Spending Time in the Saddle and on the Stool
“Sometimes, it’s all about the bike. Sometimes it’s all about the beer. But more often these days, it’s about both,” reports The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA, this past week. Like beer and running, the intersection of beer and cycling has recently seen a resurgence that doesn’t appear to downshift anytime soon.
Most beer lovers associate bikes with New Belgium, which Jeff Lebesch co-founded after riding his mountain bike with “fat tires” across Europe. This year, the brewery is the official beer partner for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge that begins in two weeks. And not only did Oskar Blues chose Brevard, NC, as the site of its second brewing facility, in part, because founder Dale Katechis has kept a mountain bike there for years, but the brewery now has its own company that manufactures handmade, steel mountain bikes—REEB Cycles (BEER spelled backward).
Owner and brewmaster Christian Ettinger of Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) in Portland, OR, similarly shares a passion for bikes as much as he does his beer. The brewery is grounded in cycling culture and recently opened a second location—BikeBar—on a bike commuter route in the city. In addition to ten HUB beers on draft and one in a cask, the taproom “include[s] 40 bike frames displayed over the bar that are the work of local custom frame builders… and two Plug-Out stationary bicycles that actually generate electricity back into the building’s grid when pedaled.”
Two weeks ago, I went on a casual ride with a cycling team organized by a local, Belgium-themed cafe. It advertised $2 beers from New Belgium after the cranks stopped turning, though some used the special to get those wheels turning in the first place. Similarly, one of my local independent bike shops makes homebrew available at events that it hosts, and bringing your own beer to share among the helmet-clad is anything but discouraged. To pedal one turn further, two bike stores in my state have actual bars with several beers available on draft and in cans, as do many other velo shops across the country.
But why is beer and biking just now becoming a “thing”? Well, it isn’t. After I tweeted the previously mentioned article in the The Spokesman-Review, All About Beer Magazine contributing writer and longtime cyclist K. Florian Klemp sent me an email stating that bikes and beer have been intertwined for decades, but “the mainstream is twenty-five years behind the times and assuming it’s novel or new.” In fact, “microbreweries have been sponsoring racing teams since they were started,” he wrote.
Klemp suspects that social media and the relative ease with which anyone can spread information these days on the Internet often contributes to the misconception of relatively old concepts, like beer and cycling, seeming new just because a greater audience is captured. As it would have it, I checked my Twitter feed as I was writing this piece, and near the top appeared this tweet from Victory Brewing Co.:
Bike Fresh, Bike Local takes place 9/23. 25, 50 or 75 mile routes begin & end at the brewpub @pasafarming Register: ow.ly/cF3xc ^KN
Regardless of whether brewery-sponsored cycling events or combination bike shop-beer bars are new concepts or simply old ideas seeing a resurgence, I think we can all agree that a cold IPA tastes even better after a long, sun-beaten ride on a weekend afternoon. If you stop by HUB’s BikeBar, there’s a dedicated water bottle filling station waiting for you too.