Monday, April 6, 2009

Tasting Tour #1

There are some pretty amazing flavors that come out of our stomping grounds here in Green County.

Whether you are a tourist visiting the area or a long time resident, take a little vacation and sample some of our goods. Try a day trip to the area with a Tasting Tour.

I am writing these myself; they are not from any visitors guide book or tourism site, so please keep that in mind. These are just fun ways to spend a day or two here in the Green County area.

Tasting Tour #1 will focus on beverages, alcoholic and non. If you want to do the full tasting tour, start promptly at 10 am and follow the schedule as given. If you would rather linger longer in the New Glarus area, adjust the tour so that you get to Monroe in time for the 3 pm brewery tour and leave off the final winery stop.

Start your day in New Glarus at 10 am. Here is where you will find New Glarus Brewing Company, a quickly growing upstart in the craft brewing world. Fat Squirrel, Spotted Cow, Organic Revolution, Crack'd Wheat - these are names known to beer aficionados in the Midwest. Dan and Deb Carey are the founders. This company is unique because it is the first brewery in the US founded and operated by a woman. Deb runs the company, Dan is the brewmaster, and an incredible local product is the result. Self guided audio tours are available from 10 am until 5 pm Monday through Sunday. The new facility on the hill just south of New Glarus will be open to the public this year. If you would like to sample, stop in the Tasting Room where $3.50 will get you three samples and a New Glarus Brewing tasting glass.

After learning about New Glarus beers, stop over at Primrose Winery around 11 am to learn about local wines. Primrose began in 1986 when Peg and Bob Borucki decided to turn their wine making hobby into a business after many raves from their friends about their products. Primrose Winery uses Wisconsin fruits to create 13 handcrafted wines. Primrose is special because they do use chemicals to clarify their wines, instead relying on old fashioned racking. They do not offer tours, but they offer free tastings year round at their building in Downtown New Glarus. They do have an Open House event coming up in late May.

Noon means lunch time! Pick up a sandwich for lunch and the coffee drink of your choice at Fat Cat Coffee Works before leaving New Glarus. You'll enjoy the quality ingredients and the charming ambiance at this small town coffee cafe. If you want to do the full Tasting Tour, leave New Glarus at about 12:30 to give yourself enough time to get to your next tour at 1 pm. Otherwise, wander over to the New Glarus bakery for a pastry dessert and visit some of the New Glarus shops as well.

Next stop is Monroe for a tour of Minhas Brewery. This has been a brewery since 1846, the oldest continuously operating brewery in the Midwest. The name has changed a few times, the product labels are different, but the product is still the same - mostly beer. During Prohibition, they began producing excellent root beer and sodas. When alcohol became legal again, the soda stayed in the line up. The brewery has changed hands a few times in 163 years, and in 2006, it became Minhas Brewery. Minhas still produces Blumer's, Berghoff, and Huber, but has grown to include such brews as Lazy Mutt. Do stop in for a tour. They are fun and tasty experiences. Tours are offered every Friday at 1p.m. and Saturday at 1p.m. and 3p.m. It is recommended to call to reserve a spot: 608-325-3191. Tours are $10 for ages 13 years and older, kids under 12 are free with parent. The tour price does include a Minhas Craft Brewery Gift Pack including several bottles as well as Minhas gifts.

If you made the 1 pm tour at Minhas, you will have time for the final stop on our Tasting Tour. (If you had the 3 pm tour instead, browse around our Downtown or catch a matinee movie at Goetz Theater before skipping ahead to dinner).

Drive a little farther south towards Freeport, IL to tour Famous Fossil Vineyard and Winery. Famous Fossil is a charming winery that has a certified biodynamic vineryard (meets organic standards plus some). Their tasting room is open from 11 am until 5 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays, 11 until 7 on Fridays and noon until 4 on Sundays. Sit on the deck, sample the wines and enjoy the countryside and vineyard views. If you call ahead, they will arrange a box meal for you to enjoy on site.

If you prefer a restaurant dinner, drive on back to Monroe and enjoy a leisurely dinner at Barrett's Brick Cafe, Cafe Claudeen or Poncho & Lefty's, opening soon. End your tour with a stop at Baumgartner's on the west side of the Square for a final glass of your favorite beer of the day, great camaraderie and (on many Saturday evenings) live music.

Don't forget the designated driver on this tasting tour! We want you to get back to your hotel or bed and breakfast safely.

If you are making a weekend out of visiting our area, combine this with Tasting Tour #2.

No comments: