Monday, May 30, 2011

Traveling the beer circuit

A couple of months ago, a friend and I hatched this idea to spend a day traveling across Wisconsin to hit some of breweries and brewpubs in the state. It was a good idea. Something that sounded like a fun trip.

But to pull it off on a whim and hit the road in a matter of hours wasn't the best thing to try. We put it on the back burner and figured it would come up again somewhere down the line. Well, it actually did. But it wasn't with this particular friend; someone else thought to give it a try. In fact, I broke the news to the guy on Saturday and he was a bit upset. But I think he will like the results.

On Sunday morning we hit the road. This time there was a game plan. We had routes, 3 destinations, stops for gas and food, and some ok weather. Last minute changes didn't screw up the trip either. What was a simple trip east to go to Capital Brewery in Middleton, Ale Asylum in Madison, and Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, became a trip to the south as we were forced to replace Capital with New Glarus.

That might have even been for the better. What was a simple trip east became a nice beer circuit. We ended up driving through the countryside, albeit in the rain, and saw places we hadn't seen before. We drove through towns like Brooklyn and Belleville. By bigger places like Janesville and through the east side of Madison. It all ended up in downtown Milwaukee with more beer. A good trip if you ask me.

But one of the greatest things of the trip, is how smoothly it went. It took about 8 hours to hit these beer joints. Travel was about 230 miles. The places also seemed to be spaced appropriately. The long part was the two hour trip to New Glarus. From there it was about 50 minutes to Ale Asylum where a nice pizza made for a great snack. Just the right amount of food to satisfy hunger, but not take up any beer space. 30 minutes down the highway took us to Tyranena for the second to last stop and some good beer for the ride home. Dinner was at the Milwaukee Ale House where more beer was paired with food.

So now that the trip has been down, it must be improved. For example, the road to New Glarus took us close to Janesville. There is a nice little brewery down there called Grays. Hitting Grays en route to New Glarus works out perfectly.

Looking up north from New Glarus, a stop in Mount Horeb at the Grumpy Troll would be ideal for lunch. The route is easy and not going way out of the way. From there, one can go 15 minutes northwest to Middleton and hit Capital. The trip back home would inclue AA and Tyranena. The final stop in Milwaukee could be Lakefront or maybe Stonefly or Hinterland for food. Hell, I've already mapped some of this out.

There is one easy change to make. Do the trip on a Saturday and not a Sunday. Places are open later and you are not time constrained. If more breweries are added, the driver will be limited to one beer per place. Yes, he/she would still be drinking 6 quality beers but toss in water and soda while driving and they'll be fine. And a GPS system, whether dash mount or smartphone is essential. Especially if you take the scenic route.

I am not sure when the new improved circuit will be attempted, but I know I am up for the challenge.

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