with your favorite brew, just don’t knock back four double IPAs in a row!
*For heavier beers, like stouts, use this slight variation of the same formula:
ABV x 3 (depending on style*) x ounces consumed
**Equation is an estimate only. It does not take into consideration ingredients (like fruits and sugars) added after the fermentation process.
Sip and Cycle in Denver
We’ve teamed up with Denver Bicycle Café to make it easier for folks in Denver, CO to get their bike and brew on. Use the coupon below at their shop and get a dollar off a drink — or get one for free with a bike repair. Jessica Caouette, co-owner of DBC, sums up the city’s relationship between beer and cycling nicely:
“Denver residents understand the value of a great day out in the sun, pushing your pedals and smelling the fresh air. Our brewers are becoming nationally recognized because they’re careful and quality-focused, but they also love to have fun — a value they share with many of our cyclists.”