From the seat at the reclaimed-wood bar, patrons at Upland Brewing Co.’s newest venture can sip on a Champagne Velvet, Wheat Ale or Dragonfly IPA, chatting with friends underneath warming vintage lighting.
Turning around, they’ll get a birds-eye view of the bicycles, equipment and clothing on the sales floor of Gray Goat Bicycle Co. Massive windows looking out over the area around Gray Park in Southport offers a great view of the cyclists cruising up to the building.
And for those cyclists, it proves to be a perfect way station to rehydrate on a hot day.
"A lot of people who ride bikes love beer, and a lot of people who love beer ride bikes," said David Bower, founder of Upland Brewing. "It’s a really fun community space for people who love bikes, beer or just want to explore either of those worlds."
The Upland Southport Bike Bar, which opened on July 9, caters to both beer lovers and bicyclists. Located on the second floor of Gray Goat Bicycle Co.’s flagship store, the bar offers a place for cyclists to stop for a pint or two with friends, as well as for Upland fans to get their favorite brews on draft, in cans or bottles.
The unique collaboration will hopefully serve as an intersection between the cycling and beer communities.
"Very often it seems the cycling enthusiast crosses over to be the craft brew type as well. I mean, what is better after that epic ride or hard training session than a nice locally crafted cold one," said Brian Gootee, president of Gray Goat Bicycle Co.
The Southport bike bar grew out of a previous partnership between Upland and Gray Goat. When Upland was planning its Fountain Square restaurant and taproom, Bower had an idea. The location was just a block away from the Indy Cultural Trail, popular with cyclists and pedestrians.
What if the taproom had a bicycle shop attached to it? Bower thought.
"I was a customer of Gray Goat, and really enjoyed their customer service and attention to detail as a retailer. I asked the owner if they wanted to open a bike shop inside a brewery, and he said, ‘Sure,’" Bower said.
The relationship between Upland and Gray Goat proved fruitful, as the Fountain Square location became a hub for cyclists and the beer community. Upland sponsors a bike team, which the Gray Goat supports, and Gray Goat sells Upland products at its Carmel location.
So as Gray Goat was planning to move its southside location to a new store on Southport Road, Gootee returned the favor. The shop, which opened in the spring, had a spacious second floor that was going to be used for a service counter to work on repairs and custom bike builds. But ample space begged for a unique tenant to fill it.
"Upland and Gray Goat Bicycle Co. have similar mindsets when it comes to what we do; both are looking to help people get out and enjoy their adventure, whatever that may be — us with wheels and gears, and them with hops and grains," Gootee said.
Bower had encountered some similar beer-bike partnerships in the Western states, but nothing like it existed around Indiana. With a solid working relationship with Gray Goat already and the opportunity to fill a void in the market, it seemed like an ideal fit.
Work began on the bike bar. Designers used upcycled bowling alley wood to serve as a bar, lit by vintage Edison lights and decorated with other industrial adornments. Tables situated around the second-floor balcony give groups a chance to sit and chat with their brews.
The bar will feature four taps of Upland’s core beer lineup. Patrons will also be able to pick up cans of seasonal and specialty beer, bottles of sours and seltzer to go.
Bower envisioned a more traditional bar experience, as opposed to the eatery and taproom concepts that Upland has established in Fountain Square, Broad Ripple, Carmel, Bloomington and Columbus.
"It’s very beer-centric compared to, say, some of our other locations that are full-service restaurants. It’s more a cozy place to hang out with friends, grab a beer and maybe some locally produced snacks. But it’s definitely not a restaurant," Bower said.
The bike bar may have just opened, but buzz has been building for it since it was announced earlier this year. People kept asking when it was open, and both Upland and Gray Goat see tremendous potential in their new venture.
"It’s really exciting and kind of humbling at the same time. To have the support necessary to be able to take this step, it’s pretty amazing," Bower said. "We couldn’t do this without the partnership of Gray Goat and the cycling community at large. The way the community has come together to push this forward has been remarkable."
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Upland Southport Bike Bar
What: A new taproom from Upland Brewing Co., located on the second store of the southside Indy Gray Goat Bicycling Co.
Where: 3850 E. Southport Road, Indianapolis
What they feature: Patrons can find four different Upland beers on draft, and pick up cans and bottles of different varieties to go.