There is no place on Long Island better primed for craft beer tours than downtown Riverhead, where three breweries have opened in the past five years within a half-mile radius. Next month, Brew Crew Cycles is stepping in—make that “pedaling in”—to fill that niche.
Brew Crew Cycles will offer tours on a party bike, much like the North Fork Wine Wagon does, but with beer on the mind.
Victoria Clacherty, one of the 10 women behind the family business, explains that they got the idea for Brew Crew Cycles after they went on a pedaling beer tour in Portland, Oregon. “We thought, ‘This would be so good to do in Riverhead,’” she recalls. Beer Crew Cycles ran the idea by town leaders, who agreed.
Brew Crew Cycles found a manufacturer in North Carolina that already had one bike and agreed to make one more. Both will be shipped to Long Island soon to be moved into a storage facility at Pulaski Street and Hallett Avenue, where tours will begin and end, stopping at Crooked Ladder, Long Ireland and Moustache breweries in between.
The vehicle seats 14 passengers—with 12 on bicycle seats and two on a bench—and at least eight must pedal in order to move along at a maximum speed of 6 miles per hour. The tour guide will steer, control the brakes and ensure that the passengers don’t get too rowdy.
Tours are designed to be between two and two-and-a-half hours, though Clacherty says that once the bikes arrive in Riverhead they will have a more accurate idea of the time it takes. Individuals may reserve a seat for $30 and groups may reserve an entire bike for $375.
Brew Crew Cycles will operate Saturdays and Sundays starting April 18, and Fridays will be added to the schedule beginning July 3. On holiday weekends, there will also be Monday tours. Clacherty says more tours may be added, based on demand.
“We are very excited and looking forward to working with them,” says Ashley Dunlop of the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company tasting room staff. “They will be a huge asset to the Riverhead brew scene.”
“Excited” is also how Long Ireland Beer Company co-owner Dan Burke describes his reaction to Brew Crew Cycles coming to town. Having three breweries in such close proximity is unique to Riverhead, he points out, and there is a growing number of festivals in town as well. “There are a lot of exciting things happening in Riverhead right now,” Burke says.
It’s not just breweries that are looking forward to Brew Crew Cycles’ first ride. Clacherty says several restaurants have reached out about being added to the route, and Brew Crew Cycles is happy to incorporate them into longer excursions such as bachelorette and birthday parties. “We’re open to ideas, depending how long the people want to be on the tour,” she says.
Many town officials and business leaders expect Brew Crew Cycles to be a boon to Riverhead tourism, and a ribbon cutting ceremony with local officials is being planned for May 2.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, who will be on hand for the ribbon cutting, says Brew Crew Cycles is an interesting concept, and one he supports.
“I am a beer drinker and I love craft beer,” he says. “In fact, I was drinking Long Ireland before it was in vogue.” Now the town board is considering changing the zoning code to allow brewing on Main Street.
“We want to make Riverhead the craft brewing capital of Suffolk County and, hopefully, Long Island,” Walter says, adding that Brew Crew Cycles may help toward that goal.
Brew Crew Cycles is just one of the ventures Clacherty and her relatives have planned.
“We started because my aunt wanted to form a women’s family business,” Clacherty explains. “She didn’t actually have a business in mind, but she wanted to get us all together.”
Three generations of Marangas women formed a company last summer, pooling ideas and capitalizing on their varied experiences. Brew Crew Cycles is the first idea they executed, though they have more projects in mind for the future.
For more information on Brew Crew Cycles, or to book a tour, visit brewcrewcycles.com.
The three breweries on the Brew Crew Cycles route: