We are calling Day Two our “Booze Cruise of Western Wisconsin.” As I mentioned in Day One, the original plan was to keep the weekend mostly quiet after the big talk and tasting on Friday. Life rarely goes as planned, even when unplanned.
A while back, I purchased a LivingSocial deal for a tour of 45th Parallel. We did a tour a couple of years ago, just after they released the first batch of New Richmond Rye, and I was anxious to see what has changed. I think my first bottle of the New Richmond Rye was from barrel number one, though sadly I didn’t keep the strap. It was good enough back then but it really has gotten better. The winner of the day for us was their Wheat Whiskey, a limited release they do for an annual party. This year, thankfully, they bottled too much and so we were able to pick it up at the cocktail room. I highly recommend this tour – the guides are knowledgeable, friendly, and do a great job telling the story of both the distillery and distilling. They will happily make you a cocktail to drink as you tour, I recommend the Old Fashioned with their Madison Avenue Orangecello in place of muddled sugar. Also, you get to try ten different spirits made at the facility – ranging from the whiskey to Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit. It’s a roller coaster of flavor!
For the second day in a row, we found ourselves closer to a brewery than planned. If you look out from 45th Parallel and across an empty lot, you’ll see a new building with a lovely patio out front. Patios aren’t a common feature in an industrial park – but they are great for breweries and taprooms. This one happens to be the much talked about Barley John’s expansion. If you’re not familiar with the story, Minnesota laws prevent Barley John’s brewpub in New Brighton from distributing their beer. Barley John’s decided that the only way to grow was to split ownership – the brewpub had been owned by a husband and wife team but now the pub is owned by the wife, Laura Subak, and the Wisconsin brewery is owned by husband John Moore. Minnesota lost out on a beautiful facility and a great small business growth story, it’s a shame.
The Wisconsin brewery has also gotten permission to have a small kitchen in order to serve small appetizer plates. After the generous sampling at 45th Parallel, we were very thankful to have a place in walking distance where we could grab a Little Barley and a cheese plate. Another thing that is different in Wisconsin – taprooms can have guest beers! There were six Barley John’s taps but also a small selection of other Wisconsin beers. Our 45th Parallel tour guide joked that someone needs to buy the empty lot between the two businesses and open up a hotel – it’s not a bad idea! Both places are worthy of a destination day trip. I anticipate a lot of used barrels going back and forth between these neighbors – a partnership that can only end well for the drinking public.
No Sunday afternoon trip to Wisconsin is complete without a beer run, so we made the inevitable stop at Casanova Liquors in Hudson. It’s New Glarus Fat Squirrel season so some of that needed to come home, along with their Apple Ale. I discovered the Apple Ale last year and it quickly became my favorite fall beverage – sweet, tart, and malty all at once. We also picked up a handle of the 190-proof Everclear not available in Minnesota, so watch drinkingincontext.com for more cocktail experiments! (The 190-proof is great for extracting flavor and making bitters, infusions, and all sorts of things to be consumed in SMALL doses.)
And thus concludes our epic “quiet and unplanned” weekend. Work almost feels like a relief after this weekend!!
More photos after the jump…