Written by Tom Rotunno for cnbc.com
One of the founding fathers of the U.S. craft beer movement is joining forces with the world’s oldest annual marathon. On Thursday, the Boston Beer Company will announce a first-ever partnership between the maker of Sam Adams and the Boston Athletic Association, the organizer of the Boston Marathon.
Boston Beer will be creating a special commemorative beer, the Samuel Adams Boston 26.2 Brew, to mark this year’s marathon.
Details about the beer will be released at Thursday’s event with Boston Beer Founder and CEO Jim Koch, Boston Marathon legend Bill Rodgers and BAA President Joann Flaminio in attendance. However, company officials said the beer will have “a lighter body and slightly lower alcohol level than many of the beers in the Samuel Adams roster.”
The beer is expected to be made available exclusively at Boston Marathon events and at “a few select pubs and restaurants along the marathon route and in Boston.”
By pairing craft beer and marathoning, the partnership brings together two of the hottest trends in the United States. According to the industry trade group the Brewers Association, craft beer saw a dollar sales increase of 15 percent the first half of 2011, after posting an increase of 12 percent in 2010.
Marathon running has seen a similar boom. According to Running USA, a Colorado organization that tracks road race participation, 507,000 runners finished a marathon in 2010, up from 303,000 ten years earlier. (Numbers for 2011 are not yet available.)
The two properties themselves are also two of the hottest players in their respective fields. Boston Beer stock[SAM 103.19 2.98 (+2.97%) ]has doubled the past two years and continues to hover at or near its all-time high.
The Boston Marathon, which unlike most major marathons requires all registered runners to qualify, set a record by selling out in 8 hours and 3 minutes in October 2010, prompting the BAA to make entry for 2012 more stringent.
In addition to bringing together Boston’s signature beer with the city’s signature sporting event, the partnership is likely a sentimental one for Koch. He started selling Sam Adams on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts state holiday that coincides with the running of the Boston Marathon, in 1985. When more than two dozen bars began selling out of Sam Adams, Koch loaded up his station wagon to make deliveries himself. There was just one issue.
“I couldn’t get from one side of the city to the other without going all the way out to [Route] 128 (and around the entire marathon),’’ Koch told the Boston Globe in April 2010.
He’ll likely have an easier go of it this time around.