Driftless Brewing Company in Soldiers Grove

Driftless Brewing Company


Nestled in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, the Driftless Brewing Company shines – because it’s run partially on solar power in Soldiers Grove, the nation’s first “solar city.” Driftless Brewing started up in 2013 with a 1 BBL system in the town’s “solar village,” an initiative that dates back to the 1970s when Soldiers Grove relocated their whole downtown to avoid the floods that would happen often and, at the same time, tried to become the first truly solar-powered town in the U.S. – see that full story here.

Driftless Brewing does indeed use solar power to the maximum extent it can at this point, and the beers they’ve brewed – with a particular focus on local ingredients – have created demand in nearby cities and states. The need for expansion culminated in a new 15 BBL system and a refurbished Tap Room in 2019, right along U.S. 61 as you enter the town.

Driftless Brewing Company Tap Room

The new (as of 2019) tap room inside Driftless Brewing Company in Soldiers Grove, right along U.S. Highway 61.

Driftless Brewing Company’s beers include six core brews and guest taps from other Wisconsin and nearby craft breweries. Their six core beers include the Local Buzz Blonde Honey Ale, Dirt Brown Ale, Kick-Axe Pale Ale, Cow Cult Milk Stout, Saison de Jardin and Rolling Ground IPA. Seasonal, special, and guest beers rotate across their 10 taps. They don’t have a kitchen, just pretzels for palate-cleansing. There is a popular Italian restaurant and pizza place adjacent and beer lovers are welcome to bring food in from wherever to enjoy.

Driftless Brewing Company samplers, Soldiers Grove

Driftless Brewing’s brewing equipment is always working, but the Tap Room is only open Fridays and Saturdays. Hours vary based on the time of year, but the winter hours are 3pm – 9pm Fridays and 1pm – 7pm on Saturdays.

You’ll find Driftless Brewing along U.S. 61 in Soldiers Grove, just south of Highway 131 in northern Crawford County. Highway 171 is a few miles to the south, and U.S. 14 is a few miles to the north. It’s a beautiful drive no matter which way you arrive!

Driftless Brewing Company Address:

102 Sunbeam Boulevard West (U.S. 61)
Soldiers Grove, WI 54655
(608) 624-5577
Website




Driftless Area map at Driftless Brewing Company

Handy-dandy Driftless Area map at Driftless Brewing Company in Soldiers Grove.

Driftless Brewing Company pint

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The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor & Confectionery


One step into this old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor, and you’re whisked back to an earlier, sweeter era. Everything from home-mixed ice cream in waffle cones made right in the store to scratch-made flavored soads and rich, tasty malts from the old-school Hamilton Beach mixer and the metal cup delights the senses. A wall of candies, chocolates, nuts, and other treats make this one of the more complete confectioneries you’ll find anywhere – it could be the 1930s in here!

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lacrosse_thepearl04The Pearl is located right on (surprise!) Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, right near the La Crosse Center. U.S. 53 begins just to the east; U.S 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 are just a few blocks to the south; and Highway 35 is about a mile to the east. Basically, if you heard towards downtown La Crosse where all the bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife are, you’re practically within eyeshot of The Pearl. It’s definitely a great, sweet stop.

The Pearl, waffle cone making

Want a fresh waffle cone? They don’t get any fresher than this!

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I stocked up on candy cigs; you don’t find them around very often. Don’t worry, I paid for them.

Address:
207 Pearl Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-6655
Website

Pearl Street Brewery


Pearl Street has long been a center of activity in La Crosse, and La Crosse has long been a major beer town. The Pearl Street Brewery combined the two to offer residents, visitors, and many UW-La Crosse students (21 and over) several craft beers in the heart of downtown “LAX”.

Pearl Street Brewery opened up in 1999, the same year monster brewer G. Heileman shut its doors just to the south (today, it’s City Brewery.)  While still serving beer on Pearl Street (and 3rd Street, famous for being packed with bars), the brewery and Tasting Room have moved north of downtown a bit to a 100-year old former Rubber Mills boot factory just east of Highway 35 that offers plenty of room for both brewing and tasting. The Tasting Room is open every day but Sunday and Monday, and you can take a tour (a “Brewery Tourery” as they call it) on Saturdays from noon to 5pm.

Popular Pearl Street brews include their D.T.B. Brown Ale, which won a Gold medal at the World Beer Championships; Rubber Mills Pils, in salute of the factory in which they now operate; Pearl Street Pale Ale; El Hefe Bavarian Hefeweizen; Java Lava Coffee Stout; and the – get ready – “That’s What I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Organic Rolled Oat Stout.”

Pearl Street’s Tasting Room is a few blocks off Highway 35, north of U.S. 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 by a few miles. U.S. 53 is just to the west and I-90 crosses just two miles to the north.

Address:
1401 Saint Andrew Street
La Crosse, WI 54603
(608) 784-4832
Website

City Brewery


City Brewery in La Crosse grew out of the former G. Heileman Brewing, a longtime La Crosse legacy that brewed Old Style, Colt .45, and many other national brands. Heileman started in La Crosse back in 1858 and in the 1980s was the third largest brewer in the U.S. after acquiring regional brands around the country like Olympia, Rainier, Grain Belt, Blatz, and Black Label. The collapse of a holding company that acquired Heileman hastened its demise, before its late 1990s shutdown.

In 1999, City Brewery started in the former Heileman facilities; “City Brewery” was Heileman’s original name and so the legacy lives on. While Old Style is now brewed elsewhere, City Brewery produces a variety of beers and other beverages, including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, Angry Orchard, and Arizona Iced Tea in La Crosse as well as Iron City Beer and Sam Adams in a brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania that they bought in 2007.

6pack_200For local La Crosse brews, City Brewery produces La Crosse Lager, which is “krausened” like Old Style was. It is the flagship brand that adorns the popular “World’s Largest Six Pack”, a set of six metal beer storage tanks formerly labeled as Old Style cans and now decorated as La Crosse Lager cans. You’ll find them just south of downtown La Crosse one block east of the Mississippi River along U.S. 14/61, close to where U.S. 53 and Highway 33 begin and where Highway 16 comes in from Minnesota. Highway 35 is just a few blocks to the east.

The brewery itself does not currently offer tours, but the World’s Largest Six Pack is a must-see and a prime State Trunk Tour photo-op. Just north of City Brewery, downtown La Crosse offers plenty of things to see and do, and the Pearl Street Brewery is also available on the north side of town.

Address:
925 S. 3rd Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 785-4200
Website