Non-alcoholic beer isn’t just for non-drinkers, as ultrarunner and For Wild Places CEO Hilary McAllister has been discovering.


I’ve always paired beer with adventure. On my first overnight hiking trip as a 17-year-old, exploring the Overland Track with my older sister, the only booze she’d buy me was a beer. Despite the initial opposition from my tastebuds, the bitterness and bloated feeling slowly subsided and soon enough, I was a beer drinker.

This formative expedition marks the beginning of a consistent pairing; adventure, followed by celebratory drink, preferably in the form of a cool, refreshing glass of boozy carbs (paired with some form of deep-fried potato).

Fast forward a few years, and despite being able to sniff out an IPA a mile away, I’m becoming a little more particular about my drinking habits. Cue my new favourite refreshment; a cool, crisp Athletic Brewing Co. ‘Run Wild’ IPA.


Times They Are a Changin’

Growing up on a farm in hot and dusty north-western Victoria, I feel it’s ingrained in my DNA to crave a beer at the end of a day on the tools. We’ve all seen the ads with men in hi-vis cracking a cold one on a worksite, heard Slim and his mate Duncan singing on the radio, or attended literally any milestone celebration to know that ‘hard-earned thirst’ is ingrained in Australian culture.

This mentality is still alive and well, as I experienced last week when I returned to the family farm to help with shearing. At 5.30pm, as the final straggly, naked sheep left the shearing shed, the shearers made a beeline for the bar fridge, stocked with cool, refreshing ales.

This was shortly followed by a drive home, on a dark, kangaroo-infested country road. Surely even a bit of alcohol in the system could make the commute a little more dangerous? It got me thinking about how attitudes to drinking have been changing recently.

The long-championed Aussie drinking culture is starting to share space with a more health-conscious approach to drinking, one that prioritises mental and physical health over a hangover.

I’ve been finding that this ingrained habit of transitioning from work to rest at the end of a day with a drink has been catching up to me too. As I approach my mid-thirties, the now well-known health impacts of alcohol make me question my reflex to crack a coldie.

Is it the beer I’m craving? Or the alcohol?

After a long day stuck in the shearing shed, I wanted to be outside, soaking up the mild spring air and glowing golden hour. Rather than reach for a full strength bevvy, as I so often have in the past, the non-alcoholic option I’d picked was Athletic Brewing Co.’s ‘Upside Dawn’ Golden Ale.



Deadset, it was the perfect accompaniment to a solid weeding session in the overgrown veggie garden. Instead of weariness creeping in thanks to the combination of carbs and booze, I felt energised by the hoppy, refreshing taste and the smug feeling of being productive whilst still enjoying a beer.

My love for adventure continued to grow since that first formative hiking experience, however, over the years my ability to bounce back from a few beers around the campfire has really taken a dive. Discovering non-alcoholic beers has been a game changer for me.

As a keen ultrarunner, clocking up hours on the trails in preparation for the next race takes incredible time and energy. When the weekend rolls around, I want to wake up fresh and full of energy, rather than wishing the day away with a pounding headache and woozy tummy. As the years pass, I’ve found I need to be more diligent with how I eat, drink, stretch, and move. I don’t want to blow all this hard work on overindulging and paying for it the next day.

Ales and Trails, A Dynamic Duo

Somewhat surprisingly, trail running and loving a beer seem to go hand in hand. Elite athletes such as Courtney Dauwalter are renowned for loving a beer after a long, hard day in the mountains. As a very much non-elite runner, I find that after sweating profusely for hours on end, one beer soon turns into three and the dehydrating effect of alcohol starts to take its toll.

Even after a short mid-week run, it’s hard to maintain the motivation to cook a healthy dinner or do those stretches you really know you should do, once a beer (and in my case, bag of chippies) has been cracked.



I run because I love to spend time outdoors; it helps clear my head and it’s often where I do my best problem solving. Plus, it means I can consume as many carbs (beer and chips!) a week as I wish…. But you can only ignore the health advice for so long.

By incorporating non-alcoholic beer into the mix, I can stick to the guidelines (no more than ten standard drinks a week, and no more than four standard drinks on one day*) whilst still enjoying a cold brew on a sunny afternoon after a satisfying run, challenging day, or with a group of friends.

You Can’t Compromise on Flavour

As a lover of IPA’s, Pale, and Golden Ales, I’ve often been disappointed with a swig of sometimes watery and unsatisfying non-alcoholic beer. But I’ve found my perfect booze-free match in Athletic Brewing Co.’s flagship range – they’ve got that satisfying hoppy, heady mix down pat.



With an increasing number of friends and family opting to go without alcohol, (either by choice or thanks to a baby on the way) my new standard is to always keep a few non-alcoholic options in the house, so no guest is left out.

It’s also a fair bit safer. Living in a small coastal town, means that any social event usually involves driving. Gone are the days of hoping for the best when it comes to blood alcohol content; no drink is worth losing your licence over. Being able to have a mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer or wine means I can enjoy a session or dinner with friends, and still make it home safely.

Two for the Trails

If you’ve read this far you’re probably on board, but let me sweeten the deal. What if drinking beer could help protect the trails we love? I was stoked to discover that Athletic Brewing Co. are supporting protection of trails and reserves across Australia through their ‘Two for the Trails’ initiative.



Athletic Brewing Co. are also a certified B Corp (just like We Are Explorers!), which means you can enjoy your cold one knowing that the products and people involved in making the beer are responsibly and ethically sourced, employed and distributed. I try to do what I can to not only take care of myself, but also the planet. Consuming a quality product that not only treads lightly, but supports communities that protect and maintain wild places of cultural and environmental significance is a win-win. Cheers to that!

*Source: Australian Alcohol Guidelines