1. What are the Craft Brew Races and how did they get started?
The Craft Brew Races are a national series of 5K and beer festival events. The team here at Gray Matter Marketing saw a lot of overlap between people who were interested in both great running events and good beer. There was an opportunity to marry these two interests together through the Craft Brew Races, and so we went for it. 2018 will be our fifth year coming to Stowe for the event.
As we like to say, Stowe is nestled in the cradle of craft beer nirvana! It’s a little cheesy, but it’s true. We make an effort to feature as many local breweries as are interested in participating at each event, and Stowe and the surrounding area has a particularly strong craft beer scene. Stowe is one of our events that draw the most runners from out of state — it becomes a whole weekend vacation! This is definitely due to not only the strength and quality of the beer, but also the gorgeous course; May is a beautiful time of year to be there!
We always have something new up our sleeve! We have some new festival activities planned, and some new breweries that we’re working with. I don’t want to give too much away as we continue to plan for 2018, but I will say that we have a lot of participants that come back year after year, and it just keeps getting better!
Last year, we had 50 breweries at the festival, and more than 60% of them were from Vermont, with a handful more from New Hampshire and Maine. At the Craft Brew Races, we buy all of the beer from the distributors or from the breweries, and we don’t charge a booth fee, so the barrier to entry for breweries is very low. This means we get to feature a lot of newer and smaller breweries, which is something we really enjoy supporting. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the event is donated to a designated local non-profit.With a full ticket, participants receive entry into the 5K, their timing bib, medal, etc. and they also receive entry into the festival, which is 3.5 hours and includes all of the beer samples from every brewery, and finally when they leave every festival goer receives a custom, take-home pint glass. There are also food trucks and vendors who sell on site. For folks who aren’t particularly interested in the run, we do sell festival-only tickets. We also sell tickets for designated drivers, and with their entry they receive complimentary soft drinks and snacks.
5. How has the Vermont beer scene changed over the last 5 years and where do you see it going?
We’ve really enjoyed being witness to the growth of the Vermont beer scene since this event started in 2013. The breweries that have been around for a while have been trying new things, brewing different kinds of beers or collaborating with other breweries and businesses to create something unique. And, of course, tons of new breweries have opened their doors, and the variety is so awesome. With craft beer becoming more and more popular, with an emphasis on drinking local and supporting local businesses, we’re confident the industry is only going to continue to grow and improve. Cheers to that!