New Glarus Brewing Company is located in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Before visiting their facilities for a tour, I had tasted their Spotted Cow beer and enjoyed it. Always up for a good brewery tasting and adventure, my brother, his friend and I spent last Sunday visiting their brewery.
They are in the midst of some construction and expansion, but that certainly didn’t hinder the experience while we were there. The outside of the building has the look and feel of a Swiss Colony. The whole town is clearly proud of their Swiss roots.
In one area is the tasting room, where you are able to sample three tastings for $3.50. At this time, they had six beers to offer so I went for all of them. I will be writing about my specific tasting notes on their brews in the future.
Through another area was the gift shop and a self-guided tour. The beauty of the situation was that you were able to bring your samples or pint of beer into the tour. We sampled a bit and then headed through the hallways to check out the facilities. Staff at the brewery was extremely helpful. Even though the tour was self-guided, there was a member of their crew in the area to answer any questions.
Walking into the tour, I felt as if I was transported into Willy Wonka. Large copper vats lined the left side of the first room we entered. A gentleman working in the touring area answered all of our questions, educating us on their brewing process. He also explained that the copper barrels were purchased from a company in Germany that was going out of business. The German business was going to sell them as scrap metal, so New Glarus Brewing Company bought them at scrap metal prices, which for copper is still quite pricy. The copper portion of the barrels is not functional, but the real barrels used are located directly below these barrels.
The facilities were immaculate. There is a major distinction between more modern brewing facilities and older companies in this regard. If you have toured many breweries, there is certainly character in the older brewing houses but there is also the impossibility of keeping everything in an old cellar perfectly clean.
Pipes weaved in and out of the multiple floors on the tour. I was curious where all of the pipes went (and if they were all even functional!) The end of the touring area showed the production room, which looked as if it was lifted directly out of the Lavern and Shirley set.
The self-guided tour was relaxing and interesting. I still had two tastings left after the tour and they finished up in the gift shop while I evaluated the last two brews. (To be honest, I think they were embarrassed about the fact that they were with someone that was taking notes at a brewery. I forewarned them.) I will definitely return to New Glarus in the summer and taste some of their new brews and enjoy the outdoor area to sit and have a beer.