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The Bier Bike and Seattle: Could it happen? A chat with the WA Liquor Board

I should preface this post by being clear that I have not heard that anyone is thinking about bringing a bier bike to Seattle. However, after seeing a video of them in action in Europe, I was very curious if there were any reason why something this completely awesome could not roll around Seattle. So I inquired with the Washington Liquor Control Board.

The result? Well, I dunno. I think it’s possible, but there are some hurdles. However, my dreams of being served a beer while pedaling around our fair city have not been dashed! ENTREPRENEURS, LISTEN UP! This idea is gold.

My first thought was, Hey, if there can be party buses, why can’t there be a bicycle equivalent? But Anne Radford of the Washington State Liquor Control Board said that party buses are probably not similar enough to this plan to be compared. Apparently, these party buses cannot “sell” alcohol (but can serve it) and have to apply for permits as one-time, private banquet events for invited guests only.


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Radford said that there does not seem to be a liquor license particularly matched for this venture, but there are laws on the books allowing for dinner train cars and tour boats to serve alcohol. If the bier bike were to follow a set path, only allow people to get on and off at set points and serve food, it would not be so different from these existing business models. It would, however, be an open-air vehicle, which could conflict with open container laws, but perhaps it is not so different from a Ride the Ducks party tour. Those exist, right?

There are some other public safety questions. For example, the bier bike would need to be able to prove the operators (a “driver” and a bartender) would be able to enforce liquor laws. Clearly, only people who are 21+ could get on. But how would you stop someone from jumping off with a beer in hand or handing a beer to someone on the street? I don’t actually think this would be a problem, but I also see that it could be difficult to prove you could control it. But not impossible.

“The WSLCB’s top priorities are public safety and ensuring Washington’s liquor and tobacco laws are followed,” said Radford. “These points I mentioned would have to be taken into account, and considered seriously when looking at such a venture.”

Maybe this is an idea that could partner with some area bars. Stops could be at bars, where patrons could use the restrooms, get on, get off. Or maybe a scaled-down version could just go up and down a single street, making something of a short loop and returning to the same spot. I don’t know.

So there you go. Anyone up for a challenge? If Lawrence, Kansas can do it, why can’t Seattle? I think the proposal is reasonable. The thing only goes a couple miles per hour, so it’s not like it is a menace to society. It would be a great way to celebrate bicycles and our region’s great beer tradition.

I want to pedal through Georgetown drinking a Georgetown Porter, and I want to pedal up Ballard Ave with a Hale’s.


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7 responses to “The Bier Bike and Seattle: Could it happen? A chat with the WA Liquor Board”

  1. What about within the cordon of an event like Bumbershoot?

  2. why not identify 21+ participating riders with wristbands and rule #1 is no wristband? no beer!

  3. jumping off beer in hand? handing off beer to passerby? just lanyard the mugs to the bar. it’s so simple. so elegant. so safety-oriented! every single one of my friends from ballardabad, even on their WORST nights can hang on to a mug handle. there will be no falling off and being left behind if the mugs are on life lines. just falling off and getting dragged for blocks – which sure beats leaving litter.

  4. Sharon and John Kulow

    We live in Germany and rented a bierbike in Mainz. We, too, were thinking trying to set one up in Texas, where we come from, when we get back to the states. I think the idea of attaching the mugs to the bike might help. In Germany, any of the guest can give out the bier. You buy as much as you want, or, you can buy wine, soda or water. You can bring food, if you want. But the guests took turns being the bartender. We all had a great time and only 2 people got a bit drunk. We had about 4 or 5 organized stops along the way. Actually, the bike was a bit hard to pedal even with 14 people so you worked your butt off but drank beer while you were doing it, so you didn’t have that much time to get drunk. Let me know if I should start at the Chamber of Commerce or the Liquor Control Board? Thanks for any help,

    Sharon and John Kulow

  5. Atek Customs can build you your very own beer bike. We are located in Bend, Oregon. If you are interested in starting your own business owning and renting out your bike, please contact us at http://www.thepartybike.com.

  6. […] Gape, gawk, guzzle: a ride on board the ‘Cycle Saloon’ | KOMO News – Good press for Ballard’s almost-bier-bike […]

  7. […] Over a Barrel: Why is City Hall barring Pedal Pub from operating? | Grid Chicago – Sound familiar? […]

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