One thing I’ve always wanted to do is shine a light on those within our scene, those who go about making things happen and help in making the beer scene the way it is.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet some great people in this industry, one of whom is my good friend Stephen Kelly. So when I finally got round to putting together a list, he was the first person I wanted to get involved, not to just interview but more importantly catch up over a pint.
Enjoy our little chat and be sure to follow him and all his endeavors online.
Firstly, welcome Stephen, thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with me. I already know who you are, but can you give our readers a little insight into who you are and why some of us may already recognise you?
Hi Steve, thank you. Well, I am a full-time teacher, part-time runner, and some times craft beer drinker. I have been involved in areas of the local craft beer scene for a number of years now. Myself, and my good friend Michael Kerr, used to run the Belfast Beer Club in the Sunflower and the American. I have also been involved in the organisation of the ABV fest each year since it began, so some people may recognize me from those incredible weekends. I also help out with the Boundary Taproom in East Belfast. I have also been running (excuse the pun) the Belfast chapter of the Mikkeller Running Club since it began just over four years ago. On reflection, this makes me sound very busy!
Can you tell us what Mikkeller Running Club is? It’s format? And how did it end up coming to Belfast?
The Mikkeller Running Club is a unique worldwide community of runners and drinkers. It began about 5 years ago in Copenhagen through the Mikkeller brewery. Mikkel himself is a keen and talented runner and he wanted to create a running club that was fun and social in nature. Runners around the world were drawn to the idea and soon there were chapters popping up across the globe. We have over 150 chapters worldwide and we encourage chapters to interact and run together. We call it MRCTourism. I had the pleasure of running with the Chicago Chapter about three years ago. It was an unforgettably positive (and warm) experience. I shared the day with my wife and son, and we were treated to some proper American Midwest hospitality (and Malort).
So, it sounds like you have a good following, but what if you don’t run frequently or at all? Is this still something you can get involved with?
The ethos is pretty straight-forward: run, drink, have fun. Runners of all abilities are welcome, and I always tell newcomers that the beer is as important as the run. We want to meet new people, regardless of age, ability or fitness. Most chapters meet one Saturday morning a month at their chosen clubhouse, although some of the bigger worldwide chapters meet several times a month. The clubhouse is usually a craft beer bar that is happy to give runners a free pour of beer. Most members hang around for a few more beers and sometimes lunch too. We began in the Brewbot 4 years ago but moved to Woodworkers in Jan 2017. Rona and Filly have been incredible hosts to our chapter since our move.
Running and beer, this seems like a dangerous combination! Are there any other perks?
Well, we certainly haven’t encountered much danger yet, thank goodness! The main perk, for me at least, is the social nature of the club. We get to meet up with friends who we don’t necessarily get to see that often, so it gives us a monthly excuse for a good catch up. We meet, make new friends, stay fit (ish) and enjoy a couple of drinks. In our busy, modern society it’s nice to have anchors in our social life. I think the first Saturday of each month is an important anchor for me at least.
You have just celebrated your 4th birthday, congratulations! Over that time you have had 49 runs, can you tell us about your favorite run? Or an incident? (Ignoring the time I almost ran into a pillar obviously)
I try to keep the runners guessing each month, so I aim to create a different route each month. After 49 runs I am beginning to find that quite difficult! My favourite runs are the Pub-Runs. On some special occasions we like to do a run that connects several pubs across the city. We usually run from the Woodworkers to the American and stop for a half pint. Then we head onto the Sunflower for another, before we make our way back to Woodworkers for a final beer. The craic on those runs is always fantastic.
When’s your next run? How can we all get involved?
Yes, we have got 49 runs under our belt since we began in 2015. We will hit 50 at Christmas so we’re hoping that will be a special day. Our next run will be on Saturday 7th December. We meet at 11.30am at the Woodworkers and run 5km before returning for our beer. Everyone is welcome, so we hope to see some new faces. You can follow our shenanigans on Twitter @MRCBelfast or search Facebook for Mikkeller Running Club – Belfast Chapter.
Thanks for taking the time to have a chat, now let’s get back to this pint. Cheers!