Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In Search of Beer - Trains, Gangsters, and Pete Rose

Another episode of “The Adventures of The Reluctant Cyclist and Velo Junkie”. Sounds like the makings of a good novel. There was quite a revelation on this ride – Velo figured out how to share the lead. He denies it, but ask anyone who rides with him and they will tell you – Velo needs to be in front. Even if it is just by a wheel length, he can’t stand to lag behind someone, especially if that someone is slower than he. But, if you watch the video below you will see that he is not always in front of me this time. 

So, November 14, 2015 was a clear, crisp day and perfect for a bike ride around town donning my new red flannel socks. We were, once again, in search of an interesting, inviting, and unique brewing experience. There are so many good beer establishments in the Greater Cincinnati area we could probably head out each day and not have to go to the same place twice in a month.

We settled on Braxton Brewing Company in Covington, KY. The catch, Braxton’s is only about a five mile ride from our starting point so we had to find a way to make the journey a little longer and somewhat interesting. Well that’s easy, after all we can always ride through urban and industrial parts of Cincinnati, pick one of many bridges to cross the mighty Ohio, and amble through historic northern Kentucky.

There are some interesting landmarks in route to the river that you simply don’t bother to think about unless you are travelling by bike (or on foot). Here is a sign for Pete Rose Way, formerly 2nd Street and renamed for the Cincinnati Reds record-breaking player in 1985.

Another is the caboose stationed above the entryway to the Norfolk Southern Railroad terminal. The only way into town from the west side of Cincinnati is to cross over the train yard via one of the several bridges or viaducts.

This time we opted to jump off the road and ride along the park route by the river. The views are much more spectacular because nothing is between you and the river banks, except a rail, as you can see in the video below. Beware of slow moving quad-cycles carrying fluffy dogs, and daydreaming pedestrians, though. There were many people out because of the nice weather. But some people just don't notice cyclists and walk in front of you? I admire pedestrians and am often one of them, but please be considerate of bicycles. I think I must have been wearing a sign that said “Feel free to make me come to a screeching halt at your feet”. All is well though, no casualties.

We made it through the park, went out and back on Riverside Dr. and then made a left on the Taylor Southgate Bridge. This put us out on York St. heading into the heart of Newport, KY and the epicenter of what used to be a haven for gambling and gangsters, thanks to prohibition. Those days are gone but, oh, if the walls could talk. Newport offers Gangster Tours, if you’re into that sort of thing. Long before Bugsy Siegel  created Las Vegas, Newport was the hot spot attracting such celebrities and Frank Sinatra, and the rest of the Rat Pack, and Marilyn Monroe. Read more here http://www.nkyviews.com/campbell/newport_clubs.htm

We rode past York Street Café, now an eclectic eatery with visible remnants of yesteryear. In its past it was home to an apothecary on the first floor and some gangster activity upstairs.

We turned and headed east, past one of the most magnificent casinos of its time, now a restaurant, “The Newport Syndicate”. Another turn and we were heading north on Monmouth St., a hotbed when Newport was a boomtown, and again now, during the renaissance of the city. It is really easy to get lost in the imaginary images of gangsters, brothels, casinos, and speakeasies. Why, the Tommy Gun was invented there in 1918 by by one f Newport's own, John Thompson. It was the weapon of choice for organized crime and law enforcement alike during prohibition.

Here's a short, three minute video to highlight some of the tour.

We looped around, crossed another bridge and found our way to Covington, KY, home of Braxton Brewing Company. Have you ever been reading a map to figure out where you are so you can then figure out where to go? Only to look up and see that you are already there?  That is how we came to find Braxton Brewing Co., and we weren't the only cyclists there today. 

  Every town around the Greater Cincinnati area is having a rebirth and breweries seem to be part of the infrastructure.  Covington is no exception. Braxton’s claim to fame is the fastest wifi of any brewery, cold brewed coffee in addition to a line-up of great craft brews, and BYOF (bring your own food). It was a hopping joint for the middle of the afternoon. The beer was exceptional, I had an Auto, a German style Dunkel, and the pretzels were as big as my head.

#braxtonbrewingcompany #newportgangsters #insearchofbeer #thereluctantcyclist #velojunkie