Pints and Poses: Yoga Finds a New Home in Local Breweries

Yoga and beer are on tap at select Denver breweries

yogi-brew

The monthly Hoppy Yoga session at Great Divide Brewing Co. in RiNo. Photo by Paul Miller

The latest mantra in Colorado’s breweries: Downward dog, then down a beer.

Yogis and beer connoisseurs—interest groups we suspect often overlap in the Mile High City—are unfurling their mats in breweries for guided yoga sessions. It’s one of the latest trends in the craft beer industry, where the aroma of malt and the vision of brew kettles certainly can deliver a special kind of Zen. (And, in case you’re curious, the format for brewery yoga goes like this: Practice poses first, toast pints afterwards.)

Lara Gobins, general manager at CorePower Yoga RiNo, teaches free “Hoppy Yogis” classes at Great Divide Brewing Co., a neighboring brewery in the arty River North neighborhood, on the first Wednesday of the month.

“Traditionally, breweries have a really large and raw space that provides an amazing backdrop for yoga classes,” Gobins says.

The classes are based on a level one CorePower Yoga class, which is suitable for all levels, and Gobins says any given session includes a mix of longtime yogis and newbies joining their friends.

So, what’s the backstory of the “yogi walks into a bar” trend?

“Many craft beer lovers are driven to earn their beer,” says Andy Sparhawk, craft beer program coordinator with the Colorado-based Brewers Association. “There is something about putting in the effort of a yoga class, going on a run or hiking a 14er that makes rewarding that effort with a craft beer more satisfying.”

Sparhawk’s claim is backed up by research. A Harris Poll conducted earlier this summer found craft brew drinkers tend to be healthier and more social exercisers when compared to “average” drinkers who consume wine, spirits or cheaper beer. Fifty-seven percent of craft beer drinkers stay healthy by exercising several times per week, compared to 52 percent of their counterparts. Also, 40 percent of craft beer drinkers say they prefer group exercise compared to solo sweat sessions, whereas 33 percent of their average drinker counterparts like exercising socially.

yoga-beer

Hoppy Yogi participants earn their beer at Great Divide during a recent session. Photo by Paul Miller

More than 200-some breweries operate in the Denver-area and have become popular gathering spaces, and yoga is just the latest in the line of experiences being offered at breweries, according to Sparhawk. Tap room trivia and food trucks have successfully found a niche, and Sparhawk says he’s beginning to see the emergence of “brewery bootcamp” workouts and even fly-tying groups. In turn, many craft brewers, he says, are embracing the opensource business models that are introducing new clientele to their spaces.

Like food trucks that make brewery visits, some yoga instructors also rotate where they lead events.

Denelle Numis, founder and head teacher at Après Yoga, for example, hosts events in breweries, wineries and roasteries around Denver, with regular, weekly offerings at Alpine Dog Brewing Co. and Lost Highway Brewing Co. She says the events are a huge draw for non-yogis.

“The physical practice of yoga can be intimidating and hosting events in a non-traditional space like a brewery can be more inviting and welcoming,” she notes. “The extra incentive of the beer might close the deal.”

So, what makes for the best post-yoga brew? Depends who you ask, of course, but we’ll consider Numis an expert. She’s drawn to Alpine Dog’s Miss American Rye, which has a unique peppery rye flavor and light citrus and floral notes. Namaste.

NEED-TO-KNOW INFO
HOPPY YOGI
: Free classes are taught the first Wednesday of the month at Great Divide Brewing Co.,
1812 35th St.

APRÈS YOGA
Classes are taught in breweries, wineries and roasteries.
Brewery yoga happens at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday at Alpine Brewing Co., 1505 Ogden St.
Noon every Wednesday and 10:30 a.m. every Saturday at Lost Highway Brewing Co., 520 E. Colfax Ave.
Find a full line-up of events at Après Yoga’s website.
All events are $20, which includes a one-hour yoga session and corresponding libation. Punch cards are available for $75 for five tickets (non-transferable between students).

MATCH YOUR SIGNATURE YOGA POSE TO A LOCAL CRAFT BEER:
If you love downward dog: Make your beer crawl to Alpine Dog Brewery for a Howl at the Moon, an imperial red defined by a rich caramel and toasted malt backbone. Pine and citrus hops give it a bitter finish. If you’ve mastered the advanced iron cross headstand: Meet your match with the Hercules Double IPA at Great Divide Brewing Co., which is described as “fit for the gods.” This beer has an aggressive hop profile, balanced out by a nutty sweetness. If you feel rejuvenated by a lotus pose: Stick with a light body brew. Old Golden Road from Lost Highway Brewing Company features complex fruit flavors, including melon and citrus, with a dash of white pepper in the finish.

STRETCH IT OUT:
Strike a pose with hundreds of your closest friends at the first DENVER YOGA FESTIVAL, slated for August 4-7 at Union Station, the Oxford Hotel and other area locations. Founded by local yoga teacher and international presenter Sarah Russell, the family-friendly fest’s mission is to bring folks together through yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Look for classes, workshops, certification, a camp for kids and more. Tickets range from $20 for a yoga session at Coors Field to $329 for a VIP all-access festival pass. Visit their website for more information.

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