Monday, October 24, 2011

AN INTERVIEW WITH DERRICK PETERMAN of “RAMBLINGS OF A BEER RUNNER”

If it weren’t for the “sport” of running, it is highly likely that Beer Samizdat would not exist, for I would be twenty to thirty pounds overweight and thus unlikely to indulge in fatty craft beer as often as I do. Somehow running and beer go hand in hand for many people. As I was starting up my Hedonist BeerJive blog in 2006, I also was discovering true long-distance running for the first time. The two married well. Drink to run, run to drink. A little quad pain and shin split action goes a long way toward alleviating the guilt from that 22-ounce bomber you downed the night before. Now I’m competing, if you will, in multiple half-marathons and 10Ks every year and even contemplating a marathon before I totally destroy my knees and feet for good.

Derrick Peterman understands. He’s what you might call a “beer runner”. I discovered this tribe of self-dubbed individuals on the internet – the thing’s crawlin’ with ‘em. There are multiple blogs devoted to the simultaneous love of running and of beer; the one I actually enjoy reading is Derrick’s RAMBLINGS OF A BEER RUNNER. Published out of Belmont, CA, where he lives, Ramblings is chock full of good information on local brewers; grueling training stories; bombers consumed alone after the kids have gone to bed; and the self-realization that comes from punishing yourself with mile upon mile for no other goal than to be able to drink more beer & be “over forty and feelin’ foxy”, as one ironic t-shirt states.

We caught up with Derrick via email, and this is what transpired:

BEER SAMIZDAT: Define, if you will, the nexus the exists for you between beer and running.

Derrick Peterman: I can't quite put my finger on it, but where there's lot of runners, there's a good chance you'll find beer.  I think part of the connection is that beer is a pretty populist beverage without elitism for the most part and running is a pretty non-elitist sport.  The stop watch plays no favorites, and all you have to do is lace up up your running shoes, run outside, and you're a runner. 

BEER SAMIZDAT: Do you run as a way to get rid of the pounds that would otherwise come from your craft beer addiction? Or drink loads of craft beer because you know you’re a runner and can get away with it –or both?

Derrick Peterman: I just enjoy going outside and going running each day.  Since my dad and I decided to train for a 10 kilometer run when I was twelve, running was about setting goals, overcoming barriers to reach them, and the sense of accomplishment associated with that.  I ran on the cross country and track teams in high school and college, and at age 44, still enjoy going out and competing in races, and the experiences from all the successes and failures have really helped me in my professional and family life.  Enjoying a good beer is a nice "ying" to the running "yang", and the fact that running burns off the 1-3 beers I allow myself each day is a nice side benefit.

BEER SAMIZDAT: Why do you think there are multiple blogs & sites about running and beer? Is there something about this particular activity that also lends itself to drinking good beer?

Derrick Peterman: Well, I think running is a lot of about exploration and pushing limits, and that's what the best brewers are doing.  I also think that a lot of runners keep a limit of how many beers they drink, and so for those limited times to indulge in a beer, you might as well have the good stuff.

BEER SAMIZDAT: What do you make of the various health claims surrounding beer? Have you been able to convince yourself that beer is actually good for you?

Derrick Peterman: There's plenty of studies out there which basically confirm what pretty much every one's figured out.  The consensus seems to be that not drinking any beer does not automatically make you more healthy, a beer or two a day isn't going to hurt you, and routinely drinking several beers a day is going to cause a lot of problems.  Beer can be part of a healthy lifestyle.  It's what else you consume and how active you are that really matters.

BEER SAMIZDAT: I know there is the concept of a “beer run”, which I have not yet participated in. I believe it involves drinking while running or possibly only after running. Or perhaps it’s running from brewery to brewery. Can you please clarify for our readers?

Derrick Peterman: The beer run takes many forms.  When I ran cross-country in college, we had a tradition once the season was over called the Chunder Run.  The run was held around midnight, and each runner started the run by drinking a can of beer as fast as they could, and then after each mile, you had to drink another beer, for five miles and at the finish, you had to drink another beer to complete the Chunder Run.  Chunder is an Australian slang term for barf and the legend was, in Australia, they actually carried around buckets to carry any chunder across the finish line.

There is also similar event called the Beer Mile, where a beer is consumed before each of four 1/4 mile laps around a track to complete a mile.   This event even has its own website www.beermile.com and the timing and record keeping seem to be taken so seriously, you expect that it might someday become an Olympic Event.

But generally, a Beer Run involves a run that either finishes at bar or brewpub, or involves a few stops along the way, sort of a pub crawl where everyone runs to each bar.  The San Francisco Beer Week Beer Run that Brian Yaeger, Bryan Kolesar and myself put on for the past couple years as part of San Francisco Beer Week is of that variety.  We had a about 60 people show up at Social Kitchen at this year's beer run with an optional stop a Magnolia's Brewpub and everyone seemed to have a blast.(See http://beer-runner.blogspot.com/2011/02/discoveries-from-2nd-annual-sf-beer.html)  I think the upcoming Beer Run for SF Beer Week is going to be even better, and yes, this is a shameless plug for it.

BEER SAMIZDAT: Your blog, Ramblings of a Beer Runner, covers everything from your training regimen to your home brewing to the latest good beer you’ve had. Do you have a master plan for the blog, or is it something you like to mess around with in your spare time?

Derrick Peterman: My master plan is to keep messing around with it in my spare time. There is the long term goal of becoming a better writer and possibly turning it small part time job if I ever got good enough at it.  The more I write, the more I've come to appreciate how difficult it is to do well.

BEER SAMIZDAT: What can you tell us about the Peninsula & South Bay, south of San Francisco, where you live, as it relates to quality craft beer? Have there been any positive developments in recent years?

Derrick Peterman: What has quietly happened in the South Bay is that places like Faultline Brewing, Gordon Biersch, and BJ's Brewpub are becoming places to "do lunch" and network.  Sure, it's pretty corporate and unrevolutionary, but when you think about it, it's a pretty logical entry point of craft beer into Silicon Valley culture.

BEER SAMIZDAT: What are some of the trends you’ve seen in the craft beer world in the past year or so that make you excited? Any that bum you out?

Derrick Peterman: The thing that really excites me is that craft beer has become pretty ubiquitous, you can pretty much find it everywhere these days, and rarely am I surprised anymore to find a decent selections of good stuff in unlikely places like convenience stores, dive liquor stores, and dingy airport bars.

The downside of this is that with so many new brewers out there, the idea of "support your local brewer" is going by the wayside, and now your local brewer is just one of many choices out there.  Craft beer is becoming more national and less regional, and I think we are losing something in that.

BEER SAMIZDAT: Finally, what are five beers you’d take with you to the proverbial desert island? Don’t worry about quenching your thirst – there’s plenty of water. We just want to know what your favorite beers are.

Derrick Peterman: 1) Devil's Canyon Deadicated Amber: My local brewery in Belmont, CA and about once a week, my wife and I walk down to our neighborhood tacqueria and have a burrito and a Deadicated Amber.  It has this earthy quality that goes well with Mexican food.

2) Wasatch Brewing Polygamy Porter: I'm a big porter fan, and this is one of the best from Utah Brewer's Cooperative.  Utah is an underrated beer state.

3) Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA:  My craft beer epiphany really started when I visited Anderson Valley Brewery 4 1/2 years ago.  Love the piney character of this one.

4) Boulevard Brewing Tank 7 Saison:  Great lemon peppery Saison that's part of Boulevard's excellent Smokestack Series.  As a Midwestern boy, I have to give it up to a Midwestern brewery.

5) Anchor Steam:  OK, hardly a daring pick but I have a soft spot for old school, pre-Prohibition beers like Shiner Bock and Yuengling Lager.  Anchor Steam is a cut above them and the local favorite, so that's what I'll go with.

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