In the early 1980s, Sierra Nevada Brewer founder Ken Grossman knew every other craft brewer in the country and would regularly call them up to talk.
Today, the explosion of the craft beer industry makes that level of intimacy impossible. But it’s not for lack of trying.
This summer, Grossman is leading Sierra Nevada on a cross-country road trip festival from the west coast to the east coast to celebrate the opening of its new North Carolina brewery. Along the way they’ve invited the 2,800 craft brewers that they know to join them, throw parties in various cities and create collaboration beers.
They call it Beer Camp.
Grossman called this process “amazingly difficult” in an interview with Men’s Journal. It kind of sounds like a logistical nightmare of a large, raucous but tight-knit family reunion that has outgrown its park rotunda.
And yet Grossman calls craft brewing a “heady place as an industry” for all its momentum. As our beer editor wrote, the number of craft breweries has doubled since 2010. Rapid growth comes with its headaches but also its celebrations. The more the merrier, in many ways.
If you’re a runner, this type of growth may seem familiar.
In the last decade of running, I’ve seen races appear to double in size. I could peruse local running calendars and find a race, a fun run or a running club outing on almost any day of the week. Many observers of the running industry say we’re in the midst of a second running boom, which followed the first running boom in the late 1970s.
You can’t know every runner at the start line anymore and give them a regular call.
So do the numbers actually reflect the upward trends like they do with craft beer? Maybe.
This isn’t quite scientific, but in my search of Google Trends — which track what keywords people search for over time — terms like “running shoes,” “5k” and “half marathon” all have strong and regular growth. The search for “5K” has more than doubled since 2005. Running is objectively on the upswing, just like craft beer.
There are growing pains for this type of rapid growth, as the beer and running industries have seen. But to this point both have managed to hold onto the tight-knit and common identity they share. They still seem to have an “us-against-the-mainstream” type of mindset that unites them.
It may be an unwieldy family, but it’s still a family.
Maybe there should be a running camp that joins the beer camp across the country.