Seriously? A running store that serves craft beer? Yes, seriously!
Shoes & Brews opened in Longmont, Colo., last year as the first full-fledged beer and running operation in the U.S. There are a handful of bike shops in the U.S. with single beer taps and have been a few high-end denim stores that serve beer to its shoppers. Many running shops have happy hour runs and offer post-run beers, and there are also many breweries with an interest in running—including brew pubs that host regular group runs or produce running-themed beers—but Shoes & Brews is a one of a kind in the running world.
Shoes & Brews is a full-service running store with an artfully designed shoe wall and all the apparel, accessories and nutritional items you’d find at any running shop. But this store also has 20 microbrew taps serving up good beer from the best breweries along Colorado’s Front Range. In what should come as no surprise, it was started by a group of enterprising runners (including three former collegiate runners) who have an inkling for craft beer.
“Shoes and Brews is a business built on two passions coming together—running and beer,” says Ashlee Velez, one of the founders of the business. “It’s all about being a social runner and a social beer drinker under one roof.”
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Technically, the store and bar are two separate operations (both physically and financially), but they’re under the same roof and share a logo. (The logo was designed by Boulder graphic artist Jason Simpson, a 1:12 half-marathoner and husband of world champion 1500m runner Jenny Simpson.) The two sides of the business are connected by a door in the middle of a short hallway, but runners and beer drinkers are free to visit either side at any time.
So far the businesses are off to a good start, partially because it’s the only running specialty store between Boulder and Fort Collins. The store’s Thursday night group runs along St. Vrain Creek Path have become pretty popular and, as a result, the tap room part of the business often has an inordinate amount of people drinking quality beer in skimpy shorts or brightly colored spandex clothes. It also hosts Saturday morning runs and recently co-hosted a 5K run with Left Hand Brewing Company just down the creek path.
While there’s no pressure to be either a beer drinker or a runner at Shoes & Brews, the proprietors definitely do their best to spread their passions in a fun, low-key environment. The Thursday night runs often have running gear giveaways or a special presentation by local running coaches or running groups.
But the best integration of beer and running at Shoes & Brews is the opportunity to run an 800-meter time trial to determine the price of your first beer. In other words if you run a 3:30 half-mile, you pay $3.30 for your first pint. If you can run 2:58, then you pay $2.58. And yes, there have been a few runners who have paid some pretty cheap prices for their first beer.
Local resident Billy Nelson, a 2008 U.S. Olympic steeplechase runner, owns the current Shoes & Brews record with the 1:57.1 that he ran on the store’s opening weekend—an effort that earned everyone a round of $1.57 beers.
“What a fun event,” Nelson says. “Good thing I didn’t run 3 seconds slower or it would have had been 43 cents more!”
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