Booze Cruise

Where there are bikes, there is beer


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In recent years, the bicycle industry and the craft beer industry have enjoyed surges, fueled by a legion of loyal customers bent on tasting the latest batch of IPAs and venturing to new breweries on fixed gears and cruisers.

But for a reason why the two industries have prospered, it’s best to turn to those cashing in on the happy marriage between cycling and suds.

Stephen Johnson is the owner of Motor City Brew Tours (MCBT), a bus and walking tour company. He established MCBT in 2009 and two years later, began replacing the bus with bikes and the brewery stops with historical sites associated with Prohibition and brewing history. He dubbed the offshoot Motor City Bike and Brew Tours, and it was an immediate hit — all 20 of the 20-person bike tours sold out in their first year.

Johnson’s theory as to why the bike and brew communities have seen such swells in popularity can be attributed to their similarities in culture.

“Bike shops aren’t necessarily trying to compete against each other,” Johnson says. “At this point, most breweries aren’t real competitive with each other, either. They’re more of a community within, and so is the biking community.”

There’s also the influence of the local food movement and a mutual respect for the outdoors.

“People have kind of gotten back to their roots of enjoying their surroundings,” Johnson says. “That gets more people out on bikes, more people going to a local brewery and enjoying something that was made there.”

Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Co. has embraced the outdoorsy ethos, particularly biking. The company’s phrase; “Born on a bike seat,” refers to co-founder Jeff Lebesch’s bike trip through Belgium that led to the creation of Fat Tire Amber Ale and other bike-inspired beers (such as Shift Pale Lager and Slow Ride Session IPA).

So it’s little surprise that the craft brewery became an official sponsor of Slow Roll last year. Asher Attick, New Belgium’s Michigan “field brander,” says the decision was an easy one, particularly since both brands share a mission to showcase the health, community, and environmental benefits of biking. 

With the Detroit Greenways Coalition installing more bike lanes in 2015, sustainability seems to be part of the city’s immediate future. And with new breweries like Corktown’s Batch Brewing Co. setting up shop, it seems there will be beer, too.

“The city is ripe for resurgence and a renaissance,” Attick says. “And craft beer, cycling, and groups like Slow Roll are what are going to lead that charge.”


For more about Motor City Bike and Brew Tours visit motorcitybrewtours.com.

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