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New brewery combines two passions: running and beer

Two guys from Felida — Rob Ziebell and Jeff Seibel — start Ghost Runners Brewery

By , Columbian Health Reporter
Published: September 6, 2015, 6:00am
7 Photos
Co-owner Rob Ziebell offers a range of beers, all with running-related names, at Ghost Runners Brewery. The most popular picks are the 5K IPA and the Boston Irish Red Ale.
Co-owner Rob Ziebell offers a range of beers, all with running-related names, at Ghost Runners Brewery. The most popular picks are the 5K IPA and the Boston Irish Red Ale. Photo Gallery

The world is filled with classic pairings: Peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Barbie and Ken. Runners and beer.

Rob Ziebell and Jeff Seibel — a couple of runners and homebrewers from Felida — have taken their favorite pairing and turned it into a running-themed commercial brewery, named Ghost Runners Brewery.

“Beer is food,” Seibel said. “My motivation was at the end of a 5- to 7-mile run, I could go home and have a beer.”

Where: 4216 N.E. Minnehaha St., Suite 108, Vancouver.

When: 4:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays; 3 to 9 p.m. Fridays; and 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays.

For about a decade, Ziebell dreamed about starting a brewery with a running connection, he said. He and his buddies would finish a long run, grab a beer and talk about running.

“We had big-time jobs and always thought it would be fun to eventually start a brewery and incorporate running into it somehow,” Ziebell said.

The dream was always there, but Ziebell didn’t act on it until 2012.

The year before, Ziebell and his family moved into the house next door to Seibel’s family. They quickly realized they shared two common interests: running and homebrewing. Opening a brewery came up at an evening barbecue, and the next year, they launched Ghost Runners Brewery.

The brewery started in an 8-by-10-foot shed in Seibel’s backyard. They began self-distributing to local restaurants such as Brickhouse Bar & Grill, Brewed Cafe & Pub and Farrar’s Bistro. They later signed on with three distributors serving Southwest Washington, the Spokane area and the Seattle-metro area.

This summer, Ghost Runners opened a new location.

Construction on the Ghost Runners Brewery facility began in October 2014. The goal was to open a production brewery where people can taste beer and fill their growlers — not open a full-scale restaurant, Seibel said.

“It’s all about beer,” he said.

They opened the doors to the nearly 3,000-square-foot brewery and taproom in June.

The brewery is a 10-barrel facility (one barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons) and produces about 60 to 80 barrels a month. But Seibel said he hopes to see that number climb to 280 barrels per month next year.

“We have room for growth,” Seibel said.

The production brewery is in an industrial complex off of Northeast Minnehaha Street. The brewing equipment sits in the back of the building; a seating area and bar with roll-up doors take up the front.

The running motif is everywhere.

Wood picnic tables are decorated with Ghost Runners pint glasses and finisher medals from area races. Race bib numbers hang on the wall by the bathroom. The Ghost Runners logo is featured on glasses, growlers, beanies and T-shirts for sale.

Perhaps the most obvious incorporation of the running theme into the brewery — aside from the name itself — are the beer names. A chalkboard hanging on the wall identifies what’s on tap: 5K IPA, Pace Breaker Oatmeal Pale Ale, Cross Country Red K?lsch, Boston Irish Red Ale, Duathlon Black IPA, Hellacious Repeats Double IPA and Negative Split Stout.

“Every single name will be off running or riding or some sort of exercise,” Ziebell said. “That’s something that we will carry forward.”

The brewery name itself came from the mental release runners feel when facing moments of trepidation during hours-long runs, Ziebell said.

“I get lost for a little bit sometimes, where I think about anything,” he said. “And you get a moment of clarity from something else that helps you along.”

That feeling, Ziebell said, was the essence behind the Ghost Runners name.

Ziebell, 46, has been running seriously for more than 20 years. He runs 30-plus miles a week and has competed in several marathons, including the Boston Marathon and Vancouver USA Marathon, as well as the Cascade Lakes Relay.

Seibel began running about six or seven years ago.

“I never thought about running for exercise or fun,” Seibel said.

But after competing in a muddy obstacle course of biking and running with his wife, Siebel said he was hooked. He has since run a number of races, including the Shamrock Run in Portland and Hood to Coast.

The running community is a niche to which Ghost Runners Brewery hopes to cater, Seibel said, but that’s not to say it’s exclusive.

Seibel and Ziebell do want to reach — and encourage — people who are active, so much so that they’ve played host to several running events in their first few months of operation and have several more lined up.

Three times this summer, Ghost Runners hosted Fleet Feet Sports’ (formerly Fit Right Northwest) Pint Society, a weekly 3-to-5-mile run starting and finishing at a local brewery.

Kayla Cruanas, 32, attended one of the Pint Society events with her husband, Alex, and their 4-month-old German shepherd, Fury. After completing the 3-mile run, they grabbed pints of the 5K IPA.

“You can show up all sweaty and gross, and they smile, which is nice,” Kayla Cruanas said. “You show up at a regular restaurant like this, and people look at you weird.”

Ghost Runners will host its first Beer Mile on Sept. 13. Participants will drink a 12-ounce beer inside the brewery, then run outside and take a lap around the parking lot, which is a quarter-mile loop. Participants then head inside for another 12-ounce beer. This repeats until the runner has completed four laps and 48 ounces of beer: the Beer Mile.

“It’s going to be an amazing event,” Seibel said.

In October, the brewery is hosting its annual Ghost Run, a 3-mile fun-run involving costumes, beer and a catered dinner. It also has a beer olympics in the works that will require teams of two: a drinker and a runner.

The mission behind the events — and the brewery — is to get people active, engage the running community and enjoy good beer, Seibel and Ziebell said.

“I like to have a beer or two, but to do that and not feel guilty, I run,” Ziebell said.

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