Portland is known as the best biking city in the USA in most respects. So when I was there last month I explored a lot of it on two wheels. But hey, you can ride around and visit several bars without driving in a lot of American cities, including my sometime home of Tampa, which is not exactly known as being a haven for cyclists.
So when I wanted to brewpup hopping in a truly unique way, I rounded up a couple friends I was staying with to pedal with me on a Brewcycle tour of urban Portland.
The way it works is this: everyone sits on a big contraption with wheels that’s completely people-powered. It looks like a traveling bar. You face each other while sitting on stools and pedal to get from place to place on Portland’s streets. Because of some clever engineering underneath, all that energy gets channeled to moving the Brewcycle forward while the guide in front controls the steering and the brakes. He also controls the tunes, but only by asking someone to hand over a phone or MP3 player with a playlist ready to go. Ours was dancey pop and rap, which seemed an appropriate soundtrack for keeping the legs moving on a hill.
After leaving Flanders & 14th, which was an easy bike ride from the Hawthorne area across the water, our first stop was Lucky Labrador’s Quimby Street location. This being a bit after 1:00 in the afternoon, we had the place to ourselves and the beer-loving animal lovers weren’t there yet with their dogs. It’s hard to go wrong with anything on tap at this place, I’ve found at two locations now, but my Superdog IPA was a scrumptious way to start the day. Kinda wish they’d had their Bike Route Rye on tap though to be appropriate…
Going downhill in this big contraption is easy, but even the slightest upgrade takes some group huffing and puffing. Except for the girls sitting in the back that is. They didn’t want to mess up their makeup and immediately grabbed the seats that don’t have pedals. When we pulled up to Lompoc, I was ready for a drink. The C-note Imperial Pale Ale was another glass of greatness that was on its last drops when we were called to board the beast again. You can also try a Kick Axe Pale Ale, Proletariat Red, or Stout Out Loud.
Bridgeport was established 30 years ago, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their craft. The Hop Czar was calling my name, so I continued with that theme, while my friends got two terrific seasonal brews and we sipped while checking out the exposed brick ex-factory interior.
After we came full circle and the workout was done, including a particularly trying hill after a full stop to let a car go by, we peeled ourselves off the seats and decided a late lunch was in order. It just so happens that the Brewcycle HQ is one block from the taproom of a truly legendary brewery: Rogue. Yes the Rogue of Dead Guy Ale, Brutal IPA, and Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale. OK, they also make stout, hefeweizen, and others if you’re not an ale fan.
It was a fitting end to a quick tour combining two of Portland’s superlatives: bike-friendly streets and a downright decadent concentration of craft breweries.
Book the trip at the BrewGroup PDX site—where you’ll also find a “BrewBarge” option that hits the water. See the excellent local tourism site for more ideas and find the best Portland hotel deals at Trivago.
Perceptive Travel editor Tim Leffel was a guest of Travel Portland to do research for a feature story to run later in the online magazine.