Hello, and welcome to Part 1 of a our new 48-part series, “Getting to Know Your Wisconsin Craft Breweries”, based almost entirely on the members of the Wisconsin Craft Brewers Guild. There’s a few significant breweries conspicuously missing from the list (looking at YOU, Leinenkugel’s…), so we’ll have to make a few exceptions as we go. But our plan is to sample the goods on the ground they’re actually made on, for every craft brewery in the state. It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it, right?
New Glarus Brewery
We’ve been to a few of the breweries on the list long before we ever set foot in New Glarus, but we decided to make New Glarus our first craft brewery post for a few reasons:
- It’s closer to us now that we live in Madison,
- Their beers are delicious,
- and most importantly, many people across the state see perennial favorite Spotted Cow as sort of the unofficial beer of Wisconsin.
If you’ve never been here before, you’re in for a treat. New Glarus is a scenic town with a strong Swiss heritage, in a scenic part of Wisconsin. Gently rolling hills covered with greenery and prairie flowers stretch out to the horizon. The brewery is perched atop a tall hill, and has a big ole’ biergarten with a heck of a view. We’ll definitely have to come back in the summer to enjoy the outdoor beer drinking. We could still see our breath when we went, which is a little chilly for drinking cold beers, even for native Wisconsinites.
The tour of New Glarus is… not bad. Which is kind of a let down, cause everything else is great! It’s totally free, so that is a definite upside to it. If it weren’t free, it wouldn’t really be a good tour, but honestly, how bad can it be when it’s free right? That’s why we’re saying it’s not bad.
It’s all self-guided, which is fine by us and kinda nice, cause you can leisurely stroll by the brewing apparatuses, sipping your beer and marveling at the huge copper cauldrons. But the problem is that there are no signs, no plaques, no nothing telling you what anything is or giving you any information on what you’re looking at.
Ahh, the best part of any brewery tour, the tasting! New Glarus has a pretty nice tasting – $3.50 gets you 3 tastings, and you get to keep the glass! If you find one you like and want a pint, it’s $6 for the first (includes the price of the pint glass), then $3 for a refill.
Perhaps the best part of the tasting is that you get to try their current Unplugged beer, which at the store is normally about $10 for a four-pack. It can be a bit of a gamble to spend so much on beers that often have crazy flavors that you may love or may hate, so being able to sample it is awesome.
The Rest of the Area
New Glarus is a fun and cute town, so if it’s a bit of a road trip to make it to the brewery, don’t worry, there’s plenty else to do as well:
If you’re the kind of person that needs to earn your carb-loaded beverages, be sure to pack your boots and a water bottle. New Glarus woods state park is close by, and offers some beautiful and very hilly paths. It’s no problem to get an hour of steep hiking in, after which a cold beer is more than welcome.
All that beer tasting can work up an appetite, and there’s plenty of great local restaurants and grocers, including specialty meat shops and bakers. The New Glarus chamber of commerce has their own website listing all of the places you can eat (and things to see and do, festivals, attractions, and tons more. You should check it out, really ;)
We went to Glarner Stube on the recommendation of one of the brewery workers, and it did not disappoint! It did take a while for our food to come out, but when it did, it was incredibly delicious! We definitely recommend it, just make sure you get there before you’re completely starving, cause smelling other people’s food while you wait for yours should be banned by the Geneva Convention.
I’m sure Becki and I will be back to New Glarus. Maybe next time we’ll make a full weekend out of it, as there’s plenty to see and do, cute places to stay the night, and of course a cold beer waiting for you at New Glarus’ scenic biergarten. Prost!