Full Circle Brewing Tour: Road Diary #22

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By Mahalia Breen

Monday, September 11, 2017

States: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin

Miles Driven: 556

Travel Time: 7.5 hours


New Glarus Brewing in New Glarus, Wisc.

Two Women's Lager

Raspberry Tart

Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale

Spotted Cow Farmhouse-style Ale

Dancing Man Hefeweizen

Bubbler Light Hefeweizen

Totally Naked Lager

Our morning started with heavy rain in Nebraska, which prompted me to check the weather for New Glarus, and much to my dismay the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms.

That is not what you want to see when your plan is to camp. Our original plan had been to camp in the New Glarus Forest right across the street from the brewery, but we ended up staying in the New Glarus Hotel — this Swiss chalet-style hotel in the little downtown.

Going to New Glarus was at the top of the list of breweries we wanted to visit in our lifetimes. Thanks to the flavor-seeking beer geeks in the Ratebeer.comcommunity, we got to try New Glarus beers on the East Coast, even though they only sell their beer in Wisconsin.

They are most famous for their fruit beers and their Spotted Cow farmhouse-style ale. The first time I ever tried their fruit beer, I was blown away! It's so deliciously fruity and tart.

If their brewery had been a warehouse in the wilderness, I would have been happy. We would have looked around a bit, bought some beer, and gone on our way, but New Glarus has a jaw-dropping facility in a very charming town.

Their expansive beer garden is meant to look like a European town with a fountain, clock tower, faux ruins and hop vine trellises growing all around.

There are rock steps and seating with little waterfalls and careful landscaping. There is even an antique brewhouse control station converted into a glass washing station.

It's like no other brewery in the world.

We each got a pint of our favorite, and we just sat there sweltering in the pre-storm humidity, completely in awe of our surroundings.

They have a gift shop attached to their production facility, where you can take yourself on a tour of their impressive, immaculate brewery. Marvel at the feats of engineering and artistic flourishes throughout the space.

In the not too distant future, there will be a little museum between the gift shop and production facility.

There is also an indoor/outdoor tasting room, and if you go indoors you can watch a documentary about the founders of the brewery.

It reminded me a little of our story. Daniel and Deborah Carey started New Glarus because Daniel was a brewer whose job took them overseas and Deborah just wanted to go home to Wisconsin. Because they were tired of struggling financially, Deborah became determined to start a brewery in her home state that her husband could work at. Deborah became the business and marketing manager and her husband was in charge of coming up with his versions of perfect beers.

After watching the inspiring video, we went to the bottle shop and got as much beer as we could carry.

The only thing they don't have on site is a restaurant. What they do instead is give you a coupon listing the restaurants in the downtown that serve their beers that is good for a free small beer with purchase.

We went to the Glarner Stube because they had the highest rating online.

The whole downtown has a Swiss theme, so naturally, this restaurant specialized in Swiss cuisine. The meal was perfectly prepared and the portions were generous.

Even though we were stuffed, we still decided to go to the Swiss bakery next door and the Swiss chocolate shop on the corner before returning to our Swiss hotel right around the time the rain started.

With full bellies and safe from the elements we relaxed into the dark and stormy night. Even though it didn't go to plan, it was still a pretty perfect day.

(Editor’s Note: Mahalia Breen and her husband, Ryan, are relocating their brewing business from Vermont to North Carolina. Before that, they're embarking on one last grand adventure: The Full Circle Brewing Tour. They're doing a big lap around the country for the whole month of July, driving through 26 states, doing six collaboration brews with breweries across the country and seeing some of the best sites this country has to offer.)