*This is the one-hundred and forty-second post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
1) How many different beers?
6 on tap.
2) How long operational?
Opened in 1993 in their original location, they’ve been on “the hill” since 2009.
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Former Anheuser-Busch employee and established brewer gifted the capital to start own brewery from wife.
Wisconsin only (duh). 212,000 barrels.
5) What sets you apart?
Their famous “Only in Wisconsin” mantra (duh again). They are also an employee-owned brewery.
6) How did you get your name?
Named after the city.
Wisconsin is known as a beer-drinking state, and though Miller may still reign supreme when it comes to output, there is one beer name truly associated with our state by both locals and visitors: New Glarus Brewing Company.
New Glarus Brewing put their namesake little Swiss-like town on the beer map back in 1993, and have racked up so many darn awards since then that they dedicated a whole room of their 2009 brewery expansion to displaying them.
But further along the (self-guided, free) tour are the real trophies: gleaming kettles, ironwork that harkens back to brewer Dan Carey’s days at the historic Anheuser-Busch brewery, and literal windows into the magic behind one of Wisconsin’s largest breweries.
Before you stroll down the impressive brewery hallways, grab a brew from the tap room to carry along for the trip.
Spotted Cow Farmhouse Ale
Probably the most-drunk craft beer in Wisconsin, and with good reason. If you haven’t had one before, the only description you need is this: it’s the best of Wisconsin in a bottle.
Black Top Black IPA
Leans maltier, with hops for keeping your interest. Crispy, and more blackberry pie than coffee.
Snowshoe Red Ale
Immediate red apple shoots to the nose, but is balanced quickly with unexpected cardamon and subtle cinnamon.
The impressiveness of the interior brewing process is only rivaled by the grandeur of New Glarus’ outdoor beer garden.
The Little Sugar River valley opens up below the brewery, now perched atop a rolling hill. You can take in the bucolic vista while sipping among the authentic German-brewery ruins that Deborah Carey (the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the United States) and Dan transported and reassembled here.
Deborah and Dan founded a company meant to be appreciated even beyond its visual charm. New Glarus beers are only available in Wisconsin, and the owners have a legal document that prevents that from changing even upon their deaths. The company is employee-owned, and the 120-some local co-owners take as much pride in doing their work as the state who drinks their work.
I’ll be honest: I had high expectations going to New Glarus Brewing Company, and all of them were exceeded. It’s like Wisconsin’s beer Mecca, and the holy land of craft brewing rewards those who make the pilgrimage.