Exercise Recovery Ale (Recipe Formulation)


I need to brew a beer to drink after a good run. (Of course, this also means I have to start running again.)

When 2014 rolled around, I made big plans to brew a bunch. Then . . . a whole bunch of crap happened. The crappiest bit was injuring my elbows such that I lost sensation in, and the ability to move, some of my fingers. (Yes, those fingers. The ones I was going to use for brewing.!) Luckily, if you you wear an uncomfortable brace every night and are diligent about doing some exercises that make you look like an idiot every day, nerves can heal and suddenly you’re healthy again — and chomping at the bit to brew.
The other thing I have been doing is losing weight. For general health reasons, I decided I needed to drop some weight and I’ve lost about 25 lbs. (11 kg) since February. And now I’ve decided to get back into running — which brings me to today’s recipe. I’ve always thought it would be great to brew an “exercise recovery beer,” a beer to replenish some water and electrolytes after a workout. After some thought — and taste trials of mixing things into finished beer — I’ve hit on this recipe.

This recipe started with my Beelzeboss “witbier,” the beer I make with the soda pop Mt. Dew added for flavor. I got rid of the Mt. Dew, dropped the OG, and added a mix of orange Gatorade and table salt. The result is a beer that should be very drinkable after exertion, and also give back a few electrolytes. The level of salt is low enough that it shouldn’t stick out too much; it’s far less than goes into most goses (mildly salty wheat ales from Leipzig, Germany). The level of Gatorade is also low (1/5 the usual strength), and the real orange zest called for in the recipe should help round out the artificial orange flavor.
I haven’t brewed this yet, but it’s going to be among the first three or four beers I knock out. I’ll post an update when the beer is brewed and I’ve sampled it after a run. For now, here’s the recipe:


Exercise Recovery Ale 

by Chris Colby

Partial mash




My idea for an “exercise recovery ale.” It starts with a witbier base, with a little salt added (although not as much as in a gose) and 1/5-strength orange Gatorade. The artificial orange flavor from the sports drink powder should be rounded out a bit with the addition of real orange zest.


INGREDIENTS (for 5 gallons/19 L)



carbon filtered tap water

Malts, Grains and Malt Extract (for an OG of 1.036 and an SRM of 5)

1.0 lb. (450 g) Pilsner malt

1.0 lb. (450 g) Vienna malt

1.0 lb. (450 g) wheat malt

10 oz. (280 g) flaked wheat

6.0 oz. (170 g) flaked oats

5.0 oz. (140 g) dried wheat malt extract

Hops and Spices (17 IBUs total)

Tettnanger hops (17 IBUs)

1.0 oz. (28 g), at 4% alpha acids, boiled for 60 minutes

zest of 5 Valencia oranges(*), boiled for 5 minutes

(*) minimize the amount of pith (white part) when zesting oranges

1/4 ounce (7.1 g) coriander (crushed), boiled for 10 minutes

1/4 ounce (7.1 g) table salt (sodium chloride)

1 cup Gatorade powder (orange flavored)

Yeasts (for a FG of 1.007 and 3.7% ABV)

1 pkg Safbrew T-58 and 1 pkg Safale US-05


1/2 tsp. Irish moss, boiled 15 minutes

0.5 tsp. yeast nutrient, boiled 20 minutes

6.5 oz. (180 g) corn sugar (to prime bottles for 3.0 volumes of CO2)



Place crushed grains and flaked adjuncts in a large steeping bag. Heat 5.5 qts. (5.2 L) of water to 164 °F (73 °C) and pour into a 2-gallon (8-L) or larger beverage cooler. Submerge grain bag slowly into water, stirring to break up clumps. Add lid to cooler and mash, starting at 153 °F (67 °C), for 60 minutes. Heat another 5.5 qts. (5.2 L) of water to 190 °F (88 °C) while mashing. When mash is done, remove cooler lid and draw off roughly 2 cups of wort from spigot, then pour this wort on top of grain bed. Repeat this step seven times to recirculate wort. Draw off roughly 2 cups of wort and place in brewpot. Pour the same volume of 190 °F (88 °C) water on top of grain bed. Repeat these two steps until you are out of 190 °F (88 °C) water and have roughly 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) of wort collected. Add water, if needed to make about 3.5 gallons (13 L) of wort. Bring wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes, adding hops when the boil starts. Stir in malt extract with 15 minutes left in boil. (Dissolve in wort first, in a separate pot.) Add yeast nutrient, Irish moss, coriander and orange zest at times indicated in the ingredient list. Dissolve Gatorade in last 5 minutes of boil. Also, dissolve salt (NaCl) in final five minutes. Chill wort and rack to fermenter. Add water to make 5.0 gallons (19 L) of wort. Aerate well and pitch both sachets of dried yeast. Ferment at 70–72 °F (21–22 °C). Bottle in heavy bottles. Keep bottles in a warm place for 2 weeks, then check one to see if it has carbonated. Move beers to cold storage once carbonated.


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  1. You might be barking up the wrong tree with your Gatorade beer. Gatorade, as originally formulated (back in the day) was an isotonic solution. In other words, it had roughly the same solute concentration as blood, and did not exert any osmotic pressure on cells. The body is able to rehydrate much faster when this is the case, even faster than with water alone (as water is hypotonic, containing less solutes). Alas, this is no longer the case*. The standard Gatorade offerings now have vastly more sugar and practically no potassium (I think I remember it being something less than 1% of your daily value?), and is strongly hypertonic.

    The point of all this is to say that, if you are looking for some sort of rehydration formulation, you should be looking to match tonicity with the blood somehow, and add more potassium ions, as there is already more sodium than necessary in Gatorade.

    * I think they might have somewhat fixed this with even newer lower sugar formulations like the Rain series. The ideal concentration to drink standard Gatorade in is about half water and half Gatorade, which gets you back closer to isotonic.

    – Dennis, Life Fermented Blog

    • Warning: What follows is a wild guess.
      I was thinking how you might get an isotonic beer, and perhaps specific gravity would be a good approximation. The density of blood seems to lie between 1.056 and 1.066 according to the googles, while Gatorade is about 1.057. So on first glance, it looks like Gatorade is good to go. But, I think you actually want to be at the same density as the plasma, eg the blood without the red blood cells. Plasma has a density of 1.025. So, perhaps this would be a good target FG for your beer. Of course you’ll want to keep the alcohol content low too, so… really high mash temp?

      – Dennis, Life Fermented Blog

      • Chris Colby says

        I’m planning on brewing this to drink after I jog a couple miles near my house, not for after running an ultra-marathon through death valley 8-).
        Gatorade has a little bit of salt. potassium, and citrate, same as WHO rehydration salts, Pedialyte, and similar rehydration fluids. The concentration of salts in this beer is going to be substantially less than would be in a therapeutic rehydration fluid (to treat diarrhea or severe dehydration), but that’s OK because I expect to be somewhat sweaty, not at death’s door from dehydration.
        The sugar in Gatorade is just going to ferment away, so that’s not really a consideration.
        If someone was so dehydrated that an isotonic rehydration solution was needed, maybe a beer isn’t the best beverage for them at that particular time 8-).

  2. Chris Colby says

    Also, beer itself is good after exercise, according to one group of scientists, at least.


  3. I’ll be interested in hearing your results. I just brewed a batch of “hard Tang” (Tang + DME, fermented with wine yeast to leave some residual malt sugar yet allow for bottle carbonation) and was less than impressed with the results. Very little orange flavor remained in the finished product, despite using the Tang at full strength. It tastes like flavored seltzer.

    I think using real orange zest will make a world of difference. But it will be interesting to see what the difference using Gatorade vs simply adding the salts would make.

  4. Max LaChat says

    A fruit/vegetable beer using a fruit or vegetable high in potassium looks to be a better option than throwing in some salt and Gatorade. We already get too much sodium salts from other sources. A quick web search lists banana, potatoes and winter squash to be good sources of potassium that are also used in beer recipes.

    • Chris Colby says

      I’ve used potatoes in brewing before, so that’s a possibility to add a little potassium to the mix. Beans are also high in potassium and could be used as a starchy adjunct, I suppose.
      The amount of sodium in this recipe isn’t that high — a quarter ounce of salt in 5 gallons (plus whatever’s in the Gatorade). That’s less than in any food that tastes the least bit salty, so I’m not worried about that. (If I was on a low-sodium diet, that would be another story.)
      I like the idea of adding a little potato to the recipe and am going to consider that. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Chris Colby says
  6. OK. So I’m not going to rip on the fact you are using Gatorade. I thought it was a cool idea. I’m going to talk my wife into doing this beer for our summer runs. (I will brew she will enjoy the beer).

    My question for you is why 2 yeast strains for a really low gravity beer? And also I have always heard from interviews on Basic Brewing Radio that you should not mix yeast strains. So I was just wondering.

  7. Sathingtonwilloughby says

    So did you keep the weight you lost off bro?

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