With the return of major events such as Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, this is the summer of sports. Big breweries are expecting an increase in the sales of beer during the summer months, as sport and beer tend to go hand in hand, at least in terms of thirst quenchers for viewers. But what about the athletes, is there perhaps a beer for them too?

Author: Malin Norman

The return of big events such as Euro 2020, Tokyo Olympic Games, Wimbledon Championships and Premier League, is expected to drive the sales of beer big time. Budweiser Brewing Group forecasts a 20% increase in sales of beer in the UK during the summer of sport, compared to regular trading in 2019. Neil Baker, Head of Category Management at Budweiser, says in a statement: “Beer and sport go hand in hand for many consumers and for retailers, sporting occasions have always driven mammoth sales within the beer category. This year is set to be bigger than ever for stores, as Brits gather to celebrate the return of long-awaited sporting events at home.”

Heineken is the leading sponsor of Euro 2020 and pays UEFA around $45 million per year for access to viewers around the world. Some disagree with the notion of “beer and sport” however and believe that promotion of unhealthy consumption in relation to sport events has to end. In their article, authors Robin Ireland and Christopher Bunn claim; ”Europe’s festival of football, featuring some of the best players on the planet in peak physical condition. Yet alongside this spectacle runs a carnival of corporate advertising – often marketing unhealthy products such as alcohol, junk food and gambling apps.”

Performance beers for athletes

Not all beer is bad for you though, low and no alcohol beer can even be considered healthy, especially for probiotics found in yeast and polyphenols from hops and grains. An example of a “healthy” beer is Erdinger’s alcohol-free wheat beer, which contains electrolytes, folate and vitamins B9 and B12. The beer is marketed as “isotonic” and “a sporty thirst quencher.”

According to Erdinger’s website, the beer stimulates the immune system, promotes physical and mental performance, and has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system. ”A cool glass of ERDINGER Alkoholfrei not only tastes fantastic, but is also healthy – thanks to the vitamins B12 and folic acid, as well as the polyphenols it contains. With its isotonic properties, it provides the body directly with valuable ingredients and thus satisfies thirst even faster.”

There is a trend of performance beer aimed at athletes, as breweries are adding electrolytes and other ingredients such as buckwheat and bee pollen to help the body dehydrate less. Whilst the market is still small, according to the Brewers Association performance beer has around 1% of the craft beer market, but there are signs of growth. 

Three breweries with sports beers

Let’s take a look at some of the breweries offering sports beer with low or no alcohol for athletes.

Athletic Brewing is the first brewery and taproom dedicated to non-alcoholic craft beer in the US. According to the brewery; “We’re beer lovers at heart. But we also love being healthy, active, and at our best. These conflicting passions created an internal struggle. Why couldn’t these loves live in harmony?” Athletic Brewing has four non-alcohol beers on offer; Run Wild IPA, Upside Down Golden Ale, Free Wave Hazy IPA and the light copper lager Cerveza Athletica.

Australian Sports Brewing offers ZERO+ Sports Beer (0.4%), an electrolyte enhanced beer for recovery that also contains magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. The Australian Pale Ale is designed to be enjoyed, guilt-free, after sport and exercise, for faster muscle recovery and rehydration. Amongst advocates is Sophie Brown, qualified dietitian and exercise physiologist, who says; “for beer drinkers, ZERO+ Pale Ale ticks so many boxes after a run.”

Last but not least, Abloc Beer in the Netherlands makes low and no alcohol beers for those who want to live healthily but also enjoy good beer, including professional cycling teams such as Team Qhubeka Assos. The brews are enriched with minerals from the Swiss Alps and the line-up includes the refreshing Session Blonde (2.8% ABV), the hoppy Ultralight IPA (1.2% ABV) and the Belgian witbier Pro Zero (0% ABV), also called “the ultimate sports beer.”

Photos: Athletic Brewing, Australian Sports Brewing, Abloc Beer