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Biking and breweries

Actually, this makes perfect sense.

This started off in the gray area between a good idea and a bad one. Two years ago, Jason Buhlman and Brian Kondrach got about 30 of their friends together for an afternoon of two-wheel tourism, in which they aimed to bike between as many breweries as possible in one day.

“At the time, there were only eight breweries that we could do inside the Loop,” Kondrach explains to a group of prospective riders on a sunny Saturday afternoon in late June. “It took us 14 hours. We were way too drunk. It was a mess.”

“A mess,” echoes Buhlman, who is standing just to the right of Kondrach, wearing a baseball T-shirt with the motto, “Wheels Down, Bottoms Up,” printed across his chest.

“So we put some rules on it,” Kondrach continues. “We made it so it was only 45 minutes at each stop – just one pint each, and then we move. And we added two breweries and did it again six month later.”

The ride was still fun. But much less … sloppy. And that’s when Buhlman and Kondrach realized that a curated version of this could potentially lay the groundwork for a business that could combine two of their loves: Craft beer and bicycles.

Then last May, their business, Tour de Brewery, was born. Rather than 10 breweries in an afternoon, they offer shorter tours in distinct pockets of the city, featuring about three breweries apiece.

[…]

Across Houston, breweries are becoming more bike-friendly. At Saint Arnold, a BCycle bike-share station opened earlier this Spring; there are plans to unveil one at 8th Wonder by the time the summer is through; and hopes of opening a third in Sawyer Yard, in close proximity to three breweries. And some of the city’s breweries are forming bike teams, and hosting bike crawls of their own. But as all this happens, it raises one big question: Should people hop on bikes after drinking?

“We’ve have people approach us and ask, ‘Why would you put a station at Saint Arnold or 8th Wonder?’” says Henry Morris, a spokesman at BCycle. “And the answer is, well, they have parking spaces. People drive there and drive back and they’re expected to be responsible. So if you take a bike share to a brewery and you have too much to drink, you should call an Uber home.”

That’s why the guys at Tour de Brewery emphasize that their outings are about discovering new beers.

“If you’re going to bike and drink, it’s important to remember that it’s a tasting experience,” says Jessica Green, director of development for Bike Houston, which is on track to add 50 miles of bike lanes to the city this year, including a stretch that will help cyclists close the gap between 8th Wonder and Saint Arnold. “Have one beer, and then ride. And the riding will help you metabolize the alcohol. But don’t drink more than a beer or two an hour, which is when you get into getting drunk.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but these breweries are neighborhood institutions as much as anything else, in the spirit of the old corner bar. They draw their customers mostly from their nearby surroundings, not the wider region. Also, and especially for the breweries in the inner core, parking is at a premium. That’s a combination that incentivizes biking, on both sides. For sure, as the story notes, you should imbibe carefully if you do this. Honestly, though, the same would be true if you drove. So plan your route, pick your spots, maybe give Tour de Brewery a look, and enjoy your afternoon.

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2 Comments

  1. Alex Bunin says:

    Maybe, if you do not have a map, a bike or a helmet, this is a good deal. Otherwise, it is almost $70 for beer. I would be hard pressed to drink that much beer to make it worth it. I would say it might be a good deal for out-of-towners but I did the same thing in Denver at a fraction of the cost using their local bikeshare and my phone for directions.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    I’m not sure that this makes a great deal of sense. Drinking and driving is bad, and drinking and cycling is no better. Impairment begins with one drink. Alcohol also dilates blood vessels and increases the risk of dehydration, so not good for cycling. Sure, in the old days of the Tour those guys had wine with their baguette but it’s not a great idea for Houston.

    Plus, as someone who rides a bicycle to work, and to the dry cleaner, and to church, and the library, and to the grocery store, this kind of stuff increases the perception of the entitled cyclists, who ride around in groups and run stop signs and wear their Lycra on their $7,000 tennis rackets.

    And, I am dismayed that everyone in Houston is so obsessed with drinking everywhere they go. HEB can’t open its Heights store without selling alcohol, even though Fiesta was there for 44 years without selling alcohol. Every restaurant needs to sell alcohol. I am by no means a teetotaler but I don’t need to drink and don’t let it dominate my life.

    And, if I drink beer, I will drink beer flavored beer. Like Schlitz, Strohs, Budweiser, or original Coors.