Beer Wants to Be a Wellness Trend, Too – Outside

Posted: March 7, 2020 at 3:43 pm


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At least once a week for the past four months, my inbox has gotten some variation of this press release:X Brewery is partnering with Y athlete to launch Z low-calorie (or low-alcohol)beer.Its gone from a trend to a movement at this point.And the volume of pitches for these brewsis so remarkable, I couldnt ignore it.

On January 2just in time for resolutionsDelaware-based Dogfish Head announced it was starting a virtual running club led by none other than four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan. Dogfish has competition, though. That same month, San FranciscobasedSufferfest BeerCompany partnered with ClassPass to do studio takeovers in tencities across the country. In March, Michigans New Holland is launching its Lightpoint Functional White Alewith a 5K at its brewpub. Meanwhile, Devils Backbone is pitching a keto-friendly option, and Breckenridge Brewery has an isotonic offering. Platform Beer Companyjust went straight to the point and named its beer Gymday.

According to Market Watch, people throughout the world are spending$4.2 trilliona year on nutrition, personal-care products, fitness, and other sectors of the health and wellness industry. Brewers want a piece of it.But thats just one part of the puzzle. There are three other factors to consider, too. First, things are slowing in the beer industry. Total sales by volume are down, says Bart Watson, economist for the Brewers Association, but the numbers look much better in dollar sales terms, i.e., Americans are drinking less beer, but when they do drink it, theyre generally drinking the more expensive stuff.Next, their most loyal patrons, millennials,are getting older. And finally, the athletic set has proven to be incredibly devoted to post-workout beer.

While craft-beer sales arestill very much kicking ass, brewers are also starting to realize that the growth trend wont be up, up, and away forever.

Which brings us to the genius of low-calorie brews. Heres a stat that will blow your mind: the fastest-growing beer brand in America is Michelob Ultra. Its also the second-best-selling beer in sales by dollar. The company has produceda smash hit by making a beer thats under 100 calories and tastes better than other popular light beers, thenmarketing it toconsumers within the health and wellness space. If youve participated in a big-city marathon in the past five years, chances are the races beer sponsor was Michelob Ultra. In August 2019, the brand unveiled partnerships with Newton Running and Alchemy Bicycles, and its most recent Super Bowl commercial showcasedanextremely relatable Jimmy Fallontrying to get back in shape.

All over the country, craft and independent brewers are wondering: Could this formula work for us?

This is tricky, because craft brewings hallmark has been big flavorsand, often, as a result, big calorie countsfor years and years. Theres a danger of creating the McDonalds salad effect: where the company offers a healthy option but itjust doesnt sell, because who goes there for a salad?Sam Calagione, founder ofDogfish Head, says thathas not been a problem for his company, which recently released two low-cal options that maintain the characteristics customers expect from microbrews.

While I love seeing more beers offering low-cal and low-ABV options, this feels like the time to remind everyone that alcohol will never be a health food. And dont think that wellness can come from doing a few 12-ounce curls. However, if yourelooking for the perfect post-run slightly alcoholic beverage, here are our six favorite lighter-beer offerings.

(Photo: Courtesy New Holland Brewing)

Itsshocking that this only has 86 calories per can. Id drink this as a regular beer on a hot day. The hints of honey and orange peel are just rightmostly on the nose and not at all too sweet. At 3.7 ABV, its perfect for a weeknight or after a run when you dont want to get accidentally tanked off a single beer.

(Photo: Courtesy Platform Beer Co.)

Gonna be honest: the word gym does not bring to mind the best flavors. Butthis IPA tastes nothing like the gym smells. Its surprisingly hoppy for a 98-caloriebeer, but not in that obnoxious we dry-hopped the shit out of this because we dont know any other way to make beerway. Its balanced and easy to drink,with a perfect 3.8 percent ABV.

(Photo: Courtesy Dogfish Head)

This is another shockingly good low-cal IPA. Brewers used monk fruit to build flavor in thisbeer without adding a ton of calories. Ittherefore feels surprisingly heftybut still comes in at under 100 calories. Its 4 percent ABV, a fact you would not believe if the brewers hadnt printed it on the can.

(Photo: Courtesy Sufferfest)

There is no beer style I like more after a workout than a Klsch. Its just so crisp and clean. Sufferfests version has added bee pollen. This one is95 calories and has a 3.5 percent ABV.

(Photo: Courtesy Devils Backbone)

For gluten-free gym rats, this sparkling (as in bubbly) alehits the dry notes well, though its definitely on the lighter side of the flavor spectrum. Hints of tangerine make this a great choice for anyone who loves fruity or tart beers. It has just 90 calories and a 4 percent ABV.

(Photo: Courtesy Deschutes)

A lot of light pale ales taste, well, light. But this one never lets you forget its Northwest roots. It has plenty of hoppy bite from Simcoe, Citra, Cashmere, and Callistahopsand body from the addition of chicory root, of all things. It works. With just 100 calories and a 4 percent ABV, it feels like honest-to-goodness craft beer.

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Beer Wants to Be a Wellness Trend, Too - Outside

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March 7th, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Health and Fitness