I love a good beer. These days there are plenty from which to choose. Craft brewing is now mainstream and breweries are popping up everywhere.
One of the world’s top new breweries is located in the small town of Decorah, Iowa, home of my alma mater Luther College. Toppling Goliath brewery is located in a former hamburger joint about three blocks from campus. True to its name, the brewery recently kicked ass in an international beer competition. In fact the little town of Decorah and Luther College export all kinds of champions, including Matthew Busche, the Trek Factory cyclist who won his second cycling US National Championships race a few weeks ago.
But enough bragging about my adopted hometown roots. We’re here to answer some serious questions about beer, the principal issue being, why do beers have to hold so many calories?
Of course some beers have all the calories sucked out. Apparently there is some sort of process by which light beers remove calories so that you can drink those “beers” to infinity and not collect fat around your middle. There are billions of dollars spent promoting these beers, which go names like Miller Lite and Bud Light and Michelob Light and so on and so forth. The companies that make these beers must have agreed to share a patent on something called a Beer Sucking Machine that removes calories so that people can suck them down without guilt or excess fat accumulating in their person.
There’s just one problem with the beers produced using the Beer Sucking Machine process. These beers generally suck. They brag about “Great Taste. Less Filling.” We all know that “less filling” is a euphemism for “it won’t make you fat.” But compared to the flavor of even the most basic craft beer, well, there really is no comparison by taste.
Within 10 miles of my home there are a pair of excellent craft breweries making major beer market inroads. There is the Two Brothers Brewing Company in Warrenville, Il., and the Penrose Brewery in Geneva, Illinois. That means I can go out and get in my car, drive 10 or 15 minutes and sample some of the best tasting (and calorie filled) brews in the Midwest.
This is not a complaint about the alcohol content in beer or any problems with that. I do know people who wrestle with those challenges, and that have quit drinking beer as a result. Their choice is admirable.
My choice to drink less or no beer of late is founded on other issues. I gained perhaps six pounds of fat around my belly and sides over the winter. Much of that was due to drinking beer and washing it down with cookies. Or something like that.
It’s slowly coming off by riding and running in the summer heat. But long term I must address the risks of a slightly slower metabolism, the product of my age, and the fact that liquid calories are simply the most insidiously tricky substances on the planet. It’s one of the tarsnakes of running and riding that we do so much of this exercise in order to be able to eat and drink what we want. But just yesterday I rode 36 miles in the heat and could hardly keep up with the need for liquids. Strava told me I burned just 1200 calories. I was like, “Come on!” that can’t be right. Because you could easily drink three beers that evening and wipe out half the benefit of the day’s ride. That is not fair.
Beer bellies are real
It’s no joke. Beer bellies are real. I hate the feeling of that rim of fat on the front of my stomach. It’s not large by anyone’s standards. Most can’t even see it. That’s what my triathlete training partners recently said too.
But I see it. Under my Under Armor shirt at the gym. I look like one of Those Guys that needs to lose a bit of weight. And I do. And I will.
And to start that means cutting calories in some crucial places. Which means drinking less beer.
I’ve already cut down on treats like ice cream and cookies. We all know that top athletes don’t touch these bastard foods. Eat enough of that stuff and you’ll be sure to grow a Baby Bump where you don’t want one. So I limit myself to an Oreo once a day. And ice cream to two spoonfuls. Now the ice cream’s gone and I won’t buy any more.
But on a hot afternoon when the fridge flies open and there sits a cold Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, that’s going to be a tough one. Willpower, stay by my side.