Kate and John Bike for Food and Beer

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

Last weekend something on Facebook caught my attention. It was an update from the Food Cyclist that read, “At the Clark Fork Farmers Market in Missoula, MT. Getting’ some veggies!” Immediately I commented on wanting to meet up for a beer and find out more about this young couple I had been following the last few months who were biking for local food and good beer. So we met up at the Kettlehouse on Myrtle and I learned a lot more about this traveling couple from New York City.

John and Kate Suscovich launched a 24,000-mile journey by bike three and half months ago in New York. The goal was to raise awareness about living active lifestyles and making educated food choices, which includes promoting and fundraising for Farm Aid, an organization dedicated to growing more family farms that produce healthy food. For every mile they bike, they want to raise $1 (so 24k miles = $24k). What they quickly realized is that talking about food can get political very fast, so they needed an icebreaker – something that puts people at ease – and that topic was beer.

“We actually see a lot of parallels between the slow food, beer, and biking communities,” explains JohnSuscovich.

John, who wants to ultimately settle down and farm, is a 26-year-old lighting technician and competitive cyclists. His wife, Kate, is a 25-year-old teacher from New York City who holds a Master’s degree in childhood education. This 2-year odyssey is also serving as the couple’s honeymoon, as they recently married in August 2010.

As the couple bikes cross-country on their trusty steel steeds (named Dorothy and Uncle Henry), they either strike up conversations with strangers that result in a backyard camp spot or they book a couch through a site like WarmShowers.org, which is how they met their Missoula host last weekend.

“We rely on the generosity of strangers,” says John. “We’re like the best first date. We meet people, talk to them, and sometimes we get to go home with them.”

When asked why by bike, both respond that it’s about traveling on the cheap while being able to travel longer and further – and all the while learn about farming and craft beer. The couple’s beer exploits have included tastings and tours at Victory Brewing, Boulevard, New Belgium and Dogfish Head in Behemoth, Delaware. At Dogfish Head, the couple ended up staying with the brewery’s marketing director before they even knew what he did, so they were treated to a rare behind-the-scenes brewery tour and meeting with owner/founder Sam Calagione (who in craft beer circles is pretty much a demi-god).

John recalls the beer highlight of their trip so far as when Sam Calagione pulls out a five-year-old bottle of World Wide Stout (a world class Imperial Stout) from his desk drawer, dusts it off and says, “Here’s about 750 calories to keep you fueled for your trip.” John and Kate took the bottle home and shared it with their host thatevening.

The trip has garnered a lot of press attention, including a several stints on Howard Stern’s radio show, where John picked up the nickname “Sussy.” John used to work as the lighting tech for HowardTV, so Howard kind of has a grudge against him for quitting his job to bike around the world in search of food and beer. I think we’re all a bit jealous of John and Kate at this point.

You can find out where John and Kate are right now on their website. You’ll also find links for more information on Farm Aid and how you can donate to their incredible cause. I can attest that they are excited about their project. They are also very nice people who love great beer. And yes, they did like what Kettlehouse was serving.

LAST MINUTE EVENT NOTICE: Tomorrow on September 24, Cherry Creek Radio is hosting a Bacon and Brew Fest at the Missoula Fairgrounds. $3 gets you in the door, where you can buy “baconized” food items and beer. Check it out! The event runs from Noon to 5 p.m.

Like this Drink It blog?  Chances are you’ll like these blogs by Missoula’s Drink It expert, Ryan Newhouse:  Be a Winner-Brew at HomeHave Beer Will Travel,  Flathead Lake Brewing Company – Beer Pairing,  Tamarack Brewing Company, Montana Whiskey and Vodka.  And check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

Click here to see Ryan’s “Drink It”archive.

****************

Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for WildGame.