The Badger State is known for many things – cheese, the Green Bay Packers, the Great Lakes. But if you were planning to trek through Wisconsin anytime soon, you may want to add some brewery visits to your itinerary. Within the state, there are over 200 active breweries ranging from major names to small craft labels. Each site offers its own unique take on the long history of brewing within Wisconsin – from the traditional to the trendy. You can tour facilities, take brewing classes, or just hang out in beer gardens. It’s all just a hop (see what i did there?), skip and jump away! Below are only a few of the vast list of breweries waiting for you to drop in and enjoy a cold one.
1840 Brewing Company
Named the second best brewery in the United States by USA Today’s 10 Best competition, the brewery’s name comes from the very year it opened in Milwaukee. Although its roots are embedded deeply within the Bay View neighborhood, it equally stretches roots into Wisconsin’s rural countryside with their Burngarten experience on the farmland of Homestead Hollow in Germantown, WI. The winter experience includes 2-hour bonfire pit rentals with fire-side beer service and a bundle of wood, with further wood sales going towards the Washington County Park system. If you don’t plan on leaving Milwaukee, the 1840 taproom is always happy to have you – and they even hold Beer Dinners, which often consists of 4 courses and beer pairings in the taproom.
Stone Arch Brewpub
Located in Appleton, the Stone Arch Brewpub consists of the remnants of one of the area’s original breweries from the 1800’s. Over the years it has passed through many hands, until Stone Cellar Brewpub opened on the site in 2004, and changed their name to Stone Arch in 2012. They offer a locally-sourced organic salad bar, along with grass-fed, free-range, and all natural beef and chicken served beside their beer selections, which are all brewed on-site. Rather than leaning into the trendier gimmicks of craft brewing, they instead remain faithful to the old days of the original brewery.
One of the best breweries in the Madison area, it is located just outside the city, in Waunakee. Not only do they brew their own beers, but clients also come to them for co-packaging, consulting, recipes, design, and more. For example, United Art Beers are also made here alongside a variety of other beers you can’t find at your supermarket.
Central Waters Brewing
Beginning in Amherst and expanding into Milwaukee, these locations often compliment their beers with food trucks parked outside on warmer months. The experimental brews at Central Waters Brewing are sustainably sourced – their operations are powered by solar heat, and they also use water conservation techniques to do their part for the environment. This brewery was even the first to be granted entrance to Wisconsin’s Green Tier program. They also offer free tours every Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
O’so Brewing Company
O’so Brewing is located in Plover, with a second location, named O’so Madhouse, located between Madison’s Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. In Plover, first-time visitors may be surprised to learn that the taphouse is located inside a strip mall, but its not the location that makes good beer (as we all know). In fact, it has won a gold medal for its signature beer, the Big O. The taphouse offers live music, comedy club events, and 40 different beers on tap.
Red Eye Brewing Company
Located in Wausau, Red Eye Brewing Company offers artisanal food matched to their craft beer. They even offer woodfired pizzas alongside a variety of traditional snacks, like the Mac Attack Pizza – covered in Wisconsin Cheddar Cream Sauce. With brews like Prickly Haze IPA, or the King of Rhapsody Bohemian Pilsner – this company has won several awards over the years, many of which came from the Great American Beer Festival.
The Driftless Area is one filled with beauty and natural splendor, and in the farthest southwestern corner of the state sits Potosi Brewery, founded in 1852. This brewery includes a restaurant, a beer garden, a gift shop, and a brewpub – and even sits connected to the Great River Road Interpretive Center. And if that wasn’t enough, the ABA National Brewery Museum is also located here too! For a tour, book online. The cost is $15 for the tour, four 5 ounce beers, a pint of beer, and a new beer glass from the gift shop. If you need a snack after all that, just swing over to the brewpub.
The Brewing Projekt
Located in Eau Claire, this is considered one of the most unique breweries in Wisconsin. Whether you’re looking for IPAs or Milkshake IPA variants, sours, puff tarts, or even sour ale with fruit and vanilla – this place will surely satisfy that craving. So what’s the unique thing that this brewery is so known for? Well, when you visit the taproom, you’re also equally visiting the brewery, and if they are brewing at the time of your visit, expect it to get hot, noisy, and smell of hops. Forklifts will even drive through for some added ambience.