Archive for the ‘beer’ tag
Sometimes you come across strange laws or practices isolated to one place.
In Pennsylvania, for example, you have to go to the beer distribution store to get bottles or cans of beer in large quantities, but the beer store doesn’t sell smaller quantities such as six-packs. To get a six-pack, you have to go to a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, who can sell you a six-pack to go. And hard liquor is sold only through state-controlled stores. You potentially have to make several stops if you’re looking to stock up.
Several northern states we’ve passed through, like North Dakota, also advertise “on or off sale,” which for awhile I couldn’t figure out. Turns out it’s also alcohol-related, and that establishment can sell alcohol for both on-premises and off-premises consumption.
Montana, with its heralded craft brewery scene, also has some quirky regulations. Montana law limits customers to 48 ounces (or three pints) of beer in its brewery tasting rooms. Breweries can’t serve food in the tasting rooms, either – it’s purely beer tasting. In Billings, we visited Angry Hank’s Brewery, where they do make popcorn for you to enjoy with your $3 pints, but there’s no food menu to order from. The hours that a brewery can be open are also controlled by the state; every brewery we’ve seen has the same tasting hours posted, which were 4 to 8pm.
Our day to Grand Rapids was longer than we had anticipated. We had originally planned to head a little off-route to get to a campground, but halfway through the day we decided to shoot for a different campground that would get us closer to our goal for the next day. We pushed on, taking a snack and stretch break in a park when we thought we only had 10 miles left to our day. When we finally rolled up to the campground with 70 miles under our belts, we found a huge CLOSED sign.
With a sigh, we decided to head into Grand Rapids and look for a host who was willing to let us camp in their yard. We called Nate, a guy who was listed on Warm Showers, and he agreed to have us for the night. After we climbed the big hill to his place, Nate and his wife Susan greeted us and had lots of questions about our trip. They are both originally from Iowa and love living in Grand Rapids, which seems to be a city with a lot of exciting things sprouting up. In Iowa, it’s apparently all cornfields. (And RAGBRAI, which adds to the excitement.) We were fortunate to stay indoors that evening, as it stormed throughout the night – very grateful for the last minute hospitality!
Grand Rapids to Muskegon was basically one long stretch along the Musketawa bike trail. It was nice to get off the roads at first, but after twenty-five or so miles of riding the same trail, we grew weary of the same view.
From Muskegon, we took the Lake Express ferry across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Lake Express is a high-speed automobile and passenger ferry that crosses the lake in about 2.5 hours. Bicycles get to board first – you just roll your bike on and secure it to the wall racks with a strap.
We met a fun group of four cyclists who were headed home from a brewery bike tour of Michigan, and they ended up inviting them to crash at their place in Waukesha for the night and join them at a brewpub on the way home. It added another 25 miles to our trip, but it was a refreshing change to ride with others (into the sunset)! We drank delicious Wisconsin beers and ate flatbread pizzas with our new friends at Bernie’s Tap Room, a bike-friendly bar on the main drag in Waukesha.
Great fun, and we’re now in the great state of Wisconsin! We’re taking time to enjoy Madison before we set off again. Recent milestones: Crossed the 1,000 mile mark of our trip a couple days ago, and entered a new time zone. We’re on Central Time now.
This post is a continuation of this project to record every drink we have this year, complete now with a full year’s worth of data.
I recognize that we’re only two points of reference and therefore can only draw conclusions about our own habits, but the concept of quantified life seems to be enjoying its heyday at the moment. People are getting creative about what they track and how they visualize it: Nick Felton’s design-oriented Annual Reports were my original inspiration. Tracking one’s bike rides is popular, as you can see with Strava and posts like this from a fellow rider in DC. People are measuring what they eat, where they travel, and how they spend their days. This piece in the New York Times, “The Data-Driven Life”, describes a guy who even explored how much time he spent doing his roommate’s dishes – along with everything else he spent time on throughout the course of each day.
Alcohol consumed seems like as good a metric as any to track over the course of a year. Never having taken this kind of count before, we were frequently surprised at our totals – after a month, three months, or an entire year. Adam and I lead fairly active social lives in Washington, DC, where there are plenty of options for going out. We rarely go clubbing and prefer the bar scene or relaxed parties at friends’ houses. And this seems to be reflected in the data: we’re on average 21 times as likely to choose a beer over a mixed drink or hard liquor.
Year 2012 Totals
From January 1st, 2012 to December 31st, 2012
Total Number of Drinks: 505
Total Number of Drinks: 833
Both of Us
I usually have the most drinks on a Saturday, while it’s Fridays for him. On Saturdays I have more than twice as many drinks on average than on Mondays (the day with my lowest drink averages). I’m more likely to go out closer to home, and Adam goes out closer to work. That’s probably due to the fact that there aren’t very many good places to grab a drink near my office, which isn’t in the city.
Number of drinks for both of us also trend down overall throughout the entire year. However, the numbers trend upward going from the beginning of the year into the summer, then drop in late summer and trend upward again towards the end of the year (and the holiday season).
More to come. Let me know what you think or would have been interesting to note!
What a day.
This is a tough one to write, because most of the ride went well but a friend in pain overwhelms other emotions. I’m still a little shaken by what happened towards the end of the ride but I’ll get to that.
A couple of weeks ago, I met a small group of friends outside of the DC Brau brewery who announced that it was their last stop on a ride to all three of the city’s breweries. I sent a message to a couple fellow riders on Twitter suggesting that we do the same sometime. They were interested enough, so I decided to pick a date and make it happen. After putting the word out to friends via email and sharing the plan on Twitter and Facebook, I put together a route that made a counter-clockwise 15-mile loop from Chocolate City to DC Brau to 3 Stars Brewing. I attempted to take quieter streets where it didn’t bring us off course, but inevitably there were a couple dicey roads with faster traffic.
Around seven this morning, I rode through the route to check it against what I had mapped out in Google Maps. (Geographers might refer to this as ground truthing.) I’m glad I did, because I was expecting to have at least 15 people on the ride and didn’t want to get lost leading the group, but also because, for instance, you don’t always realize which streets suddenly turn into one-ways. So, on this run I familiarized myself with the route and marked some changes to the cue sheet before heading back.
For the ride, we gathered for a 12:15 start at Big Bear Cafe. Adam, Brian, Veronica, and I were the earliest ones there, making time to grab bagels or coffee before the “official” meeting time of noon. I say “official” because this was the first ride I put together that reached outside my immediate circle of friends, and really the first time leading more than eight people on a bike ride. It was nice to see familiar faces from around town, including Kevin, Ted, Michael, and Ed and Mary (who unfortunately could only join for the coffee part). As we chatted and folks began arriving, I realized I had underestimated the attraction of riding to three breweries on a beautiful autumn day. People had brought friends, told others, heard the word and bravely decided to join without knowing what to expect, even sent people in place of themselves if they couldn’t make it. The sidewalk outside Big Bear quickly became crowded – must have been at least 30 riders there, ready to try some local brews.
We hit the road at 12:15, which gave us time to get to Chocolate City brewery at the start of their growler hours (12:30-4:30pm every Saturday). Chocolate City is the closest to my house of the local breweries, so we come often to fill our growlers. It’s a short ride up the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which I like for its street art and totem poles. As we arrived, we spotted John and Kate, who were there to join for awhile. I think Chocolate City’s setup lends itself well to a group visit – it’s a small building with one open wall that makes it easy to drift around and socialize. They had a food truck stationed outside, but their offerings looked a little too heavy for a bike ride bite. I took this time to try to meet everyone on the ride, a challenge in itself!
Got the group back on the road promptly since we had two more breweries to visit in a short time window. The next stop, DC Brau, always seems to have a crowd inside, redeeming their generous number of free tasting tickets or walking around touring the facilities. I sat in the sun chatting to friends awhile before going inside to get a sample of DC Brau’s Ghoul’s Night Out (a Belgian-style Quadrupel; like a Tripel but stronger). I’ve had it before, though, so guess it can’t be considered a sample. We arrived at the brewery right when they started a tour, so a large part of our group joined that. Leaving the brewery, we tried to sweep everyone out but accidentally left a friend behind. Realized our mistake ten minutes later, so waited a bit while she caught up with us on the Anacostia/NW Branch Trail.
Though we were able to take to the trails for part of this stretch, we had to take some bigger roads with faster traffic closer to 3 Stars Brewing. Managed that without too much of a hitch, then we started up one of the last hills towards the brewery.
That’s when I heard someone call out “man down” and realized people were stopped at the base of the hill. I rode back down and saw a friend lying in the street, his face bloody -and others had already lept into action, holding cloths to his forehead and nose to stop the bleeding, another rider on the phone with 911. We arranged for a friend of a friend to have his bike taken back while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. His scarf had gotten caught in his front wheel and the bike threw him over the handlebars onto the ground headfirst. A woman who didn’t know him was holding his hand, another trying to talk him through his shock. Neighbors even came out to see if we needed help. It was a moment that made me realize that people do come together most strongly in times of need. A mutual friend ended up riding with him to the hospital once the ambulance arrived, and I led people back to our starting point, too shaken by it all to feel like going to another brewery.
An accident like this is a reminder that even on a quiet road with no cars, things can happen. Going quickly or slowly, things can happen. I’m relieved to say that he’s okay and recovering, and glad it wasn’t worse.
Thank you to everyone for coming, for your patience, and for demonstrating that community really is defined by the great people that make it.
I’m posting this as an open invite to join me on a bicycle tour of all three breweries in Washington, DC:
- Chocolate City Beer
- DC Brau Brewing Company
- Three Stars Brewery
This ride will take place on Saturday, November 17th. We’ll meet at noon at Big Bear Cafe, located at R and 1st St NW - or likely the park in front of it as the group grows.
Tentative route can be found here on Google Maps. I’ll be checking out the route beforehand. Please be comfortable with city riding and hand signals. And I know it’s DC, but there are a few hills along the way.
No one will be left behind unless you beg us to leave you with your beer. Estimated to get back to Big Bear around 5pm. Let me know the morning of if you’ll need to drop off earlier than that.
Your reward is good company, and of course free beer tasting! There’s no obligation to buy anything at these breweries (and the sample pours tend to be generous), though tipping is always appreciated. Bring a water bottle for that between-brewery hydration.
Hope to see you there!
Directions – though not a proper cue sheet with mileage – follow the cut.
This past Saturday, New Belgium Brewing brought their traveling bike parade and circus, Tour de Fat, to Washington, DC for the first time. The event helped raise funds for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), as well as local cycling organizations Black Women Bike (@BWBDC), Mid-Atlantic Offroad Enthusiasts, and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB).
The short bicycle parade kicked off from Yards Park a little bit after 10am, when we rode (many costumed) through M St SE and some of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. As the route was along some narrow portions of the trail, there was a fair amount of bunching which meant at times we were going about as slow as you can without falling off your bicycle. My only criticism of the chosen route was that it didn’t make our parade very visible – many people got dressed up in costume for the ride, but hardly anyone on the streets of DC saw the great bike parade.
Back at the festival, there was a helpful bike valet and lovely human-powered inventions. There was a cycle-powered blender, cycle-powered fan, and cycle-powered tent mister, not to mention the many artistic bicycle inventions in the “Ride-able Art-icles” pit. We tried out several of these creations. Many were hard to get started, but once you get the hang of throwing away any expectations you have, these bikes become a lot easier to ride.
Who needs a traditional bike when you can have a side-by-side tandem, or tires made from sneakers?
The beer was flowing and attendees were excited about the screen-printed merch. The whole event was very well-attended, with many staying throughout the day. The entertainment was often interesting, with a lurching game of bike tire horseshoe and even a “slow race” (last one across the finish line wins). WABA’s table was busy with people who wanted to become members. I recommend you become a member of WABA if you’re a cyclist in the DC area – you’re already reaping the benefits of their advocacy, so you should give back if you can.
New Belgium also announced that this recent Tour de Fat in Washington, DC was the best-attended first year event as well as the most money raised at a first year event! A great turnout for our fair bicycling city.