April 20th, 2016

A Brief History Of Beer And Running

the history of beer and running (1)

Anyone who’s savored a sip of flavorful hops after a sweat session knows the powerful combination of running and beer. And while we don’t know exactly when the post-run beer was first enjoyed, here’s what we do know about the history of beer and running.

Ready to enjoy your own post-race beer? Sign up for your local BeerFit event today.


  • The Hash House Harriers — the world-renowned club now famous for its running and beer-drinking antics — established a set of objectives. They were:
    • To promote physical fitness among members
    • To get rid of weekend hangovers
    • To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
    • To persuade older members that they are not as old as they feel


  • The second chapter of Hash House Harriers was founded in Singapore.


  • The idea of ‘hashing,’ or running specifically in order to work up one’s appetite for beer — expanded rapidly through the Far East and the South Pacific, Europe and North America.


  • Kastenlauf events were first organized in Munich, Germany. It was at Kastenlauf events that the biergrätle-race, or “Bier-Rallye” took place. The Bier-Rallye competition pits teams of two against one another in a race totaling between 5k to 12k in distance (that’s 3.1-miles to 7.4-miles). The catch? Each team must carry a crate of beer between them, and all beers within the crate must be consumed before crossing the finish line. It was perhaps the first time beyond hashing that beer and physical fitness were combined. Perhaps.


  • The Stanley Cup has been a staple at NHL championship parties at least as far back at 1962. In 1987, players started drinking beer out of the Cup itself. Utilizing the Stanley Cup as a personal stein has been a league tradition ever since.


  • Seven Canadian runners (not all of legal drinking age) came up with a plan to run a mile while drinking four beers in the format of beer, lap, beer, lap, etc. The first beer mile race took place on Burlington Central High School’s track in Burlington, Ontario.


  • Al Pribaz, a beer-miler from Queen’s University, formalized the ‘Official Kingston Rules’ for the beer mile with some buddies.

Late 90s

  • In the late 90s — no one’s really sure the exact year — Beermile.com became the holy grail of beer mile information, tracking records and standardizing the sport.


  • Canadian Marathon champion Jim Finlayson ran a beer mile as part of a local fundraiser at an astonishing 5:13, nearly 30 seconds faster than the previous record. Though his time was unofficial, his performance generated a lot of hype for the beer mile, popularizing the sport.



  • Military-style obstacle courses like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race began popping up across the United States. These tough endurance event series (Tough Mudder challenges participants to finish 10–16 miles of demanding obstacles, including one that jolts them with actual electric shocks) began rewarding finishers with the only appropriate option: beer at the finish line.
  • After winning a gold medal in his home country’s 2010 Olympics, skeleton competitor John Montgomery chugged a pitcher of beer handed to him from a fan to celebrate — on live TV.
  • Tim Cigelske, Draft Mag’s designated beer runner, starts what would become a three year-long running and beer streak. That means he ran at least one mile and drank at least one beer consecutively every day for three years.
  • One blogger ran the San Francisco half marathon in 5:07 — which isn’t exactly impressive … unless you throw 13 beers into the mix, which he apparently drank during the race. Wondering how it went? You can read the legendary tale here.


  • A 2011 study in Germany found that polyphenols in beer may be especially useful for individuals who go through prolonged strenuous exercise — like running! — which can lower the body’s immune function.



  • A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that the dehydrating effects of beer can be tempered by tinkering with its electrolyte levels. In the study, a low-alcohol beer was better than traditional ale in rehydrating athletes.


  • The first BeerFit event is held in partnership with Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta. Lessons on how to serve cold beer to hundreds of people at once were learned the hard way, but a good time was had by all who come out to test their lungs and liver. The Brew Mile turned road racing from a hyper-competitive solitary endeavor into an energetic, suds-fueled, celebration of the sport — offering participants the chance to race with a feeling of camaraderie and the opportunity to take themselves a little less seriously.
  • On April 7, 2014,  James Nielsen became the first man to break five minutes for the beer mile — a feat previously thought to be impossible — setting the World Record. He managed to get it all on video.
  • The first-ever Beer Mile World Championship was held in December 2014, in Austin, Texas. Corey Gallagher won at a time of 5:00.23.
  • Lean Machine, a Canadian recovery ale marketed as a sports drink for active beer lovers, debuts.


  • In August, the beer mile world record was broken two times in the same day. James Nielsen’s record was broken by Austrailian Josh “Harry” Harris, who clocked a 4:56.1 on August 7. Not 14 hours later, Lewis Kent of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada recorded a 4:55.78.
  • Lewis Kent, a 22-year-old student athlete at the University of Western Ontario, became the world’s first professional beer-miler after he signed a two-year contract with running shoe company Brooks in November of 2015. According to the deal, Brooks pays Kent bonuses (undisclosed, of course) pending his performance in major beer mile events.
  • Barbell Brew —a new high protein, low calorie beer for athletes — hits the market.


  • After winning the 2016 Super Bowl, Peyton Manning declared on live TV that he would celebrating his win with Budweiser. The mention reportedly was worth $3.2M in (free) advertising.
  • Today, the BeerFit Running Series marks a new chapter in the history of this storied relationship with an event created for those who value 6-pack abs and a 6-pack of beer equally. Now a national fitness movement that offers participants the chance to race with a feeling of camaraderie and the promise of beer at the finish line, the BeerFit Running Series has spread to 25 cities. With a new classic 5k race format in addition to the original Brew Mile, both races finish with the BeerFit after-party, featuring music, games, and of course, plenty of beer.

Ready to enjoy your own post-race beer? Sign up for your local BeerFit event today.