Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern is located in Monroe, Wisconsin.

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Baumgartner’s is clearly an institution in this area.  We were told by multiple sources that we had to visit the shop and try their chili and cheese sandwiches after our brewery tours.  The chili was certainly worth mentioning.  I had to laugh at their tagline stating that they were the second best chili, right after your mother’s.  They topped it with cheese or raw onions.

The list of cheeses available for the cheese sandwiches would only be found in good ol’ Wisconsin.  I wanted to try something different.  When in Rome philosophy.  I noticed one type of cheese was brick cheese.  I assumed that this was so named because it was a large brick of cheese and the type rotated based on the local selection, similar to how farm-to-table restaurants rotate their fresh selections.  So I inquired with the waitress about what type of cheese the brick cheese was currently on the menu.  Some of you may already know the punch line to this riddle.  There is a mild, white cheese that is actually called brick cheese.  I went for it.

In my mind, the cheese sandwich was going to be a grilled cheese sandwich, so I was a little put back when they dropped a slice of cheese between two slices of white bread on our table.  I felt like a child.  In my opinion, it would have been infinitely better if they had slapped some butter on it and grilled it up a bit, but who am I to judge the preparation of a cheese sandwich in Wisconsin. Clearly they know more about cheese than this Iowa girl!

My biggest piece of advice would be not to try the limburger cheese! My brother bravely ordered one for the table so we could all sample a little bit of it.  I hesitated and decided that it would be best to let the boys try it first and if they could handle it, then I would consider.  They are big fishermen and likened the smell to stink bait.  I quickly decided that the accolades of eating limburger cheese were not worth it.

I would love to return to this quaint establishment.  My brother bought a few types of cheese to put on sandwiches for future lunches and said it was the best colby-jack cheese he has ever tasted.  They definitely sell high quality cheese in their store and I would love to purchase more of it on the way out than I did on that particular trip.

If you are ever in the area, do not miss Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern.  You will not be sorry!

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Brewery Tours

When I first started this blog, I made a few goals for myself.  One of the goals I set was to travel to a new winery, brewery or distillery every month. I enlisted the help of my brother, asking him if he would be willing to spend his much coveted weekends with me on the pursuit of good, local beer. (And by local, I mean anything in Iowa or a connecting state!) Thankfully, he is willing to make the sacrifice and we have planned an outing this weekend to two breweries and a distillery in Wisconsin.

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My brother and I had plans to go to New Glarus Brewery on the last weekend in April, so when a group of guests that I was working with at the winery last weekend started talking about New Glarus, I asked if they had any advice.  They were a wealth of knowledge about other places to visit and quickly our trip to one brewery turned into a day including two breweries, a distillery and a tavern/cheese shop.  I could not be more excited!  (And I’m thinking I should win some sort of ‘Sister of the Year’ award for this deal.)

Maybe it is the teacher in me, so used to planning field trips and preparing for the unexpected, but I always feel the need to research where we are going ahead of time to have an idea of what to expect.  That night after work I went home and looked up Minhas Brewery, Minhas Distillery and Baumgartener’s Cheese Shop and Tavern.  I will give a full report on the beers and spirits after visiting, but I wanted to share a few of the things I am excited about before the visit to see if they live up to my expectations.

New Glarus Brewery

Spotted Cow at the New Glarus Brewery is by far their most popular brew in the area, but I look forward to trying the other types of beer they produce.  There are six beers available year round, seasonal beers to compliment the time of year and they always have a few surprises up their sleeves to keep things interesting.  I am most curious about their Thumbprint Series, in which they let their brewmaster loose to create whatever his adventurous heart desires.

Minhas Brewery

The tour at Minhas Brewery looks fantastic! After touring the facilities, you can hang out in their Lazy Mutt Lounge and enjoy bottomless beer samples of their brews.  Considering the crowd that may be joining my brother and I, Minhas may want to rethink this policy before the weekend.  They also send you off with a “Thank You” pack full of bottles of their beer, root beer and a souvenir glass. For the mere $10 you spend on the tour, I think that is quite the deal!

Minhas Distillery

Located conveniently across the street from the brewery, the Minhas Distillery also provides a tour of their facilities.  Their spirits selection includes gin, three types of rum, rye whisky, tequila, vodka and irish cream.  What I am most looking forward to, though, is their horchata rum.  I did not find any information about it online, but the couple I spoke with at the winery said it was fabulous and leaps and bounds above RumChata, which has become popular in this area.

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern

You can not visit Wisconsin without stopping for cheese!  Thankfully I got the inside scoop about a fabulous little cheese store and tavern a block away from the distillery called Baumgartner’s.  Apparently they have the second best chili (only after your mother’s) and a cheese sandwich that is a must try item.  They feature locally brewed beers on tap to compliment their food.  What can be better than a quaint, local tavern after a day of tasting locally brewed beers and spirits?  I can’t think of anything, either.

Needless to say, I am counting down the days to the weekend!