• The Vanilla Gorilla

Best Post-Paddle Beer

Updated: May 5

UPDATED 5/5/2020 (This article originally written for Distressed Mullet)

I've been reading up on how to still enjoy a cold frosty beverage after a strenuous paddle without harming my body! I think I've got it!


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After a long paddle with friends, a heated race, or an intense surf session, there is nothing quite like kicking back and enjoying some frosty adult beverages. But for the health conscious, this can cause more stress than relaxation.


Becoming a paddler has caused me to take a closer look at what I was putting into my body. The one thing that I could never bring myself to give up was the cold, frosty treat at the end of a grueling race. Luckily, after researching some articles that have come out about post-exercise beers, I’ve discovered that I don’t have to go without. It turns out that the right beer does not hinder recovery or cause dehydration as many would think. If anything, the carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes in the right beer can aid in replenishing those lost during exercise.


Slowing recovery or dehydrating?

In Spain, a study from the University of Granada found out some excellent news. After some exercise, they gave one group only water and another group 660 milliliters of beer (just under two 12-ounce beers) followed by plenty of water.

What they found was that there was no difference in recovery!

Beer has very high water content and a much lower alcohol content than many other adult beverages. This ratio lends many to think that the alcohol content in beer is not high enough to induce a diuretic effect. Of course, this assumes you stick to the “middle way” and practice “everything in moderation.” One or two beers and plenty of water will do you just fine.


Don’t replenish with poison!

When you consume beer, you’re also replenishing electrolytes and glycogen stores lost while exercising. You’re also hydrating while giving your body calories (as opposed to just water with no calories), which it needs to repair and function.

However, you have to be careful. Not just any beer will do. A recent study delving into the hidden ingredients in beer has found a long list of things that are not good for a recovering athlete! Unfortunately, there are many ingredients in beer other than hops, malt and yeast. Additives used to enhance color, stabilize, preserve, clarify, or enhance flavor are not required to be listed on the label.

Some found by a Popular Food Blog include:

·       Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

·       Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)

·       Calcium Disodium EDTA (made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine)

·       Many different types of sulfites and anti-microbial preservatives (linked to allergies and asthma)

·       Natural Flavors (can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland)

·       High Fructose Corn Syrup

·       GMO Sugars – Dextrose, Corn Syrup

·       Caramel Coloring (Class III or IV made from ammonia and classified as a carcinogen)

·       FD&C Blue 1 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

·       FD&C Red 40 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

·       FD&C Yellow 5 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

·       Insect-Based Dyes: carmine derived from cochineal insects to color their beer.

·       Animal Based Clarifiers: Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk)

·       Carrageenan (linked to inflammation in digestive system, IBS and considered a carcinogen in some circumstances)


What to look for when picking out post-paddle beer:

One or more of the following attributes in beer can be a clue that the beer will provide adequate post-paddle rehydration without hindering your recovery.


Organic: Beers that are certified organic. Many certified organic beers avoid the artificial dyes, flavors, and genetically modified crops that many of the big beer companies use.


Ales and Fruits: Natural antioxidants (i.e. phenols) are found in beer, wine, and brightly colored fruits. These phenols are the highest in many types of Ale. Other beers brewed with fruit may contain higher phenol levels, making both Ales and fruity beers good choices. 


Sediments: You pour a cold, frosty organic beer and suddenly you see chunks in your glass. GROSS! Not. Sediments and slurry are not signs of bad beer, quite contrary. What you see settling out is yeast and proteins. First, this means that the beer is not filtered (a step removing many healthy aspects of your beer and using potentially questionable filtration methods such as fish bladders). Secondly, the protein, minerals, and B vitamins you’re consuming will greatly enhance your post-paddle recovery.


Herbs & Spices: Your fermented adult beverage does not have to be created with hops! Aside from having a different flavor, beverages created solely with other herbs and spices or a combination of hops with herbs and spices can contain numerous healthy components. Belgian ales are a good example of this. Keep an eye out for orange peels, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginseng, vanilla, and nutmeg!


What if I don't like BEER?


Well, we've got options.


Since today is Cinco de Mayo - you may want a margarita! When picking mixed drinks for your post paddle recovery bev, you'll want to avoid any artificial colors, syrups, and sugar. The salted rim can help quickly replenish your salts that you depleted paddling on a hot day, BONUS! My favorite recipe is super simple, I salt a mason jar rim, add ice, then squeeze in fresh lime juice, a splash of tequila, and plain soda water to taste. However - my FAVORITE post-paddle-tini is a Paloma, where I do the same thing, but with grapefruit juice. Nom.

Another alternative that is really gaining traction, and I always feel better the next day, is Hard Kombucha. I've almost completely switched from beer these days. Living on the west coast, there were a ton of Hard-Buch options, I'm going to have to rediscover the same now that I'm back in North Carolina!


Bottoms UP!

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