*This is the one-hundred and thirty-fourth post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
14 on tap, 38 in bottles/cans available at the bar. Innumerable in what they own.
2) How long operational?
Continuously operating since 1845.
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Minhas siblings purchased the brewery to expand their adult beverage empire.
30 states, 5 Canadian provinces, many other countries around the world.
5) What sets you apart?
History, character, marketing, and global reach.
6) How did you get your name?
Named after the Minhas family who purchased Monroe Brewery in 2006.
In a country that seems split between the old-guard macro breweries and the young upstart micro breweries, it’s more than a little surprising to find that the second-oldest brewery in the United States (after Yuengling) is a craft brewery located in Monroe, WI. In constant operation since 1845, and originally operated as Monroe Brewing Company, Minhas Craft Brewery is now completely family-owned by siblings Ravinder and Manjit Minhas.
The first step into the building brings you into an overwhelming gift shop, with swag from a dizzying amount of both popular and obscure beer brands. As you peruse the wares, the gear tells the story of Minhas’ 10 ownership changes over the centuries, which allowed the current company to own a bevy of different brands under one umbrella.
We recommend calling ahead to get added to one of their tour groups. Our guide, more of a docent for the historic brewery, led us through the historic halls.
It’s an eclectic mix of century-old buildings and state-of-the-art equipment, working in harmony to brew both old and new recipes. Though the brewery is certainly not tiny, it’s surprising just how much beer can be output from the space: enough to land Minhas regularly in the top-10 production breweries in the country.
At the end of the tour the group collects in the on-site bar, where we happily indulged in some choice picks from their mile-long beer list while walking through the world’s largest collection of beer memorabilia.
Malty, easy to drink, true to style.
Rhinelander Mystical Jack Traditional Brown Ale
A smooth, poundable Brown. Enough bite to keep things interesting.
Lazy Mutt Farmhouse Ale
Sweet licorice behind a malted barley forwardness.
Aged cherry, oak, and balanced malt.
This ain’t your dime-store Shorty; buttery, nuanced, golden honey when on draught. Yum.
Light-drinking, but heavy on the roasted malts and coffee notes.
Route 66 IPA Blend
Hard to pinpoint: jumps deftly between a hop-forward IPA and a cold-brewed, crisp lager.
Minhas Craft Brewery is nearly unrivaled in its longevity, output, and sheer brand-volume in breweries in the United States. A tour through their historic brewing space is a pilgrimage for American beer drinkers. Don’t forget your free five-pack on the way out!