If I Only Consumed Beer for “Fuel” to Ride My Bike, How Many Miles per Gallon Could I Get?

What happens next depends on what kind of beer you drink.

Gas prices are too high, so I’m going to bike more and spend the money I save on beer to help fuel the rides. If I only consumed beer for “fuel,” how many miles per gallon could I get? How much should I budget for my new green energy? —Raf

It should be obvious that Raf here isn’t seriously planning to go on a beer-only diet—I’ll be surprised if he even starts biking more—but just in case somebody wants to freak out: No, I am not advising anyone to live solely on alcohol. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

Now, let’s run the numbers. The current average mileage for passenger cars is 23 mpg. The mean gas price in Portland is $4.79 a gallon. Thus, your fuel cost for driving like a regular schlub works out to 21 cents per mile.

The number of calories required for cycling varies based on the rider’s weight (you sound active, but you drink a lot, so I’ll guess you weigh 190) and speed (the average is 13 mph, but I’m pegging you at 10 since you’re wasted). That gets you to around 50 calories per mile.

What happens next depends on what kind of beer you drink: A gallon of craft beer has about 2,000 calories, while the stuff you get at the ballpark is more like 1,600. That gets you 40 or 32 mpg, respectively, which I guess is the beer version of highway vs. city driving. I admit I didn’t expect your beer mpg to be so close to what a person would get with actual driving, but even so, if your goal is to save money, fueling your peregrinations with beer doesn’t pencil out.

A pint of draft beer is currently around $6. That doesn’t sound too bad until you realize it’s equivalent to $48 a gallon at the pump. Even if you forswear craft brews at the bar and stick exclusively to Old German (God help you) by the case at Grocery Outlet, you’ll be lucky to get that figure much below $8 a gallon.

Even that best-case scenario is 60% more than you’re paying now—and that’s not even counting your out-of-pocket costs for a liver transplant every six months. Fueling up with beer sounds fun, but it’s more practical to do what I do: Use gasoline like normal, but splash a little on a hankie to inhale as you drive along. Happy motoring!

Questions? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.