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Spare Parts: Beerducated

By Ernie Copper

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It started with a cab ride. Actually, that’s not true. Before the cab ride there was the usual discussion about how we were going to fit in all of the after-hours moto-related activities that pop up each year around the V-Twin Expo. Shadow and I kept circling back to an event that intrigued us both; the Garage Brewed Moto Show to be held at the Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati’s historic “Over the Rhine” (OTR) neighborhood, specifically the brewery district.

OTR is a very historic part of Cincinnati that developed in the mid-19th century and garnered its name from two characteristics. First, OTR was inhabited in the 19th century primarily by German immigrants. Second, the Miami Erie Canal was nicknamed “The Rhine” in reference to the Rhine River in Germany. Crossing the canal was like going over the Rhine. The OTR area is a very urban neighborhood. It has endured the ravages of time, fallen on hard times and neglect and is currently enjoying the start of a renaissance. The area was the heart of Cincinnati’s pre-prohibition brewery district that earned the Queen City the title of Beer Capital of the World in 1890.

The Garage Brewed Moto Show was to be held at Rhinegeist, which translates as “Ghost of the Rhine,” a fitting name for a brewing enterprise that started in 2013 in the old bottling plant the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company built in 1895. Shadow and I talked ourselves into going and decided to find a cab to take us there, since our mastery of downtown Cincinnati directions has been under scrutiny as of late.

A quick 10-minute ride later, Ousman, our driver, confirmed we made the right choice by not walking and even gave us his number to call for a pickup. As we arrived at Rhinegiest on Elm Street, we were pleasantly surprised to see bikes parked at the curb. Inside, an industrial staircase with turn-of-the-century iron railings waited. We hiked up several flights as the sounds of the crowd grew louder with each step until we emerged into the cavernous industrial arched space that is Rhinegeist. It was packed with people and we immediately knew we’d made the right call in going.

Over 50 bikes were displayed, including vintage Triumphs, Hondas, Yamahas, a pair of Indian inline fours, race bikes, and Harleys… and there was beer. Many of the bikes were displayed lashed to beer kegs. Rhinegeist and the Garage Brewed Moto Show did more to enhance the relationship between bikes and beer then Eddie Davenport did to damage it back 1948. The crowd was huge and the vibe was a very positive mix of art, craft, industrialism and fun.

The bikes were the stars, occupying the center of the outrageously large, 25,000-square-foot hall. A stage was at one end of the hall and giant gleaming brewing equipment was at the other. The perimeter featured event merchandise and information from a variety of clubs and organizations such as the Cincinnati Café Racer Club, whose volunteers provided the show, and the Cincinnati Brewery Heritage Trail that is working to keep Cincinnati’s brewery history alive. Admission was free. What? That’s right; free.

There was crowd-sourced voting for the bike awards displayed on big-screen monitors and winners won event growlers. There may have been additional prizes, but I couldn’t really tell and since we weren’t actually there to cover the show we just enjoyed the vibe. There was none of the pushing or shoving often associated with a Saturday night in a trendy place; just a lot of people who seemed happy they all made the same decision to attend. I bought the last size XL event shirt and we called Ousman for a ride back to our hotel. While we waited, we enjoyed the warm night air, looked over the bikes and enjoyed the aroma wafting from the nearby Waffo food truck. We got a brief history lesson about the area from Ousman on the way back and the next time I’m in Cincy, I hope I can drop by OTR during the daylight.

DEI (Design Engineering Incorporated), the pipe-wrap people, was one of the show’s sponsors. I made a point of dropping by the next day at the Expo to tell them how much I’d enjoyed it.

For the record, “beerducation” is not a word coined by me. We saw it posted in the brewery advertising the “#Beerducation Series” of classes about—what else—beer. But the word, like the entire Garage Brewed experience, was simply too cool to pass up.

Shadow and I followed our instincts and took a chance by attending the Rhinegeist show, but before we could do that, the show organizers had taken lots of chances of their own. My first thought when we walked into the show was that it was so cool that years from now, I’d be able to say I was there when it started. Here’s to taking a chance.

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