Bikes and Beer: The Crank Arm Brewing Co.
Beer and bikes, you can have one without the other… but its just not as much fun! That was the headline on the fledgling brewery’s Kickstarter page when it launched in January 2013. The three founders of Crank Arm Rickshaw Company are just as passionate about beer as they are about turning cranks, which led them to spin-off this bike and beer destination.
After raising over $40k through the crowd-funding Kickstarter site, the Crank Arm Brewery opened its doors in July within the Warehouse District in Raleigh, NC. Founders Dylan Selinger and Adam Eckhardt have been pedaling rickshaws in downtown Raleigh as the Crank Arm Rickshaw company for over 5 years. The third founder, Michael Morris, a 4-time Great American Beer Festival (GABF) winner, has been brewing beer for 14 years at several Raleigh area breweries, including Capitol Brewing Company, Big Boss Brewing Company, and Natty Greene’s.
I had been trying to get to Crank Arm ever since their opening a couple of months ago and finally saddled up to their bar this past weekend. The old warehouse space has been renovated and transformed with layers of bike-themed decor. The brewery almost has the feel of an industrial bike sculpture gallery. Behind the bar, the backdrop is festooned with thousands of feet of vertically hung recycled bike chain illuminated by neon. On the opposing wall, the brewery’s pièce de résistance is a huge 3-panel interactive sculpture that will, once finished, allow patrons to turn a crank that will animate the 45′ composition of gears, wheels, neon and chain. The artist responsible, Nate Sheaffer, was quoted as saying his creation is, “just another thing to confuse and befuddle the drunkards, which I like to think of as my life’s work.”
Speaking of drunkards, the beer isn’t too shabby either. Beers with names like Rickshaw, Unicycle and E.at S.leep B.ike are poured from taps that are actually made from recycled crank arms. I started with a Rickshaw Rye IPA. Not quite as hoppy as I prefer (which is absolutely ridiculous on the IBUs), but this tasty beer poured a nice rich amber and had a caramel malt flavor that finished pleasantly bitter. Next up was the Unicycle Single Hop Pale. Brewed with the Sorachi Ace hop, this beer doles out a very unique and layered experience. It pours cloudy orange with a creamy head and has a nice, juicy citrus start. The Sorachi hop shines in the flavor department and gives the beer hints of buttery spice and dill with a nice crisp finish. Adam mentioned an upcoming variation of the Unicycle, being brewed with the famed Centennial hop, and offered a sample straight from the barrel of the not-quite-ready batch. After a 2 ounce taste of the Unicycle Centennial, I am looking forward to returning very soon to taste the final product.