As a former employee of a craft brewery, I appreciate a micro-brew that is full of flavor, well-balanced, and has lots of character. New Glarus Brewing Company makes just such beers.
New Glarus is about 45 minutes south of Madison, and is nick-named “Little Switzerland.” The town itself is small, but charming, with a few nice little bars and restaurants, as well as places to buy cheese and sausage. Lots of people come down from Madison to visit, so there are many tourists.
I visited the brewery on a Saturday, and it was crowded. The tasting room had a line out the door, but for $6 you get a pint glass and beer to fill it with, then you can take your beer on a self guided tour. The place is enormous! I can’t believe that they only brew enough beer to distribute “Only in Wisconsin.” My guess is that it’s more of a brand-dilution thing, and they actually sell more beer by not distributing out of state. Clever, clever. Anyway, I guess it works, because I saw people carting cases of beer home with them. I, myself, bought a hefty amount.
These are the beers I tried:
Spotted Cow: a farmhouse ale. Light and a little tart. Their signature beer.
Black Top: a seasonal black-IPA. Roasty, yet hoppy. Well balanced with a nice body.
Stone Soup: a seasonal Belgian abbey-style. Spicy, malty, banana-clove notes. Small hop-presence.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Fruit Ale: ::drools:: So good. Like drinking pie. I bought 2 bottles.
Okay, so while this is a can’t-miss destination in Wisconsin, let me just say this. There are a ton of people out there who RAVE about this beer. It IS good beer. However, there is a TON of craft beer out there waiting to be tried, much of it as good or better. I hope to stumble upon breweries I haven’t heard of over the course of the next few weeks, so I can bring you news of beers you haven’t tried and aren’t available “only in Wisconsin.”
But for now, I’m gonna crack open that six-pack I bought.