January, that cold grey month that blankets Ohio in frost and snow. The Christmas lights have been taken down, and for most folks, the motorcycle is tucked away in the garage, waiting for the spring melt. For those that do ride, it’s a brutal month of layering up and enduring the weather and the cursed road salt. Fortunately, there is a shining moment in one of the last weekends of January, the Garage Brewed Moto Show in Cincinnati.
What is Garage Brewed?
Hosted by Cincinnati Café Racer (CCR), Garage Brewed is a free public motorcycle show hosted at Rhinegiest Brewery. Bikes featured are the work of builders from small towns and big cities, from true backyard builders to professional customs. Garage Brewed is an invitation-only show, however, anyone can nominate a bike that they feel deserves to be showcased at Rhinegeist. This winter, volunteers from CCR pored over a hundred and thirty rare, vintage, and custom motorcycle nominations to put together a collection of sixty-three exceptional bikes for the viewing pleasure of event attendees. Each year, a unique crop of motorcycles is selected; thus providing visitors a different experience each January.
At 1910 Elm Street in Over The Rhine, Rhinegeist Brewery was born out of a dream to build a craft brewery, coincidentally on the former site of one of the largest breweries in Cincinnati history before it was closed under prohibition. In 2017, Rhinegeist became the second largest independent craft brewery in Ohio (by sales volume). During this year’s Garage Brewed, Rhinegeist had over twenty-five of their own draft beers on tap for visitors, as they let the Moto Show take over the majority of the brewery’s 250,000 square foot taproom.
The Show You Don’t Want to Miss
This year marked my second visit to Garage Brewed. As I’ve told many others, it’s a truly eclectic collection of motorcycles from across the country. I also have a great appreciation for the fact that many entrants are from right here in Cincinnati, including many vintage survivors that have been polished in the garage, but also a collection of one-of-a-kind custom machines. One of the best parts of the show is meeting new people that have traveled across states to show off their talent, while also catching up with old friends; all the while sharing a pint of some of Cincinnati’s finest craft beer.
Beyond the bikes, CCR puts on an incredible exhibition. Motorcycles are not simply lined up and roped off, they’re presented as members of the crowd. The bikes are up on kegs, hanging from pillars, and on platforms and the main stage for your perusal; often with the builder standing nearby if you have questions or to simply complement their work.
Ripley the Dirtster
If you keep up with the Moto Adventurer Events Calendar, I planned on attending Garage Brewed a long time ago. That said, this year was even more significant as Ripley, the Harley Dirtster Project, was also selected for this year’s show.
I’ve been sitting on a draft of “Stage 1” of the dirtster project for quite a while now, I’m actually hoping to turn that into a video this spring, so stay tuned. In the interim, the short story is, Jeff and I did indeed partner up with Hugo Moto to put together one of the first Sportster “Scrambler” kits. Ripley is the first public Hugo kit to leave the factory. That said, beyond wheels, pegs, and suspension, Jeff and I still did quite a bit more tinkering in the garage to get Ripley in the off-road ready condition she is today, but more on that later…
Per my previous comments, each year a given selection of motorcycles are invited to a show, and will not be invited a second time. In keeping with the same mantra, each year a different set of judges are chosen to select the best bikes in each category.
CCR member Garage Brewed Class
People’s Choice Award
This year I spent twelve straight hours standing in a brewery talking motorcycles with friends and strangers alike. Standing for twelve hours is a long time, but in reality, talking motorcycles with a top-notch craft brew in my hand is pretty close to heaven on earth in the snow-covered Midwestern winter. I also managed to convince a few non-riding family members to make the trip down to Cincinnati; despite not being motorcycle enthusiasts, they too had a great time exploring the brewery and enjoying the “artwork” littered throughout. I encourage everyone, motorcyclist of otherwise, to “keep your ears up” for the next year’s dates, and mark your calendars for Garage Brewed 2020.
*Big thanks to Bill DeVore and Jeff Pierce for sharing their photos of this year’s event!