For many, enjoying a cold one after a hard ride is an important part of cycling. It’s a ritual that bonds cycling groups. But drinking beer can have downsides when it comes to recovery, sleep, and performance. How about non-alcoholic beer? Is it any better? What are the most compelling reasons to consider switching?

Non-alcoholic beer is an isotonic drink

Some cyclists joke that beer is the best sports drink. Interestingly, with non-alcoholic beer, they would be much closer to the truth. That’s because non-alcoholic beer is an isotonic drink. It has a very similar osmolality to blood, which means that it’s absorbed quickly, just like isotonic sports drinks. Regular beer, on the other hand, is a hypertonic drink, which absorbs slower and could even cause digestive discomfort.

Young men drinking beer, Bavaria, Germany
Non-alcoholic beer is an isotonic drink. © Profimedia

It actually tastes good

If you gave up on non-alcoholic beers a long time ago because they don’t taste any good, maybe it’s time to give them another chance. Brewers used to apply heat or filtration to remove alcohol from regular beer back in the day which degraded flavour. Today’s brewers came up with a whole new system that is much better at preserving the real taste of beer. If you go for a non-alcoholic IPA, it will taste like an IPA, same with a lager.

It helps you deal with flavour fatigue

When you’ve been sipping on sweet sports drinks for several hours on the bike, you will likely feel the need for a change after. That’s called flavour fatigue and it’s a very real thing cyclists and other endurance athletes deal with. Non-alcoholic beer can be that bitter alternative you’re looking for.

It’s low in calories

Non-alcoholic beer
Non-alcoholic beer can be a great alternative for all those sweet sports drinks.

Non-alcoholic beer is a great option for those who want to reduce calorie intake. Light beers promise the same but they often reduce calories at the expense of flavour. Non-alcoholic beers save calories by reducing the alcohol content while keeping the tasty and aromatic parts of the beverage. You might get as low as 60 kcal per small non-alcoholic beer compared to 150 kcal per regular alcoholic small beer.

Non-alcoholic beer doesn’t impair your handling abilities

Whether you’re having your beer mid-ride or before getting into your car travelling back home, the alcohol content is not to be underestimated. Consuming alcohol while slightly dehydrated from exercise makes the effects much more pronounced. Non-alcoholic beer is a great option if you want to be sure you’ll retain your handling abilities.

Whether you want to limit alcohol or calorie intake, non-alcoholic beer is a great option. And it’s precisely because it tastes like beer. You can still associate great cycling experiences with beer without having to give up those familiar smells, flavours, and sensations.