Alright everyone, hold onto your pants because we are going for a Brewcycle adventure! Was it suspicious when I mentioned Brewcycle a few weeks ago but gave little to no details about the event?? That’s because it was so much fun that my Portland post would have doubled in length in order for me to feel like I gave Brewcycle the proper attention. I was on the phone with my long distance BFF the other day (it may or may not have been National Best Friends Day) and we agreed that Brewcycle was definitely the highlight of our Portland adventure.
This idea actually came from my dad who said something along the lines of “oh, you’re going to Portland? You should do that bike-and-drink-thing!” (This is not an exact quote, sorry, Dad.) But I got the point. It turns out that biking and drinking is becoming a pretty popular combo, with similar tours popping up all over the country by names like Pub Cycle, Social Cycle, and Sprock ‘n’ Roll (which of course is in Memphis). Who knew that people would want to pay to exercise and consume alcohol simultaneously?! I guess I shouldn’t judge, because I’m a believer now!
We came across Brewcycle pretty quickly, and I honestly didn’t even look into competitors. We found it, we booked it, and that was that.
OR WAS IT?
Well, first we had to choose a route. Brewcycle offers a “Northwest” route, a “dive bar” route, and an “old town” route. I peer pressured my buddy into choosing the dive bar route because dive bars are kind of my fave, but Brewcycle will not allow the bike to go out with less than 8 riders. And do you want to guess how many people signed up for our bike?
Just us. Can you imagine watching two people trying to pedal a gigantic trolley-looking thing down the streets on their own? When I close my eyes, I can almost feel the hernia this would have caused me. So thank you, Brewcycle, for this rule.
We got a call the day before our tour informing us that our tour had been cancelled. There was, however, a tour leaving one hour later (we signed up for 6:00, this one was at 7:00) for the Old Town route. Since we weren’t dead set on the time OR the route, this was a perfect, easy fix. This also gave us time to eat dinner beforehand, which turned out to be a great decision—the tour last a little over two hours so it would have been a pretty late dinner, and it’s always nice to have something in your tummy when drinking alcohol.
Truth be told, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. We arrived at the starting location, which is also a taproom, super early and had a beer before we left on our bar crawl. They also are well stocked with board games, so we played a round of Bananagrams while we waited. Our group ended up being almost completely female, made up of three different parties. On the bike itself there are no drinks allowed (I believe this is due to open container laws), but it does come equipped with an aux cord for personalized DJing.
The first bar we visited was PINTS Brewing. Since it was only 7pm, it was relatively empty other than our group when we arrived. After ordering my drink, I sat outside with a few of the girls and we got to know each other. Our guide informed us that we are allowed more or less time at each stop depending on how fast we get there, and since the first portion of the ride is either flat or downhill, we were given 25 minutes to relax at PINTS. From there, we pedaled to Old Town Brewing Co.
Each bike seats 15 people, but only 10 pedal. There is a bench across the back of the bike that seats three non-pedalers, and there are two seats across from each other that are situated above the back wheels that also have no pedals. My friend ended up in one of those seats at the beginning, so she and I traded seats for each leg of the trip. The pedaling is relatively leisurely on the Old Town route, with only one section of the ride being uphill (if I remember correctly, it was from Old Town to Fat Head’s). If you are interested in participating in this kind of bike tour but are worried about the pedaling, don’t be. You can do it! Or let your fellow riders know that you need a ride along seat rather than a pedaling seat—trust me, they will thank you.
Old Town is also a pizza restaurant, so some of our party purchased garlic knots for the ride. I enjoy drinking, but I have trouble downing beers in twenty minutes. For this reason, I opted out of purchasing a drink at Old Town and just enjoyed the atmosphere and the company instead.
Back on the bike, I whipped out some fries from our dinner earlier (Tilt does a two-for-one large fry for happy hour, and they mean business!), and got the party started. I mentioned earlier that this was the most strenuous leg of the trip, but everyone had loosened up significantly by then and our bike was a riot. The platform in the middle of our seats had transformed into a dance floor and we had 90’s anthems blaring. Since a few friends had vacated their seats to dance, we all shuffled around to cover all of the pedal seats while waving at passers by. Know this—if you are riding down the street on a giant bike-trolley-thing blasting the Spice Girls, people will be looking at you. Own it! Make them wish they were as cool as you!
By the time we reached Fat Head’s I was ready for the pedaling break, but also to keep the spirit alive! The bars know the deal with the Brewcyclers and are good at getting our drinks out quickly. While Fat Head’s was pretty crowded upon our arrival around 8:30, I didn’t wait long for my porter and had plenty of time to maximize my 25 minutes at the bar. Everyone on the bike had quickly become friends, and so we all sat together at one table. I’m sure we were a very loud bunch, but everyone was in such high spirits that I didn’t care how much attention we attracted! After our round of drinks and silly conversations (I was forced to chug the last of my beer), it was back to the bike and we were headed home.
Back at our starting location, we took some more group photos and then some said goodbyes while the rest of us stuck around for another drink. We sat at the taproom for a little while before catching an Uber to one last bar with our new friends. Overall, Brewcycle turned out to be way more fun than I anticipated, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! We got lucky with a group of ladies that were all very similar to ourselves in age and attitude, but I think that Brewcycle would be just as enjoyable with any group of people. We were given about 25 minutes at each bar, which means we spent about 45 minutes total actually biking. Since it’s broken up by the stops, it hardly feels like you pedal for that long.
Thank you, Brewcycle, for existing! I’ll be back for more next time I’m in Portland!