This way to the finish line slash bar. Photo: Shoes and Brews.

This way to the bar. Photo: Shoes and Brews.

Colorado’s brew scene is nothing short of spectacular. The state’s craft beer industry burgeoned early on, right along side Stone Brewing Co. and other new recognizable and easily accessible brews. Colorado is also known for its vast expanse of outdoor-recreation-friendly areas including running.

So, when a shop emerged on the scene that encompasses all that anyone can appreciate from Colorado, heads turned.

Self-proclaimed runners with drinking problems, Colin Anderson, Dave Zakavec, Ashlee Velez opened the first-ever running shop/bar/nano brewery/retail establishment, Shoes and Brews, in Longmont, Colorado last year.

Shoes and Brews, situated right off a running path, features over 20 locally brewed beers and array of running gear. The establishment also brews a limited amount of beer onsite.

GrindTV caught up with Velez about creating community, the unusual establishment and what they have on tap.

How did this all happen?
Ashlee Velez: The back story is that the three of us who run it ran together at [Colorado State University] in Fort Collins.

There's such a beer culture surrounding that college — there are 15 other breweries or something like that in town — and it creates this environment where it's very normal to be really active, then go get beers in the afternoon. That was our way of being social.

We were on a run and Colin Anderson who is one of our owners and founders, brought up the idea that we should open a running shoe store and it should have a craft beer bar attached to it. We opened within a year.

You're in Longmont, Colorado, outside of Boulder. Why there?
There are tons of runners here, the high school scene is really good and there's a great [cross-country] and track program. But, surprisingly there's never been a running store. There had never been a central place for runners. So, we wanted to create that.

How do you set up a running store that's also a bar and a nano brewery?
It's all one business. You come in the door and it's a full-on run shop. Half way through there's a half glass wall that separates the shoe side from the brew side.

We wanted that separation just in case you're a runner who isn't into the brew side and to show that you don't have to be a runner to drink beer here. And we wanted to close the bar a little later, and open the running shop a little earlier.

Shoes and Brews

Shoes and Brews features an impressive array of running shoes. Photo: Shoes and Brews

What's the beer selection like?
We have 20 beers on tap, we try to bring in smaller breweries that aren't anywhere else in Longmont, and then we're brewing our own beer.

We're a nano brewery, we only have one barrel, so we typically only have one of our own beers on at a time, but we think that it's fun.

Colin's dad, Rodger has been a homebrewer for 20 years so it was nice to have someone who really loved brewing to take it to the next step. I think it sets us apart.

Shoes and Brews

Shoes and Brews offers over 20 locally brewed beers from small breweries on tap. Photo: Shoes and Brews

How do you bring people in, besides beer?
We do two runs every week, a Thursday social at 6 p.m., that's very casual along the St. Vrain, and a Saturday morning run — that one could be a trail run, or a run and yoga, or a run and bloodies. We try to keep Saturday changing, it keeps it a little bit more interesting.

We also partnered with Lefthand Brewery — they're right down the path — to put on some races. We did one in the spring that ended with a mini brew fest. There's local food and bands, and people just kind of hang out.

What has the response been like?
Every week I'm pleasantly surprised by the people who come out and what a good time those guys are. I'm surprised how well the brew side has done on it's own.

At first, we weren't sure if people were going to come when it wasn't a run night. But we see tons of people that are only coming for the beer selection. We have regulars, which I did not expect.

I think the way all running shops succeed is to be a part of the community, so we want to be that for Longmont.

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