If you’re among the population today who enjoys craft beers, you’ll want to head to New Glarus, Wisconsin and the New Glarus Brewing Company.
The craft beer industry in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds in the last several years. (In 2009 there were 1,596 breweries; in 2016 the number was up to 5,234.) New Glarus Brewing Company has managed to rise to the top in the Midwest. Their Spotted Cow farmhouse ale has a strong following, along with favorites Two Women and Moon Man.
(Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I enjoy the names that breweries choose for their various beers. I also admire the dedication, hard work, and the pride that brewers take in their finished product.)
New Glarus Brewing Company was established in 1993, so owners Deborah and Daniel Carey have been in the business for awhile. Their success allowed them to build a new facility in 2008. It’s located on a wooded hilltop at the edge of town. The buildings have a Swiss-inspired look about them to fit in with the town’s heritage. Inside the main building, it’s state-of-the-art and sparkling clean. Visitors on self-guided tours stroll the corridors with a brew in hand. It’s a happy place – everyone is in a good mood and having fun.
The beer garden is especially nice. Everywhere on the grounds are picnic tables and seating to enjoy a beer in the Wisconsin outdoors. You also get a commanding view of New Glarus and the farm land below.
“Only in Wisconsin” is a tag line for the New Glarus Brewing Company. That’s because their product is sold exclusively in Wisconsin. It somehow adds to the appeal for Spotted Cow and the companies’ other varieties. You’ll see customers loading up their SUVs with cases of beer to take home across state lines. We went back to Illinois with our fair share, including the seasonal Staghorn Octoberfest.
Back down in the valley and the town of New Glarus, you’ll discover a quaint Swiss heritage village of 2,200 residents. New Glarus was settled in 1845 by immigrants from the alpine community of Glarus, Switzerland. They had primarily worked in the textile industry in Switzerland and didn’t know much about farming when they arrived in America. It was learn-as-you-go for them, but pretty soon they were raising Brown Swiss cows, making cheese, and growing wheat.
Cheese and cows are still popular today in New Glaus. You’ll see painted fiberglass cows stationed throughout the community. The buildings in town also have an alpine look, much like Frankenmuth, Michigan that I wrote about in a post last month.
The retail area of town is small, but there’s several interesting shops. Stop in at the Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus for some excellent Wisconsin cheese. The butterkase was my favorite.
And be sure to check out Blumenladen, a home décor and flower shop. I would also highly recommend Hide & Hutch. They have a great inventory of clothing and unique items for your home.
Standing tall over the center of town is the Swiss United Church of Christ. It dates from 1900. All services were conducted in German until 1924. In front of the church is a monument honoring the original 27 families of Swiss settlers.
A good place to try Swiss cuisine is Glarner Stube. It has an Old World feel and the food is delicious. Our waitress encouraged us to try a traditional side dish called rosti – hash browns with melted cheese and onions inside. You won’t be disappointed.
An unexpected treat in the downtown area was a demonstration of alphorns. The sound from these unusual instruments was beautiful. The two men who were playing instantly drew a crowd around them – everyone had their cell phones in hand, recording the music or taking a photo.
For lodging, we stayed at the Chalet Landhaus Inn. The building fits in nicely with the Swiss theme, and you can walk to the downtown area. They have a couple of the painted cows on their grounds, too.
To learn more of New Glarus’ history, visit the Swiss Historical Village and Museum. The park-like setting features fourteen historical buildings that showcase the town’s early years. The grounds and buildings are well-maintained and arranged in a circle, so it’s easy to take a self-guided tour.
Shop – Sip – Savor – Stay – Play! New Glarus is an exceptional place to visit.