Four residents of East Austin’s Mueller neighborhood have been exploring the east side of town since they met five years ago. But they hadn’t been doing it by party bike — the large multi-passenger pub crawler that groups of people pedal from place to place while drinking a beer — and thought their part of town could benefit from such a service.
After deciding to have one made for them, they’ve launched the bike as a new business called Hipside Peddler and are now offering tours to various East Austin bars with it.
“We thought, ‘Oh, this would be a fun thing on the east side, right?'” Hipside Peddler co-founder Kristin Weaver says.
She, her husband Johnny, and their friends Andrej and Rachel Simic started operating their custom-made 15-passenger bike earlier this summer as a two- or three-hour ride to spots like Craftsman, Bar 2211 and Hi Hat Public House. Groups of no less than 6 people and no more than 15 can opt for a day or nighttime tour for a total of $205 per hour, and they’ll have plenty of fun along the way, Weaver said.
On the Hipside Peddler bike, passengers are allowed to brings their own kegs or cans of beer and wine; the bike has a tap line or two and coolers to keep the cans cold. “It’s a BYOB situation, not a bar,” she says.
Plus, the bike has a 6-speaker sound system that you can plug your phone into and karaoke for you to croon along with.
And yes, you do have to pedal. That’s probably the question Weaver and her co-founders get the most often: “Do we actually have to pedal?” she repeats with a laugh. “It’s a little bit of work but not the hardest thing in the world.”
For others, the chance to exert some energy while sipping on a can of beer is the best of worlds, she says. “Everyone says this is a great exercise dream: Maintain your buzz while you pedal. You feel like you’re doing something active, so it’s really a win-win.”
Right now, Hipside Peddler offers two main tours: one for a daytime ride and another for nighttime, when Hipside operators have to abide by a city rule that states they can only have the bike out on multi-lane roads. By day, stops include Craftsman, Buckets Deli and Sports Bar, Drinks Lounge and Hi Hat Public House; by night, the bike travels to Bar 2211, the newly reopened Dog and Duck Pub, Whisler’s and St. Roch’s. All tours start and end at Hops & Grain.
Although the Hipside Peddler operators are open to going to other places — and are also in the process of planning a craft beer tour involving Hops & Grain, Blue Owl Brewing and Zilker Brewing — Weaver said they’re restricted by the city’s open container laws to staying east of Chicon Street, a boundary that limits their options.
Still, she and the others are excited about their new business, which they hope will one day grow and be profitable enough to take on full-time.
“I think that’s the aim, to see how big we can get it,” she said. “For us, we look at it as it’s exercise, it’s fun, it’s running around in a part of town we like and checking out new spots. It’s something we like to do anyway.”
For more information, visit www.hipsidepeddler.com.