National Historic Cheesemaking Center


Housed in a former railroad depot and part of the Green County Welcome Center, this charming little museum is located on the west side of Monroe along Highway 69.  Outside, you’ll find the charm of a train station, a fiberglass cow and some large copper kettles, all part of a “Memory Walk.” Inside, you’ll find a remarkable display of cheesemaking tools workers used dating back to the 19th century to make so much of the cheeses that made Wisconsin famous. Vats, weights, wringers, presses, old packaging, advertisements, and more fill this museum. Pieces of the former, 100+ year-old Imobersteg Cheese Factory were moved to the museum in 2010, and the 2nd Saturday in June every year Master Cheesemakers come in and produce a 90 pound wheel of Swiss cheese using the old equipment.

The Depot is itself also features original train station materials, including old schedules, an original bench, photos and more.

Cows and kettles dot the landscape in front of the National Historic Cheesemaking Center.

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The Depot Welcome Center offers travel information on Monroe, Green County, and area trails as well as the National Historic Cheesemaking Center.

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An original typewriter and schedule from the days way back when the trains roared through here are just a few of the classic items you’ll find in the Depot.

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Some of the cheesemaking equipment in the National Historic Cheesemaking Center includes plenty of vats, weights, wringers, presses and old packaging that held cheeses made back in the 1800s.

 

 

 

 

You’ll find the Depot and National Historic Cheesemaking Center on the southwest side of Monroe along Highway 69, just south of Highways 11 and 81 and southwest of the end of Highway 59. The Illinois state line is about six miles to the south.

Address:
2108 6th Avenue
Monroe, WI 53566
(608) 325-4636
Website

Baumgartners in Monroe on the town square

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern


Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern in Monroe is a State Trunk Tour favorite! A cheese shop and tavern established in 1931, Baumgartner’s is a highlight of any road trip, serving up selections of cheese, sausage, beer, and some terrific fresh sandwiches. Our favorite is the brick cheese and summer sausage on rye, especially if you take advantage of their variety of mustards. The house specialty is the limburger sandwich, featuring cheese direct from the only limburger cheesemaker in the United States: nearby Chalet Cheese Cooperative, which is only a few miles up the road.

Baumgartner's brick and summer sausage sandwich

Not the best lighting, but it IS one of the best sandwiches. Summer Sausage & Brick on Rye at Baumgartner’s.

The walls are adorned with murals, maps (check the pins indicating where people have visited from all over the world, especially Europe), and fascinating artwork while up top the ceiling is peppered with dollar bills, thrown up expertly by staff members who know how to incorporate a tack, a little weight, and a strong throw straight upward to help the donated bills stay there. About once a year, Baumgartner’s takes down the money and donates it to a different local charity.

Baumgartner's menu and taps

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Dollar bills, embedded in the ceiling from skillful employees, hover over you in Baumgartner’s. Each year, the money is donated to a local charity.

A festive atmosphere often permeates Baumgartner’s, as does the scent of Limburger cheese when a hearty soul orders it as part of a sandwich. They have a variety of foods to enjoy, cheese and sausage to buy, and people to meet, as this is a destination for many tourists from around the world. Check out where they’re all from on large national and world maps that adorn the south wall.

Baumgartner’s is right on Monroe’s town square, which hugs the beautiful Green County Courthouse across the street. Minhas Brewery – and its new distillery and wine-tasting room – is just down the street. Highways 11, 59, 69, and 81 all bring you to Monroe and this tasty Wisconsin experience.

Baumgartner's Limburger sign in Monroe

Baumgartner’s Address:

1023 16th Avenue
Monroe, WI 53566
(608) 325-6157
Website




Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern front

The front entrance to Baumgartner’s, a destination for cheese and sausage (and beer) fans from around the world.

Minhas Craft Brewery logo

Minhas Craft Brewery


Minhas Craft Brewery is the oldest brewery in Wisconsin. It’s also the second oldest in the nation and yet still one of the ten largest breweries in the country. Minhas originally opened as the Monroe Brewing Company way back in 1845. Ownership changes led to name changes; by 1906 it was the Blumer Brewing Company, and in 1947 it became the Joseph Huber Brewing Company. As Huber, the brewery produced popular Midwestern beer brands including Berghoff (which included a relationship with the famous Chicago restaurant), Huber, and Augsburger. It stayed as Huber until 2006.

Some tumult with ownership resulted in changes to the brands and then massive contract brewing arrangements. That led to the brewery producing and exporting a large volume of beer to Canadian markets for Ravinder and Manjit Minhas, who purchased and re-named the brewery in 2006. Under their direction, the brewery has expanded further and some original brands were brought back, along with a line of flavored malt beverages and sodas.

Beers brewed in Monroe by Minhas still include Huber Premium and Bock. They brew a line of Boxer beers and Mountain Crest, a big brand in Canada. Others include Lazy Mutt Farmhouse Ale, 1845 Pils, a Swiss Amber (saluting Monroe as “Swisstown”), and several malt beverages. Minhas also produces a line of specialty sodas named after its era as Blumer’s from back in the day. They’ve also contracted with old-school brands like Rhinelander.

Tours begin and end at the Lazy Mutt Lounge; they last 45-60 minutes and are available seven days a week, always at 1pm and then also 11am and 3pm on select days. The $10 tour includes a take-home pack of four beers, a soda, and a branded sampler glass.

The brewery’s lower level features the Herb and Helen Haydock World of Beer Memorabilia Museum. It is the largest museum of its kind, featuring hundreds of brewery advertisements from the past, Lithographs and prints from the mid 1800-era. The museum also holds a collection of tap handles, growlers, model cars, trucks and trains from all around the world.

You’ll find the Minhas Craft Brewery is just southwest of Monroe’s downtown square, with Highways 11, 59, 69, and 81 all nearby.

A State Trunk Tour-recommended pairing with the Minhas Brewery Tour is Monroe’s town square. Just a few blocks north, you can admire the beautiful Green County Courthouse and check out Baumgartner’s, a longtime local favorite cheese shop and tavern. There, sandwiches from salami & brick to limburger are devoured regularly along with a variety of craft beer favorites.

Minhas Craft Brewery Address:

1208 14th Avenue
Monroe, WI 53566
(800) 233-7205
Website




New Glarus Brewing Company


New Glarus is now known for Spotted Cow as much as its Swiss heritage. The New Glarus Brewery opened in 1993 along Highway 69 just north of the village center; by 2010, a newer, larger facility opened on a hilltop just south of the village center, also along Highway 69. The original brewery is still there and easily spotted, although closed to the general public; the newer brewery – called the Hilltop, creatively enough – features tours, a large gift shop, and a patio overlooking the town as you imbibe in their creations.

newglarusbrewtopNew Glarus Brewing Company is best known for their flagship beer, Spotted Cow.  While only legally allowed to be sold in Wisconsin, it’s been smuggled all over the country; a bar in Manhattan was once busted for selling it. Other popular New Glarus brands include Moon Man, Totally Naked, Moon Man, Two Woman, Cabin Fever, Raspberry Tart, and Wisconsin Belgian Red, which is made with Door County cherries. Additional seasonal and specialty beers are made throughout the year.

Tours are available seven days a week from 10am-4pm; self-guided tours are free. More involved “hard hat” tours runs Fridays at 1pm; they cost $30, run three hours and include both breweries plus a private beer and cheese pairing afterward.  The Gift Shop and Tasting Room are open all week from 10am-4pm.

newglarus_brewery03_150hiAddress:
2400 State Highway 69
New Glarus, WI 53574
(608) 527-5850
Website

Gray Brewing Company, Janesville

Gray Brewing Company


Gray Brewing Company – originally Gray’s Brewing – dates back 1856 and is in its fifth generation of family ownership. Through the years (centuries, really), Gray Brewing has both brewed specialty beers and created gourmet sodas; beer production ceased in 1912 but came back in 1994 and today Gray offers a variety of year ’round and seasonal brews. They include a Honey Ale, the state’s original honey beer; a hearty Rathskeller Amber Ale; Rock Hard REd; the “56” Oatmeal Stout, named for the year of Gray’s founding (1856); Rock Hard Red, a berry-flavored beer named in part for Rock County); the unfiltered Wisco Wheat; the Tap Joclkey Irish Stout; and the colorfully-named Irish-style Busted Knuckle.

Gray’s Janesville brewery is located along historic Highway 11/Court Street on the west side of Janesville.  Their Janesville Tasting Room re-opened in 2015. Hours are Friday from 4:30 to 9:00pm and Saturday from 2:00 to 7:00pm. The Growler Hour is on Saturday before tours, starting at 2pm. The “Owners Brewery Tours” take place every second Saturday of each month at 3:00pm.
Tour Prices are $5 for the regular tour, and $20 for the VIP Tour, which includes the Owners Brewery Tour, unlimited samples until 4:00pm that day, and a souvenir pint glass.

All ages are welcome into the Gray Brewing Tasting Room and on the Owners Brewery Tour, but you must be 21+ with a photo I.D. to enjoy alcoholic beverages. Group tours (12+) are available for reservation on non-regular Owners Brewery Tour Saturdays. Call their office at 608-754-5150 or email them for more information.

In 2016, Gray Brewing expanded into the restaurant business in booming Verona just off U.S. 18/151 near Highway 69 with Gray’s Tied House, where you can try all of their beers and gourmet sodas before checking out their full menu of food… because you can’t eat on an empty stomach.

Gray Brewing Company Addresses:

Gray’s Brewery, Tasting Room, Tours Gray’s Tied House
2424 W. Court Street (“City” Highway 11)
Janesville, WI 53548
(608) 754-5150
Website
950 Kimball Lane
Verona, WI 53593
(608) 845-2337
Website