I really do enjoy making day trips to Green County, Wisconsin. This would be my third since June 2012. I have found this area of the state to offer so many opportunities to explore the rich history and culture that makes Wisconsin unique to other US states. Each time I've made the trip, I have made it a point to explore something new while also making time to visit what are fast becoming "old friends" along the way.
I have also found ways to make the 100 mile journey a little different each time, providing for new sights to be discovered. On this day, it wasn't long before I stumbled upon a surprise . . . the Glacial River Trail Covered Bridge. Located along WI Hwy 26 heading in towards Ft. Atkinson (Jefferson County), this covered bridge was built in 2000 with wood from a local barn built in 1906. The bike trail that is on runs parallel to the new Hwy 26 and can be traversed autos for a photo op.
From there, I traveled through the small town of Milton, Wisconsin. I had heard of Milton, but never been there before. I stopped to photograph a local merchant that had three barn quilts on their building. They were befitting a quilt shop . . . Loose Threads Quilt & Yarn Shop.
Once in Green County, I immediately made my way to the Decatur Dairy since I anticipated that they would only provide cheese factory tours until 11am. From there, I wanted to get in at least one of the City of Brodhead's "Tour the Farms Day". I had my Garmin/GPS plus the addresses of the four participating farms. I noted that one was on the same road as the Amish Bakery I like, so I tied those two into my next stop.
First the Amish Bakery. Since I was there before noon, I was fortunate to score a large apple pie. On my only other visit to this particular bakery I was there too late in the day for much of a selection of pies . . . and no apple. I was also pleased to see that they do not put sugar on the top crust of their apple pies. It was very good as a refreshing dessert when I got home later than evening.
After the bakery I made my want to Tony & Dela End's Scotch Hill Farm and took a short tour with Tony. He was very pleasant and informative as to what it takes to be an organic farmer serving a co-op subscriber base of customers.
My next scheduled activity was to catch the opening of the Brodhead Historical Museum located in town at the original Brodhead Depot. Bad on my part that I didn't research or read their website closely enough, as they were still closed for the winter season. They are open Memorial Day through Labor Day annually, on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (1pm - 4pm). Oh well. I did enjoy "touring" through the windows and then moving on to Monroe for a beer and some popcorn.
Monroe is the county seat of Green County and has been a frequent stop, thanks in large measure to Minhas' aggressive marketing through GroupOn and Living Social promotions. They have a brewery and micro-distillery and feature tours with sampling and gift packs for just $10/person. When the 2:1 offers are out there, I always pick one up. You cannot beat the gift pack value alone for the $10 fee.
As with my last trip to Monroe, I didn't need another tour, but was more than happy to enjoy a beer in their Lazy Mutt Lounge at the brewery. On this visit I sampled the Chocolate Bunny which is actually marketed under their Rhinelander brand. An American stout, this is a very filling brew that tasted to me more of a coffee flavor than chocolate. I did sample a small taste before asking to have my pint filled. It was a nice accompaniment to my freshly popped popcorn.
After my beer break, I did go over to the distillery for the start of their 2pm tour. Having already seen the production area, in production, I opted out of the rest of the tour staying behind to do some sampling. They recently rolled out a new product, only available at the tour sampling shop . . . Maya Horchata a liquor featuring Caribbean rum blended with real Wisconsin dairy cream. I enjoyed my sample so much that I bought a bottle. Unbeknownst to me at the time, however, it was on sale ($9.99 vs $11.99 regular price). Had I known when I bought my first bottle, I would have picked up a couple more! This stuff was GOOD!
While at Minhas, I also picked up my obligatory case of Blumer's soda. While we enjoy their root beer just fine, it is not worth the trip to buy it as we do have Sprecher's here in the Milwaukee area. What keeps me coming back to Minhas is their black cherry soda . . . absolutely the best! They also offer an orange cream and cream soda . . . neither of which are particular favorites here in our house. At $14 a case, you can mix and match, so we are able to make the most of our 24 pack . . . enough to get us until my next trip to Green County.
I mentioned the gift packs given to tour visitors. The distillery gives a 750ml bottle of their Blackstone Vodka along with a frosted glass . . . boxed to give or keep it yourself. At the brewery, visitors receive a "6 pack" gift that includes a couple of bottles of beer (Swiss Amber and 1845 Pils), a couple of cans (Lazy Mutt and Huber Bock), a bottle of Blumer's Soda (creme soda on this visit) and a nice take home pint sampling glass (which you use in the Lazy Mutt Lounge during your visit).
After some time with Minhas, I made my way north to New Glarus. My plan was to take in the Swiss Historical Village before they closed at 4pm . . . and then move on for dinner at the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant for dinner around 5pm. Timing worked out perfectly as I arrived at the village at 3:15pm and for dinner at 4:45pm.
Dinner was outstanding (see separate review). With my tummy full, it was time to head home. I took another new route, this time through rural Dane County (near Madison). I did stop to photograph an old decaying barn along the way. I am not sure what first caught my eye . . . the barn or the beautiful puffy white clouds in the background (especially on what had been a rather grey and gloomy sky for most of the day).
It was a full day . . . nearly 300 miles and 12 hours. I continue to enjoy finding more in Green County to see and experience. I wonder what will be on the agenda for my next trip there? I do know that I want to spend more time exploring New Glarus and their old world shops that include chocolates, a butcher shop and Swiss bakery.