Day #6: Trempealeau Food, Fountain City Brew and Good Company

GlenDi_CartoonI don’t know if you’ve noticed but cartoon Glen and Di are getting more and more robust with each post I write. That’s what happens when you spend nine days feasting on Wisconsin’s savory fare and specialty brew.

No calories there whatsoever.

As we navigate our way up the Great River Road, each Mississippi town has been as quaint as the next and we’ve met some super nice people. Trempealeau and Fountain City are especially distinct.

Trempealeau

Sunset over Mississippi River in Trempealeau, WI

Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, Tremealeau, WI

Hands down, our best meal has been dinner at the historic Trempealeau Hotel and Restaurant, overlooking the river and this beautiful sunset. Besides serving Spaten, my husband’s favorite Oktoberfest beer (which we won’t discuss because it’s a German import), the restaurant has an obvious appreciation of its vintage atmosphere and local farmers. My husband had the walleye with a heavenly kale-bacon-whatever sauté. I had a shrimp skewer drenched in butter and lightly crusted with a blend of herbs.

Getting hungry? I am, just reminiscing.

To work this off, the next day we hiked through Perrot State Park, another beautiful area with killer-bluffs overlooking the river. Actually, hiking the bluffs isn’t that hard, but be mindful that this week real Glen and Di are not a tight stretch from cartoon Glen and Di. At the top of one bluff, we met a lovely family with young boys whose infectious enthusiasm for nature reminded us of how blessed we all really are.

Fountain City

Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Further up the Mississippi we lunched at the Monarch Public House, a food and drink destination since 1894. We had fish because it was Friday and in Wisconsin you have fish on Fridays, even if the Monarch calls it fish ‘n chips, which it does because it’s Irish. It’s just what we do (along with run-on sentences).

Our server explained their heritage style of baking the fish at 600+ degrees instead of deep frying. It was delicious!

vintage bar in Monarch Public House, Fountain City, WI

Isn’t this bar stunning? Our server said it’s original to the building. The pressed tin ceiling is also original and easily 16-feet high, if not more. The Monarch’s website shares an interesting history of the building—be sure to scroll all the way down.

Fountain Brew, Fountain City, WI

In addition to being the longest running tavern in Wisconsin, the Monarch has also resurrected Fountain City Brewing Company. Long part of the community’s heritage, this brewery originated in 1862. When it closed in 1965 and the building later demolished, it seemed the local flavor would be lost forever.

That is, until 1997.

By then John Harrington owned the Monarch tavern and was guiding it through a loving restoration. One day a nearly 90-year-old, retired assistant brewmaster named Wilbert Schmitt came forward with the original recipes he had saved all these years. Harrington and Schmitty, as he’s known, collaborated and reintroduced Fountain City’s beloved brew.

Fascinating story, eh? The Monarch tells it in greater detail here. Again, be sure to scroll completely down the page.

Next year, according to our server, the Monarch will break ground for a brewery building right next to the tavern. Bucket list: Go back to Fountain City in two years and check it out!

Gasoline Alley, Fountain City, WI

Octoberfest_2014_FC_CarWhile wandering Main Street, we met John Campbell of Gasoline Alley. One compliment on his car parked outside and he proudly brought us inside to see his latest work.

I like his business logo!

Seven Hawks Vineyard, Fountain City, WI

John shared fun stories of Fountain City. He also pointed out how the buildings on the town’s main streets are all veered to match the angle of the river. None of them were built square to the street. Intriguing!

RatingsAdunate rates Fountain City Brewery, Fountain City, WI

Beer
Fountain City doesn’t brew an Oktoberfest but we enjoyed their signature styles nonetheless. My husband had an Irish Valley Spring Bock and I went all historical with the original recipe Fountain Brew. Both were great!

Ambiance
Need I say more? I loved this building and its meticulous restoration.

Food
My husband had fish ‘n chips. I had a Caesar salad. We shared and were extremely happy travelers!

Community
An endearing little river town, where life seems slow and peaceful. With this list of things to do, we could have stayed longer than the one afternoon we did. Next time!

Copy & Design
The Monarch has a great story to tell and does so very well on it’s website. It’s Facebook page shares the same enthusiasm and friendliness our server did. I’m looking forward to the promotions in puts out when they build the brewery.

 

Day #5: A Heart-Swooning Logo on Pearl St. (on St. Andrew St.)

Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, WIOne of the fascinating things about our Octoberfest Beer Tour has been the diversity of breweries. We’ve sampled beer from a boutique 100-barrels-a-year brewed in the Corner Pub’s basement, to the cranked 320,000-barrels-a-year at Minhas‘ updated, multi-structured complex.

We found our visit to Pearl Street Brewery on Saint Andrew Street, La Crosse, to be somewhere in the middle of those extremes. More importantly, it sports a logo I just love.

Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, WI

If you’re like us, you might find Pearl Street outwardly intimidating when you first manage to find it—a GPS comes in handy for this. Apparently, the brewery originated in a downtown Pearl Street location, thus the name, and later expanded to a space in this old warehouse.

(Hey, says my husband, this used to be La Crosse Footwear and they make my boots.)

Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, WI

Step inside and you’ll feel much more relaxed. It’s a big, open, no-nonsense, welcoming brewing space. There’s a taproom bar amongst the fermenting vats, along with tables and a funky stage for live music.

We stopped by after brewing hours on a quiet Wednesday afternoon, so we missed the Saturday tour. But, hey, we can entertain ourselves. We had fun sipping and browsing on our own.

Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, WI

Pearl Street Brewery is my kind of business—homegrown, hardworking and obviously a fun sense of humor. It’s recently expanded its distribution to Minnesota and, interestingly, it has its own Printasaurus Lex, as she’s referred to, designing and producing Pearl Street’s packaging from an in-house print shop.

(Did you know packaging is the most expensive detail of making and selling beer? We learned this on our Minhas tour.)

Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, WIPearl Street Brewery makes some mighty fine beer! My husband had the Rubber Mills Pils, which brought him smile of pleasure. I had a Pearl Street Pale Ale—smooth, full, and easy on the hops, just the way I like it.

Don’t you just love Pearl Street’s logo?

Adunate rates Pearl Street Brewery

Ratings

Beer
Pearl Street’s version of Oktoberfest is its Lederhosen Lager Fest Bier, a malty and easy-to-drink seasonal. This would have been my first choice, but since it’s already October and most autumn seasonals come out in September, it was no longer on the menu.

So one stein for no Octoberfest. But five steins for the styles we sampled!

Ambiance
Fun place. I liked the unpretentious atmosphere and that Pearl Street is repurposing an old building.

Taproom
A taproom, or tasting room, typically distinguishes itself from a bar by only serving its own beer. Pearl Street is kind of hard to find, but it’s taproom worth getting to.

La Crosse Queen, La Crosse, WI

Community
La Crosse boasts the vibrancy and diversity that comes with being a multi-college town. It makes full use of the Mississippi River for its geographical interest. Think paddle boats, barges, locks and river walks. We took a 3-hour lunch cruise on this La Crosse Queen. Super fun!

Copy and Design
So, I’m forced to automatically deduct one stein because Pearl Street uses that cheesy “are you at least 21 years old?” entry into its website. It was fun, say, 15 years ago, but nowadays it’s outdated and a pain on the smart phone.

That aside, I LOVE everything else about Pearl Street’s marketing. The organic, hoppy flow of its logo—be still my heart—makes me swoon! Their website copy is fun, energetic and full of delightful stories. I love their labels. Hey, I love everything they’re putting out (except the website entry).

Next stop: Fountain City Brewing Company, Fountain City

Day #2: No Grumps Here!

Autumn leaves 2014

When your husband is owner of the greatest team in the NFL, you don’t spend Sunday afternoons driving around looking at scenery.

Well, he’s part owner.

Okay, well, he’s a shareholder, one of an intimate 363,491 fellow shareholders.

Still, it’s very important that my husband watch the games. So Sunday, after attending the friendly and welcoming Faith Lutheran Church in Reedsburg and checking out the Shoe Box in Black Earth, we headed on down to Mount Horeb to watch the Green Bay Packers.

Mount Horeb, population 7000, is a quaint little town. Hey, it’s the troll capital of the world! It’s also home to the Fisher King Winery, a delicious Main Street presence, and the Duluth Trading Company, a flagship in a wonderful, creaky-floored mercantile building.

But most important to my husband on Sunday at noon, Mount Horeb is home to the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub.

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

What a fun place! Located in the 1916 Mount Horeb Creamery building, it’s been a restaurant and brewery since 1996. There’s a family restaurant on the first floor and a pizzeria on the second, along with the very important large screen TVs in every which direction.

Mural in Grumpy Troll's Pizzeria

Is this a young and thin Martin Luther? Just wondering, you know, with Reformation coming up and all. This mural is on the wall of the Grumpy Trolls upstairs pizzeria.

Anyway, our daughter and son-in-law joined us and we enjoyed sharing good food and beer. Best of all, the Packers won 27-24 in a last minute drive. Based on the loud whoops, there were no grumpy trolls watching this game!

Ratings

Adunate rates the Grumpy Troll Brewpub in Mount Horeb, WIBeer
I feel bad awarding brewmaster Mark Knoebl only one stein, especially since he’s won so many awards elsewhere. He features up to twelve beers on tap, of all tastes and styles. Refreshingly, his beer menu changes regularly and as it happened Sunday an Oktoberfest wasn’t on the list. Oh well, there were many others to try. Our son-in-law, a hobbyist brewer himself, and daughter both appreciate a hoppier flavor and their eyes lit up when they tasted the Hoppa Loppa.

Ambiance
Of course I loved the old building. It’s wonderfully preserved and furnished with appropriate decor. The staff was super friendly and it was a fun place to watch the game.

Food: Great!

Community
With lots of interesting shops, one could spend a fun day in downtown Mount Horeb. The area also boasts a bike trail, parks and many other attractions. Sadly, one of its greatest historical sites, Little Norway, is closing after 86 years.

Copy and Design
I love it! The Grumpy Troll has a super website with fun information about its history, the building, its food and beer. Be sure to keep scrolling down while on the home page so you don’t miss any of this good stuff. And who wouldn’t like a logo with a cute grumpy troll guy?!

Next stop: New Glarus Brewing Company

Preserving Faith and Natural Resources

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Who says churches aren’t sustainable? Last weekend we toured Doors Open Milwaukee and the top “must-see” on my list was the Basilica of St. Josaphat. Wow! Step inside this work of art and you experience sustainability in more ways than one.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

According to the basilica’s story, in the late 1800s Polish immigrants were pouring into this neighborhood of south Milwaukee and 12,000 of them were members of St. Josaphat. The parish’s Father Wilhelm Grutza sought a way to affordably build a larger church. He learned of plans to demolish the Chicago Post Office and Custom House, so for $20,000 he was able to purchase the salvaged materials and have them shipped up to Milwaukee. From this the parish built its new church. It was completed in 1901.

It’s often said that churches of old were believed to be portals to the divine, that their beauty helped prepare parishioners to the experience of worship. It this were true, Milwaukee’s doorway would open straight to the heavens. There is an exceptional number of stunningly beautiful churches in this city and as we stood outside St. Josaphat, we knew this was one of them.

And then we stepped inside the nave…

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

We were completely blown away! I’ve never been in European cathedrals, but this is how I imagine them to be—breathtakingly beautiful.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Over the years I’ve been accumulating a photography collection of rose windows. St. Josaphat added quite a few to my collection!

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, WI

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, WI

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

I appreciate religious organizations that aren’t shy in promoting their history or their physical assets. In a lower level of St. Josaphat, the parish displays a fascinating timeline of its structure. It’s a wonderful illustration of how much God has done for them and reminds members to be good stewards of their wonderful blessings!

So that’s it folks, our day of Doors Open Milwaukee! Definitely a worthwhile time and one we want to do again next year!

 

An Edifice of Eternal Encasing

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

If it seems like every time you drive past Milwaukee’s City Hall it’s encased in scaffolding, it’s because it is. It’s been that way now for years. And years. And years.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

In 2006, the city began an exciting restoration project on the historic building’s exterior and due to some unfortunate developments, the project just never ends. Originally built in 1895, the City Hall is a 393-foot Flemish Renaissance Revival and is trapezoidally nestled between four angled streets.

And scaffolding.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

To get into the building, you have to walk through a tunnel of scaffolding before it gives way to what someday will once again be a welcoming open-air rotunda.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

And then you step inside. Voilà…here is this fascinating interior of intrigue. All eight floors of it.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

As history goes, seven people jumped to their deaths during the Great Depression. This led to the installation of a protective wire barrier and it remained in place until 1988.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

I like this. It shows both a sense of sustainability and community. I also like the creative display of responses.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

There is great beauty in repetition and serendipitous alignment!

That’s all for today, folks. Come back tomorrow for the Basilica of St. Josaphat. You’ve just got to see it!