Road Trip for Beer – Day 1: Wisconsin
For Christmas, my husband and I decided that instead of staying home with the cat, we wanted to visit someone. My parents had no holiday plans, and I had to fly out there at some point before 2012 anyway because I was picking up a car, so we came to the conclusion that surprising them for Christmas was our best option. The only flight we could find into Milwaukee the day before Christmas Eve didn’t get us to my parent’s house until after 11pm, so I had to insist they stay up because a friend of mine was going to be stopping by with a package I sent. This was about a month before Christmas. Every day, my mom or dad would call and ask if they could go pick the package up themselves, what was being delivered, why so late? I had to come up with some creative answers, but by the day we had to fly out, nothing had been revealed. I texted them from our first stop in Houston to say that the package had arrived in Milwaukee and my friend was going to be picking it up in a few hours. I texted them again when we landed in Milwaukee saying that my friend was on his way to their house. When we pulled into the driveway, all the lights were on, so he walked up to the front door and rang the bell while my husband and I hid just out of sight. My mom answered the door while everyone else crowded around her. They all looked excited, but a little puzzled at the lack of a package, until Jon and I jumped out and surprised them. Shocked screams, smiles, then hugs and beers were made abundant – it was better than I could have expected. Until my teenage sister proclaimed that they thought the surprise was that I was pregnant…because apparently that’s the first thing you do after getting married only 6 months earlier. Regardless, we celebrated until the early hours of the morning with lots of New Glarus and Milwaukee Ale House brews, thanks to my dad’s efforts to drink better beer. The next three days were spent shopping, eating, and watching movies with the whole family – it was perfect.
Then my mom and I climbed in a car and drove for four days across the country.
The first day we headed out from Oshkosh, WI. Our first stop was New Glarus, because I had lived in Wisconsin for the majority of my life and had never been and since my comeuppance into craft beer, I felt it would be a sin of some sort if I didn’t stop now (and I really had no excuse). So a few hours later, after winding around through gorgeous, scenic country highways and two-lane gravel roads, we eventually reached the most adorable little Swiss Village ever. Ever. We ate at a restaurant called Glarner Stube, which means “The Living Room of New Glarus.” Aside from the food being absolutely delicious, the decor inside managed to be completely authentic without being kitschy. Even the locals who were dining there were authentic.
Finishing our meal with a nice tall glass of New Glarus Raspberry Tart, we headed off to the brewery. Because we still had to make it to Kansas City our first night, and that was another 8 hours away, we decided to forgo a tour and just buy the place out instead.
Walking into the gift shop, I immediately wanted one of everything, never mind that half of my cupboards are currently filled with beer glasses, I needed at least one – if not two – of every one in this shop. Unfortunately, due to limited trunk space, an annoying budget, and the fact that we hadn’t even left Wisconsin yet, all factored into my only purchasing a glass Thumbprint series stein, a tall gold-lipped weizen glass, and a pack of Spotted Cow tumblers. I also may have bought a Spotted Cow t-shirt, a fantastic rubber-coated speed opener, and at least one bottle of every beer they had available (Golden Ale, Moon Man, Fat Squirrel, Two Women, Road Slush, Black Top, IPA, Apple Ale, Belgian Red, and Raspberry Tart), not counting the 6-pack of Spotted Cow. Oh, and a wooden crate that says “New Glarus” on it so that I could hold everything. Yeah, I think that covers it…oh, I also picked up a big Thumbprint series sticker.
Then it was off to Kansas City for the night! 8 non-stop hours later…we found a hotel, with absolutely no late-night restaurants around. So we went to bed with no dinner, which worked well for my mom, who is never hungry anyway, but caused me to be completely ravenous when I woke up – luckily there was a crappy continental breakfast to pick through. But nothing could dampen my spirits, not even all the damp bagels and bruised apples, for the second day was the day I toured Boulevard Brewing Company! And that story deserves its own post, seeing as it’s a pretty big brewery and I had the amazing opportunity to tour the ENTIRE building at 10am alone with a wonderful woman who I will tell you all about in my next post. Until then, here are some more pictures from the Wisconsin portion of my trip: