This past weekend, two friends and I took a road trip. We had a few other friends who were riding RAGBRAI, the annual bike trip across Iowa. There were a couple of towns close to home, including the town of Manchester on Friday. So, on Friday, we drove up to hang out with our friends.
After a long night listening to The Nadas and having a good time with our friends, we slept.
The next day, we awoke around 10, and after we cleaned up, we continued on our trip.
Our first stop was The Irish Shanti in Gunder, Iowa, to take part in what has become a local legend in Northeast Iowa: eating the Gunderburger. The Gunderburger is a one-pound burger, topped with whatever you want. Even if you don’t want a one-pound burger, the regular burgers are a half-pound.
All three of us ordered the Gunderberger: I had bacon and cheese, one of my friends had the cheese only Gunderburger, and my other friend had the “loaded” burger with cheese, bacon, grilled mushrooms & onions, lettuce & tomato. After about 20 minutes, we each successfully finished our respective Gunderburgers, along with our fried cheese curds. It was delicious!
Since we were on a tight schedule to get to our final stop, the New Glarus Brewing Co. in New Glarus, Wisconsin, we took off to drive the remaining 2 hours to get to the brewery.
The ride was pleasant, and the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too hot, and it was clear. It took us just over two hours to arrive at the brewery. We first arrived at the New Glarus Riverside Brewery, where the brewery began in 1993. We took a look around, and since the parking lot was empty, we knew we might not be in the right place. The flyer in the window told us where the brewery had moved to. As soon as we found the right place, we knew we were in business.
About a mile up the road, the new Hilltop Brewery was a fantastic place.
We first went to the tasting room, to sample a few of the offerings. I had heard the Wisconsin Belgian Red won several awards, so, while my friends sampled a couple of the standard brews, Stone Soup and Totally Naked, I had a pint of the Wisconsin Belgian Red.
All I can say is, “Wow!” It had a ton of flavor, and I can only best describe it as a cherry explosion in your mouth. I can understand why it had won so many awards. Next, I had Spotted Cow, New Glarus’s flagship beer, while my friends tried Moon Man.
Lastly, we got one more refill to take on the self-guided tour. I was very impressed. Talk about state of the art! There was a lab, quality assurance room, as well as what you’d expect in a brewery, including kettles, fermentation tanks, and a bottling line. The coolest thing in the brewery was the room where the wheat beers were open fermented. The tops of the tanks were completely open, and the overflow was collected.
The tour took about a half an hour, and we could bring our beer on the tour. What other tour can you do that?
After the tour, since New Glarus is only sold in Wisconsin, we bought some beer to take home from the store, then headed home.
All in all, it was a great trip, and now that we know the brewery is only a few hours away, I foresee many day trips to the brewery in our future.
Have you ever been to New Glarus? What did you think?