A few weeks ago, my friend and running buddy Katie and I attended the New Haven Craft Brew 5K and Festival. In addition to a quality run through Edgewood Park, the event included a craft beer festival featuring samples from over 20 local breweries. Here are five things I learned about running for beer and Connecticut's craft beer scene.
1. It's never too hot to run for craft beer.
The day of the race – the last Saturday in July – was a scorcher. The route started in shady Edgewood Park but led to a residential street at Mile 2 with no shade. The sun beat down on us as we pounded the pavement wordlessly, trying to steady our breathing and will ourselves to the finish line. The mantra that kept me going was, "It's almost beer time. It's almost beer time." Despite how brutal that sizzling stretch was, I never doubted our ability to finish and get to the festival. We really love craft beer that much.
2. Runners make the best craft beer drinkers.
I've written about this before – running and drinking beer go hand in hand. This is why craft brew races and festivals exist. I believe there were over a thousand runners at the 2016 New Haven Craft Brew Race and Festival. They were runners of various shapes, sizes, and experience, but they were all there for one reason: to exercise and then replenish the calories lost (and then some) with the nourishment that is delicious craft beer. I saw people in costumes, a bridal party in matching outfits, serious racers, and people just like us. And we all came together at the end to enjoy the beer festival.
3. Connecticut's craft beer scene is legit.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, there were over 20 local craft breweries on tap at the festival. 20! Connecticut is a tiny state, but it has a burgeoning craft beer industry featuring ingenuity and variety. No two beers were anything alike. We tasted Half Full Brewery's Bright Ale; Outer Light Brewing Company's Libation Propaganda coffee stout; Belma, a Double IPA by 30 Mile Brewing Co.; Beer'd Brewing's Frank & Berry, and so many more that I couldn't keep track of.
4. The craft beer industry is filled with talented people.
And I'm not just talking about the genius brewers. Check out the label on the Coney Island Brewing Co.'s Mermaid Pilsner can above (one of very few non-Connecticut brewers at the festival). How gorgeous is that label? Oxford's Black Hog Brewing and Two Roads in Stratford are also known for their amazing label art. Almost too pretty to drink. Almost.
5. Craft beer is best enjoyed with friends.
There is nothing better than a sunny Saturday afternoon spent drinking great beer with good friends, knowing you already got your exercise in for the day. 10/10, would race again. If you missed out this year's New Haven race, don't fret – there's an early October 5K and festival in Cape Cod. Details here.