Feature: It’s Pro to Drink Beer


I’ve been a professional mountain bike racer for 6 years and I find great amusement when someone sees me raise a pint of ice cold microbrew goodness. It’s classic – I see their mouth agape, eyes wide and hear an incredulous tone. “WHAT?! You’re a pro rider…and you are DRINKING?!”

Something that lot of us struggle with is balance. We all love riding our bikes, but sometimes we end up taking it far too serious, or maybe not serious enough. It depends on which side of the spectrum you’re on. Personally? I do know that drinking beer can add a few pounds to drag uphill or it can inhibit liver glycogen absorption that could slow muscle recovery.

Personally, I love a wonderfully crafted microbrew and no amount of racing glory can take away from that. I do my best to strike a balance with being a “pro” and having fun. Some argue that I don’t take it serious enough. Mountain bikers as a rowdy crew love 2 things: great singletrack and ice cold beer. I usually have one beer, but I admit that sometimes it stretches to 2 or 3 when my inner greedy little beer monster gets the better of me. Most people love to down a frosty beer at the trailhead parking lot, but I prefer it after I’ve had some real food and a shower. Having a beer a little later after a ride will also lessen the negative effects of the booze. If it’s the off-season, I’ll take all of the above; who doesn’t love a good ‘ol fashion shower beer?

Here at Mtbr, we are a bit obsessed with beer.

Here are my top 5 favorite summer beers. I’m a hophead, but I threw in a little bit of variety since not everyone is into that wonderfully bitter and flavorful little beery. What are yours? Give me something new to try!

1. Upslope Brewing Belgian Pale Ale

One of my New Year’s Resolution a couple years ago was to branch out and drink something other than IPAs or Porters. I discovered sours and Belgians. The Upslope Belgian Pale Ale is slightly fruity from the Belgian yeast, but not overpowering. The earthy hops balances out the sweet overtones. It’s refreshing and sessionable, but look out! 7.50% ABV!

2. Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

Quite the opposite from a Belgian. Hercules is big, silky, and malty. Most DIPAs aren’t as bitter as your traditional IPA because more malt needs to be added to balance out the double hops. If you like a huge hop flavor, this is not your beer, but I like it as something different to enjoy. The hops lingers at the finish so you don’t forget. I like to split a bomber because it clocks in at a raucous 10.0% ABV.

3. Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

The Chainbreaker is a great refresher. I don’t normally reach for wheat beers. What makes an IPA a “white” is the added wheat. Think coriander and orange with a light earthy hop flavor. This is also a sessionable beer, and great at the trailhead. I find that some IPAs are too abrasive when I’m hot, sweaty, and cracked post-ride. This one has good balance and has more of a Belgian character than IPA. ABV 5.6%.

4. Kasteel Rouge Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.

Kasteel Rouge is the wild card in this mix. I don’t like more than one every so often, but I like the sour cherry. The cherry dominates everything and it almost tastes like cherry coke. Post ride, I love a cold coke so why not make it a Belgian adult cherry coke? Definitely an interesting one and drastically different from all others on this list. ABV 8.0%.

5. Dogfish Head Midas Touch

Think honey, grapes, and refreshing. I actually recommend taking a couple and aging it for a year. The honey flavor is much more pronounced after the beer has had a year to sit around. It’s easy to drink post ride and has pretty low carbonation. Drink this one before you pick up an IPA. An IPA would taint your taster. if you had it before you had this one and it’d be hard to pick out the more subtle herbal flavors. ABV 9.0%.

6. Odell Brewing Myrcenary Double IPA

Get it while it’s cold. This lovely treat comes in a 4 pack. Pine and citrus will dazzle your senses. This is one I don’t want to share. There’s a good balance of malt and hops. It’s more hoppy than the Hercules, and a little bit more refreshing. ABV 9.3%.

After spouting off a few beers I regularly think about, it’s apparent I’m a strong ale girl. What can I do, ehhh?

About the author: Sonya Looney

It’s energy and attitude that have propelled World Champion Sonya Looney on a mountain bike across the rugged Himalayas, through sweltering sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, and through the clammy jungles of Sri Lanka. Sonya Looney is an adventure traveler on a bike seeking out the hardest races in the most remote, beautiful, and interesting places in the world. She believes in pushing limits because that’s when you realize you are far more capable than ever imagined. Sonya is also a professional speaker, keynoting at large conferences and has spoken at TEDx. Don't let her accolades fool you though, she loves craft beer and joking around. Follow her on social media!

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  • Don says:

    Hi Sonya! I met you at the Bailey this year. What a great race. Might I suggest the Prescott 6’er http://www.prescott6er.com/, followed by a Four Peaks Kiltlifter?

    I enjoy the Chainbreaker White IPA as a summer brew also, great choice.

  • Bell’s – Oberon, Two Hearted Ale
    Founders – Centenial IPA
    Dark Horse – Crooked Tree IPA

    All Michigan Microbreweries

  • Jason says:

    I would suggest Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. Weighing in at 15-19% ABV, it’s like heaven in a bottle and absolutely delicious.

  • Ben says:

    My top two these days are…

    Figueroa mountain brewing “Hurricane deck” double IPA

    Sierra Nevada “Hoptimum” IPA.

    MMMMM…. Good times.

  • Dan says:

    Great article! Gigantes IPA from 21st Amendment is one of my favorites. Unfortunately you can only get it on tap at the brewery. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale is also great!

  • Ed ziter says:

    For a little slice of heaven on earth, you must try Squatter IPA . And it’s from utah (I know unbelievable).

  • bhatman10 says:

    Great report…much love for great singletrack, and a frosty ipa..I also second and highly recommend Bell’s Brew, Two Hearted Ale especially. I also absolutely love Modus Hopperandi by SKA brewery as well..so so good

  • Shoe says:

    As a skydiver, my sport revolves around a healthy beer tradition. Penalties for being stupid require payment in beer, celebrations for achievements are rewarded with beer. I agree with statement about balance. With that being said, Prost! Ps, I’m not an iPad guy so I don’t have much to offer

  • Ondřej says:

    In the Czech Republic we drink different beers while riding in different parts of the country. In Krkonoše Mountains in North CZ it’s Hendrych, Rohozec, or Krakonoš. In Šumava Mountains, in the South try Eggenberg and Lobkowicz. Of course throughout the country you can also find famous beers like Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) and Budějovický Budvar (the original Budweiser, sold at Czechvar in US). Na zdraví!

  • bob says:

    What, no PBR?!!

  • Robert says:

    Great article, now I want to ride and have a beer after. As fars a recommendation, I’d offer Crooked Fence Rusty Nail Pale Ale, Sockeye Dagger Falls IPA or Payette Brewing Mutton Buster Brown.

  • SLuck says:

    I’d recommend seeking out whatever microbrews are local to the area you’re currently riding. If you find a brew you like, take a growler home or your next ride to share

  • Jason lackey says:

    Lefty hand brewing “wake up dead” imperial stout and “asylum” trippel. If you make it into austin, go to flix Brewhouse and get their in house brews, particularly “dupulus” and if its around the fall the have one called beer of the dead and it’s amazing, especially if you get it when served from a firken. Real ale brewing has two great post ride beers called fireman’s four and the other is four squared. Too many to name beyond that. Great article!

  • Thirst Quencher says:

    In Durango we have FIVE mini-breweries in a town of a little over 20k people… so many local brews… and so little time ! 🙂

  • jak says:

    Hey Sonya, you should come in Belgium to attend to the “Chouffe marathon”, it takes places in the Ardenne area where La Chouffe beer is brewered

  • Ryan says:

    If you haven’t been to San Diego you need to make a trip. We have loads of great microbrews, and none better than Alpine brewery here in alpine, CA. The Nelson, a rye IPA, is my favorite but you really should try them all. My other favorites in San Diego include Ballast Point (Sculpin IPA), Alesmith (Grand Cru), Manzanita (Riverwalk Blonde), and of course Stone (Cali-Belgique). Just north of us in Temecula check out Black Market brewing. For something non San Diego give Lagunitas A Little Sumptin Sumptin a try. Cheers!

  • roger says:

    Pliny the Elder…$4.99 at Wholefoods! Have some ribs while your at it cause you’re looking kinda thin!

  • Alex Bo B'Alex says:

    Mmm drinking a cold one right now… I’ve gotta go w/ Santa Fe brewing co. happy camper IPA 🙂 Eddyline brewing Crank Yanker IPA (sweet can graphic too w/ carbon bike cranks). Gotta love the Belgium Ales too that’s why I choose Delirium Tremens (DT’s and Pink Elephant halucinations). Sonya Looney is clearly badass and I’m a little buzzed! Cheers to this article HA!

  • albert garcia says:

    sonya, where have you been all my life? craft brew and red wine! not many like you…

    try Drifter from oregon state – nice post ride brew!

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