We're fortunate to live in a place where "locally sourced" matters, and where it's easy to find local food. And also drink. My friends in other parts of the country can scarcely believe just how much really good beer, wine, and spirits we've got in the Madison area, and it seems like we're getting more every week.
Everybody knows about the New Glarus Brewing Company
and the Capital Brewery
, but now that Ale Asylum
has moved into their giant new facility out by the airport, they're poised to become one of the biggest brewers in Wisconsin. Former Capital brewmaster Kirby Nelson is getting a new venture
off the ground in Verona, and the former Ale Asylum location on Kinsman Boulevard is home to a new brewery called Karben 4. Plus there's One Barrel Brewing
and House of Brews
and the Great Danes and Vintage Brewing Company and I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting somebody.
Micro-distilling is getting bigger, too. There are maybe 250 distillers nationwide, and some of the most respected are right in our back yard. Death's Door Spirits
started in Door County, but now does most of its distilling in Middleton. Yahara Bay Distillers
is making brandy, rum, whiskey, vodka, bourbon, and gin; Old Sugar Distillery
is making rum, whiskey, and even ouzo.
Lots of wineries 'round these parts, too. The Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac is the most famous, but there's also Primrose in New Glarus, Fisher King in Mt. Horeb, and Botham near Barneveld. Go a wee bit farther afield to find Spurgeon near Highland, Weggy near Richland Center, and Fawn Creek near Wisconsin Dells. You can hit Lewis Station in Lake Mills, Vetro near Jefferson, Staller Estate near Elkhorn, and Northleaf in Milton in a single afternoon---and I oughta know because Ann and I have done it. (Find locations and information about all of these and more right here
Which leads me to my next point. There's nothing better on a spring or summer afternoon--if spring and summer ever actually get here---than some beer or wine tourism. The great thing about every last one of the places I have mentioned that you can sample the product when you visit, and in many cases, talk directly to the people who make it. (Just don't oversample and then try to drive home.) Ann and I will see you out there.