Biking Bucks County covered bridges to New Jersey beer

Beautiful scenery, but oh those climbs!

First, the rolling hills of upper Bucks County mean the scenery is gorgeous, even if my iPhone photography skills can’t do them justice. The roads through the woods, with a stony creek alongside. And then the old stone homes.

But getting out of the river valley to the top of those hills? That’s another matter. Hard work! Or perhaps that’s the danger of just taking a random ride off Ride With GPS and there is an easier (and less trafficked) climb than Upper York Road? What should we have done instead?

Continue reading “Biking Bucks County covered bridges to New Jersey beer”

A bike ride to River Horse Brewing in Ewing, New Jersey

The D&R Canal and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail get you within 30 minutes of River Horse Brewing in Ewing, New Jersey.

That’s a brewery.

This time we decided to try one of the big boys. River Horse Brewing started out in Lambertville and now is in a space in Ewing that could fit several of the craft breweries we have biked to.

No sours, no fruity beers in stock for me. So did we miss our best chance for weird beer by not trying Feast Mode, with praline and pecan notes? Or the bottle of witbier aged in a bourbon barrel?

I thought the note that came with confirmation of our sit-down order (oatmeal milk stout) was pretty weird:

Continue reading “A bike ride to River Horse Brewing in Ewing, New Jersey”

We bike to yet another New Jersey brewery… and there is socially distanced outdoor seating

Old Hights brewery is just off Main Street in Hightstown, N.J.

We heard about a new micro (nano?) brewery not far away… so we had another destination for a bike ride.

Old Hights Brewing Co. is just off Main Street in Hightstown. So after a 36-mile ride into the Sourlands and a bit of chilling at home the other weekend, we found the energy for a fast-paced 7.5 miles to pick up a four-pack.

Here’s what we learned:

Continue reading “We bike to yet another New Jersey brewery… and there is socially distanced outdoor seating”

Going stir-crazy over coronavirus — so let’s bike to support a small brewery

WFH = I’m eating too much. I need a bike ride. Where to?

It’s not even been a week of working from home and staying indoors a lot. This is going to be hard. I’m eating too much, even if I (futilely) try to barricade the door to the kitchen. I can always go outside to fight the war against the evil hairy bittercress weed that would take over the yard in a heartbeat, of course. But sometimes you just need a bike ride.

Saturday afternoon was sunny and fairly warm (missed the true hot day on Friday because, you know, work). Where to go?

I’d been getting emails most of the week from Flounder Brewing, that nano brewery we checked out last fall as part of my “weird beer” rides. I couldn’t tell if they were still open and selling crowlers (32-ounce cans), but we figured it was as good a destination as any. 17 miles each way, a mix of trail and road.

Continue reading “Going stir-crazy over coronavirus — so let’s bike to support a small brewery”

‘Weird beer,’ part 4: This one tastes like barbecue

The latest search for weird beer took us to one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the U.S.

Two beers were in contention for the weirdest beer at Flounder Brewing, a fast-growing nanobrewery in Hillsborough, NJ. There was the “off-menu” pumpkin spice latte ale, with a milk chocolate cream to confound the flavor profile even more, as well as a beer called the “Pitmaster” described as an “amber ale brewed with smoked malts and maple syrup.”

Being a non-coffee drinker, the choice was easy: the Pitmaster. Just three bucks for 7 ounces.

The smokiness hit me first, as if I had barbecue in my mouth. That faded as I sipped more, putting the maple syrup more forward, horrifying my beer aficianado friends. I’d rather have the smokiness. (Actually, I’d rather have some real BBQ, but this bikes and BBQ ride isn’t for a few more weeks.)

Continue reading “‘Weird beer,’ part 4: This one tastes like barbecue”

A milkshake latte IPA? Another bike ride to yet more ‘weird beer’

The third beer ride of 2019. Destination: Neshaminy Creek Brewing in Croyon, Pa.

This sign is in the parking lot, and there’s not one out front to tell you you’ve arrived.

After cycling to Screamin’ Hill Brewery and the Referend Bier Blendery this summer, our next beer destination was the award-winning Neshaminy Creeek Brewing Co. in the Philadelphia suburb of Croydon.

Our 13-mile route was mostly on trail, giving the six of us a chance to chat rather than keep a mindful eye on motorists and making sure we didn’t miss a turn. Even better, we got to explore a section of the D&L Heritage Trail that is now fully open to Bristol, unlike our (still-fun) experience last year that involved following some dirt trails to get around blockages. Plus this will soon officially become part of the East Coast Greenway. What an improvement on the Trenton-to-Philadelphia route we rode a few years ago!

Here’s how we did it:

Continue reading “A milkshake latte IPA? Another bike ride to yet more ‘weird beer’”

A bike ride to even weirder beer in New Jersey

We found beer made using spontaneous fermentation and the technique of the ancients. And then (modern) ice cream.

Last month’s bike ride to Screamin’ Hill sparked a discussion of other area breweries — places I, as someone who doesn’t love beer, hadn’t heard of. But, hey, they make good bike-ride destinations. And the one four of us cycled to on Sunday definitely is out of the ordinary.

You see, the Referend Bier Blendery in Pennington (or perhaps it’s really Hopewell Township) believes in using the bacteria in the air for spontaneous fermentation. I’m not going to claim I understood everything about this approach, which goes back to the ancients and has at its core “as little interference as possible” in the process. But even I know that using a truck parked outside to house “The Coolship” is out of the ordinary.

Continue reading “A bike ride to even weirder beer in New Jersey”

Because you want to bike to a farm brewery for ‘weird beer’

Screamin’ Hill is 17 miles from the West Windsor library and not much further from the Princeton Junction train station.

Out of the freezer at home and ready for a beer.

I’ve given quite a few talks on biking in New Jersey, and I always talk about the sites you’ll discover and how anything can be a destination. One example I use is Screamin’ Hill brewery, a farm brewery in the middle of rural New Jersey. And then I realized that aside from our first ride there (when it was closed), I’ve never given it its own blog post, just shared billing.

Time to fix that, and its fourth anniversary was a good excuse. Plus we wanted a shot at the free anniversary mugs. Little did we know that it opened two hours earlier than usual! The only reason we came home with one was because someone abandoned it by the plastic cups and one of the riders in the group was kind enough to hand it to us.

We discovered this place thanks to an article in Edible Jersey that described it as New Jersey’s first (and as of then only) farm brewery. Most of what goes into the beer is grown on the farm, and they have some funky offerings (what some friends would call “weird beer”). There’s IPA, wheat beer, fruit beer, pilsner, sour and more. Even one with tomato. So, yeah, you could say that’s weird. (I had the tomato one once. It doesn’t taste anything remotely like tomato juice mixed with beer.) Among the five beer drinkers I was with, however, one called it the best beer he’d had in a long time. Another noted how fresh the beers are.

What’s on tap varies according to what’s ready, and when they run out of something, they run out. Hours are incredbily limited — 3 pm to 8 pm on Fridays and 1 pm to 6 pm on Saturdays. BYO food. Really. It’s a very casual, picnic atmosphere with a few kids running around. (But no dogs.) We started out in the sun and ended up sprawled under a shady tree.

Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, it’s a lovely bike ride. Once you get to the other side of US 130, the roads are pretty quiet, with a little bit of up and down as you get close to the farm (whose address, after all, includes the word hill).

Continue reading “Because you want to bike to a farm brewery for ‘weird beer’”

Bikes, beer … and church? Discoveries in Delaware and New Jersey

Bike and beer revelations in Delaware and New Jersey.

Even I, who am hardly a beer drinker, know that bikes and beer seem to go together.

But church too?

Two experiences this month make me a believer. Continue reading “Bikes, beer … and church? Discoveries in Delaware and New Jersey”

Time to start training for the next East Coast Greenway ride

I opted for a flat training ride — and to find a way to a microbrewery 20 miles away.

Yes, I’m once again doing the East Coast Greenway‘s week-long fundraising ride, that one with the unimaginative name of Week-A-Year. This time it’s 385 miles over six days, from Wilmington, N.C., to Savannah. In October, so not killer heat but still hurricane season, as we learned last year. (Here’s the first pitch to please support it with a tax-deductible donation.)

I admit I wish it was a seven-day ride. The mileage is more than other rides, though we’re promised it will be flat. Hopefully with a nice tailwind. We’ve got 80-mile days going into and out of Charleston, S.C., and it would have been nice to split one of those in two, just to have more time to play tourist. But it is what it is. Sometimes you’re constrained by where you can get hotel rooms for all of us.

Flat or not, 80 miles is a lot. As are 385 miles (see the full itinerary here). So time to get serious about spending more time on the bike.

I didn’t feel like hills today, so I decided to figure out what it would take to get to this new microbrewery I’d read about last year called Screamin’ Hill. Not that I care about beer. But it could be a fun group ride sometime. (Just bring your own food — they have none. Not even pretzels. No permit.)

This place is only open Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday afternoon — the owners have real jobs, we were told when we pedaled by on a Sunday early this year (that ride was from Allentown, not from home, to kill time while the car was getting serviced).

Every craft beer has to have a story, and this is how this one starts:

“Screamin’ Hill Brewery harkens back to a time in America when life was simple, when farmers brewed with what was at hand from the year’s harvest.”

Whatever. I just wanted a ride.

So off I went, following the route we often take to go through the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area for more than half of the way. Then it was new sights. I hit the nine-mile Union Transportation Trail but gave it a miss since it’s not paved and I was on my road bike. I passed the Cream Ridge Winery. And a farm I know from the Trenton Farmers Market. And horses. It’s rural.

Turns out it’s just under 20 miles to the brewery. As good as flat. I tried a different route on the way back. The road to Allentown had more traffic. I’ll stick to the quiet option.

Add on a second, 12-mile ride to get some groceries, and I am feeling virtuous about my 52-mile day.

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