The Next Time You Run, Swap Your Energy Drink for a Beer

My new Energibajer beer contains carbohydrates, vitamins, and hops—a healthy blend of nutrients in contrast to crappy sports drinks packed with additives.

Apr 6 2016, 4:00pm


You have just run 20 kilometers in pouring rain, your muscles are one cramp away from seizing, and the sweat is pouring off of you like a tropical monsoon.

In this case, a big, cold, frothy beer is the only thing that will do.

That's OK. There is nothing wrong with drinking beer after a long run. Quite the opposite. There are lots of great things in beer: carbohydrates, vitamins, and hops. And it actually makes you happy, in comparison with some useless sports drink that a bunch of chemists made in a laboratory in Holland, where they've packed it chock-full of all kinds of crap and artificial products. I'd rather drink a natural product like beer.

Our beer, Energibajer, is an alternative to the traditional sports drink. The beer is alcohol-free, and there are nutrition facts on the label that state the fat, energy, and vitamin content.

As a starting point, Energibajer is an American wheat beer, which means that it's hoppy, fresh, floral, and not too bitter. There are several sporting goods stores that have shown interest in selling it, so we hope that it can play a role in revolutionizing the market and demonstrate that it isn't necessary to add all kinds of trash into what one drinks while training.

Thanks to good produce, we can make alcohol-free beer that is actually pleasant to drink. We have access to a unique yeast that ferments the beer without producing alcohol. It is impossible to make beer without yeast; without it, the product is hopeless. Those German alcohol-free beers we're all used to are technically beer, but they are not fermented and therefore they taste like hell. They taste like wort—the liquid malt mixture that is boiled first during brewing. Meanwhile, Energibajer tastes like a real beer because it's fermented.

We have also made a beer named Ambler, which is alcohol-free and gluten-free. That way, both the abstinent and the Swedes can partake.

But we shouldn't stop putting alcohol in beer just because we can, because alcohol also contributes a lot of flavor. You can't make a German Hefeweizen without a wheat beer yeast, because that is the key to its taste. You also can't make a lambic without spontaneous fermentation. If you took a geuze and eliminated the alcohol, it would be an undrinkable insult against its fine craft.

About a year ago I became truly obsessed with running again, and now I run a minimum of 100 kilometers a week. Soon after that I became competitive; I wanted to get better and beat everyone else. In the long distances, I am not far off from the times I ran as an elite runner, but you can't run an 800-meter race as a 40-year-old.

The thing with running is it has everything to do with prioritization. It's not like it takes that long to run 100 kilometers. Including the time it takes to change your clothes, it takes maybe ten hours per week, and everyone has time for that if they really prioritize their time correctly. Not having enough time is the worst excuse; it's the excuse I myself have used for many years.

In November 2014, we began our running club, Mikkeller Running Club. The problem was we had gotten too damn lazy. People in my field travel too much, drink more beer than average, and also eat too much. Too many restaurants, too much beer, and too little movement. If we want to keep drinking beer, then we also need to run. There needs to be a counterweight to what one takes in. I don't want to walk around looking a little chubby, but I also don't want to stop eating good food and drinking beer. So, I have to run.

The first time around, ten men showed up. Today, about 200 men come when our club meets in Copenhagen, and we have chapters in more than 90 cities around the world that all stand ready on the first Saturday of every month. We have a chapter in Minsk, and there is a chapter starting up in the Faroe Islands.

We go for a run, drink a beer, stretch. And then maybe we drink a few more beers. The cool part is that we get a lot of people from the running world who join and who believe the sport has become far too holy: They want to be able to drink a beer after they train and learn more about beer.

When it really comes down to it, I'm probably more of a sports guy than a beer nerd. I love brewing beer, but that doesn't mean I have to look like an unhealthy stereotype. When we opened our first bar on Viktoriagade in Copenhagen six years ago, beer drinkers were people with beer bellies who sat and hurled draft beer down their throats while sitting inside of dives that played bad rock music. It was dim and obnoxious. We had the idea to make a brewpub more bright and modern. More feminine.

And yes, we wanted to make it a place where it is perfectly acceptable to sit in sweat-soaked tights after a marathon.


As told to Lars Hinnerskov Eriksen

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is a former champion long-distance runner and the man behind Copenhagen's Mikkeller craft brewery. He started as a school teacher, brewing for fun in his home kitchen in Vesterbro back in 2003. Today he exports beer to more than 40 different countries, and runs a number of bars and restaurants both at home and abroad.

This article originally appeared in Danish on MUNCHIES Denmark.