Movin’ Along the Trail

boozy book will encourage you to try new beverages

Emilee Wentland

It’s no secret the Chippewa Valley is a great place to try a wide variety of craft beverages. From Autumn Harvest’s apple-based wines to Leinenkugel’s trademark brews, it’s hardly possible to get bored with the area’s craft beverages. For those who want to try a variety of craft beverages but don’t know where to start, some local producers teamed up to form a “trail map” of the Chippewa Valley’s craft wineries, breweries, and distilleries.

The Chippewa Valley Craft Beverage Trail Book connects local breweries, wineries, and distilleries to create the ultimate guide for anyone with an interest in craft beverages. Among the producers involved are Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery, the Brewing Projekt, Lazy Monk, Leinenkugel’s, Northwoods Brewpub, The Raw Deal, and others. The trail encompasses a 30-mile radius of Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Menomonie.

Infinity Beverages owner Matthew Rick said he came up with the idea because of the Chippewa Valley’s extensive craft brewery scene. With so many places to try locally-made wines and beers, he thought a list would encourage locals and visitors to experience a bunch of places. “We want to make this (trail book) something to do for visitors,” Rick said. “We want to make it something people have to do when they’re in the area.”

Makers of the guide teamed up with the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls chambers of commerce to help with community outreach. Ideally, the trail will evolve to reach more participants, Rick said. Their mission is to create an incentive for community members and visitors to visit each of the trail’s businesses throughout every calendar year.

“If they come to the area and check out the wineries, breweries, and distilleries, they’re going to need somewhere to eat, they’re going to need somewhere to sleep,” he said. “So they can check out the area.”

Every time participants make a purchase at a trail member’s business, they receive a stamp in their trail book. If they fill their book, they can pick up a prize at any of the trail book locations. After they collect their prizes, participants can submit their books to be entered in a drawing for a free limo ride from Cody Limousines to locations along the Craft Beverage Trail.

In its first year, there will be one collaborative event among the producers, but Rick said he hopes to increase that in the future to as many as three or four annual events. During this event – which takes place in August – there will be a theme. Each of the trail book businesses will pick a food and beverage pairing to correspond with the event’s designated theme.

The Chippewa Valley Craft Beverage Trail Book encourages people to experience new things in the area, Rick said. The trail book will be available beginning in June.

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