Honest Brew: Liquid Picnic by Bike

So, I do not normally review food and drinks items. But when it came to this product from London-based Honest Brew it seemed a pity to deprive you, dear readers ...especially as they allowed me to give the stuff away!

And on that TGIF note, I introduce you to the Howler: a portable tube of craft beers, delivered to your door on request and designed to fit in your bicycle's bottle cage. Is this in jest, you ask? Not at all. This product exists. And you can read about the enthusiastic maker's philosophy here, including their thoughts on the virtues of canning craft beer.

When the sizable parcel arrived and I imagined it as a portion to be consumed on a single bike ride, I was reminded of the awful joke that kids of Irish descent at my 1990s New England school used to tell, not without some measure of pride:

"What's an Irish seven course meal?"
"A six pack and a potato."

Har har.

Well, by those standards, you don't quite get a full meal out of a Honest Brew Howler. But you won't be left starving either. For most, I should think the 3-pack will suffice for a liquid picnic by bike.

If you reside in Great Britain or Northern Ireland, you can order samplers of various hand-picked craft beers from local micro-breweries, and the bicycle-ready Howler shall arrive at your door lickety-split. You can order as many samplers as you like, according to various themes, at the cost of £6.60-£8.50 per pack, and a one-time shipping charge of £3.49. It's not cheap. But it's not expensive either, considering the cost of craft beers. And if you enjoy this sort of thing, it can allow you to sample beers from micro-breweries that may not be otherwise accessible. All in all, I would say it's a fun project.

Now as far as limitations, the main one I can see is fit:  While the container seems compatible with most metal bottle cages, it won't clear small bicycle frames. The husband's 53x54cm machine is basically at the limit of what will accommodate the mighty Howler. Whether that means this beer-transport method is not for you, or that you need to rethink your bicycle frame sizing, is of course up to yourself to decide.

As for evaluating the quality of the beer itself: Well, I have no cause to question its excellence, considering it looks like it comes from some cool micro-breweries. However, I am not a craft beer expert. And in addition, I am off the drink these days, completely. So I will leave it to you, fellow islanders, to take this fine product off me and determine its merit.

This give-away is open to readers from (all-island) Ireland only. If you fit this description and would like the Howler to be sent your way, please leave a comment, briefly outlining your thoughts on one of the following topics (song/poem/grunt form acceptable):

   a. Drinking whilst cycling: does it give you "strengh" or a headache?
   b. The craft beer situation in Ireland, North and South: Discuss

Please do this before the end of this coming Sunday. And make sure I have a way of contacting you.

Looking forward to sending this beer to a good home, and wishing you all a happy weekend!


  1. Jealous! You never gave away beer when based in the USA!

    1. No USA purveyor had ever bestowed beer upon me to give-away ...whereas here I've actually had 2 requests this summer.

  2. " b. The craft beer situation in Ireland, North and South: Discuss "

    Not eligible, but extremely interested in this!

    1. My own observation is that it is slowly, but very slowly, burgeoning.

      And if you are ever in Kerry, try Killarney Extra Stout (aka "Better than Guinness").

    2. !

      I have had Killarney Extra Stout. In California. And it is indeed better than Guinness.
      (But then, so is Murphy's. YMMV)

      I can't help but picture that tube o' beer wiggling precariously from my handlebar-mounted bottle cage...

    3. You're kidding! And we can't even get it in other parts of Ireland.
      Out of curiosity, how much are they charging for it over there?

    4. I remember it as being about twice the price of Guinness on nitro-tap. I've never seen it since.
      It might not have been an approved import is what I'm thinking.

    5. Ah, interesting. I had it in a bar in Killarney, and on tap it was same price as a standard beer. Not so bottled of course. A memorable beverage to be sure.

  3. Beer & Riding? well, in most situations I don't think it helps, but a couple probably does not hurt much.
    Interestingly one of my best races (when I was doing that) was the morning after going to a friends house and having 3 or 4 beers. I normally would not do this the night before a race, but I was not planning on going to that particular races anywayz. The next morning I woke up and thought to myself "Oh, you know I feel pretty good!" With that I jumped out of bed threw my bike in the back of my truck (typical American) and drove to the race where I proceeded to pass people that normally pass me like they were standing still, before hopelessly flatting out! :-(
    So, Hmmm could have been a fluke, but . . . .

    1. My husband genuinely seems to do better on long cycle rides after he's had a few beers the night prior. Must be the carbs, although he feels quite certain that the effect is beer-specific.

      What amazes me most is when cyclists are able to drink *while* cycling. For example, randonneurs. If I have wine with my meal and then proceed to cycle over a mountain, I will get an immediate pounding headache. But others seem to feel invigorated by alcohol in these situations.

    2. I definitely think the effects of alcohol on performance depends on the person. Some, like my husband, are extremely sensitive to different substances and will end up with a massive headache if anything is out of his normal habit. So any alcohol at any time is likely to end with a headache.

      Meanwhile, if I drink in moderation and consume plenty of hydrating liquids afterwards (to counteract the dehydrating nature of alcohol), my riding performance isn't negatively affected. To me, a little wine before a steep ride would be invigorating!

      So I think it all depends on the person, and to perform at your best, you really have to understand yourself.

  4. There once was a poet from Nantucket,
    Who drank craft beer by the bucket.
    This would have been fine,
    And was preferable to wine,
    But it messed up the rhyme scheme of his poetry. Fuck it.

    That's all I have...

    1. Your curses have been heard by the beer gods, sir; I shall be in touch!

  5. Beer and bicycling go well together, but if you're gonna bring the beer with you there are way better ways than whatever that tube is called. Two or three times a week friends get together at the end of the day at various outdoor locals to rant, laugh, share, or just sigh….Each take their turn bringing the beer and carrying it in the bottle cage is decidedly uncool ;)

    1. How does the designated beer-bringer transport it?

    2. you need the "bag o' beer", 9 Duvel and 4 Leffe

    3. looks like something Dill Pickle should be specialising in : )

  6. We have quite the craft brew movement in my town and they've gotten together to produce a map of all the breweries on the east side of the state and the town's right over the border. They give away a prize after you visit 12 locations so some friends and I decided to do them all in one day by bike. It takes 10+ hours and about 50 miles depending on which ones we visit. We've done it three yes now and the fourth should be next month this time. It's actually getting hard to plan the ride because so many are too close together. I can visit nine in a three mile radius of my house. Several of the breweries also sell plastic or stainless steel growlers for more bike able beer transport (over glass). I see a lot more options in cans now too but I usually just throw them in a sack to pop in my basket.

  7. count me in
    where to begin
    beer on the bike
    transports easier than gin

  8. I carry a similar but smaller tube in my spare bottle cage in which I keep the puncture repair kit and tools. There might just be room in there for a can of beer.

    1. I know some cyclists like to carry their patch kit, etc., in an actual empty water bottle (meaning, one bottle is filled with water and the other with tools/tube/patch kit). Not quite sure how they keep the stuff from rattling, but this method of carry seems to be sufficiently popular that purpose-made containers are now being sold for it (saw some in a local bike shop). Still not sure how it solves the rattling problem, though.

  9. This can change with age. In my 20s and 30s I was teetotal on bike tours as any amount of alcohol equaled instant headache. Now in my 40s I am able to process it far better. Wine, beer, even cocktails - fine. So... I am thinking it's hormonal? I don't get PMS headaches anymore either and the two seem related.

  10. Despite years of soaking for long hours in pubs full of vintage advertising, I had been skeptical of the physical "strength" to be got from a drink. But reading in Dervla Murphy's books about how she would take regular pub pitstops on her longer trips around Ireland got me curious. Having finally tried this ritual for myself, I can say now that I'm a firm convert. A pint and a good chat or two is often just what I need to get me back on the road after half a morning of hard miles.

    For decades, in my own part of Ireland, all pubs had a choice of only four or five big-brand beers. The Irish craft beer scene seems like a bit of a miracle when you are used to this. Beers for all tastes, coming from all corners of the island. Nowadays there's even a brewery in my own county Clare; the delicate flowery ales that come out of it can only make you proud.

    My favourites are all firmly within the stout family. The big "G" is still close to my heart, but it's a wonder to see how many different ways a stout can be. But the ideal beer for cycle trips might be a golden summer ale, straight from the cask, cool but not cold, with alcohol in the low threes - keeps you on the straight and narrow.

    The Irish craft beer scene is relatively new. The beers still come with an air of danger. Sometimes the hazards are easily spotted:
    - Yuck! Why does this beer taste like acid??
    - Well, it's called "Mother Acid."

    But other dangers are hidden. For instance, two pints and a chat are not ideal for competitive racing. As you sweatily catch up to the peloton you are all too quickly reminded that you are carrying over 1100g of extra weight - murder on steep ascents! And it can be an inconvenience when the time comes to get rid of that extra kilo - something even acknowledged by Dervla Murphy herself, clambering urgently over a hedgerow somewhere near Enniskillen.

    But if you are not in a hurry, and you're ready for adventure, then I can heartily recommend a pint or two out on the road.

    [desertpalace at gmail]

  11. Thank you everyone. I had two "Howlers" sent to me, and they have now both found local homes.

  12. Those are interesting. In the US (well, at least in Indiana) a howler is 32 oz, and typically in a glass bottle. This is as opposed to a growler, which is a 64 oz jug.

    As for strength from brew, after a number of bubbly drinks, I get a very strong case of the f*ck its, and would ride a bike probably about as well as a penguin would fly...


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