For the most part, writing about beer keeps me fat. And happily so. Would you trust a skinny beer writer? I wouldn’t. I mean, Buddha had a beer belly, and he achieved enlightenment. Not to mention that I’ve met my share of skinny prigs who don’t drink beer, and they seem neither happy nor enlightened. So, I merrily toss back high-caloric pints of beer while my paunchy gut challenges the confines of my size large T-shirts.
Then last spring it happened. Writing about beer started to make me skinnier — not skinny, mind you, but skinnier, and healthier.
What’s your secret, I can hear you all asking? Was it light session ales? Perhaps a new supplement that allows beer lovers to tipple without recourse?
Here’s my secret: Craft Brew Races, a 5K race around Portland’s gorgeous Back Cove followed by a three-hour beer fest at Payson Park, featuring 47 breweries from Maine and New England.
That’s right, a road race where the proverbial carrot is beer. And lots of it.
I signed up last spring, downloaded the Couch to 5K app and got to work. And to my surprise, when Craft Brew Races arrived, I was able to run the race handily, making each beer sample at the ensuing brewfest taste like liquid sunshine.
Craft Brew Races returns to Portland on Saturday, bringing along the run-and-fun mentality of promoting a full-bodied approach to health and happiness.
To better grasp how the brilliant, albeit strange union of running and beer drinking came to be, I reached out to Craft Brew Races founders and event coordinators at Gray Matter Marketing in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
“In 2014, Runner’s World Magazine put out a great article on the benefits of beer drinking for runners. It discusses a lot of things, but the CliffsNotes version points out that beer is mostly water, which is important for athletes’ hydration, and there’s also carbohydrates in beer, which is important for recovery,” explained Lisa McCurdy, director of dommunications at Gray Matter Marketing.
Since the snow melted this spring, I’ve been training for Saturday’s event with a regular running schedule compounded with plenty of beer drinking. Bring on the race.
Though I’m wary of brewfests run by out-of-state entities, Craft Brew Races donates a portion of each registration to the Maine Brewers’ Guild, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the growth of Maine’s beer scene. The list of Maine breweries pouring at the event also shows that local brewers are excited for Craft Brew Races. The brewers on Saturday include Foundation, Rising Tide, Mast Landing, Fore River, Dirigo, Tributary and Barreled Souls brewing companies, among others. In addition to the Maine beer, I’m also excited for Black Hog Brewing of Connecticut and Jack’s Abby of Massachusetts.
Festivalgoers have the option to purchase a brewfest-only ticket and skip the race, but for the full experience, don your running kicks and make the trek around the Back Cove. Even if you have to walk a portion – or all – of the race, the beer will undoubtedly taste better after an oceanside jaunt.
Though beer writing may continue to keep my muffin-top firmly in place, thanks to Craft Brew Races, I don’t have to switch to extra-large T-shirts just yet.
WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday (race registration begins at 10 a.m.)
WHERE: Edward Payson Park, 700 Baxter Blvd., Portland
ON TAP: 47 Breweries from Maine and New England, including Foundation Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing, Dirigo Brewing and Mast Landing Brewing
ENTERTAINMENT: Live music and food trucks selling on site
COST: $60 for 5k race and beer best, $50 for festival only, $15 for designated drivers
PURCHASE TICKET: craftbrewraces.com/portland
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Yes Brewing opens in Westbrook
2 p.m. Friday, 609 Main St., Westbrook. facebook.com
The scrappy, up-and-coming city of Westbrook gets its second brewery with the opening of Yes Brewing this weekend. The opening weekend celebration features four styles of beers from Maine’s newest brewery. Only a few miles from Mast Landing Brewing, Yes Brewing adds to the beer culture of this former mill city. It’s also only a few miles from Industrial Way in Portland, making it a great addition to afternoon tasting room outings for local craft beer fans.
Allagash Brewing commits to a million pounds of Maine-grown grains
50 Industrial Way, Portland
In a huge win for Maine farmers, maltsters, locavores and craft beer lovers, Allagash Brewing has committed to purchasing one million pounds of Maine-grown grains by the year 2021. The Portland brewery made the hard-numbered promise to give Maine farmers and malt houses a dedicated amount of grain to grow. This commitment will allow local malt houses like Maine Malt House, Blue Ox Malt House, Maine Grains and Aurora Mills the ability to grow their infrastructure. Allagash already brews Sixteen Counties, a year-round Belgian ale that uses all Maine grains. Expect beer offerings like this to only increase in the future. Cheers to Allagash for its commitment to Maine’s agricultural community!