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Brewery Running Series Sponsors Fun Runs to Benefit Local Nonprofits

Photos provided by Pennsylvania Brewery Running

Many runners will say they run for beer, but in the case of the Brewery Running Series™, it’s true. Runners—and joggers and walkers—partake in a ‘fun course’ that starts and ends at a local brewery with of course, the opportunity for a cold one. But the series takes it one step further and also raises money for a local nonprofit.

“We rock 5K-ish fun run courses. No time clock, no pressure—just a really good reason to drink really good beer,” said Alyssa Gruber, co-owner of the PA Chapter of the Brewery Running Series.

The Brewery Running Series is a national organization that was created in 2012 in Minnesota. Gruber, who runs the local organization with her partner, Gabriel Rodriquez, learned of the events when the couple lived in Florida.

“We stumbled upon the Brewery Running Series and totally found our people, if you will. We saw all of these people having a great time and thought ‘What is this all about?’ so we learned more. Then we found out it was in different places, not just Florida,” she said.

Since Gruber and Rodriquez participate in a variety of sports, they loved the idea of bringing runs coupled with beer to the region. Gruber had been hosting yoga classes at local breweries since 2017, so she knew who to contact. “For several years, fitness and craft beer have been a great way to combine some of my favorite things: being active, supporting small local businesses and also meeting new people,” she said.

When the couple learned more about the series, they decided to bring the concept to Pittsburgh and hosted the Pittsburgh inaugural event in 2021. It was more or less a trial run, with them questioning participants for ideas and tips. “We asked them what they liked, what they didn’t like and what they would like to see,” said Gruber, adding that they partnered with Sly Fox Brewery at the Point for the first event.

The Pittsburgh Series expanded to five runs in 2022, with seven runs slated for 2023 including one in Erie and one in Clarion. While the couple owns the PA Chapter, for now, they are focusing on events in western Pennsylvania.

“I grew up in the North Hills and we still live in the North Hills so we wanted to start with what we know. We hope to expand to other locations in the future,” Gruber said.

The runs feature safe courses where folks can not only run, but participate with children including those still in strollers. Gruber tries to plan a shorter route where the participants can either turn around or take a shortened path. The number of participants allowed is based on the size and capacity of the hosting brewery. “If there is bad weather, we want to make sure we can gather indoors,” she said.

The series is meant to be pure fun, according to Gruber, but is also has a philanthropical aspect. “Our mantra is ‘Be active. Have fun. Give back!’” she said. “A portion of all proceeds from the runs support local nonprofits, and our organization of choice and fabulous partner for our Pittsburgh-based runs is 412 Food Rescue.”

Gruber said that she had heard about all of the great work 412 Food Rescue was doing, so when it came time to chose a nonprofit, they were in the forefront of her mind. The Erie and Clarion runs will benefit local charities in those areas.

Each run is more or less a 5K, with various levels for participants. Each level includes a free craft brew, collector’s swag items, live music, games and giveaways. Instead of numbers on participants’ bibs, Gruber said there is a ‘question of the day’ to encourage interaction and conversation.

“It might be ‘What is your favorite style of beer?’ or ‘What is your favorite Pittsburghese word?’” she said.

Jason Frampton, Lower Burrell, has participated in a few of the Brewery Series Runs. Although he had done several full and half marathons, he participates in these runs to enjoy a fun day.

“It’s an event that appeals to walkers and runners of any fitness level. There are some people who are competitive, some who are in the middle of the road or who want a more relaxing run, and some who run/walk with family and friends,” he said. “And afterwards you get to enjoy a drink; you really can’t beat that.”

Gruber agrees. “The events are really appealing to everyone; it doesn’t matter if you are a marathoner, a jogger or pushing a stroller. Everyone can have a great time.”

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The Brewery Running Series will take place at the following locations:

June 10: Slyfox at the Highline, Pittsburgh, PA

June 24: Erie Brewing Co., Erie, PA

July 15: Aslin Beer Co., Pittsburgh, PA

August 5: Summerfest Beer Run X Mechanistic Brewing, Clarion, PA

August 26: Strange Roots, Millvale, PA

September 16: Cinderlands Warehouse, Pittsburgh, PA

September 30: Inner Groove Brewing, Verona, PA

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