This is an itinerary for a tour of craft breweries in and around the Southwest Wisconsin region.
Southwest Wisconsin, which became home to large German and Swiss immigrant groups, has a rich history of beer brewing. As a result, a number of breweries have developed in the region representing a number of types and styles. A quality beer tour could let you sample a number of types or explore the many variations of a single style, and Wisconsin breweries can readily meet the wants of casual drinkers and seasoned beer aficionados.
Whenever taking a brewery tour, the most important thing is to be sure that you can travel safely. Pick a designated driver, spread the tour over a few days or plan ahead to include time for everyone to sober up before driving.
Of course, be sure to carry photographic identification to prove your age such as a driver's license, passport or non-driver ID when buying alcohol.
Highlighted breweries and styles
- Minhas Craft Brewery, 1208 - 14th Avenue, downtown Monroe, toll-free: . Tours run 7 days a week. 45-60 minutes. M 11AM; Tu W Th Su 1PM 3PM; Sa 11AM 1PM 3PM;. Minhas is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States (often producing for nationally distributed brands). Minhas produces its own beers including a farmhouse ale, bock, Oktoberfest, India Pale Ale (IPA) and amber lager. Tours include all you can drink in their sampling room. The brewery still uses many original brewing tanks and other equipment. It also has a lot of small, interesting touches such as hop plants growing right outside the gift shop. The brewery is located immediately adjacent to the Minhas Craft Distillery. All tours include a take-home pack including 4 bottles of craft beers, 1 Blumer's Soda and a branded sampler glass. $12/person.
- New Glarus Brewery, 2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus (15 mi (24 km) north of Monroe on WI 69), ☏ . Gift shop, tasting room and free self-guided tours M-Sa 10AM-5PM; Su noon-5PM. Sign up for the hard hat tour -- every Friday at 1:00 PM.. Often hailed as the best brewery in Wisconsin, New Glarus offers a variety of award-winning beers including Spotted Cow (Ale), Fat Squirrel (Brown Ale) and Uff-da (Bock). It's also renowned for its fruit beers, most notably Wisconsin Belgian Red, a cherry beer flavored with cherries from Door County, Wisconsin. The cherry crop failed in 2012, and a variety of other fruit beers have also been created to fill the void until the crops are productive again. Samples and full pints are available for purchase in the tasting room ($8 a pint up to $9.50 for specialty pints). The brewery also has a beer depot where beer bottles and cases can be purchased directly. Be sure to take the coupon booklet you get at the brewery into town. The downtown of New Glarus is full of Old-World charm and unique eateries and shops. Tasting room ($8) includes 3 samples of beer and a New Glarus tasting glass.
- Ale Asylum, 2002 Pankratz St., Madison (10-minute drive from downtown Madison), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tours every hour on Sundays 12:00-5:00. 30-45 minutes. Ticket sales begin at 11AM on the day of the tour and must be purchased in-person with a valid ID showing you are of drinking age.. Located on Madison's east side, Ale Asylum features a wide variety of beers, an independent kind of vibe and a full restaurant in addition to a sampling room. While many of their beers are favorites with locals, they're most famous in the area for their IPAs (Ballistic and Bedlam). $5 (cash only) includes a free pint of your choice plus a special sampling.
- Tyranena Brewery, 1025 Owen Street, Lake Mills (not far off of I-94), ☏ . Tasting room (& beer garden): M-Th 4:30PM-10:00PM; F 3PM-11PM; Sa noon-11PM; Su noon-8PM. Tyranena is a local favorite for Madison and Milwaukee natives. Like Ale Asylum, it features a number of beer styles and varieties, but the Three Beaches Honey Blonde Ale, available year round, and seasonal specials, like Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale (winter), are particular favorites. Tyranena offers free tours on Saturdays, and the sample room stays open past the tours, featuring live entertainment in their Beer Garden on Friday and Saturday evenings in the summer.
As with most of the Southwest Wisconsin region, car is the best way to get around to each of the breweries. The following is a suggested route, but the order of visiting can be changed depending on your needs:
- Starting at Minhas, take 12th Street east to 18th Avenue. Turn left and follow until it becomes WI 69.
- Take WI 69 north to New Glarus. The brewery is right before the town and has a signed main entrance.
- From New Glarus, take WI 69 north until it meets US 151 near Verona.
- Take 151 through downtown Madison to Route 30 and head north to Ale Asylum (it's on the right hand side - may be hard to see from the Street).
- From Ale Aslyum, get back on 30 and take it east until it becomes I-94. Follow to Lake Mills.
- From Tyranena, take WI 89 north to Columbus and Hydro Street.
- Driving conditions: When going through this itinerary, keep in mind that portions of this area are located in rural portions of the Driftless Area and can be difficult to travel in bad weather. Generally, the areas near Madison and east are easier to travel.
- Drinking: If you plan on drinking, please pace yourself and, if necessary, choose a designated driver.
- Southeast Wisconsin: Milwaukee is a famous beer city and offers a variety of breweries, beer gardens and other drinking establishments.
- Northwest Wisconsin: See the iconic Leinenkugel's brewery in Chippewa Falls.