November 13 Update is italicized paragraph below, and new map link:

Pedalpinters, I recently paid another visit to Double Barrel and tried out a partly different route from Pleasant Ridge. It cuts off about 2.85 miles but sheds the separated trail aspect of the journey. It’s a good tradeoff. Of course if you’re coming from downtown Cincinnati or some point near the city’s southern border, use the route that includes the trail. Below is the link to the updated map that shows the shortcut (the orange line) on Linwood Avenue. Enjoy!

http://goo.gl/maps/76oTI

Join me as I roll along Cincinnati’s southern, waterfront border on my way to Double Barrel Brewing. This trip from Covington, KY was largely on bike lanes and separated multi-use paths! Cincinnatians will know to absolutely not get used to this.

This is one of many beer places I have biked, or run, to thus far during my nascent residency in the Queen City. I chose to share it with you at this time both because I actually went to the trouble of looking like a geek and taking pics there and because it stands in contrast to the brewery “reviewed” in my previous post: Rhinegeist.

Double Barrel is, as I understand it, an operation started by two Dads who used to take their kids to the same sports practices or something like that. Apparently they took out no loans to build and start this operation, and took some two years to open it – doing much, if not all, the construction work themselves. This is pretty respectable to me.

View from the bar. Side garage door open.

View from the bar. Side garage door open.

I’m not, however, in the business of trying to be especially in the know on the beer places I visit; so enjoy as I provide my impressions of and experiences at Double Barrel – and more importantly as always – the experience of getting there by bicycle!

I’ll start off by supplying you with a map, complete with comments and tips, of the route I used to adventure to Double Barrel by bicycle. The map (use the link below) includes both the route from my then residence in Covington, KY and a route from the Pleasant Ridge area.
When I was living in Seattle (actually, a 35 minute ferry ride across from downtown Seattle) I would map my routes from the ferry terminal. I figured this was a good choice of starting points for my maps because it’s downtown. Now that I live in a less central neighborhood of of my wonderful new city, it’s less clear from where I should start my mappings. Hopefully, though, it will be useful to many of you especially since I have mapped the route from two different starting points.
http://goo.gl/maps/d51Cu

November 04 Update Follows:

The route to Double Barrel from Covington is an interesting one that includes some riding on separated multi-use trails and a stretch of bike lane – two things that are very scarce in Cincinnati. Yes, I know we have the Loveland bike trail; I wonder though how useful it is in actually traveling from one place to another. My family and I drove to Loveland a few weeks ago to visit a neat pumpkin farm. It was funny to see how the town caters to bicycle riders and the notion of bikes. I must admit I haven’t researched exactly where the Loveland bike trail starts and ends, but I don’t know that it provides connectivity. I imagine the vast majority of its riders drove their bikes on their cars to their starting points. I’d welcome news that I’m wrong.

After rolling over the Roebling Bridge into Downtown Cincinnati, literally make your first right, staying on the sidewalk and going between a building and a green space. If you use Street View on the attached Google map, you’ll see trucks blocking the sidewalk. This is not uncommon here as there always seems to be some event that has crews setting up or tearing down. This stretch of sidewalk can be busy at times, mostly depending on the weather and what events are going on. So of course be courteous and give right of way to pedestrians.

I go this way because it is the only way I’ve found that doesn’t require carrying your bike up or down stairs. I wouldn’t like to be someone trying to get around here in a wheelchair.

Soon you’ll be going right behind the Moerlein Lager House where the wide sidewalk becomes a nice ramp and heads down to Joe Nuxhall Way. By the way, if you take a look at Street View here you will see the Lager House is under construction and not yet really there, as the photos were taken in 2011 or so.

The Moerlein Lager House is, to me, an upscale restaurant built to cater to sports fans and other Downtown revelers. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. has a very long history in Cincinnati, but I’m not familiar enough with it to describe it. They do have another presence in town which is more my speed: the brewery and taproom located in Over The Rhine (the lovely neighborhood I wrote about in my post on Rhinegeist Brewery). Moerlein’s taproom is actually great and is one of the several places I have backlogged in my brain, awaiting write-ups.

Back to our adventure: After turning right onto the sidewalk of Joe Nuxhall Way, go across Mehring Way and onto the sidewalk there where you will proceed left and begin in earnest your off-street trip to where you venture out onto the roadway onto Riverside Drive. I will only provide highlights of the route along the waterfront here, as the details are too numerous. Consult my map and, like me, you’ll find your favorite way to navigate this area.

About the time you go under the first bridge, you may want to begin riding along the old railroad tracks that are right there in the midst of this spacious, non-motorized area along the riverfront. I find choosing this line lets you avoid some waiting for meandering walkers to recognize your presence.

In the area under the second bridge (the yellow one) you go by a children’s playground so use caution.

The trail becomes fine gravel not very long before you get to get the the driveway of a fancy restaurant that often has valet parking employees present. It is here that you may choose to get out onto the roadway. I do so if traffic is light. Otherwise you can just ride on the sidewalk, which I have not yet found busy.

After about 3000 feet, you need to get out onto the roadway if you haven’t already. Here, the path continues a short distance, but it’s easier to just join the roadway. This is adjacent to International Friendship Park, and there is a driveway that has a gate that consists of long arms that raise and lower. It’s there to keep drivers from inanely driving into the park area. I’ve found these arms up just a bit sometimes. But even if they’re not you can still get through on bike. The good news is that bike lanes start here! They have been recently installed, so they aren’t pictured on Street View.

The next significant thing you encounter is the road curving to the right as it goes under a railroad bridge. Here the bike lanes tell you to hug the inside of the curves, which I find unsafe. I think it’s better to put yourself farther out into the roadway in this curve to increase your visibility. Of course, how you ride is up to you.

Another landmark will come up on your left after a short while: Brew River Gastropub. It’s easy to miss it unless they have a sandwich board out (which they usually do). Brew River is a nice thing to have here, but it has its drawbacks, not the least of which is the crazy prices they charge for most of their beers. I will give them credit for their nice little policy of offering $1 off your first drink if you show a bike helmet. I may be wrong, but I assume they adopted this policy around the time that it became known that the bike lanes were going in.

A bit more than 1.5 miles farther, you get to leave the roadway and head onto a separated trail!

November 6 Update Follows:

The street you’re looking for is Corbin St. You go toward the water on a street which ends where a sidewalk begins (always a joyous thing!) with short metal poles blocking car traffic. The trail turns left and parallels the water, but not too closely. Soon you go through a park.

Now, I have to divulge that I have yet to understand what is the deal with the names of the trail(s) in this area of Cincinnati. There is “Ohio River Trail” and there is “Ohio Bicycle route 1” – the latter being something that sounds pretty cool and useful. It’s not just here that I see signs for the “Bicycle Route 1.”

I know that there is a bike trail that takes you from this southeastern corner of Cincinnati all the way up to Columbus (some 100 miles). I don’t know how seamless that trail is. Most trails have many gaps and unclear areas in them. If this Cincinnati to Columbus trail was nice, complete and well-signed, it sounds like a great adventure. I picture starting out early, bringing food along, making the ride to Columbus, having a nice dinner and crashing in a hotel. Stay a day and a night in Columbus, then make the ride home.

Back to our adventure: Very shortly after the trail takes you through the park, it ends at a road where you turn left and go over to the main road (Kellogg Ave.) which the trail then runs alongside. You’re essentially riding on a sidewalk here and you must deal with crossing over driveways and side streets. Nice “trail” eh?

Soon you come to an intersection with Carrel St. where the trail ends. Turn left with the light and roll along the lovely street, passing Kellogg Auto Parts and its distinctive baby blue building and fence. Fortunately before long you see a crosswalk and, on the right, a trail complete with car-blocking poles! FYI: The map (and I definitely am familiar with seeing signs saying the same) has this section of trail labeled “Ohio Bicycle Route 0.” It’s zero now? Okay.

The trail takes a big curve to the left. Shortly you arrive at an intersection (with Airport Rd.) where the trail ends. What you need to do here is cross the street to the right (Wilmer Ave.). The trail picks up again and parallels Wilmer Ave. This is apparently now the Lunken Airport Trail.

This section of trail, while it is at least a separated trail, crosses many driveways and has many significant bumps (which of course are the enemy of your wheels especially if you have narrow road-wheels like me). After something like 1.5 miles, the trail curves right a bit and moves away from the roadway and runs by a big park. The trail comes to a point where you are about behind home plate of a ball field. You’ll see a drinking fountain ahead.

A very nice thing to have a working water fountain here at this relaxing stopping point.

A very nice thing to have a working water fountain here at this relaxing stopping point.

Don’t follow the trail as it branches to the right. Instead you have to leave the trail here and get onto the sidewalk of the roadway Wilmer Ave. Travel some 500 feet then go left at the stop light intersection.

It then curves around to the right and goes under an overpass. Immediately after going under this overpass, look left and see the three-level set of stairs – lighted at night – that take you up onto the overhead roadway and over the railroad tracks, then back down the stairways onto Eastern Ave.

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Proceed, from the base of these stairs, to your right and quite shortly you arrive at Double Barrel Brewing! I must mention an important point: Though I really like pedestrian overpasses, and find it a unique part of this adventure, it occurred to me on my return trip that the only benefit this pedestrian overpass – and all its stair-climbing – gains you is passage in the event of the presence of a train. On my return trip, I simply stayed on ground level and crossed straight over to where the base of the stairs are on the other side then proceeded on my route toward home. If I recall, I had to pick up my bike to get it over those railroad tracks.

Double Barrel’s building is no-frills which is, of course, the norm for small breweries. The funny thing about it is that its parking lot at least used to be overflow parking for the, I guess, well-known Terry’s Turf Club which is a bit down the street. I would imagine folks still park at Double Barrel then walk to Terry’s. Fortunately, having arrived by bicycle you won’t have to worry about finding parking!

When I arrived the evening of my first visit, it was starting to get dark. I found a middle-aged guy sitting out front smoking. Yes, smoking just outside the entrance/exit of a building: The accepted norm here in this region despite what I thought was a standard law stating there must be a 25 foot distance observed by smokers. It’s common practice for businesses to place ash trays directly outside their front doors. This is where my negative impression started but fortunately began to fade quickly as my visit unfolded.

I began to look for something to which to lock up my bike when the guy spoke up and said to me that if I was there for Double Barrel, I could take my bike inside and just lean it up against the bar. I figured he was an employee or maybe even a guest but it turns out he is one of the owners.

Thankful, I rolled my bike on inside and did just that, checking with the young man running the place inside. This guy, my beertender for the evening, turned out to be a very nice guy and did Double Barrel right as he presented their offerings in a genuine, friendly and accommodating fashion. He and I, in fact, spoke at length as I tasted a few of their beers, then ordered a pint or two more.

Belgian, Helles, Bad Tom, Old Abe, IPA (I believe, in that order)

Belgian, Helles, Bad Tom, Old Abe, IPA

Behind these doors is the brewing equipment.

Behind these doors is the brewing equipment.

Double Barrel’s signature, perhaps flagship, beer is Bad Tom. If I have the story straight, the man known as Bad Tom was the last person hanged in Kentucky. (Someone please correct me if I have the story wrong.) The really interesting part is that the owner I met that night (he came in and out of the taproom that evening and was a nice guy) is a direct descendant of Bad Tom.

Of the beers I tried on this visit, my favorite was Old Abe if I recall.

It’s interesting how the building’s layout has things, but the beer taps are not behind the bar. They, of course, have to be attached to a wall surrounding the cold room (or the beer can be carried by long lines from the cold room to the taps, but this is less than ideal). So you order a beer and the beertender walks out from behind the bar and over to the taps and pours it. Not at all important to me – just interesting.

Double Barrel offers free popcorn (seen on the far right of the photo of the taps). At least they offered it on the evening of this visit. Despite the knowledge that almost all popcorn you find contains things that aren’t good for you, I often succumb. On this adventure, I was short on food so I was especially grateful for the popcorn!

Through that little hallway beyond the taps are found the bathrooms. Note the popcorn machine on the right.

Through that little hallway beyond the taps are found the bathrooms.

During my visit, Double Barrel wasn’t busy. I believe it was a Saturday evening. I understand that it does get packed in there sometimes, so it must have been a fortunate fluke for me. It remains to be seen how the experience will be in there when it is busy, but I came away from this visit very happy.

I will describe the return trip as a simple reversal of the outgoing trip. I would like to mention that, to my great surprise, I encountered a Ghost Bike on this trip. It was located along the trail somewhere in the airport region. I did not expect that the culture of honoring, and bringing attention to, the people who have died at the hand of careless drivers would be found here. I saw several Ghost Bikes in the Seattle area, but the one here – especially alongside a bike trail – really took me by surprise. I don’t know if the deceased’s life was taken out on the roadway adjacent to the trail, or if it happened at a crossing with a road or driveway, but the Ghost Bike was locked to a signpost along the trail.

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Based on my initial experience, Double Barrel is a good brewery/taproom and I’m happy to have it part of our local beer scene. Its location is pretty far down in the corner of Cincinnati, but it seems to me the ride from my Pleasant Ridge location would be about as convenient as my ride from Covington. I look forward to more visits to this, one of our precious few local breweries!

Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Cheers, and keep spinning those spokes!

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