Bike and Brewery Tour


This actually does not fit with any of my regular categories.  But, ever since I have started summarizing in-person games this has been more of a general blog anyway.  I went on Motor City Brew Tours bike tour today with folks from my wife’s work.  This is not nearly as dangerous or alcohol filled as some of you may think.  Yet it still is a lot of fun.

The tour starts out at Traffic Jam & Snug by the Wayne State University campus.  There is ample free parking.  Most participants brought their own bikes.  I rented one for $10.  Make sure you let the staff know you want to rent a bike.  They have an agreement to use the lot, but they do not have a physical space by the restaurant.  They need to haul a bike in for you.  We had lunch at the restaurant.  This was not part of the tour.  I wasn’t super impressed with the roast beef panini.  The Double Bach was good, however, especially once it had warmed up.  The ambiance is terrific.  We ate on the patio, but the building itself shows interesting architecture.  You can see the various additions over  the years if you walk through it.

On the Patio and Traffic Jam & Snug
On the Patio and Traffic Jam & Snug

You make various stops along the way to see locations of various breweries that existed in Detroit from the 1930’s until now.  Along the way you hear the histories of these breweries.  In summary, they all merged through the 1960’s and 1970’s into Stroh’s.  Then Stroh’s tried to go national and failed.  It’s brands are all part of Miller now with Pabst getting some licensing dollars from the deal.  The details are interesting, however I won’t summarize them here.

The owner and tour director, Steve Johnson, clearly enjoys what he is doing.  He was also hard to fluster.  At one point we were to see silos that had existed for decades at the site of a former malt syrup distributor.  Well, it turns out the site is finally being redeveloped and the silos had been knocked down in the last 14 days.  I guess that is one problem with dealing with historical sites on a tour.  He took it well and we still discussed that site at the next brewery stop.

Part of the tour takes you through Eastern Market and then by the former location of the Stroh’s brewery.  The Stroh’s ice cream plant which is also the  former Goebbels brewery is in existence there.  Also, near there is the current end of the Dequindre Cut.  While we did not go on the cut we did see both ends of it- first  near the old Stroh’s plant and later near the Detroit River.  Detroit is doing a great job of creating trails and a beautiful riverfront.  I think that was one of my favorite parts of the trip- seeing how Detroit is making the city more walkable and rideable.

The tour continues into the Elmwood Cemetery to see the burial places of Goebbels and members of the Strohs family.  Given that most modern cemeteries have limits on the size of memorials it was refreshing to see a cemetery with no limits on the size of memorials.  The Goebbels monument resembles the Washington monument.  It is perhaps only 30 feet high, however.  On the way out we passed crypts cut in the side of hills.  I had not seen a cemetery using there space so creatively, distinctly and still having visual appeal.

After a ride along the river front you stop for a break at the Grand Trunk Pub.  My sandwich, the Reuben, was not particularly good, but they have a huge variety of Michigan beers on tap (this is the first and only stop for a pint on the trip).  The proprietor has a lot of enthusiasm as well.  He came over to see how things were going and tell a couple jokes.  I’d visit again if in that part of Detroit  (Griswold, South of Campus Martius).

We skipped the last stop at Detroit Beer Company because members of our group needed to be back soon and we were a little behind schedule.  When you get back you get a voucher for a beer at Traffic Jam & Snug.  I tried a rye ale flavored with fruit this time.  I like is better than Summer Shandy.  The flavor is more of a raspberry than a lemon so they aren’t in the same class except in a general, it’s-summer-and-I-just-rode-my-bike-9-miles sort of way.

If you are fit enough to ride 9 miles and are interested in either Detroit’s beer history or seeing how Detroit’s neighborhoods connect in ways other than the freeway system give this a try.  It made a great afternoon.  Two pints, a late lunch, the service of a tour guide and aide all for under $30 if you bring your own bike.

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