Recently I read: “Give a man a fish and he can eat
for a day. Teach a man how to fish… and he will sit in a boat and drink
beer all day.” And while I don’t necessarily agree with that philosophy, I
certainly do enjoy a cold brew as much as the next guy. So when I found
out that a brewery was fairly close by, it was a natural thing to want to
visit. Besides, I had received a mailing that offered brewery tours, wine
tasting, cheese factory tours and discounted rates along with a “Fun Pass”
that got me into the Huber tour for free!
Located in Green County in Southwestern Wisconsin, the Joseph Huber
Brewing Co. has been making beer since 1895. In fact, I learned that this
particular brewing company is the second oldest in the country. Located in
Monroe, Wisconsin, the Huber Brewing Company is only about 2½ hours – at
the most – from the suburbs of Chicago. We took the scenic route – Route
20 to Route 26 north, out of Freeport, which later turns into Route 69 in
Wisconsin – and it was a joy to not deal with the racecar mentality of
Interstate 90-94. We left at about 7:15 A.M. and we were in the rolling
hills of Monroe by 9:30. Our tour didn’t start until 11:00, so we had some
time to wander around town. It’s a small town of about 11,000 with a town
square built around a really picturesque old courthouse, built in 1891.
lots of cool shops to check out along with a number of bar-type places to
eat. My favorite was a place called Baumgartner’s… It’s been there since
1931… more on that later.
We walked over to the brewery at about 10:45. There were only two
others inside who were going to take the tour. (I figured that May must be
a great time to go on excursions.) After a 15-minute video, we were guided
through the smallish brewery by one of the friendliest guys I have met. He
has been working for Huber for about 30-plus years and seems to have loved
every minute of it. I won’t bore you here with the tour’s details; you
should take the tour yourself. Even without the Fun Pass, it’s only $2.
The best part is that at the end of the tour, you get to taste some of the
products – including Rhinelander Beer, Berghoff Beer and Blumer’s Root
Beer. The root beer is incredibly good.
then stopped at Baumgartner’s for a beer and a sandwich – cheese sandwich
that is. Or you could get a braunschweiger and cheese, salami and cheese
or any of a dozen other varieties of cheese sandwiches. (Well, it IS
Wisconsin, ya know!) By the way, since we were not very hungry, we split a
cheddar sandwich – it was only $2.00! Great cheese, friendly folks and
ice-cold beer. What more could you ask??
Since it was still early in the day, we headed north to another
small town: New Glarus, but not before making note of the Alp and Dell
cheese factory. (We would sample their wares on the way back home.) New
Glarus is another quaint, small town in Southwestern Wisconsin. It was an
easy drive, only about 20 minutes north of Monroe. Both
towns have a distinctly Swiss look, feel and population. There is also a
small brewery in New Glarus that makes Spotted Cow Ale, but it was not
open for tours on Saturday – at least not in May. We did stop in several
shops, including a wonderful bakery, Ruef’s Meat Market, Maple Leaf Cheese
and Chocolate and the New Glarus Primrose Winery. Most offered samples and
we gladly accepted the fudge, landjaeggers and Swiss pastry. Had I been
headed in the other direction, I would have filled my car with goods and
goodies for the ride home.
But we were headed for Madison and a night’s rest. In my next
article, I’ll share with you the second half of our weekend excursion and
our visit to Cave of the Mounds, Little Norway and lunch in Mt. Horeb
before heading back through Monroe and a stop to load up on that delicious