RLDG Public Service Announcement: Yep, this destination has alcohol and, though we love a good beer, we believe that MOTORCYCLES AND ALCOHOL DO NOT MIX! We find lots of cool breweries, wineries, and distilleries on great rides, but buy a bottle or fill a growler to drink when the bike’s parked for the day. If you decide to imbibe on the ride, please remember the ONE HOUR, PER DRINK, BOTTLE TO THROTTLE rule. The bike ALWAYS beats a gurney for the ride home!
Despite the title, this was not a barhop ride- it was a restocking run for my favorite drink after Mountain Dew. I don’t drink if I’m riding, but I love a good beer after riding. Bench racing in a garage full of bikes and cars requires proper beverages, and my garage fridge was humming on empty- and a restocking trip to Double Wing Brewing Co. would be the perfect morning ride. Gear on, saddle up, and off to NEOhio’s wine country.
Double Wing brewery is actually part of Debonne Vineyards, an internationally known winery in Madison, Ohio. The brewery itself is behind the Debonne complex, but the brew pub is in the main building. This works well for most of my riding buddies, as they typically prefer beer while the wives prefer wine. Throughout the summer, the winery hosts a number of events, including a hot air balloon rally, classic car shows, live music, and R/C airplane events. Many events are day-long affairs, so you could ride up in the morning, sample some award-winning beer or wine with gourmet snacks, enjoy the festivities and be back in riding shape for an evening ride home.
The ride to the brewery can be pretty straightforward, with County Highway 12 basically a turn or two off I-90 and SR-528. Nice easy drive in the middle of winter perhaps, but a summer ride should be far more convoluted. This day’s trip covered more than 100 miles through the Grand River Valley. Roads in this area vary from weathered dirt/ gravel to beautifully maintained twisty concrete and asphalt. Scenery is rustic small town, covered bridges, farms, acres of vineyards, and plenty of places to enjoy beautiful views of the Grand River meandering through the landscape.
Finally arriving at the brewery, I spoke with Tony Debevic, Jr., co-owner and Brewmaster of Double Wing. It came as a surprise to realize they have been brewing excellent beers for over 10 years, beginning as Cellar Rats in 2007. Somewhere along the way, they decided a rat on the label might not be the most appealing marketing, so they rebranded as Double Wing and added a beautiful bi-winged airplane to the cans. The change was a perfect opportunity to tweak some recipes and add variety of new brews. Fortunately, my favorite Imperial Stout carries on smooth as ever, just wrapped in a snappier label.
The main brewery has a 15-barrel, steam-fired brewing system that fills the building with stainless steel industrial art. Smells of brewing were wonderfully strong and had me salivating so close to those giant tanks of my favorite stout. Visuals of Homer Simpson on the Duff Beer tour kept swapping in my head with Bob McKenzie trapped in the beer tank in Strange Brew. Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity to lay beneath an open tap like Homer! On to the canning line where liquid temptation finds a means to be carried to your door, I was struck by how few people are capable of doing so much work to keep a microbrewery like Double Wing running- kudos to the terrific staff that keeps my Imperial Stout coming!
Several Double Wing beers like the popular Hazy Juicy IPA and Butter pecan Porter are available in 6-packs from your local retailer. But for the small-batch one-offs like the truly exceptional barrel aged and collaboration brews, one must visit the brew pub for a pint at the bar. If you find a favorite, you can usually have a crowler (32oz sealed can) or growler (64oz reusable glass bottle) filled for a post-ride session back at home or hotel. I went for my usual Imperial Stout to stock my fridge, and rooting through their mix and match cooler rewarded me with a single can of the sold-out Hazy Juicy- Bonus!
Too soon it was time to pack my bounty in the trunk of the Vision and head for home. A warm spring day, new-found knowledge of my favorite elixir, and a great ride home with the smell of fresh brewing beer still on clothes. Perfect. If you’re looking for a cool riding destination, or a warm place to sit out a cold winter day, check out Double Wing Brewing Co. and Debonne Vineyards. And if you happen to see a really tall guy with prominent ears and a giant smile, that would be the other owner, Joel. Tell him Mike sent you and ask if he’s got time to show you around- it’ll be worth it!
Please remember to drink responsibly and keep it separate from the riding.
Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, and rolling safe. See you on the road!