Even More Cowbell: Brewing beer for the HAT 50k

Why “More Cowbell?”  People cheering on the sidelines can help get through a tough race, so can the idea of a good beer waiting for you at the finish.” ~ From the label of the first batch of More Cowbell

Almost a year ago I ordered a one-gallon brew kit from Brooklyn Brewing Shop It was the first time I would try to brew my own beer.  I thought that I should start small and see how brewing one gallon would work out.  It turned out to be very labor intensive.  I also learned it was as much work to brew one gallon as it is to brew ten gallons.

I started off by sterilizing my entire kitchen, then spent the rest of the day meticulously cooking the mash, taking temperatures of the liquid, adding hops and thinking that there are a lot of great beers already in bottles ready to drink.

After, a day of cleaning and cooking I finally had a little gallon of cloudy liquid sitting on a shelf in my basement.  Almost a month went by and it was time to bottle my beer.  I had sterilized several bottles and made custom labels, these were going to look legit!  Once the bottles were filled and capped it was time for more waiting.  Almost another month and they were ready to go.  I opened one of the 12 beers and to my delight not only did it taste palatable it packed a nice kick.  I was pretty excited and wanted to share my treasure.

When it was time to share I had a little heartbreak three of the eleven beer remaining had exploded, I was down to eight.  All that work for a nine-beer haul, ug.  I only had two of the beers that I had worked so hard on.  This was not worth the effort.  Like I said there are plenty of great beers at your local liquor store.  I was giving up on brewing.

Cut to the fall of 2010, an old friend, Stein L. was taking up running and we reconnected.  We started talking and before I knew the subject was beer.  On one of our longer runs we talked about maybe brewing a batch for the HAT 50k we would be running in March 2011.  Having somebody with know how and the equipment to brew 10 gallons of beer seemed like a good plan if I was going to brew again.

After Christmas 2010 both Stein and myself had the week off between x-mas and New Years.  This would be when we brewed.  I met Stein at his house pre-dawn to go for a six mile run before we would start brewing.  It was cold out and this was a quick run.  When we got back to his house I changed my clothes and we started setting up equipment.  I was really there to keep Stein company and share the cost of ingredients.  We started cooking the 10 gallons outside in the very cold winter air.  I got close to the propane burner and stirred the brew to keep warm.  We chose to brew an Alt ale style beer; the plan is to have a little malt/sweetness without a big hop presence – a beer that everyone will enjoy too.  This was a partial-mash beer, meaning that we used mostly malt extract instead of mashing all the grains ourselves (this saves a couple hours of work). There may be a little hint of smoke in the beer because some malt extract was caramelized on the bottom of the boiler. Half of the beer will be kegged (done Jan 18) and half will go in bottles (four to six weeks before the HAT race). We had fun.  We talked about running and family life while the beer cooked.  I kept thinking how much fun it will be to share the beer with our fellow dailymile runners that are going to be at the HAT 50k.  There will be quite a few.

If the HAT is anything like it was last year, the beer waiting at the finish is going to be what gets me through those final miles.  The best part of the HAT 50k is the camaraderie at the finish.  Oh, yeah the French fries at the end are the best I have ever tasted.  It is a tough run and you really feel like you accomplished something at the end.


About Thomas N.

Thomas Neuberger is the founder and editor of Believe in the Run, a website dedicated to reviews on running gear and running events. Thomas has always been a gear head that gets excited by the smell of new eva foam. When he's not working as a marketing consultant for the companies in a venture fund group in Baltimore or spending time with wife and two sons, you can find Thomas on the roads and trails around Baltimore, MD. Big goals this year include a 3:10 marathon, a sub 20 minute 5k, and Completing two ultras.
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