Event Preview | Microbrew Mile Makes Quad Cities Thirsty
Take a look around the craft beer world today and you’ll find a pairing almost as common as a big IPA and juicy pub burger; beer and running. The connection seems incongruous given the usual clientele for craft beer–the “neckbearded,” the slightly paunchy, those predisposed to excess–but you can’t deny the sheer number of beer mile events and or beer-related distance running races that have begun to pop-up in cities across the country.
Which is why it’s no surprise the third annual Microbrew Mile Roadrace and Craft Beer Festival this Saturday in downtown Moline, Illinois has been a big hit, drawing beer lovers and runners of all stripes from throughout the Midwest to compete in an one mile or 6K race, and then sample some of the finest regional and national breweries.
As a distance runner myself–though I won’t be running, just sampling, probably with the guiltiest conscience east of the Mississippi–I’ve long been curious about the tie between beer and running. Perhaps it’s simply trying to combat the toll craft beer can take on one’s body–let’s be honest, the term ‘beer gut’ exists for a reason, especially when one of your favorite’s is the beast that is Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (calorie count, anyone?).
But perhaps it’s deeper than that. Perhaps it’s more about seeking a transcendent sensory experience–the high you get from sinking pints with friends akin to the endorphin wave that crashes over you as you hit miles 12, 13, 14.
“We want people to make some great memories out here, both with the race and the beer fest,” says Joshua Sherrod.
He’s the organizer and one of the original founders of the Microbrew Mile. A serious distance runner himself, he believes part of what makes the race and associated beer festival unique is it appeals to so many different levels of runners and craft beer enthusiasts alike–from the newly initiated to the seasoned veterans.
“We get a lot of people who really know their stuff,” Sherrod explains. “A lot of homebrewers, beer traders, all that. But we also get people here because they ran the race and they want to see what a beer festival is all about. It’s something fun for them to do. Plus, it goes toward a great cause.”
Proceeds from race registration and beer festival tickets will benefit two local charities: The Children’s Therapy Center of the Quad Cities and The Chris “SPEY” VanSpeybroeck Memorial, a local non-profit memorial scholarship fund started in 2012.
The beer festival will feature at least 38 breweries – mixing national brands like Boulevard, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium – with local and regional players such as Bent River Brewing Company, Green Tree Brewery, Iron Spike Brewing Company, and a host of others. Live music and food from area restaurants will also be available, and Sherrod believe this year’s nearly 300 registered participants and counting are in for a great kickoff to summer.
“We always wanted to do something different,” says Sherrod, who’s been an avid craft beer enthusiasts for the last several years. “You don’t see too many 6K’s out there. And we wanted to put on a good party. We wanted to make this an experience rather than just a local 5K.”
If there’s been one challenge for Sherrod and his team in hosting the race and festival the past few years, it’s that the Moline area is “spoiled,” both in terms of the number of competitive races on the calendar and how many local breweries are pumping out great beer. But he also believes this has been a boon to the festival as each year more and more participants arrive with a greater knowledge of both the running and craft beer scenes.
“Each year people are learning more and more,” Sherrod says. “And that can be a challenge – appealing to everyone. But we’re glad everyone is here. And what’s better than running and drinking for a good cause, right?”
Third Annual Microbrew Mile
Saturday, June 18th
Mile Waves: 4 p.m. – 6K: 5:15 p.m. – Beer Festival: 5 to 8 p.m.
Downtown Moline – 5th Avenue and 14th Street
Admission: $30 in advance; $35 at gate (15 tasting tickets)
Contact: (309) 236-9573