Wisconsin Beer, Cheese and Fireworks

As I travel on with Midwest week, I'm gonna write about beer.

I realize some of you might be wondering if I've hung up my paint brush in favor of hitting the road.

Yes, I'd much rather travel around than paint.  But this wanderlust is only temporary.

I toured around St. Paul in part 1 here, and part 2 here, and now I'm heading across the border to Wisconsin for contraband. 

New Glarus Beer, Wisconsin,

Beer, cheese, and illegal fireworks to be exact.

I think the motto of beer drinkers in Minnesota is something like.... "out for a day on one of the 10,000 lakes?  Don't forget the beer".

Picnic?  Good excuse for a beer.

Minnehaha Park,

It seems everything in Minnesota revolves around beer.

Minnesota Light Rail,

Even the light rail, which twists and turns through the city (with mostly empty rail cars) sports big beer ads.

Summer in Minnesota is a reason to have a beer.  It seems so are Winter Spring and Fall, at least that's my perception.

Every occasion, every event.  It's been that way for as long as I can remember.

I pity the people who don't drink beer.  Not because they are missing out, but because they are subjected to so much of it.

Grain Belt Billboard, Mississippi River,

Most summer weekends you can find a beer festival or craft brew tasting being hosted some place.

And everyone and their dog seems to be making beer.

Everyone's friend of a friends cousins aunts brothers sisters wife - knows someone with a craft home beer, a micro brewery pub, or a full blown brewery-brewery.

Excelsior Brewing Co.
Excelsior Brewing Company, Minnetonka Minnesota
Or sometimes it's even closer than that, like your cousin or the brother in law of your sister in law.

Towns and cities from small to large have a local brew house, pub house, micro brewery, whatever they are all called - they've all got one.

How can a state with a population only upwards of the five million range, support that much beer?  

The state bird is the loon.  Yes really.  Could that have anything to do with it? 

Then there are those of us who want what we can't have for no other reason than we can't have it.

New Glarus Wisconsin,
Samples on tap, New Glarus Brewery, Wisconsin
The beer you can only get across the Wisconsin border.  Like New Glarus.

So what do we do?

If you are me, first thing would be to learn how to take photos with your phone so you don't have to carry a camera.  Sorry some of these pics suck.

Next would be teaching your kids illegal/bad habits (like last week, how to gamble by betting on the ponies), so you load them in the car, take them across the state line to Wisconsin, and teach by example how to buy Wisconsin cheese, beer, and illegal fireworks.

All the while hoping when they get old enough they won't do any of those things.  Well, I guess I don't care if they buy Wisconsin cheese.

I know what you're thinking.... Bliss is going to helll for this.

Fireworks City, Baldwin Wisconsin
Fireworks City, Baldwin Wisconsin
It's illegal to shoot good fireworks in Minnesota.  You can have all the sparklers and black smoke snakes you want, but if it goes higher than 2 feet off the ground you can't get it here.

But you can in Wisconsin.

The Minnesota government is trying to save us from ourselves.  Or maybe there are an inordinate amount of Minnesotans who skyrocket their digits into space along with illegal fireworks on the 4th of July, I don't know.

So anyhow, we set out on another day trip, this time to visit our neighbors to the east.

I really love Wisconsin.  I find it much more interesting than Minnesota even without fireworks and beer.  Probably because I don't live there.

Casanova Liquor Store, Hudson Wisconsin

First we stopped at Historic Casanova Liquors.

You read that right, only in Wisconsin would there be a historic liquor store as a destination.  Casanova's also has a wine bar and restaurant, and it's been there since they were selling beer out of caves carved out of rock behind their store.

Casanova Liquor Store, Hudson Wisconsin

They sell some beers by the bottle so you can get a taste for new or unique ones, and they also have little sticky notes next to the ones we were on the hunt for that say.... "not available in Minnesota".

Yeah, those are the ones I'm talking about.

Seriously, when friends found out we were going they put an order in with us.  Guess we're not the only ones that want what we can't get in Minnesota.  Our two oldest kids also put in orders from Wisconsin.... but for cheese curds.  They must they buy their own beer.

So much beer and cheese were loaded into our vehicle by days end, that our son said it looked like we were making a giant batch of beer cheese soup.  Hmmmm......

New Glarus Wisconsin,

A couple years ago we toured the New Glarus Brewery, with George and Betty (our St. Paul tour guides).  They figured we needed to broaden our horizons so we toured the neighbor before we toured our own backyard.

New Glarus Brewery is a beautiful new place, spotless, and our guide was funny.  Employees own a stake in the brewery - New Glarus brewery workers are treated very well.

New Glarus Wisconsin,
We left that Wisconsin trip hauling home beer too, just in time for Fathers Day where we hosted a beer tasting ourselves.

On that first Wisconsin trip we also went to the famous Leinenkugel Brewery and I took more crappy cell phone photos.

Leinenkugel Brewery Chippewa Falls Wisconsin,

As new and state of the art as the New Glarus Brewery is, the Leinenkugel Brewery is vintage and nostalgic.

We loved them both, and for the most part all beers taste the same to me.

I know.... beer connoisseurs are plotting my demise right now.

Leinenkugel Brewery Chippewa Falls Wisconsin,

 Leine's is considered a major brewery - bigger, highly distributed nationwide.  New Glarus is considered a small brewery, but seemed like a large operation to me.

Lest you think we regularly corrupt our kids, we did not have them along for either of those Wisconsin brewery tours, but here in Minnesota we have the August Schells Brewery which is fun for the whole family.

Besides finding it interesting to see how things are made, I think what I like about brewery tours is all the history that goes along with it. 

The older breweries have little museums with antiques and vintage signs I'd like to hide under my shirt and take home with me.

Leinenkugel Brewery Chippewa Falls Wisconsin,

I don't know who's hands these are, I just know neither of them are mine.  I think they are George and Betty's.  It's sort of odd that for the first 20 years we knew them both, they never drank anything.  Now they adult-nap us and take us for beer and wine tours, and when left on their own, they stop for a tour of places like the Jack Daniels Distillery.

Just so you know, we do take the kids on tours of places like the Jelly Belly Factory in California, or places that make chocolate and baked goods, don't turn us in to the CPA.

The August Schells Brewery is also home to famous 1919 Root Beer.  You can buy it by the mini keg, which we have done for parties.

Which leads me to this.... over at that Casanova's Liquor Store in Wisconsin you can buy a Growler. 

A growler is like a to go order of your favorite tap beer, a 64 oz. mini jug.

Or in the case of the Bliss Ranch gang..... your favorite ROOT beer, and the growlers are refillable.

(Just so you have this straight... we drove to Wisconsin and bought beer that we can't get in Minnesota, and we bought root beer from Minnesota in Wisconsin that you can get here}.


We had that growler filled with some old fashioned 1919 Root beer.... and came home and had root beer floats. 

And cheese.

Next up on midwest week, making deep fried cheese curds.

Lo-cal of course.


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  1. Illinois has the same anti-fireworks law. Apparently we need the same kind of supervision that MN does where that is concerned. I guess the reasoning there is, if you know how to handle your beer and your cheese, then you must know how to handle your fireworks. Unlike the pathetic states that surround you! I would have wanted to sneak out that vintage sign, too.

  2. You are killing me! Mike and I would love this place...the beer sounds and looks amazing! How fun,t hanks for sharing.

  3. Fun travels. I am going to disclose a horrifying fact to you- I don't like beer. But I love root beer floats!
    And cheese. :)

  4. I LOVE cheese curds. But we can't get them here. Obviously.

  5. I think my husband would love MN since there is so much beer up there. I, on the other hand, do not. I don't even like root beer!

  6. I love that you can buy individual bottles! The growler sounds like fun too! I want some cheese now!

  7. Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy is my very favorite beer. What a fun post! You know I always lose a few followers when I post about alcohol! Good luck girl! Oh...did you hook up with Cheryl in Wisconsin???

  8. What is a cheese curd? Do you make beer and cheese soup? Maybe if we eat lots of soup. Fried cheese curds, and root beer floats we willl find it easier to fit signs in our shirts.

  9. Did you know that cheese curds are also called squeaky cheese? Because when you bite it, it squeaks when it's really fresh! Yes...I'm from Wisconsin! ;)

    1. Yes, it's amazing. A little like chewing on a balloon if they tasted good.

  10. You are not going to hell, you're going to Wisconsin - come find me.
    When I lived in Milwaukee in the 90's, I and about 50 of my peers made a trek to THREE brewery tours (Pabst, Sprecher, and Lakefront) on one Saturday, on our bicycles! What a blast.

  11. Oh, wacky Wisconsin......... I can say that as I live here. New Glarus brewery does make some wonderful beers. Our son had Spotted Cow as the "signature beer" at his wedding. Summer Shandy is another fav from Leine's. We have a wonderful brewery in our area "Capital Brewery" in the Madison area. Sometime if you are in the Madison area, do stop at the UW Memorial Union and have a beer on the Terrace overlooking the lake. It is a special place and truly does say "Wisconsin".

  12. LOL! Thanks for the beer tour! And now I have to investigate squeaky balloon cheese curds...

  13. Lucky for me I love beer. I'm close! Just down the road in Michigan. I haven't been to Wisconsin yet, but I would love to. My hubby LOVES cheese curds. We use to get them in central NY. YUM. Thanks for the tour, Bliss!

  14. Mmmmmm....beeeeeer..... I'd never heard of a Growler until I signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon a few years back. The organizer strongly suggested bringing him a Growler from your local brewery. I was actually able to find one in Peoria and handed it to him in person before the race. I'm pretty sure he wanted to marry me at that point but since I brought Phil along, that just wasn't possible.

    And I love Wisconsin's been too long since I've been up der. My seester lives in LaCrosse. She don't drink no stinkin' beer tho. Weirdo.



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