Christopher and I met in Monroe, Wis., in 2006. He was a sports reporter and I was a news reporter for the Monroe Times, a small six-days-a-week paper in a small, rural town in southwestern Wisconsin. We left the area for bigger and better things and haven’t been back in quite a while.
Monroe is quintessential Wisconsin. Its lush, rolling countryside is dotted with dairy farms and cheese factories. Its signature festival, Cheese Days, which is held only in even-numbered years, is a celebration of all things Swiss, cheese and beer. It oozes gemütlichkeit.
On a whim, Christopher and I returned to our old stomping grounds this past weekend.
We walked around the downtown square and popped into Chocolate Temptation for coffees and chocolates.
We took the tour at Minhas Craft Brewery, the second-oldest continually operating brewery in the country.
The tour, which costs $10, starts in the Lazy Mutt Lounge, where we enjoyed a couple samples and some popcorn. We watched a 10-minutes video about the brewery, then we followed our tour guide through the brewery, from the brewhouse to the bottling, canning and packing building and back to the lounge.
The tour includes access to the Herb & Helen Heydock World of Beer Memorabilia Museum, too. We enjoyed looking through the three rooms of advertisements, coasters, growlers and steins, knick-knacks and other beer paraphernalia.
We left with our gift packs, which included four beers, a root beer and the glasses we used for tasting during the tour. Hell of a parting gift, eh?
We ended our trip with a stop at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern.
The is tavern is a local legend, open since 1931. It’s famous for cheese sandwiches and locally brewed beer. It features Swiss-themed murals and sassy signage all over the walls; dollar bills dot the ceiling.
Christopher was brave and ordered the limburger and soft salami sandwich, while I stuck with a favorite and got the hot pastrami and Swiss sandwich.
Christopher and I had such a wonderful afternoon in Monroe. We saw many of our old haunts and even did something new. We aren’t going to let five years go by before we go back the next time.