Over the long holiday weekend, we decided to continue our Memorial Day tradition of visiting a Wisconsin brewery. Last year it was New Glarus Brewing. This year we headed to Potosi, just across the Mississippi from my hometown, to visit the Potosi Brewing Company and National Brewery Museum.
The Potosi Brewing Company was founded in 1852 and in the 20th Century grew into the fifth largest brewery in Wisconsin and distributed beer nationwide. It survived prohibition by making root beer and lame “near beer”, but was finally forced to close it’s doors in 1972. Over the next couple decades the building sat empty and deteriorating, even suffering major fire damage before being purchased and restored. The community rallied around the cause and created the Potosi Brewery Foundation in 2000. In 2004 the foundation was awarded the honor of being the home of the National Breweriana Association’s national museum. The collection holds thousands of pieces of brewing memorabilia, our favorite of which was the footage of vintage beer tv commercials. On the first floor is a small transportation museum detailing the important modes of transport that were involved in supporting the local brewing industry. Before major river bridges, Potosi even went so far as to buy a steamboat to deliver kegs twice daily to the thirsty and growing population of Dubuque, Iowa. (They still know how to put away large quantities of beer in Dubuque.)
The highlight of course, was bellying up to the large horseshoe-shaped bar in the first-floor brewpub and restaurant. The $5 museum admission includes a complimentary 8oz pour of beer. Six sample sizes of anything they have on tap will only set you back $7. A one-gallon growler goes directly from the tap into your hands for $15. There is also a full food menu. We found the warm pretzels with beer/cheese sauce and hot mustard to be a perfect compliment to sampling.
Luckily for us, unlike “Only in Wisconsin” New Glarus, Potosi has recently entered the Chicago retail market and is available at Binny’s stores. We did, however, take advantage of our drive through Dickeyville, WI, to stock up on our favorite New Glarus products at the local grocery store. The fridge is ready for summer. Cheers.