BEER AND CYCLING have long been a natural pairing. No less an authority than Leinenkugel’s traces the origin of its most popular offering, Summer Shandy, to a German tavernkeeper who was overrun with thirsty cyclists after a race nearly a century ago. We prefer a more leisurely pace, though, and have put together four beer-centric routes for even a casual bike rider.
* Mileages are one way, so plan ahead!
** BE CAREFUL! We all know drunken driving is bad. Drunken biking is risky, too. So choose low-ABV beers, take it slow, and drink a big glass of water – or more – with each beer to stay well hydrated. And always wear a helmet.
North Shore Route
This is a 21-mile ride, so you’ll need to be fit, but it’s almost entirely on the Ozaukee Interurban and Oak Leaf trails and ends at a spectacular beer garden.
1505 WISCONSIN AVE., GRAFTON
Adventurous brews served in a taproom with double garage doors that open to a patio.
YOUR QUENCHER: Voyager Golden Ale
7481 HIGHWAY 60, CEDARBURG
Excellent mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with at least 22 beers on tap.
YOUR QUENCHER: Golden Spiral hefeweizen
6411 W. MEQUON RD., MEQUON
Gorgeous taproom in a restored building where brewing began in 1857.
YOUR QUENCHER: Apricot Wit
700 W. LEXINGTON BLVD., GLENDALE
This nexus of German culture has a biergarten with 300 tables in Old Heidelberg Park. THREE. HUNDRED.
YOUR QUENCHER: Schmutzig Helles Lager
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All 6 miles of this excursion between Downtown and Shorewood can be on trails or quiet streets.
1726 N. FIFTH ST.
There’s a great patio here, but if you need to get out of the sun, video games and pinball await inside.
YOUR QUENCHER: Cripes Sake! Amber
823 E. HAMILTON ST.
Feeling a little sweaty? These hazy IPA masters introduced a line of hard seltzers last year.
YOUR QUENCHER: Tropical Hard Seltzer
1872 N. COMMERCE ST.
The riverside patio to end riverside patios, with killer cheese curds to boot.
YOUR QUENCHER: Raspberry Nimbus
811 E. VIENNA AVE.
A brewery trading in light, sessionable beers is perfect for the middle of the ride.
YOUR QUENCHER: Treffpunkt kölsch
3565 N. MORRIS BLVD., SHOREWOOD
Beer garden-style eats, German and Wisconsin beers and shade are plentiful at this riverside spot.
YOUR QUENCHER: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
Menomonee River Route
Check out the great cluster of breweries in the Menomonee Valley, then jaunt up the Hank Aaron and Oak Leaf trails to finish this 9-mile ride with a great riverside beer garden.
143 W. ST. PAUL AVE.
Explorium’s Third Ward location, opened in September, has a sweet patio in a tunnel that was once used to offload trains into the historic Pritzlaff Building.
YOUR QUENCHER: Crocus Lager
1505 W. ST. PAUL AVE.
The outdoor area here is growing and upgrading, with expanded (and cushier) seating and a new outdoor bar expected to be ready in June.
YOUR QUENCHER: Summer Home hoppy blonde ale
2200 W. MT. VERNON AVE.
This taproom in the beautifully restored Milwaukee Gas Light Co. building has an equally awesome patio.
YOUR QUENCHER: Mexican Lager
1800 N. SWAN BLVD., WAUWATOSA
Recharge and refuel with shaded tables, a Cranky Al’s pizza or giant pretzel and an impressive selection of local and German beers.
YOUR QUENCHER: Erdinger Weissbrau
Southern Lakeshore Route
This easy ride of just 5 miles of city streets and lake-hugging Oak Leaf Trail connects Walker’s Point, Bay View and St. Francis.
1024 S. 5TH ST.
This charming neighborhood taproom features beautiful exposed Cream City brick and fresh small-batch beers.
YOUR QUENCHER: Black Puppy Pale Ale
2020 S. ALLIS ST.
With tons of windows and garage doors, the outdoors come into this spacious taproom in Bay View’s Louis Allis building.
YOUR QUENCHER: Cream City Brix cream ale
2900 S. SHORE DR.
In a city loaded with great beer gardens, a case can be made that this lakeside spot with a sprawling lawn is the best.
YOUR QUENCHER: Miller High Life
3807 S. PACKARD AVE., ST. FRANCIS
The brewery has a fantasy theme, with each beer based on an exotic animal character. More concretely, it’s got a great patio.
YOUR QUENCHER: Salamandra strawberry cream ale