My road to becoming a “runner” was slightly perilous; I sprained my ankle and lost both of my big toenails to impact stress within the first six months (they grew back). It took me close to four years to fully achieve a runner’s high where I ran upwards of 5 miles on auto pilot without labored breath. For me, running is more than exercise; it’s renewal. It’s been there through college, long distance moves, break ups, wake ups and everything in-between.
These days I run twice a week, 3.5 to 6 miles, a welcome relief from my gym routine. When a fellow Brown Paper Tickets employee mentioned the Ale I See run hosted by Rockaway Brewery, I was intrigued. We would do a 4-mile tour around Long Island City, guided by City Running Tours and stop at local breweries to taste the wares. Running plus beer? Running plus beer plus giving back to the community? A portion of each ticket would be donated to Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB), a local non-profit dedicated to the health, development, stewardship and empowerment of NYC youth. Brown Paper Tickets decided to match every dollar raised (proud employee moment). I signed up.
Last Sunday, I threw on my gear and walked across the Pulaski Bridge to Rockaway Brewery. After checking in and throwing on my “I Run to Beer” t-shirt, I watched other attendees mill in and admire the tasting room. At a few minutes to 12:30, the event organizer, Justine ushered us outside and said a few words about the history of Rockaway and RAB. She mentioned that thanks to Brown Paper Tickets, the event raised over $400 for Recycle-A-Bicycle and asked for a round of applause, pointing to myself and my co-worker Victor. (I turned pink.) The emissary from City Running Tours gave a quick overview of the run, and we were off.
Due to my position in the crowd, I started off at the back of the 40-plus person pack, but quickly wove to the front where I stayed for the rest of the run. A short .78 miles later, we were at the first stop, Big Alice Brewing. It was a tough squeeze to get everyone inside, but amazingly we all fit. Tasting cups of Gunpowder Tea Rye Ale (9%) were passed around as we listened to the history of Big Alice, named for a local moniker for a nearby power plant. Conclusion: more please.
The second leg was longer, a little over a mile. I felt light and airy, possibly due to the Rye Ale, as we pulled up to the Long Island City Beer Project. The space was massive, and as we sipped on our choice of three ales (mine: Glass Jaw Bully, a dark Belgian brew), our host showed us their “air ship,” a free yeast collection room that pulls wild yeast straight out of the air for use in their ales. “Thank your Greek and Italian neighbors. They planted a lot of fig trees in their backyards and we are really seeing it in the flavors,” she said. The more you know, right?
We left with our longest leg ahead of us; it was two miles to Transmitter Brewery. I’ve tasted Transmitter’s ales before, so I was excited. Though the sun had come out and we were all covered in sweat by the time we reached our destination, I felt great. Bottles of S1 Mahogany Saison were popped and the nutty, dark farmhouse ale was surprisingly refreshing.
We geared up for the final .75 miles, and the mood was cheerful as we ran underneath the iconic Pepsi Cola sign hunkering over the East River facing Manhattan. Rounding the corner, we were back at Rockway Brewery and greeted with full pints (I got their classic ale that “started it all”), and a Krave Jerky tasting bar. Goodie bags of Brown Paper Tickets swag and other products awaited. Hooray.
Overall I would give this experience a 10/10. Many thanks to everyone involved.