Make A Beer Run with the Indiana Brewery Running Series

Make A Beer Run with the Indiana Brewery Running Series

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Drinking beer is great training for running – it’s a good source of carbs and lots of B vitamins for muscle healing and development. Then again, running is good for drinking beer because first you burn the calories and then you have a guilt free brew.

The idea that beer and running go together is so mainstream that Draft Magazine did a piece on brewery running clubs in 2017. One of those featured clubs was Indiana On Tap’s own Road Sodas, the self-styled “premiere Indiana club for runners with a drinking problem.” The Road Sodas meet each week at a local Indianapolis brewery, take a run and have some beers. It’s that simple.

Of course, I run twice as much they do – first I run out of beer, and then I run to the store for more beer. There’s even a national holiday for my style of running – National Independent Beer Run Day was July 3rd, 2019. Brought to life by Brewers Association, this was a day to make sure you are purchasing craft beer from independent breweries, but the word “run” was in the title, so some brewery running clubs just had to go jogging to celebrate. I chose a more traditional beer run.

image credit: The Road Sodas

Some craft beer running outlets start and finish at one brewery. The Speedway Running Club starts and finishes at Daredevil Brewing each week, and Daredevil will soon host the Daredevil 5K and Kids Dash 1K on Saturday, August 17. Thursday nights Centerpoint Brewing has the Thursday Night Run Club. Cannon Ball Brewing has a run on Wednesday nights while Monday night is reserved for the Switchyard Brewing Run/Walk Club. So really you could run and grab a beer just about every day of the week in Central Indiana. There’s running up north too, as Goshen Brewing does the Millrace Dam Beer Run, and there are the Ruhe Road Runners at Ruhe152 in Nappanee.

To go along with these scheduled runs at permanent locations, there is now a new way to run and grab a beer. The Indiana Brewery Running Series came to Indiana in 2018 and has experienced tremendous growth over the last year and a half. The Indiana franchise is run by Sara Arnold and Jennifer Sheehan, local runners and entrepreneurs. The original company was started in Minnesota by Nate Herrington and Morgan Jappe in 2012 and now they have franchises in twelve states with more on the way.

Sara and her original partner last year had seven different runs, but with Jennifer this year, they have upped that total to seventeen events. It must be popular, the breweries are now reaching out to Indiana Brewery Running Series, asking them to host an event at their brewery. As a result, the summer running series has had events about three Saturdays of every month.

image credit: M.S. Arnold Photography

These Saturday morning runs are relaxed, social gatherings about 5k (3.1 miles) in length. They aren’t timed, but every finisher is awarded a pint of beer from the host brewery and some swag to choose from (stickers, logo pints, koozies, etc). Some events have live music or food trucks, but mostly this is a chance to get together, get some exercise, and have some beers. The routes are marked and some volunteers will be out there to help you, but wait until the end to drink the beer.

Sara and Jennifer plan a winter series now, but both series will have an emphasis on safety. In extreme heat or cold, they may alter the route or have announcements for things to watch out for. If a storm is coming, they may again change the ways things are run. An example of this was the event at Chilly Water Brewing in 2018. Lightning was on the way, so they switched up the race to an out and back path with a beer at the brewery on each lap, a true beer mile.

Owner Skip Duvall delayed opening the taproom at Chilly Water so that the runners could have a place to party when the rains came, and this is just one of the examples of how accommodating and helpful the breweries have been. It’s a great group of people helping a great group of people and doing it an environment of craft beer.

The Golden Growlers are awarded to first place male and female. image credit: M.S. Arnold Photography

The next run will be on August 24th at Union Brewing in Carmel (also the host of the 2nd Annual Carmel Firkin Fest on the following Friday night). Tickets for this and future runs are available here. Sara told me that there are a lot of repeat runners, a testament to the organization and execution of these events, and more people are joining all the time. The runs have averaged 25-50 people, which is a nice sized group for the route and for the social drinking afterward. Plus, as long as they keep it under 250 people, they don’t have to have a city permit for the event.

Not that the city permit is needed to have a great run. The neighborhoods through which the runs have been taking place have been very supportive. Many people have come out to cheer people on, and they may end up at the brewery along with the runners. Even more important, a variety of charitable groups are associated with the running series, making these community events, not just drinking and sporting events.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, FACE Animal Clinic, and the Indy Parks are just some of the groups that have benefitted from people coming out to participate in these un-timed runs – not races. If you just have to race, make it a chug contest. On the other hand, there is the Golden Growler Award for the first place male and female. They get to sign the traveling growler and take home a growler of the host brewery’s beer.

You still have lots of chances to practice both your racing and your drinking and perhaps get to leave your mark on the Golden Growler. There will still be five events left after the 24th, at Four Day Ray, Indiana City, Big Lug Canteen, Grand Junction, and finally at Metazoa for Halloween on the 26th of October. Be part of the fast crowd, get some exercise, and earn your beer on these Saturday mornings. The Indiana Brewery Running Series is a way to make friends, make a difference for your health, and make a beer or two go away. There must be something to this trend; so many people out there running and drinking – they can’t all be wrong.


banner image credit: M.S. Arnold Photography

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