Our Visit to SW Wisconsin

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My wife and I made a Saturday trip to some historic locations. I had heard of Stonefield Historic Site in Cassville, Wisconsin, but I was never able to make it down that way to check it out. The museum is very intriguing! It features the Governor Nelson Dewey Home and Farmstead, Wisconsin Agricultural Museum, and the Farming Village.

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The first leg of our tour took us to the agricultural building. The exhibits featured different aspects of Wisconsin’s agriculture history-wheat, dairy, cranberries, farm mechanization. My ultimate favorite part of the building was the display of  two Allis-Chalmers tractors. The first, a model 10-18 painted a dark green color the company used before the 1929 introduction of Persian Orange.

The second, an Allis-Chalmers model U was the FIRST farm tractor with factory equipped rubber tires. This was an important achievement in farm mechanization. This tractor is a must see for every Allis-Chalmers enthusiast. However, one thing I would recommend the museum doing is emphasizing some history of notable Wisconsin based farm machinery manufacturers. International Harvester was a prominent theme but not based in Wisconsin. There was little about the J.I. Case Company or the Allis-Chalmers Manfacturing Company; both companies were headquartered in Wisconsin.

After the agriculture building, we  made our way to replica, turn-of-the-century farming village, Stonefield. This replica village had all the businesses and services available to citizens of that era. This part of the museum reminded me of my hometown, Markesan, from that period. The museum has a really great way of showing visitors what rural towns were like in the past.

Our second stop was the Potosi Brewing Company in Potosi,Wisconsin. The old brewery opened in 1852, closed in 1972, and reopened in 2008. It is an amazing place to visit for history, beer, and a place to eat. It’s a must see for every beer/beer history enthusiast. It also happens to be the home of the National Brewery Museum.

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Our first stop on the tour was the beer cave dug into the side of the hill, which is accessible from inside the brewery. We made our way to the 3rd floor where we got a sneak peek of the brewing process at the brewery. Then we made our way down to the memorabilia part of the tour. There are 2 floors packed with just about everything brewery/beer related. Crates, bottle, posters, trays, and antique brewery equipment pack the walls and display cases.

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 After the tour, we made our way down to the Potosi Brew Pub. With your tour you received a free 8 oz beer. If you bought a pint glass from the gift shop then you received a free pint of beer. We got samples of Good Old Potosi, Cave Ale, and Pumpkin Ale. All of which were very refreshing. The food was awesome and reasonably priced. I would recommend it to everyone.

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After our visit, we had one more photo opportunity. Potosi Brewery is not only the home of the Nation Brewery Museum but also the world’s biggest cone-top beer can! We had to have our picture with it.

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If you are in this area of Wisconsin these places are worth a visit. Not only will you learn some interesting history, you will be supporting some worthwhile organizations.

Our Visit to the Pabst Brewery Hotel

The city of Milwaukee always has historical destinations luring me into them. My father-in-law, Dan, always finds super-sweet places to show me when we come to visit. I am absolutely fascinated by Milwaukee’s brewing history, and The Brewhouse Inn and Suites keeps that history alive. Molly, mom & dad-in-law, and I made a trip over to the historic brewhouse turned hotel.

My wife and I with brewhouse in the background

Once the former brewhouse of the Pabst Brewing Co., the building is now, what I consider, a hotel and museum all in one. The massive copper kettles stand  in the hotel’s atrium as a reminder of what the building’s purpose once was. At the north end of the atrium is a stained glass window of King Gambrinus enjoying a thirst quenching beer, much like  what the company used to brew.

My wife and I by a Pabst brew kettle

After scoping out the hotel side of the building, we made our way over to Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub for some Sunday brunch. The food was tasty and reasonably priced, definitely worth a trip back. They even had Pabst Blue Ribbon beer on tap! Imagine that…

Enjoying an ice-cold Schlitz at the Best Place

If you head on over to the Brewhouse Inn, be sure to stop in at the Best Place that is kitty corner from the hotel. They have tours in the old company beer hall and corporate offices. You even get to go into Captain Frederick Pabst’s office. It’s good to see brew history being saved in one of the greatest cities in America.

TDIMCH: July 1, 1919

MKE Memoirs

Anti-Prohibition Sign

This Day in Milwaukee County History: The National Wartime Prohibition Act goes into effect on July 1, 1919. The measure was intended to save grain for the war effort, although the act had been passed full week after the armistice was signed. All sales of liquor were ceased on June 30th and July 1 quickly became known as the “Thirsty-First.” What was supposed to be a temporary measure turned into a 14-year-long drought. The 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and took effect one year and a day later.

During Prohibition, many breweries began to make non-alcoholic beer while others began to produce soda, ice cream, and cheese. Some brewers made malt syrup and other products which individuals could use for home brewing. Schlitz decided to produce confectioneries. Many breweries eventually had to close – some forever.

Wisconsin, the nations’ brewing capital was especially hard-hit during the interwar…

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Schlitz Brewery Strike 1948

MKE Memoirs

This Day in Milwaukee County History: on April 26th, 1948, a strike by CIO Brewery Workers in Milwaukee cuts off production of over 12 percent of the United States’ beer supply. Six of the city’s major breweries were affected by the walkout. Bottling house employees of the Schlitz Brewing Company had failed to show up the night before. By the early morning, bottle house employees from the Blatz, Pabst, Miller, Gettelman and Independant brewing companies had joined in the walkout.

The strike lasted a full 24 days. By the end of the first week, local bars and taverns were running precariously low on the product that made Milwaukee famous.

The strike had broken out due to a dispute over wages. The Local 9 of the CIO Brewery Workers Union had demanded a wage increase of $16 per week. The breweries countered with an offer of $5.50. This offer was unacceptable for…

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National Beer Day!

(Pink Lemonade of Life)

Today is National Beer Day celebrating 80 years since the end of an awful beer dry spell.  Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office in 1933 trying to break the Great Depression that gripped the nation. FDR pushed through congress and signed the Beer & Wine Revenue Act that made alcohol under 3.2% potency legal. Why did FDR want liquor to flow freely again? I am sure our 32nd president enjoyed a good beer every now and then, but the revenue and jobs breweries offered was just what the country needed.  On April 7, 1933, beer was able to flow freely once again, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the place to be.
 

April 6, 1933, The Milwaukee Sentinel headlined “BEER HERE AT MIDNIGHT!”  and was followed by stories and information of what people were to expect. Cases of beer from Milwaukee breweries were flown out to Washington D.C. for President Roosevelt with a message saying, “Here’s to you-President Roosevelt. The first real beer in years!”  Friday, April 7, 1933, beer made its triumphant return to the city of thirsty beer drinkers. The Milwaukee Journal headlined “Huge Midnight Crowds Hail Beer Here”.

100,000 Give Cheers as Breweries Open

I celebrated National Beer Day by enjoying OktoberFest beer brewed by the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. As you can see, my fiance’ also took part in the celebration. We both enjoy a good beer now and then. We even made a trip to New Glarus, Wisconsin, to tour the New Glarus Brewing Company this past winter. It is hard to imagine in our nation’s history that such a fine beverage like beer was poured down the drain and forbidden to drink. I hope that history never repeats itself.

Prost!

An Oshkosh Legend Returns

If you find yourself doing nothing on September 22, 2012, I suggest you get over to the Fox River Brewery/Fratellos in Oshkosh for this book signing & beer tasting event. Not only will you be able to buy a book detailing the history of Oshkosh’s breweries, but you will get to taste a beer that shares the city’s name! It will be an event you cannot miss.

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