RUNTOBEER explores Toronto through running and craft beer | TasteToronto
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RUNTOBEER explores Toronto through running and craft beer

At the intersection of running and beer lies RUNTOBEER, Canada's largest running community—and it's based in Toronto.

You may not expect running and beer to have much in common, but Dan Grant has found a way to unite his passions through RUNTOBEER.

"RUNTOBEER is a free, non-competitive running series that explores Toronto through its craft beer scene," says Grant, Manager and Co-Founder at RUNTOBEER. "We use existing public infrastructure (i.e., sidewalks, paths and trails) to visit a different brewery or craft beer bar each week, all throughout the year."

Runners can simply register for a 10k, a 5k or a 3k run, show up to run, and complete the run at a craft brewery, where they are greeted with a high-five tunnel (pictured above) and their first pint on the house.

According to Grant, runs aim to fill whichever brewery or venue they are running to, so events can range from 40 to 150 or more people, depending on where they are going. RUNTOBEER's largest run hosted 300 people at the Ale Yards on Symes Road.

"Nobody gets left behind, and no one gets their beer until everyone has finished their run," says Grant.

A large-scale operation, Grant notes that RUNTOBEER has hosted more than 250 events, visited 98 different Toronto venues and organized runs in Montréal, London, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Uxbridge and Hamilton, since its conception in 2014.

"In a past life, I was a modelling agent and one of my models knew I was an occasional runner with a love for excellent beer," Grant remembers. "While working in New York, she saw a beer coaster for something called the NYC Beer Run, and brought it back for me. That was the inspiration."

Grant then co-founded the community with Tej Sandhu, who has since opened MERIT Brewing in Hamilton.

"In March 2014, I put out a tweet saying I was planning to run to a local brewpub, inviting anyone to join me," Grant expands.

"Only one person (Tej) did, but he and I agreed the idea had legs (pun intended), so we kept inviting people to subsequent events. [Tej] was a complete stranger to me before the run, but we became good friends and built RUNTOBEER together for the first couple years."

Grant himself is a Prud'homme beer sommelier. He was voted Ontario's Favourite Beer Personality at the 2019 Golden Tap Awards, and has written for such publications as NOW Magazine, Scandinavian Brewers Review and TAPS Magazine. In addition to managing RUNTOBEER, Grant opened Bossanova Wine & Beer in 2021.

"My favourite beer (right now—it changes often) is Ritual Madness, a Flanders Red Ale from Indie Alehouse," says Grant. "It's a blend of two different barrel-aged vintages, aged on grape must. It's super complex, with flavours like red wine vinegar, leather, cherries and woodiness."

"I love when breweries take a traditional style and make a subtle change, so everything stays in proportion, but there's a fun twist. Something like resting the beer in a barrel that's been used previously for cognac or Chardonnay, but not so long that it overwhelms the other flavours."

But it's not all runs and beer at RUNTOBEER. Grant expresses that one of his favourite things about the community is just that—the community itself.

"My favourite moments (plural) are those occasions when I hear from someone who found their people in RUNTOBEER. We've had so many new residents join us when they first move to Toronto, then become among our most dedicated regulars," he explains.

"We've had marriages and babies that wouldn't be, if not for RUNTOBEER. The number of meaningful relationships that have developed because of RUNTOBEER is not only staggering, but also the main reason I continue to do this every single week."

RUNTOBEER will indeed continue through the winter months. The schedule depends on which breweries are available to host each week, and registration fills up fast, so if you are interested keep an eye on this page for upcoming events.