The Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour

Monday, June 4th, 2012 @ 9:36 pm | Uncategorized

Jason, his friend Jake, and Mike and I went on a beer adventure through the great state of Wisconsin this past weekend. We went to Milwaukee and back, visited several breweries from the low-key to the all-out and tried over 70 beers in 3 days.

Friday we set sail from St Louis Park at 8:30am and made our way to the Leinenkugels Brewery in Chippewa Falls. We made the 10:30am tour and promptly started taste testing. It was really neat to see the hold historical building and also how they crammed it full of new gear. They seemed to be very efficient with their space. I didn’t think I’d actually be able to find any unique brews here, but I was pleasantly surprised. They had mixes of their beers! You can take two beers, Summer Shandy and Berry Weiss, mix them and make a fantastic pink lemonade! They had several other mixing options as well. Much fun to be had. Also new, was the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. I love scotch ales, so I found this to be delish.

Next stop – Central Waters Brewery in Amherst – It was small and intimate with a tap room right in the middle of the brewery. No need for a tour, you can see it all from your seat in the tap room. Half the town was there and they were all friendly. They had 10 beers on tap and I tried them all! My favorites were the Brewhouse Coffee Stout and the Illumination Double IPA. We had seconds of those.

After that was Ale Asylum in Madison. We had 9 rather large pours to sample and a delisious dinner. I was not a fan of most of the brews personally, but Mike seemed to like most of them. None of them really stood out to me except the Gold Digger Blonde Ale, and that was only because it was quite gross. Blech.

Last was Tyranena in Lake Mills. We had 9 samples here. Honestly, my taste buds were getting a little worn out by this point, but I trudged on in the name of The Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. The atmosphere was amazing here. We all sat outside, but could hear the live band inside and the weather was perfect as the evening was coming to a close. My favorite beer here was the Dirty Old Man Imperial Rye Porter Aged in Rye Barrels. Yum!

Finally we make it to the hotel in Milwaukee were we were greeted with less than stellar accommodations. It wasn’t terrible… I think the building was probably brilliant when it first opened, but then they seemingly forgot to hire a maintenance person. But it was cheaper than most in the area, it had a free shuttle to much of downtown and it accommodated all the necessary functions of staying in a hotel.

Saturday we started with the Miller Brewery Tour. The only reason being that it was interesting to see a brewery on the massive industrial scale. The tour guide wasn’t great, but tour was a little dry, but it was still nice to see the operation and how they used many old buildings as well. The samples were terrible, as expected. In fact, we didn’t even get all the free samples we could have had because we just didn’t care.

Lunch was at The Ale House which was all Milwaukee Brewing Company. Lunch was great, the beers were great, the view of the canal was great. The menfolk thought the view of ladies in low cut shirts was great as well. We had a sampler of 7 beers. All were very good. And then there O-Gii – - AMAZING! It is a wheat beer made with Rishi Tea. Absolutely unbelievable. And also the most expensive growler we’ve ever purchased, but it’s worth it.

After lunch we rushed to Sprecher were we took the standard tour and the reserve tour. This brewery is rather rustic with 2nd hand equipment and raw finishes. But they also seem to make good use of a small space. This tour was the most informative by far when it comes to how to make beer and the chemical reactions that take place in the process. The reserve tour consisted of 10 beers paired with 10 different craft cheeses from around the state. This kinda blew my mind. It was amazing how a cheese and beer could compliment each other in such a drastic way. My favorite beer was the Abbey Triple. My beer tasting notes literally say “Beergasm”. I nearly spit when I tasted it because my mouth was unsure how to handle such greatness. Delish!!

After this we rushed to see the MIlwaukee Art Museum. We didn’t have time to see the art exhibits but I was more interested in the architecture of the building than what it held inside. The museum is by Santiago Calatrava who probably my favorite designer of all time. For those that don’t know – this building has wings. It was too windy on Saturday for them to be open which was sad, but it was still an amazing site to see.

We ended the night by taking the hotel shuttle to Stubby’s Pub & Grub for dinner. This is not a brew pub, but they had 53 wonderful beers on tap. Again, dinner was delicious. Mike and Jason had a few different flights of beer which I tasted, but I had full glasses of Boulder Nitro Mojo and Southern Tier Mokah. I was in heaven, or an opium den as Mike said. It was great.

Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and went back to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the wings of the building open. That is truely an awe inspiring site. I can’t imagine the engineering that went into that structure. It was gorgeous. The building was amazing, the weather was beautiful. It was a wonderful time for me. Thanks to the boys for allowing me to enjoy the sight, even if you couldn’t appreciate it.

The next stop was New Glarus. We first stopped at the original location of the New Glarus Brewery only to be reminded that it had moved the majority of its operation to a new location. So we went to lunch at the Glarner Stube which had authentic Swiss food, and of course, beer. The cheese curds were beyond belief! I never thought it was possible for a cheese curd to be so amazing! Again, I was proven wrong. The food was sooooo filing, we were all in serious pain by the time when we left. After that we headed to the new location of the New Glarus Brewery and were utterly amazed. We drove up a long private lighted drive, see an amazing homestead in the distance, and come around the corner and BAM, there’s a giant Swiss-styled brewery that looks beautiful enough to be a private resort in the Swiss Alps. We enter into the gift shop, peruse a bit and then head into the self guided brewer tour. Jason and I walked in first and our jaws dropped to the floor. We just spun around in a daze disbelieving the sights before us. Slate tiled floors, 4 massive copper brew kettles, stainless steel tanks the size of silos, and the most amazing maze of stainless steel piping one could image – all shined to a mirror finish. Room after Room of tanks and equipment. Miles of piping running over head and throughout. A freaking robot for stacking kegs! It was so beautiful, I could have cried. We drank their Belgian Red as we staggered through the brewery, drunk on the amazing sights, not the beer. It was an amazing end to an amazing trip.

I said it a lot, but I’ll say it again – A-MAZ-ING!!!




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