Reno Brew Bike pedals into town

The Reno Brew Bike takes pedalers on a craft beer ride through Downtown Reno

Wind whipping through your hair, cars honking as they drive by, music blasting, Instagramming while pedaling through traffic at break-neck speeds on a 1,600-pound fixed-gear bicycle. Add in a few beers and that’s the gist of Reno’s first brew bike.

“We top out at 5 to 7 miles per hour,” said Duke Bristow, owner of Reno Brew Bike. “I don’t want to be going faster. You’ve got thousands of pounds of drunk people (on the bike).”

Reno Brew Bike started giving tours to Downtown Reno bars and breweries this week, just in time for Reno Craft Beer Week. Duke hopes it thrives in Reno’s upstart craft beer culture. Reno Brew Bike gives four tours a day, every day, starting at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. Up to 15 riders per tour start on Ralston and First Streets then spend two hours pedaling, drinking and pedaling some more.

The bike stops at three different bars, where passengers grab a drink inside for 30 minutes before returning to the bike and heading to the next stop. Travel destinations depend on the group’s fitness level, as some of those 2% grades can be treacherous.

Reno Brew Bike

At the tail end of the Reno Brew Bike trip through Downtown Reno, Sac Brew Bike owner Chris Ferren-Cirino and his wife Sarah Ferren-Cirino left the group. Reno Brew Bike Owner Duke Bristow hopped over to the side to help pedal up the slight hill on Island Avenue while steering from the side. All passengers, including Mary Ehmann, smiling, struggled to pedal hard to get the 1,600 pound bike up to Arlington. Photo by Mike Higdon

Unfortunately, Washoe County law prohibits passengers from drinking alcohol on the bike. But that’s probably for the best. The ride is bumpy and tosses everyone around and there’s a lot of vigorous pedaling. Most people would end up with beer on their laps instead of in their mouths. Plus, every time the bike stopped at a red light, folks on the sidewalks or in their cars would want a sip, and really, who wants to share with strangers?

Similar bikes exist in Oregon, California and Colorado, but Reno Brew Bike is the first in town. A Cycle Pub briefly appeared in Carson City in 2012 but no one has seen it since, which is unfortunate because riders can drink on the bike in Carson City.

Chris Ferren-Cirino started Sac Brew Bike 11 months after seeing similar businesses in Portland and Bend, Ore. Duke and Chris ran on the UC Davis cross country team together so Duke helped Chris run the Sacramento business. Chris encouraged him to start a new company in Reno. After living in Truckee for 11 years and earning a graduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, it seemed like a good fit.

For now Duke will need to run one bike alone until customers demand more. The Sacramento company already increased to three, so he hopes to grow to a second one in Reno by the end of summer. He said the bike will only run in the Downtown/River Walk/Fourth Street area — pretty much anywhere in bikeable distance — because it’s too difficult and delicate to haul anywhere else on or behind a truck. Besides, Duke doesn’t own a truck, he owns a brew bike.

Reno Brew Bike

The Reno Brew Bike and its eight passengers pedal under the Reno Arch on Virginia Street. Photo by Mike Higdon

Reno Brew Bike

What: Large group bicycle drinking tour
Hours: 7 days a week, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Price: $25 per seat, does not include drinks. Group rates available. Book online.
On Facebook
Participating bars give discounts to Reno Brew Bike sticker wearers:

  • The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery
  • Imperial Lounge
  • Lincoln Lounge
  • Mellow Fellow GastroPub
  • Ole Bridge Pub
  • Pigeon Head Brewery
  • Se7en Bar
  • Sierra Tap House

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.