R'Noggin Brewing logo

R’Noggin Brewing Company

R'Noggin Brewing, Tap RoomAlong I-41/94 in Kenosha between Highways 50 and 158, you’ll find a small, unassuming building that for years served D.O.T. trucks maintaining the roads. Today, this building maintains a brewery called R’Noggin, which opened in 2016.

R'Noggin Brewing sampler

Sampler from R’Noggin. Their beers change frequently, based on the season and local ingredient availability.

R’Noggin Brewing is the brainchild of two brothers, Jeff and Kevin Bridleman. They craft brewed for a number of years in southeastern Wisconsin before launching R’Noggin, focusing on going as local as possible with ingredients and creatively crafting seasonal releases. They make multiple uses of the word “noggin,” since the founding brothers “put their noggins together” and a noggin is also both a small glass and a measurement unit of a quarter of a pint. That’s 4 ounces, a good sampler amount. Similar to their use of “noggin,” the beer names get creative. They range from R’Biter (a IPA) to Kachem F. Ucan (an Imperial Ginger Bread beer) and from Chasing Tire (an English Porter) to a favorite during a visit, the Carpet Creature Cream Ale.

Available beers vary at any given time, so check their website or Facebook page for the latest lineup. While they don’t have a kitchen, they have partnered with the nearby Rivals Sports Pub & Grille to offer fish on Friday nights.

R'Noggin Brewing's building along I-41/94

Once a service building for trucks, this building now services R’Noggin beer drinkers.

R’Noggin’s Brewery and Tap Room sits right next to a State Trunk Tour favorite bar and restaurant, Uncle Mike’s on I-41/94. The Brat Stop and Mars Cheese Castle are close by, too! Their indoor room is open year ’round and during nice weather their picnic tables hit the lot and the yard for outdoor enjoyment.

R’Noggin Tap Room Hours

​Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 5:30pm-9pm
Thursday: 3:30pm-9pm
Friday: 3:30pm-10pm
Saturday: 12pm-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-6pm

Address:
6521 120th Avenue (Frontage Road of I-41/94)
Kenosha, WI 53142
(262) 960-1298
Website

 

Brat Stop exterior sign

Brat Stop

Wisconsin loves brats, and Kenosha’s “World Famous” Brat Stop is among the best places in the state to enjoy them! This iconic location has been in business since 1961, when it was pretty much the only major place to eat along the rural U.S. 41, newly-minted I-94 at Highway 50. And they sell a ton of brats every week – literally.

The Brat Stop has long been heralded for its bratwurst, beer, cheese, and family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a large place, with a bakery, bar, music stage for live entertainment, huge TVs, pool, video games, rides for kids, and event space at their banquet facility, called the Parkway Chateau. Their Beer Garden is open whenever the weather allows; the food – they have a full menu – is fantastic, the beer selection is impressive, and you can get everything from a wide variety of cheese, baked goods, and Wisconsin accoutrements. This is makes is a perfect stop for people coming up from that place known as Illinois.

Brat Stop Details

Brat Stop is open 365 days a year and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with bratwurst of course being the top seller. Other popular Brat Stop dishes include Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Broasted Chicken,  their Reuben on Dark Rye, Pizzas, and the Brat Stop Prime Rib Dinner. Breakfast incorporate bratwurst.

The Brat Stop is a Live Music Venue, Too!
The Brat Stop’s huge bar is well-stocked and ready for shows, from local bands to national acts like Slaughter, Lonnie Brooks, The Charlie Daniels Band, Cheap Trick, Sugarland, Trace Adkins, Theory of a Deadman, and Jackyl. Check out their music lineup here!

The Brat Stop’s Cheese Mart opens at 8 a.m. with the rest of the place, and generally closes at 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on weekends. The products, and custom-made gift boxes, are available for shipping. Over 100 different cheeses, all from Wisconsin, are available. We’re talking Cheddar, Swiss, Brick, and specialty cheese, along with cheese spreads.

Like all good Wisconsin places popular with visitors, there’s a large selection of apparel, glassware, souvenirs, Brat Stop memorabilia, Cheesehead hats, and Bears and Packers merchandise – with this location SO close to Illinois, the proportion of Bears to Packers fans is such where they cater to both – with a lean towards the Green & Gold, of course. It’s definitely a fun place to catch the Packers-Bears and Brewers-Cubs (or White Sox) games.




The “World Famous” nature of the Brat Stop has led the likes of Bette Midler, Michael Jordan, and Steven Tyler to stop in. Sports announcers in town – for either Chicago or Milwaukee teams – tend to drop in when they’re traveling between the two cities.

The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival – a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha – is held there every April. There’s a Toys For Tots fundraiser held each December, and a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics each winter, where they set up a pool outside.

As you travel to or through Kenosha, the Brat Stop is a MUST stop – a definite State Trunk Tour favorite! You’ll find it right along Highway 50 just west of the busy I-41/94 interchange. Enjoy!

Address:
12304 75th Street (Highway 50)
Kenosha, WI
(262) 857-2011
Website

Green Bay Distillery


The Green Bay Distillery opened in 2011 right across from the Packers’ practice facility, Ray Nitschke Field. It’s now part of the “Titletown District,” within easy walking distance of Lambeau Field, the Resch Center, Brown County Arena, and more.

The Distillery started as a restaurant with specialty vodkas, Green Bay Classic and Green Bay Cherry, with cherries from nearby Door County. They have since expanded into gins and whiskies as well as vodkas with lime and grape flavors, great for mixers.

Green Bay Distillery is in a pretty huge building, and they host plenty of events – especially Packer game parties. Their indoor/outdoor patio room shows games and is a great place to enjoy food and drink in the nice weather months.

You’ll find Green Bay Distillery along Mike McCarthy Way, just off Oneida Street near Lambeau Field. Highways 32, I-41, and 172 are close by, and Highways 29, 54, 57, and U.S. 141 also bring you to Green Bay to check this place out and enjoy.

Address:
835 Mike McCarthy Way
Green Bay, WI 54304
(920) 393-4403
Website

Mars Cheese Castle


One of our favorite places that just screams “Wisconsin!” is the Mars Cheese Castle. This Wisconsin cheese shop, deli, bar, bakery and more is popular purveyor of cheeses, meats, hot sauce, bakery, and Wisconsin kick-knacks is a widely recognized landmark on the busy Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, with its iconic sign beckoning travelers.

Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, along I-41/94 and Highway 142.

Its new building, completed in 2011, finally makes it look like a castle. It didn’t for its first six decades.

Originally opened in 1947 along U.S. 41 and what was Wisconsin Highway 43 (today’s 142), the Mars Cheese Castle catered to travelers in search of a variety of cheeses and other local foods as they entered or left the state. Still a family business, Mario Ventura, Sr. started it up and added on as they could: a deli counter, a sandwich shop, a bakery, a bar, a gift shop… all of these were tacked on to the original building. He and partners built not only a successful travel stop, but a brisk mail-order and later online business, shipping cheese, sausage and other products from Wisconsin to locales all over the country. Their home brand of spreadable cheese is called “King of Clubs”, and a large tub of it with Town House crackers are available for enjoyment at the bar at all times.

Mars Cheese Castle samplesTheir deli offers an amazing selection of cheeses, sausages, crackers, and other enjoyable consumables; their wine and beer selection is extensive, their gift shop offers every Wisconsin-y thing you could imagine, their market and bakery offers everything from tons of hot sauce selections to kringle; and a State Trunk Tour favorite is a summer sausage sandwich from the deli. The bar even has a “leg lamp” – the kind popularized in the movie A Christmas Story – to add to the atmosphere… the lamps are crafted in Kenosha, after all.

Mars Cheese Castle's bar features a coveted "leg lamp"

The Mars Cheese Castle’s bar features a coveted “leg lamp,” just like Ralphie and the Old Man liked.

Mars Cheese Castle sausage selections

When I-94/U.S. 41 reconstruction began between Milwaukee and Chicago, it was determined Mars had to move to accommodate the new footprint of the freeway’s interchange with Highway 142. The new building opened in 2011 and finally resembles a castle on the outside and all the “regions of Mars” – if you will – are more easily accessible than they were in the original building. It’s still one of our favorite Wisconsin cheese shops.

Mars Cheese Castle sign at nightThe Mars Cheese Castle is open 9am-7pm, seven days a week. It’s easily accessible of I-41/I-94/U.S. 41 at Exit 340 (Highway 142), which is also famous for its “Bong Recreation Area” sign (note: it’s not what you may think.)

Address:
2800 W. Frontage Road (I-41/94 at Hwy 142)
Kenosha, WI 53144
(800) 655-6147
Website




Hearthstone Historic House Museum


Hearthstone is the first house in the world to have electric lights powered by a centrally located hydroelectric station that used the Edison system. It began operation on September 30, 1882 with a generator situated in the beater room of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. The three buildings that were lighted on that historic occasion were the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company owned by John Van Nortwick and run by Henry J. Rogers who owned the home on the bluff above, now known as Hearthstone, and Kimberly & Clark’s Vulcan Paper Mill located nearby. There was one other generator in the nation at the time, in New York City. It powered several business, but no homes – giving Hearthstone its distinctive title.

A tour of Hearthstone includes the Hands-On Hydro Adventure Center, with plenty of interactive activities for kids and grown-ups. And of course, old mansions are cool. Evening tours are available during Haunted Hearthstone and Victorian Christmas or by appointment.
Hearthstone is closed Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

General Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for Seniors or AAA members, $5 for kids 5-17, free for kids under 5.

Hours:
Monday-Wednesday: Closed
Thursday — Friday: First tour begins at 10 am
Saturday: First tour begins at 11 am
Sunday: First tour begins at 1 pm
Tours are conducted every half hour with the last tour of the day beginning at 3:30 pm

You’ll find Hearthstone right along the Fox River near downtown Appleton along Highway 47. Highway 125 (College Avenue) and Highway 96 (Wisconsin Avenue) are just to the north; U.S. 10 and Highway 441 are just to the south and I-41 wraps around the west and north sides of the city. Plenty of ways to get there!

Address:
625 W. Prospect Avenue
Appleton, WI
(920) 730-8204
Website

Pettit National Ice Center

Pettit National Ice Center


A truly world-class facility, the Pettit National Ice Center features a 400-meter speedskating oval that serves as only one of two official U.S. Olympic training facilities in the United States. The oval surrounds two international-size ice rinks, popular for hockey players. The Pettit opened in 1993, welcomes about 425,000 visitors annually, brings in speedskaters from all over the world. The facility has hosted competitions like the National Short and Long Track Speed Skating Championships, the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, and the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Time Trials. Local Gold medal champions Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen first skated the rink and aspiring Olympians continue to use the Pettit for training.

westallis-pettit-statue

And yes, YOU can skate at the Pettit! You can even run around the outside of the speedskating oval, as a 0.28-mile running track lines the outside – it’s a popular runners’ destination in winter. Check here for times.

What other cool facts can we say about the Pettit National Ice Center?

– The Pettit features 97,000 sq ft of ice between the Oval and two international sized hockey rinks

– It has been said that If you divided all the ice in the Pettit Center into one- inch sections you would have a total of 13 million ice cubes!

– 99 miles of piping cools the Olympic Oval and the two international sized hockey rinks.

– The ice actually gets painted so it appears so white – 2,000 gallons of mixed ice paint are used every year.

– The Run-Walk Track is a little over a quarter mile for a lap, a little under four laps for a mile and just over 94 laps for a full marathon which we actually host every January! The marathon weekend welcomes over 800 participants in a variety of distances.

You’ll find the Pettit along Highway 181/84th Street at I-94, just north of Highway 59/Greenfield Avenue, south of U.S. 18/Bluemound Road, and east of I-41/U.S. 45/I-894 on the Milwaukee-West Allis border.

Address:
500 S. 84th Street (Highway 181)
Milwaukee, WI 53214
(414) 266-0100
Website

 

Hinterland Brewing logo

Hinterland Brewing Company


From 1995, Hinterland Brewing operated in a former meat-packing warehouse in Green Bay. In 2017, they moved to a new facility in the Titletown District next to Lambeau Field – right at the site of the Mobil station we used to warm up at during cold-weather (read: October-January) games.

Hinterland Brewery at night

Hinterland’s year ’round beers include their flagship Luna Coffee Stout; their Pale Ale; Packerland Pilsner; Hinterland IPA; Nitro IPA; and their Pub Draught English-style ale. In various seasons, you’ll also find their Cherry Wheat, Oktoberfest, Hinterland Timberland (yes, it rhymes), their Bodenbrecher, and a Saison. Other limited releases are also available here and there – naturally-made products have a way of being dependent on growing seasons and such!

Tours of the Green Bay brewery are available Saturdays at noon, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm; they cost $10 and include a souvenir pint glass and a beer.

You’ll find their brewery and restaurant in the Titletown District in the shadow of Lambeau Field, just off I-41 near Highways 32 and 172. Highways 29, 54, and 57 also come close as they go through Green Bay.

Hinterland Brewing Address:

1001 Lombardi Avenue
Green Bay, WI 54304
(920) 438-8050
Website




Titletown Brewing Company


Located in Green Bay’s former Chicago & Northwestern Train Depot, Titletown Brewing Company opened in 1996, just weeks before the Packers became “Titletown” once again by winning Super Bowl XXXI.

Beers brewed by Titletown include their “400” Honey Ale, named after the former “400” passenger train; Canadeo Gold, named after one of only five – soon to be six – Packers players to have his number retired, Tony Canadeo; the Dark Helmet Schwartzbier; Green 19 IPA; Hogshead Mild, a British session; IrrationAle, an unfiltered American wheat beer that is quite rational; Johnny “Blood” Red, named after another Packers legend; a Maibock; Pullman Porter; St. Norbert Pilsner; and the tech-savvy Ctrl “Alt” Delete, a German-style amber ale.

You’ll find the depot along U.S. 141/Dousman Street, with the iconic Packers statue out front that once stood on the grounds of the Packers Hall of Fame before they moved into Lambeau Field. The depot itself dates back to 1898 and still has tracks out front, which are fun to play on since trains no longer run on them. The brewery includes a popular restaurant; we rate everything there quite tasty.

Of course, I-41 and Highways 29, 32, 54, 57, and 172 also bring you to Green Bay.

Address:
200 Dousman Street
Green Bay, WI 54303
(920) 437-2337
Website

Green Dragon Brew Pub


Currently serving plenty of Wisconsin-based craft brews from around the state, the Green Dragon is preparing to open their own brewery in their Fond du Lac facility. We’ll share more details as we get them!

Address:
156 Western Avenue
Fond du Lac, WI
(920) 933-5224
Website

Fox River Brewing Company


Fox River Brewing Company started up in 1995, an early entry in the craft beer resurgence across the country. It started with Fratello’s Waterfront Restaurant in Oshkosh and expanded to Fox River Brewery & Restaurant in Appleton’s bustling Fox River Mall in 1997.

The beers brewed in their Oshkosh and Appleton facilities encompass a wide variety, depending on the season. Popular picks include Fox Tail Pale Ale, their Hoppyface IPA, the Badger Bitter ESB, the Trolleycar Stout, and Vader’s Imperial Stout. But there are many seasonal and special beers available at different times of the year.

The Oshkosh location has a terrific outdoor patio along the Fox River right at the southeastern end of Lake Butte des Morts. Highway 21 meets U.S. 45 nearby, and the large new bridge carrying U.S. 41 (I-41 later this year) across the lake is visible. The patio is great in summer for enjoying their beers, live music, and occasionally some volleyball an boating activities.

Appleton Oshkosh
Fox River Brewpub & Restaurant
4301 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Appleton, WI 54913
(920) 991-0000
Website
Fratello’s Waterfront Brewery & Restaurant
1501 Arboretum Drive
Oshkosh, WI
(920) 232-2337
Website