No telling how many delicious calories are consumed at Loudoun’s 18-plus breweries each week. But now at least a few are offering a chance to burn those calories off.
Breweries have become Loudouners’ go-to gathering spot, with thirsty customers heading to the beer-producing operations for everything from birthday parties to work meetings. So why not workouts?
That’s what several brewery employees and regulars had in mind when they launched running clubs, meant to bring together people who love to run, meet new people and, of course, don’t mind capping off their workout with something a bit more exciting than that recovery protein shake.
“Everybody likes beer and running. Combining the two is kind of like the new thing,” said Anthony Ferrari, marketing manager at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn.
He and Old Ox customer Jennifer Miller helped get the Trottin’ Oxen off and running six months ago. The club runs on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings, and has drawn as many as 40 runners, from ultra-marathoners to beginners. Miller organizes a less than 3-mile run, 3- to 5-mile run and a 5-plus-mile run along the W&OD Trail, which borders Old Ox Brewery’s property.
Miller said she’s noticed that a community run that starts and stops at a brewery attracts a wider spectrum of runners. “Run clubs tend to be more focused on the run. The brewery helps foster the social aspect by having a place for runners to come back to, cool down and socialize with fellow runners,” she said. “It’s less intimidating. It creates an environment that is less about competition and more about encouragement.”
The county’s newest beer-loving running club is out of Loudoun Brewing Company, which is already a popular spot for runners and cyclists because of its proximity to the W&OD Trail in Leesburg. The Loud & Brewing Pint Chasers gather on Wednesday evenings and runs from the brewery through town or along the trail before returning for a cool pint of craft beer.
“We felt like we had a ton of runners who were regulars, so why not get them all together for weekly runs,” said Loudoun Brewing’s Shawn Fitzpatrick, who leads the club. “It’s the perfect combo. Everyone wants a beer after they’re done running, so this just works out.”
The idea was especially pushed by Alanna Steffens, who owns Loudoun Brewing with her husband Patrick, and Ed Ramirez, a regular at the brewery who’s been a member of several running clubs.
As a newbie to the running club scene, Fitzpatrick said he’s found that jogging with a group—especially a group that has a love of beer in common—motivates him to work harder on his runs.
“Usually, when I run by myself, I feel relaxed to drop back and go a slower pace,” he said. “But with the club, you want to go faster and keep up. It definitely challenges you.”
Lost Rhino Retreat in Brambleton was the first Loudoun brewery to formally organize a running club, about a year ago, and that club also was prompted by a regular customer, Kelly Superak. She said, after 15 years of teaching fitness classes, she wanted to lead a club that was more inclusive.
“I wanted to do something that was community-based and was more welcoming for all levels, something that pretty much everybody can do,” she said.
The brewery welcomed the idea with open arms, according to Chris Drummond, vice president of operations at Lost Rhino Brewing Company. He noted that the club, dubbed the Rhino Chasers, provides a chance to counter the thought among some crowds that drinking beer equates to an unhealthy lifestyle.
“As craft brewers, we put a lot of pride into what we do—using the best ingredients—so it’s cool to see it crossing over,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds. They can go out and be fit and health conscious and then enjoy some of the finer, more fun things in moderation.”
The Rhino Chasers brings out between 40 and 60 runners each Tuesday evening. Lost Rhino’s Ashburn location, at 21730 Red Rum Drive Suite 142, also gets a steady stream of sweaty customers looking for a cool beverage after working out at one of the nearby gyms.
“There is a very active lifestyle among people in this community,” Drummond said, “so it’s really cool to see that culture and the brewery scene come together.”
He also mentioned the LoCo Ale Trail, created by Visit Loudoun to promote the county’s growing brewery scene. Cyclists can hop on the W&OD Trail and hit eight breweries without going more than a few hundred feet from the trail. See the craft beer scene guide at locoaletrail.com.
Sprint to the Suds
6 p.m. Tuesdays
Lost Rhino Retreat, 22885 Brambleton Plaza, Brambleton
$15 annual membership fee; $25 for couple or family; kids 16 and younger are free
Members get 10 percent discount at brewery on Tuesday nights
Details: facebook.com/runliftfuel or firstname.lastname@example.org
6:30 p.m. Tuesdays; 10:30 a.m. Saturdays
Old Ox Brewery, 44652 Guilford Drive Suite 114, Ashburn
Loud & Brewing Pint Chasers
6:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Loudoun Brewing Company, 310 E. Market St., Leesburg
Suds-n-Soles Fun Run
Third Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.
The Loudoun Roadrunners host a fun run, followed by a locally crafted beer. The next run is Thursday, July 21, at Black Walnut Brewery, 210 S King St.