Taste the Minnesota Brewery Running Series

The Minnesota Brewery Running Series is not a race. In fact, they would prefer you consider them Un-Races. They go “against many principles of those fancy 5k races around the Lakes of Minneapolis or River in St. Paul.” They aren’t timed, no medals or t-shirts will be given out, and there likely won’t be many spectators. According to the web site, “you can run, jog, or walk – your choice, no one cares! The only advantages of finishing quicker is colder beer.”

When I discovered the Minnesota Brewery Running Series, my thoughts were, “cool, craft beer!” and “what? No t-shirt?” Why run if you’re not timed? Why pay if you don’t get a shirt? As a fan of both craft beer and road racing, I thought there must be a way to reconcile these two contradictory thoughts. As it turns out, craft beer and running have a lot in common.

Craft Beer in Minnesota

Craft beer is made by small, independent brewers, and “crafted” to be unique. The craft beer scene in Minnesota is exploding. Since 2011, the number of craft breweries in the state has grown dramatically to almost  50. That’s only a third the size of similar metro areas like Seattle, Portland and Denver. We’ve got some work to do.

Curious about the growth, I asked Zac Carpenter, friend and head brewer at Bad Weather Brewing. He says, “People are tired of drinking the similar and uninteresting products produced by macro breweries. There’s also the “buy local mentality”. Today’s consumer wants to know not only where the things they buy came from, but who made them.” People are also becoming more interested in discovering new styles and flavors of beer. He went on to say;

“At Bad Weather, We focus on the seasonality of beer. We believe that you aren’t interested in drinking the same beer the entire year round, so we design our beer with the seasons in mind. We are building our brewery on the excitement of seasonal offerings while featuring one year-round beer.”

How Beer and Running Connect

This still didn’t answer my question about why craft breweries would sponsor “un-races.” Seems like different target markets. According to Zac, who finished his first half marathon last May, runners and craft brew enthusiasts care about what they put into their bodies, are adventurous, love to be outside and have a great sense of community. Mostly, they share passion.

“To will yourself through a marathon, 1/2 marathon, or even 5k, you need to want it and be intensely focused. Same goes with craft beer. Craft beer drinkers are passionate about the craft of brewing beer. Their interest goes beyond taste, they want to know how it came to taste that way, how it was made, who made it, etc. It is more than just an alcoholic beverage, it is a discussion topic, a debate, or at the least good conversation.”

Same with runners. How many conversations have you had about your shoes, miles run, or type of Gu strategy during a marathon?

About the Minnesota Brewery Running Series

It was starting to make sense, so I contacted Apple Adventure Racing, the race management company hosting the series. Nate from AAR said that the series started first out of passion, second out of seeing an opportunity to better meet the needs of a group of runners. “What we are trying to accomplish here at AAR is to help people:

  1. Achieve their goals of completing a 5k – no matter how they do it.
  2. Get connected to great aspects of what Minneapolis/St. Paul has to offer.
  3. Support local non-profits like Bolder Options who are committed to Teaching Youth to Succeed In ALL of Life’s Races.

Designed to showcase neighborhoods of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Brewery Running Series offers causal 1 mile or 5k walk/jog/run courses throughout the summer. All courses finish with craft beer at local breweries. As Nate says, “we run to celebrate life, health & happiness!”

In only it’s second year, the series has seen tremendous popularity, although space is limited. Participation varies from 70 – 250, depending on the event.

Breweries Involved

While you won’t get a t-shirt or medal, every “un-race” ends with free beer and a collectors beer glass from the correspond brewery.

About Apple Adventure Racing

Apple Adventure Racing is a relatively new race management & marketing operation in Minneapolis. Their goal is to develop new and exciting race concepts that promote an active lifestyle through something fun & different. As Nate says, “Our events exemplify the persona of a runner’s lifestyle, and are constantly inspired by our philanthropic, fun, creative, and local supporters.”

Should beer be listed next to Gatorade as essential for runners? What’s your favorite MN craft beer?

Nathan Freeburg
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Nathan Freeburg

Editor in Chief at Minneapolis Running
Nathan started running when he was 14. 20+ years later, he's still going. When he's not running, he enjoys exploring the city with his son, finding new restaurants with his wife, traveling, or backpacking. He loves dark beer, dark chocolate and dark coffee.

Nathan currently lives in Portland, but works in Minneapolis and runs wherever he is. Favorite Minnesota running route is anything that takes him along the Mississippi River.
Race Results.

Nathan's day job is as a senior consultant with Leadership Vision Consulting in Downtown Minneapolis.
Nathan Freeburg
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