Bike tender

Duke Bristow

PHOTO/Brad Bynum

The Reno Brew Bike is a new business that launched this spring. From a base near the corner of Second and Bell streets, owner Duke Bristow steers a bar-shaped bicycle that seats 15 to local watering holes so thirsty cyclists can sample local beers. For more information, visit

Tell me about your business.

We take people out to enjoy the craft beer that we’ve got going around in Reno right now. That’s what we aim to do. People have a fun time doing that. We have this 15-passenger pedal bike, and it takes people around on a two-hour tour, and we stop at three different breweries or brew pubs that serve craft beer and local craft beer. And we’re at each stop for about half an hour each.

What are the stops?

Right now I think we have 11 partners. Each of these businesses either I’ve reached out to or they’ve reached out to me. At this point, I think they’re all giving dollar-off discounts. That’s the partnership we have. I bring them patrons, and they give the patrons a dollar off drinks. So, we have Pigeon Head Brewery, Under the Rose, The Depot … Mellow Fellow—the gastropub across from the ballpark—Duffy’s Ale House, which is in the ballpark—or the Freight House District, anyway. And then down by the riverwalk we have a handful, which are Ole Bridge Pub, Sierra Tap House, Our Bar and Imperial Lounge and Seven Bar.

It’s not always the same route. So you mix it up with these different places?

That’s something that’s kind of confusing about how we operate. We have all these partners—the way that it works is that if we have a group that booked out all 15 seats on the bike, that group basically chooses whatever they want. They’ve got control of the bike for two hours, and we can go anywhere they like. The way we’re set up is that we have a booking calender online, so people can join up. So, say, three people booked seats for this afternoon at 4, that’s not enough to go out. We need six people to pedal to go out, but if they get joined by a different group of six, then we have nine. So we end up with a mixed group. So, when that happens, I choose the spots that we go to, and I try to spread the business out among the partners when I’m choosing.

The bike is like a bar itself. Can people drink on the bike?

It’s built by a fabricator in Savannah, Georgia, where they can drink on the bike, so that’s why it has the bar-style look to it, and there are cities around the U.S. on which you can, but on the West Coast, there are very few. Almost every city or county has an open container law like Reno. So, we can’t actually drink on the bike.

They drink on the ones in Sacramento, though, don’t they?

No, they do not. They’re actually in the middle of legislation—they have a bill in … the senate, or whatever house it goes through first, to see if they can get it passed, so that they can drink on them there. … They have bikes in Sacramento and bikes in San Diego, and they can not drink on them. They have open-container laws there as well.

You know of any legislation like that for Nevada?

People are interested in doing it and I get asked by my passengers all the time if they’ll be able to drink on it in the future, so we will probably eventually see if anything can be done. I’m not sure if I want to just be a mobile bar. I’m more interested in being able to transfer the beer they’re drinking into a party cup to bring on the bike—rather than driving around with a keg.

I’ve seen people do that at Burning Man.

Yeah, in Black Rock City, anything goes. I’ve had customers ask me before if this was a Burning Man idea. The idea of the pedal pub on the street originated in Europe and then about four years ago, they were in the Midwest and they’ve made their way out to the West Coast.