Tag Archives: RunTOBeer

Why You Should Run To Beer

(and not chocolate milk)

Originally published in Get Out There Magazine

Health & Nutrition • By Dan Grant • January 27, 2017 | 1:37 PM

Confirmation bias. That’s the tendency to seek out information that supports what you want to believe.

Your search, my friend, ends here.

Let’s talk about beer and why it’s such a natural choice for runners. And let’s start by talking about the fact that beer is natural. It’s usually just water, grain, yeast and hops.

Beer is also fat free and and contains fewer calories than the same volume of, say, chocolate milk. Though beer contains less protein than the cafeteria classic, it contains more of the vitamins and minerals a runner actually needs.

Okay, but enough about chocolate milk. Unless you’re eight, you’re probably not craving it anyway.

Beer: think of it as the runner’s multivitamin. Dark ales especially (think Porter, Stout, Black IPA) contain higher levels of the vitamins and minerals runners need most.

Magnesium, for instance, plays a bit part in bolstering your endurance. Not only does it help with muscle contraction, it also enhances aerobic capacity by helping to deliver oxygen to the muscles.

Chromium, meanwhile, helps the body process the carbohydrates you’re probably consuming in greater quantity than your more sedentary friends, and if you’re a distance runner you’re losing this valuable mineral in your urine after long runs. This is where beer is the true champion because there’s still no evidence to suggest your body can effectively absorb chromium supplements. Ales are brewed with hard water and Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (aka. Brewer’s Yeast), making them a easily digestible source of chromium.

Then there’s zinc, which your body also loses through urine after a long run. A valuable helper for your body’s immune system, it works with about 100 enzymes in your body, aiding your energy metabolism.

I could go on about antioxidants, resveratrol and all the other benefits of hops, which have been used in medicines longer than they have in beer. I could share stats about dietary fiber and electrolytes. Beer is also an anti-inflammatory and promotes bone health.

I could go into much, much more detail, but I’d rather end with possibly the most compelling reason to reach for a beer after a run: it’s even more delicious than before you run.

Wine tasters, as you likely know, can swirl a Chianti around in their mouth, spit it out and record their impressions. A Bock, on the other hand, needs to be consumed to be properly evaluated. That’s because beer is carbonated. As you swallow, the carbonation carries some of it back into your olfactory system, engaging more of your sensory receptors. Win! Research shows that a brisk workout – as little as 10 minutes – heightens your olfactory system in the short term, while regular exercise prevents it from deteriorating as you age.

Just remember, despite being 85-95% water, beer still does more to dehydrate than re-hydrate, so make sure you’re getting enough of the non-alcoholic H2O as well.

And skip the chocolate milk.

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The Beer Mile – Canada’s Gift to Running

Originally published in Get Out There Magazine

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Beer & running go together like race kits & Instagram, and in Canada, we pair a race and a chaser very, very well.

Beer & running go together like race kits & Instagram, and in Canada, we pair a race and a chaser very, very well. From West to East, in downtown cores, country lanes and wooded trails, Canadian milers love beer as much as Canadian marathoners love beer.

In one discipline especially, The Great White North is in a class of its own. The beer mile is Canada’s gift to the running world. Four, 400-metre laps, each preceded by a full beer. Nearly a litre-and-a-half ingested before you’ve even started your final circuit (and none of that light stuff either – each beer has to be at least 5.0% ABV). Is it even remotely surprising we not only invented the sport, but continue to dominate?

It started back in 1989, when seven friends in their late teens and early twenties got together for the first, unofficial run in Burlington, Ontario. One of those was 17-year-old (underage drinker) Graham Hood, who would go on to finish ninth in the 1,500 meters at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Members of that original seven brought the concept to Queen’s University, dubbed it the Kingston Classic and set down the official “Kingston Rules” which still govern the sport today.

In 1997, Canada’s Seanna Robinson set the Women’s world record in a time of 6:42. Her mark would hold up until 2014.

Still, the sport maintained a pretty low profile until American James Neilson (ahem, born and raised in Canada) became the first person to go under five minutes, in 2014. The video went viral and suddenly runners and beer drinkers around the world woke up to this previously underground phenomenon.

The following year Mississauga’s Lewis Kent set a new standard – a blistering 4:55.78 – narrowly besting the time Australian Josh Harris ran just one day earlier. A fresh-faced 22-year-old who would look equally appropriate in a Mountie recruitment poster as he does in a singlet, Lewis parlayed that success into the first athletic apparel sponsorship deal for a beer miler. Brooks kitted him out and even booked him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, just before he raced Australia’s Harris head-to-head for the first time, at the 2015 Beer Mile World Classic in Texas.

On that December day in Austin, Kent would set a new, world-beating mark of 4:47.0, a second ahead of the Winnipeg’s Corey Gallagher.

I spoke with Kent in July. The National Beer Mile – a series of public races held across America – has been hyping the Western University graduate’s attendance at several of its stops. We met in Buffalo.

Although National Beer Mile events are more about the afterparty than the 1,609 meter circuit, Kent was still focused on remaining competitive. The 2016 Beer Mile World Classic, to be staged in the British capital, was only weeks away.

“I think I still have some time I can shave off,” he remarked. “While I can’t drink the beers much quicker, at 22 years old I am far from my peak running-wise. I still have lots of room to improve, and if I can stay consistent and healthy there is no reason why my mile – and beer mile – time shouldn’t drop.”

But this is how quickly the sport is growing in popularity; how serious the competition has become: the day before the World Classic, 21-year-old Corey Bellemore landed in the U.K. with a last minute invitation to compete. Just a couple days earlier, the Windsor, Ontario track star had unofficially beaten Kent’s WR by nearly eight seconds. The video quality was poor, but there was no mistaking this guy was for real.

On July 31st Bellemore left no doubt whatsoever when he rocketed to the front of the elite field at London’s Allianz Park, continued to extend his lead with every stride and broke the tape at 4:34:35. The second place Brit crossed 13 seconds later.

What is it about this country and beer? Even in the 40+ category, Victoria, B.C.’s Jim Finlayson owns the best three times and is the fastest in any age category for a double beer mile (eight beers, two miles in 11:39). “I think it is ingrained in Canadians,” says Kent. “Whether it’s after a hockey or baseball game, or just a long day at work, it’s a part of our culture. At the end of the day that helps us out when it comes to giving the beer mile respect.”

SIDEBAR – Tips from Lewis Kent:

What advice would you give someone intimidated by their first beer mile?

“At all the beer miles I have been a part of quite a few people do it as a relay. Whether that is four people doing one beer and one lap each, or two people doing two beers and two laps each. If you feel confident attempting the relay then you can try the full distance next time!”

How long before running is a good time to stop eating?

“Three hours”

Any types of food a beer miler should avoid?

“I tend to avoid anything heavy. Stick to bread/wheat products.”

Is it better to show up thirsty or hydrated?

“Hydrated all day, but thirsty on the start line.”

Common rookie mistake?

“Thinking it is easy!”

BloomsdayTO is tomorrow!

When I started planning this run I figured I would probably have about half of the 21 venues I was visiting taking part. That all but two offered to help me collect funds for Northern Alberta is pretty damn special.

This is absolutely one of my favourite things about Toronto’s craft beer community. I can send an email to just about any brewer and know that I’ll reach someone who doesn’t have to consult half a dozen others on something as simple as setting out a jar for one day. The overwhelming support from so many individuals is what makes it feel like community, more than industry.

Kudos, by the way, to Folly Brewpub and Steam Whistle, both of which already raised money for Fort McMurray through their own initiatives and still enthusiastically jumped on board with mine.

(the icon on the top left pops out the directory)

This is obviously my last update before I start bouncing between breweries tomorrow, with my RunTOBeer co-captain Rich Kuchinsky (the man loves beer as much as I do, and running even more!).

The RunTOBeer community has been incredibly supportive of this, already donating nearly $400.00 and sending lots of online love. Several members will be joining me at various stages of the journey.

Last night a few Tribe Fitness members joined me for a run and pitched in another $80.00. Big thanks to Heather Gardner for helping organize that.

Even if you can’t make a donation you can still help by sharing the message. Thursday, please use your social media accounts to let people know they can support a local brewery and help other Canadians get back on their feet, all while doing themselves a favour by picking up great beer. Use the Hashtag #BloomsdayTO when you do. I’ll be watching for it.

Finally, you can track my journey on Instagram & Twitter by following me at @BrewScout. I’ll be updating at every stop along the way.

This is the final list of breweries accepting donations on June 16th, in the order I’ll reach them. Please give them your support.

  1. Muddy York
  2. Left Field
  3. Louis Cifer
  4. House Ales (BarVolo)
  5. Steam Whistle
  6. Bellwoods
  7. Folly Brewpub
  8. Blood Brothers
  9. Burdock
  10. Halo
  11. Henderson
  12. Lansdowne
  13. Bandit
  14. Indie Ale House
  15. Junction Craft
  16. Rainhard
  17. Great Lakes
  18. Cool Brewery
  19. Black Oak

BloomsdayTO – Six days to go!

With BloomsdayTO now less than a week away, a few quick updates:

  1. 19 of 21 independent Toronto breweries have now offered to accept donations on Thursday, meaning if you want to support this cause it’s going to be very easy to do so. Even if you just have pocket change after picking up some bottles or tipping your server, drop it in the jar and I’ll happily collect it. Everything adds up.
  2. I mentioned in my last update that I was looking for a venue to celebrate following the run. Turns out I’ll be heading to Tequila Bookworm – where RunTOBeer’s 2015 Golden Tap Award is lovingly on display. If you’re interested in joining, a room is reserved upstairs.
  3. Finally, even though the run is Thursday, realistically it’s going to be early the following week before I can make it make back to all the breweries to collect. With that in mind, I’ll accept one last round of donations at The Loose Moose on Sunday, June 19th, when RunTOBeer celebrates Father’s Day and closes out Ontario Craft Beer Week with Side Launch Sunday. There’s no cost to run, Side Launch Wheat and Mountain Lager will be available to all runners and my good friends Jordan St. John & Robin Leblanc will be present to sign copies of The Ontario Craft Beer Guide. There will also be prizes, including round trip transportation and free entry to the Collingwood Beer Run, four tickets to September’s Craft Brew Cruise and a sweet bundle of Side Launch Brewery swag.

(the icon on the top left pops out the directory)

These are the breweries in the order I plan to see them (subject to change). CONFIRMED denotes breweries that have acknowledged their willingness to accept donations:

  1. Muddy York – CONFIRMED
  2. Left Field – CONFIRMED
  3. Louis Cifer – CONFIRMED
  4. House Ales (BarVolo) – CONFIRMED
  5. Steam Whistle – CONFIRMED
  6. Amsterdam BrewHouse
  7. Duggan’s
  8. Bellwoods – CONFIRMED
  9. Folly Brewpub – CONFIRMED
  10. Blood Brothers – CONFIRMED
  11. Burdock – CONFIRMED
  12. Halo – CONFIRMED
  13. Henderson – CONFIRMED
  14. Lansdowne – CONFIRMED
  15. Bandit – CONFIRMED
  16. Indie Ale House – CONFIRMED
  17. Junction Craft – CONFIRMED
  18. Rainhard – CONFIRMED
  19. Great Lakes – CONFIRMED
  20. Cool Brewery – CONFIRMED
  21. Black Oak – CONFIRMED

BloomsdayTO

Since I announced my epic Bloomsday Run, I’ve had several people tell me they want to do part of the journey with me. Maybe they could come for the last 10k? Perhaps they could pop in at one brewery and run as far as the next?

That would be great!

Here’s what you should understand though: Black Oak, my final destination, will be closed by the time I arrive, so there’s no big, final bash.

Unless…

Okay, so I’m going to do my best to get a venue locked down for a low key after party, where I can properly refuel. Anyone who finishes with me should definitely come along.

If you complete any other part of the run please tag me (@BrewScout) in pictures wherever you ended up. I would really love to see that!

(the icon on the top left pops out the directory)

In fact, if you’re at any supporting brewery that day to make a donation, please post your good deed somewhere and tag me so I can see it. The more we all do to draw attention to the cause, the more likely others will follow suit.

I’ll be using the hashtag #BloomsdayTO from here on in. Please share it generously.

These are the breweries in the order I plan to see them (subject to change). CONFIRMED! denotes breweries that have acknowledged their willingness to accept donations:

  1. Muddy York – CONFIRMED!
  2. Left Field – CONFIRMED!
  3. Louis Cifer – CONFIRMED!
  4. House Ales (BarVolo) – CONFIRMED!
  5. Steam Whistle – CONFIRMED!
  6. Amsterdam BrewHouse
  7. Duggan’s
  8. Bellwoods – CONFIRMED!
  9. Folly Brewpub – CONFIRMED!
  10. Blood Brothers – CONFIRMED!
  11. Burdock – CONFIRMED!
  12. Halo – CONFIRMED!
  13. Henderson – CONFIRMED!
  14. Lansdowne – CONFIRMED!
  15. Bandit – CONFIRMED!
  16. Indie Ale House – CONFIRMED!
  17. Junction Craft – CONFIRMED!
  18. Rainhard – CONFIRMED!
  19. Great Lakes – CONFIRMED!
  20. Cool Brewery CONFIRMED!
  21. Black Oak – CONFIRMED!

Bloomsday Update

Wow, what a first week that was! Within minutes of sharing my plans I already had local breweries asking how they could help. Breweries from outside Toronto are asking how they can contribute. Canadian Beer News and Canadian Running Magazine each wrote about my plans and the social media frenzy was … well… frenetic! I’m so grateful to everyone that shared the message and offered support.

RunTOBeer members got an early start on the fundraising, contributing just over $240.00 at events held at the Amsterdam BrewHouse and Bar Hop BrewCo this weekend. We have five more runs planned between now and June 16th, so the jar is going to be pretty full by the time I lace up on Bloomsday.

A number of questions have also landed in my inbox in the past week, so I thought I would put some answers here.

What is required of the breweries I’m asking to take part?

Almost nothing. All I’m asking of anyone is to put out a jar to take donations on June 16th. I’ll come by in the days following to pick up the cash and turn it over to the Red Cross.

What if breweries want to do more?

I won’t say no! My goal is to make this as easy as possible for breweries to be involved. Anything more — from starting collections earlier to spearheading their own fundraising initiatives — is a bonus for the victims of the wildfires.

What will I do to let people know to which breweries are collecting?

Aside from whatever social media I can provide, I’ve also started populating this map with breweries that have already agreed to help out.

I’m trying to get more media behind this as well. CTV Edmonton reached out to me Monday for an upcoming segment. Draft Magazine (U.S.) is writing about it. I’m pretty sure this is only going to continue to build, especially as more breweries climb on board.

Will I be publishing the totals collected at each brewery?

Nope. I’ll only publish the total.

As much as I want to encourage breweries to aim really high, I don’t want discourage any brewery by turning this into a competition. I think it’s important that the people of Alberta see that Toronto’s independent breweries are united in their concern.

Can other runners join me on the big day?

Sure! Why not? Come for any part of the run you like. Just please don’t give me money on that day. Instead, please leave donations at one of the participating breweries.

Please note I won’t be running on a schedule. The best way to estimate my whereabouts is to follow @BrewScout on Instagram and track my progress that way.

Plans for next year?

More running, more beer. Hopefully no more natural disasters.

The Recovery Drink

When I used to blog about beer more frequently I often mentioned my prairie roots. Having lived in Alberta before and after privatization, it was easy for me to call out the Beer Store on the steaming piles of bullshit it used to dump on Ontario.

I probably wouldn’t have ended up in the beer industry if not for coming of age in a province that was so much more forward-thinking in terms of alcohol retailing. The love of craft beer I developed in Alberta compelled me to contribute to Ontario’s scene, both through my writing and RunTOBeer.

You don’t need me to tell you about the unprecedented devastation happening right now in Northern Alberta. You don’t need me to explain the recovery is going to be costly. It’s a terrible situation and you’re probably going to get sick of hearing about it before the clean up even starts.

So even though what I’m planning is still more than a month off, I want to start talking about it now, while Fort McMurray is still something that holds your attention.

On Thursday, June 16th, I plan to run close to 50km, stopping by nearly every locally owned Toronto brewery, from Muddy York in the northeast, to Black Oak in the southwest.

Why June 16th?

That’s Bloomsday, the day the world celebrates James Joyce’s Ulysses. Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, this highly acclaimed monster of fiction chronicles one day in the life of two men – Stephen Dedalus and (more notably) Leopold Bloom – as they separately wander the streets of Dublin, stopping for a drink here and there.

I’ve paused at many of the spots visited on June 16th, 1904, including Davy Byrnes Pub (part of the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl) and the Bleeding Horse Pub. I’ve passed an afternoon inside the James Joyce Centre, which coordinates the official Bloomsday events in the Irish capital.

Around the world others will mark the occasion with walking tours, pub crawls, literary readings, academic workshops or film screenings. There are so many ways, some more intoxicating than others, one could spend the day.

True to my RunTOBeer roots, this Bloomsday I’m going for an epic beer run.

Why Craft Breweries?

Recently, while running around Toronto’s west side, I passed Folly Brewpub on my way to the new Halo Brewery. Then I passed Junction Craft Brewery, Indie Ale House, Bandit Brewing and Lansdowne Brewery before arriving at Bellwoods Brewery. I could have easily changed up my route to see Henderson Brewery and Burdock Brewpub without adding any significant distance. That got me wondering how many more breweries I could hit up in a single trip.

My personal Odyssey begins at the Muddy York Brewery in the city’s northeast and winds its way through nearly 50km of sidewalks and trails. By the time I reach Black Oak Brewery in the southwest I expect to check in at 21 locally owned breweries, pausing long enough to try something refreshing at all that are open.

June 16th is only two and a half weeks after the Ottawa Marathon, but my own Bloomsday is not a race so I’m not worried about pushing myself too hard. Instead, I’ll be taking this one slowly and enjoying the broad range of styles produced by Toronto’s craft brewers. An oatmeal brown ale at Left Field, an IPA at Great Lakes, something sour at Blood Brothers… it’s going to be a flavour-filled day.

Although I’ll likely tweak it between now and the middle of June, this is the approximate route:

Bloomsday_Instagram

Some places won’t be open when I arrive, which means I’ll have nothing more than a social media check-in to show for my efforts. By the time I get to Black Oak, at the end of the journey, it will be closed. Where I’ll go for my recovery beer is just one of several minor details I still need to figure out.

What I’m most interested in right now is enlisting the venues I’ll be visiting to accept donations on that day. I’ll do my best to encourage the public to visit a local brewer on June 16th, but I can’t run with wads of cash, much less buckets of change. If breweries can collect for me on that day, I’ll transfer 100% of the proceeds to the Canadian Red Cross relief efforts for Fort McMurray and share the total with whatever media are interested in a good news story from Toronto’s independent brewers.

If you can’t contribute that day, you can still help.

Among the things I could use:

  • a clever name and possibly a slogan. The Bloomsday Recovery Drink is the first thing that comes to my mind but if you’ve got something better I’d love to hear it
  • a custom branded technical t-shirt
  • P.R. services
  • printing services for posters
  • pails for venues collecting cash & coins on the day of the run
  • tweets or Facebook posts to share the message

Anything you can do to help share the message would be greatly appreciated.

If your brewery is on this list and you’re willing to help, please let me know.

These are the breweries in the order I plan to see them (subject to change):

  1. Muddy York – CONFIRMED!
  2. Left Field – CONFIRMED!
  3. Louis Cifer – CONFIRMED!
  4. House Ales (BarVolo) – CONFIRMED!
  5. Steam Whistle – CONFIRMED!
  6. Amsterdam BrewHouse
  7. Duggan’s
  8. Bellwoods – CONFIRMED!
  9. Folly Brewpub – CONFIRMED!
  10. Blood Brothers – CONFIRMED!
  11. Burdock – CONFIRMED!
  12. Halo – CONFIRMED!
  13. Henderson – CONFIRMED!
  14. Lansdowne – CONFIRMED!
  15. Bandit – CONFIRMED!
  16. Indie Ale House – CONFIRMED!
  17. Junction Craft – CONFIRMED!
  18. Rainhard – CONFIRMED!
  19. Great Lakes – CONFIRMED!
  20. Cool Brewery – CONFIRMED!
  21. Black Oak – CONFIRMED!

I’ll do my best to provide several updates between now and Bloomsday. Please check back.