Sweat for what you love – STOLT interview with Caitlin Landesberg

Caitlin Landesberg, the founder and CEO of Sufferfest Beer company, talks about how running and great tasting beer can help you to reach your goals. You just got to earn it first.


Caitlin Landesberg is the founder and CEO of Sufferfest Beer company, the producer of premium craft beer for athletes, based in San Francisco, California. The former marketer at Strava and a lifelong athlete set up her beer company in 2015, after being diagnosed as gluten intolerant years earlier and learning the craft of beer making to develop a gluten free beer for herself and fellow athletes to enjoy. Caitlin now runs her business while also being a mum to a 6-month-old baby girl and finding the time to fit in regular exercise too. We spoke to her about making great tasting beer, running a business and fitting exercise into a busy schedule.

Making premium craft beer for athletes

Sufferfest Beer company makes gluten removed beers for active consumers to celebrate the post-race, post-workout, moment with friends. According to Caitlin, “it’s beer that tastes exactly the way you want it to taste and is safe to drink. I can drink it with fellow athletes who are avoiding gluten for whatever reason, whether it be sleep or inflammation or joint pain and even those with dietary restrictions like celiac or those who are sensitive, like I am, to gluten.”

Caitlin knows this subject all too well having been there at the finish line herself, not being able to enjoy that ice-cold celebratory drink with her fellow racers and friends due to being gluten intolerant.  Catlin says, “we make beer that everyone can drink and that they feel really good about drinking. That’s good for their body but more importantly we celebrate athletes and we believe we should be at every finish line and be part of the recovery celebration because we’ve earned it.” It really is beer created by athletes for athletes or as Caitlin puts it “we celebrate athletes and at the end of the day if we can cater to those people who sweat for their beer then I’m really happy about that.”

Sweating for what you love and earning it

Sufferfest is not your traditional beer company. The team behind it are all athletes who believe in pushing themselves and supporting each other. “We are all bound together by our common love of earning it, and earning our beer and on the team, we have a cyclist and there is a climber and runners and triathletes and because of that we really push each other and we instill fitness in our culture”, Caitlin explains.

Catilin comes across as a fantastically inspirational go-getter and we can’t but admire her for starting up her own company and managing and growing it successfully while being a new mum and still finding time to exercise too. “Getting back into shape after a baby is difficult and a lot of fitness was lost but what’s nice is just having patience and incrementally going after something nice and small and tackling that and doing it again and again,” Caitlin says. She admits being very goal oriented and explains how that helped her to get back in training after having her baby. “I immediately put a race in the calendar, so I had a race a couple of months after I had my daughter just so that I had something that gets me outside and gets a goal around my head as I’m very goal oriented” she says.

She’s also found run commuting as part of her exercise routine and makes sure the Sufferfest team goes for regular team runs too. “I run in and out to work and make sure I take the hilliest halfway to and from and we do Monday afternoon team runs as a company,” Caitlin explains. She continues “you just have to make it work and that’s why running as a commute has become a part of my exercise. I didn’t think that I was ever going to do that but now becoming a parent and running a company, it’s made it really a necessity for me.”

Daily habits that help you to fit it all in and find a balance

But with all that she’s got going on with the business, family, running and races we can’t help but wonder how she manages it all and what keeps her focused and grounded.

She mentions getting up early in the morning as a key way to get things done but she also finds the piece and calm in her running. “My fitness is my meditation. My running is what keeps me calm and centered. I really believe that and that running is part of my good health, being a good parent and a good person so I do try to prioritize it when I categorize it as a part of being a better human,” she says.

Running as well as cutting off electronics and the digital world also helps her to run her business, find solutions to problems and make plans for the future. Caitlin explains, “sometimes during a day you get really bad news, you have to put up another fire or you’ve got to think about a really hard problem to tackle and often I would just strap on my shoes and go on a run and do some sole running. I leave Strava behind and I leave my headphones behind and often I’m able to work out my problem on a run.” She continues, “there is something really true about it (running) being a mediation and being a remedy to just kind of clearing your mind and bringing your brain away from all the noise that we have to deal with today.”

She also makes sure to turn off electronics in the evening. “By 8 or 9 pm is time to shut down and to think about bigger things. I make a lot of lists and I go to bed with my journal or with my notebook and my pen and I just think about the list and the things that I want to accomplish in the week and in the month and in the year and that really helps me to think about the important things vs. the urgent things.” Caitlin says.

Caitlin recognizes how easy it is to spend a lot of time doing things that are urgent but reminds us to focus on the important things and to remember why we do what we do. “I do think that clearing that noise away in a way or another, and it’s different for everyone, but for me it starts with just unplugging literally from the digital world that we are living and starting to think about time in a different type of period vs. how many things we can get done in one hour on your computer, and really trying to figure out what’s going to be meaningful for you over time.”

Having a team to support you

It sounds like the Sufferfest team really have each other’s back and go out of their way to support their athletes in different races. Caitlin says that she herself gets a lot of support and encouragement from her fellow colleagues and mentions the invaluable advice she has got from other brewers too when setting up her company. One of the key advice she gives to any beer enthusiast that wants to start their own beer company is to start speaking to other business owners and learn from them early on.

When it comes to running itself, Caitlin mentions the Strava app as her favourite running gear in addition to her Clifton shoes from Hoka. So it’s not all sole running for Caitlin sha she says that support and kudos from friends and fellow athletes via the app can mean a lot. “It’s sort of how I keep up with my friends now that have moved away or that I don’t see that often. We seem to always connect via Strava and getting a little kudos from one of my friends means a lot and it feels like people are there cheering me on and vice versa.” she says.

Having a team, friends, family and colleagues, is invaluable for any of us and when it comes to finishing off those races and smashing your goals, we would love to see the Sufferfest team at the finish line. “We believe that’s really our purpose to be out there cheering on and supporting our racers with whatever they need” Caitlin says and continues “…and that obviously includes an ice-cold beer at the end.”

Have we earned our beer yet?

Sufferfest is a fascinating company set up by this very inspirational woman and her team of fellow athletes but we wonder when the STOLT team can get our hands on their ice-cold beers here in London.

Sufferfest is based in California and Caitlin explains they plan to grow the brand and the business in an authentic way, one state at the time, first in the US. However, we are happy to learn that international expansion is in the plans and we hope that we can get our hands to their beer sooner than later.

To learn more about the brand and where to find their produce visit www.sufferfestbeer.com. Check out also their IG account @sufferfestbeer.

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