Drinks

Marathoners go the distance for post-run beer

April 15, 2013 at 9:41 AM ET

beer run
Jim Galligan
Running and beer: a perfect match? Many runners say yes, but, of course, nutritionists say no.

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Local brewer Samuel Adams has whipped up something special for the Boston Marathon Monday: Boston 26.2 Brew, a refreshing 4.5 percent ABV Gose-style beer that boasts a sweet wheat backbone, hints of coriander and citrus and a gentle mineral note thanks to a bit of salt that’s been added to the brew.

The beer is available along the running route and at marathon-related events, so racers can surely find one to chug down after they finish their 26.2-mile slog from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.

While it might seem unusual to mix athletics and alcohol, it's actually quite common for runners to hoist a beer after a long race.

TODAY.com reached out to several beer-loving runners to see how they approach their post-race pints.

“If angels’ wings were something you could barbecue and serve up with a side of slaw and some cornbread, I can assure you that the first sip of a crisp IPA after 26.2 grueling miles is at least ten times more exhilarating,” said Britta Brown, a member of the Hash House Harriers, an international running group that refers to itself as "a drinking club with a running problem." Lately she’s been favoring Ninkasi's Tricerahops or Lagunitas IPA after a long run.

David April, co-founder of Philadelphia’s Fishtown Beer Runners, prefers to keep it local with Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Walt Wit.

“The combination of excitement and relief of finishing a marathon, the energy of the crowd and the flavor explosion as the beer hits the taste buds is exhilarating,” he told TODAY.com.

For many runners, it’s all about the first sip, their way to celebrate surviving the grueling run.

“My favorite craft beer post-race is Bells Two Hearted ale,” said David Scott, a runner from Jacksonville Beach, Fla., and creator the popular Facebook page Run4Beer. “The first sip is so cold and crisp and delicious it makes the race effort even more worthwhile.”

Barry Schatz, a runner from Bloomington, Indiana, agrees. “The first sip makes everything feel better - It's what I've been craving for the last ten-plus miles.” Schatz prefers Boddingtons or Guinness after a run, because these nitrogen-charged brews go down so smooth.

While many runners love a cold beer after a long run, opinions vary on how to incorporate them into the post-race ritual.

Tim Faith is a professional brewer from Holland, Mich. He heads right for the cooler after crossing the finish line.

“Beer is the first to go down and always will be,” Faith said. He has the good sense to switch to water after a beer or three.

But experts caution that, while it may taste good, a post-marathon beer might not be the smartest move.

“Alcohol is not very hydrating, so for a person who’s dehydrated, beer is a bad choice,” said Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist and author of “Food Guide for Marathoners.” “Chocolate milk would be a better option.”

For those who are committed to that celestial sip, Clark has some easy-to-swallow advice: Eat some carbs with that brew!

“There’s only about 50 carbs in a beer, so have a lot of pretzels, pizza or pasta along with it to give you carbs to refuel,” she said. “And drink a lot of water first.”

That’s exactly what Daniel Otto, a beer lover and runner from Chicago, likes to do. He chooses to drink a little water and eat something before popping open a cold one. “Immediately after the race, I'll first consume whatever standard post-race fare is on offer, because I know that's what my body really needs,” Otto said.

Others just go with the flow.

“I strongly believe that after a long run or race, you can do whatever you want,” says Laurel Butterfield, a runner from Chicago. “Drink a beer, have some water, eat an elephant, whatever. I’m vegetarian actually though, so maybe a tofu elephant.”

Not everyone is ready for a beer the moment they cross the finish line, as first-time marathoner Zac Early discovered after finishing last Sunday’s St. Louis Marathon. “I didn't feel like drinking anything, much less a beer,” he said. “A few hours after my race, I enjoyed one of my own homebrews: a 9.4 percent imperial stout made with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and oak cubes soaked in bourbon.”

Of course, some folks don’t wait until after the race to enjoy a brew. “On the last half marathon I ran, I hit my wall around mile nine,” said Barry Schatz. “Divided by the two pre-race beers I drank, I got about 4.5 miles per beer.”

“I'm drinking three next time,” he joked.

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