The Long Road to the Festival

Texas brewer will bicycle from Austin to Denver to benefit Pints for Prostates

Davis Tucker’s 1,400-mile road trip to the Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) isn’t the farthest a brewer will travel to attend this year’s event. But it will certainly be the hardest. Davis will tackle a circuitous route—by bike—from Austin, Tex. to Denver.

The project, 1,400 Miles Beyond Beer–Craft and Community, didn’t start with a bike. It actually started with a bus. For years, Davis and his brewery, North by Northwest, drove their “Beerliner” to Denver for GABF. Unfortunately, this converted school bus he describes as “a rolling ambassador for Texas craft beer” couldn’t handle the nonstop drive north. So, Davis decided to break up the trip to put less strain on the bus’ engine.

He made a quick call to his coach, former Tour de France professional Kevin Livingston, to confirm that he really could ride 1,400 miles in 14 days. Then, Davis committed to give the bus a break while testing the limits of his own engine.

Bikes and Beer

Davis TuckerMaybe the connection between a strenuous solo bike tour and the beer industry isn’t immediately apparent, but for Davis, 1,400 Miles Beyond Beer combines two of his passions. As a competitive cyclist and former racer, he knows what it’s like to spend countless hours in the saddle. In addition to hills and headwinds, Davis has a taste for hops, having started two Texas brewpubs, Copper Tank and North by Northwest.

He wasn’t entirely sure the ride would be doable, but Davis was certain that he wanted it to benefit a cause greater than just an ailing bus or even his brewery. Having seen his close friend of nearly 30 years, Don Thompson, survive prostate cancer, Davis will dedicate the ride’s proceeds to Pints for Prostates.

The GABF Connection

Davis’ craft brewing career began shortly after he met Don, who started Texas’ Reinheitsgebot brewery. In 1987, Davis began contract brewing Pecan Street Lager with Shiner. Only a year later, he was at his first Great American Beer Festival. “I stayed in a tiny fleabag hotel next door to the venue,” he explains. “That was back when Anchor would bring a keg of Old Foghorn and Sierra would bring a keg of Bigfoot for all the brewers once the festival ended.”

It’s a given that GABF is drastically different than it was 25 years ago when Davis enjoyed those barley wines. However, the spirit of the craft brewing industry is still recognizable. 1,400 Miles Beyond Beer includes six events at breweries along the ride’s route in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Austin Beer Works, Yellow House Brew Works, Marble Brewery, Ska Brewing Company, Elevation Beer Co. and others will welcome local beer enthusiasts with beers, food, music and more. The proceeds from each event will benefit Pints for Prostates.

Pints for Prostates

Since 2008, Pints for Prostates has “used the universal language of beer to reach men with an important health message… The campaign raises awareness among men about the importance of regular health screenings and early detection.” With a presence at close to 60 events each year, like GABF, this nonprofit fosters one-on-one conversations with guys to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Volunteers help organize events across the country, from Seattle, Wash. to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Michigan and Florida.

Though his friend Don was not floored by the ride’s audacity—”He’s the king of no reactions,” says Davis—this ride is set to make an impression, whether it’s the money and awareness that Davis expects to raise for Pints for Prostates during the tour, or the difficult route, with several days with 100+ miles of riding. It’s going to be huge.

Join the Ride… Or Celebration

Fans and fellow riders are encouraged to meet up with the tour at stops along the way. Whether they choose to enjoy one of the events, or pedal along for an entire stage of the journey, they’ll be able to find great craft beer at the end of the day. Davis prefers North by Northwest’s Prost Pils after a long day on the bike, but with an all-star brewery lineup over 14 days, it’ll be easy to slake your thirst and support Pints for Prostates.

“There are a lot of similarities between the experience of this ride and cancer,” Davis says. “It’s a day to day thing. I have to get up every day and get on the bike. They have to get up every day and deal with cancer. Of course, it’s much better to be on the bike, but we all take the unknown and make the best of it.”

No matter how the 1,400 miles go, we’ll be happy to welcome Davis and his crew to GABF on October 8 when they roll into Denver. Look for the guy with mean tanlines at the North by Northwest booth. He’ll probably be happy to share some great stories from the road and a beer.

Photos: Thomas Kolicko