Beer runners sprint for science

The Fishtown Beer Runners conclude weekly runs at local bars or members’ houses to test the re-hydration powers of beer. Spring is here, and as the ground thaws many are dusting off their running shoes,

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NICOLE PLAKSEN TTN The Fishtown Beer Runners near their post-run drinking destination, Kelliann’s Bar and Grill.

The Fishtown Beer Runners conclude weekly runs at local bars or members’ houses to test the re-hydration powers of beer.

Spring is here, and as the ground thaws many are dusting off their running shoes, which have sat untouched as hopeful New Year’s resolutions remain unfulfilled. For those looking for some motivation, the Fishtown Beer Runners might have found the incentive that will have people rekindling their workout routines.

Every Thursday at 7 p.m., the group can be seen stretching and setting their watches at 2346 E. Susquehanna Ave. in preparation for a run to a designated tavern or runner’s house where cold craft beers await their arrival.

Founders David April and Eric Fielder said Fishtown Beer Runners was established in December 2007. April said he began running in October 2007 and considered himself a “beer guy” long before he was an active runner.

“Beer running combines two seemingly mutually exclusive activities, and mixing the two brings out the strengths of each,” April said. “Drinking a beer after a long run is simply amazing as your palette is overwhelmed by flavor.”

April said that prior to the group’s inception, he and Fielder had come across an interesting research study conducted by Manuel J. Castillo-Garzon, M.D., at the University of Granada.

The study compared 660 milliliters of beer and water to test the liquids’ re-hydration effects. It was found drinking a beer after a run might have its benefits.

Fishtown Beer Runners’ mission is to, “combine responsible running with responsible drinking in the interest of science.” Every level of runner and beer enthusiast is welcomed with open arms and sweaty foreheads.

The runs are mapped out into several routes varying from one mile to five miles to accommodate every runner, walker and the occasional canine companion.

After conquering the twists and turns of the Philadelphia streets, the runners reach their destination – a local tavern that serves up an array of beers ranging from pale ales to porters and IPAs to pilsners.

April said that craft beers work best for re-hydration. But no matter what the beer of choice is, the runners try to always consume good, quality beer.

Palettes vary from runner to runner, so trying new beers is always encouraged. Runner Mallory Bernstein said she prefers a wheat beer because they are “refreshing and go down easily, especially after a hot run.”

April said it is very common for the trip to the tavern to turn into an “impromptu beer tasting,” as everyone is eager to try what’s available. But he added that the Fishtown Beer Runners are “not beer snobs, just a friendly group of people sharing common interests.”

Although the group has an underlying quest in the name of science, it also provides a safe running environment and motivation to stick with exercising. In April’s opinion, “consistency is the key to running,” and the Fishtown Beer Runners help bring an array of people together to keep it interesting.

“The beer part is more of a social component and a hook that attracts folks who share a love of running and like enjoying a beer or two,” April said. “They enjoy the community and the encouragement that the group offers which is why people come back and why the group is growing – this creates more consistent runners.”

Bernstein, a veteran to the running game, has been a beer runner for three years and said she still finds each week as exciting as the last. As the group gains more membership, she said she looks forward to the new faces she will encounters every Thursday, which has paid off in the past considering she met her husband at her first run with the group.

“It’s great because everyone there already has running and beer in common so friendships form pretty easily,” Bernstein said.

The beer runners’ crowd has expanded in size from its original two members to its current 50 to 70 runners. This crowd can also increase business for local bars during slow Thursday nights.

April said the runners feel that it is extremely important to support local establishments, and the group is often referred to as an instant “stimulus package.”

“We are young, urban professionals that enjoy quality beer and have money to spend on it,” April said.

During the years, the beer runners have become a household name both throughout the neighborhood and around the city, and April said many local bars jump at the opportunity to host their gatherings.  The runners’ sweaty presence and dry mouths have frequented the Plough and the Stars – a spacious Irish bar on Second and Chestnut streets.

Marion Ryder, the bar’s owner, said she enjoys when the group runs through, and provides the team with drink specials and a large menu of draft and bottled beers.

“They are a great group of people,” Ryder said. “They provide a great atmosphere and great spirits.”

Although Ryder said she doesn’t fully comprehend the scientific aspect of the group, she is fully aware of the pleasure of the beer-loving, running enthusiasts.

Jenine Pilla can be reached at

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