Food+Drink Beer

Here’s Your Favorite Beer & Cheese According to Our 2019 Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll

Jen Ekblad, Natalie Derks, Katy Hackworthy, Eric Christenson |

The Brewing Projekt, Eau Claire
The Brewing Projekt, Eau Claire

Best Fried Cheese Curds

1st Place: Milwaukee Burger Company
2nd Place: Locavore Mobile Kitchen
3rd Place: Dooley’s Pub

This might sound cheesy, but people are absolutely head over heels for the fried cheese curds at Milwaukee Burger Co. (2620 E. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire) —  they won by a landslide! Coming in second, Locavore Mobile Kitchen serves up gluten-free, organic fried cheese curds using dairy products from Castle Rock Organic Dairy in Osseo. And finally, Water Street’s favorite Irish restaurant and sports bar, Dooley’s Pub (442 Water St., Eau Claire) offers this classic bar favorite hand-cut, lightly battered, and deep fried to a golden brown. — Jen Ekblad

Best Local Beer (Specific Brew)

1st Place: The Brewing Projekt Gunpowder IPA
2nd Place: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
3rd Place: The Brewing Projekt Dare Might Things

If there’s anything Wisconsinites know well, it’s what a good beer tastes like. That being said, the Brewing Projekt’s Gunpowder IPA —  a green tea-infused West Coast-style IPA —  took the gold for the second straight year as Best Local Beer. To no surprise, the acclaimed and refreshing Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy took silver among poll voters. When you go check out the Brewing Projekt’s new taproom in February, there’s another beer you’ll want to toss back as well: Dare Mighty Things, which claimed the bronze this year. — Natalie Rosenkranz

Best Local Brewery

1st Place: The Brewing Projekt
2nd Place: Lazy Monk Brewing
3rd Place: Leinenkugel’s

The Brewing Projekt (1807 N. Oxford Ave., Eau Claire) may boast some of the best IPAs in the state, but they aren’t a one-trick pony: Make sure to check out the winter seasonals and milkshake infusions from this three-time winner as the Valley’s Best Local Brewery. Lazy Monk Brewing (97 W. Madison St., Eau Claire) has one of the coziest atmospheres in town, but they also serve a solid plethora of Bohemian and German brews (don’t miss the Imperial Pilsner). Whether you grew up in the Chippewa Valley or just enjoy a solid brew at the end of the day, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (1 Jefferson Ave., Chippewa Falls) serves as a faithful standby for every beer-lovin’ Wisconsinite. — Katy Hackworthy

Best Place To Buy Cheese

1st Place: Eau Claire Cheese & Deli
2nd Place: Marieke Gouda
3rd Place: Yellowstone Cheese

In Wisconsin, cheese is quite literally our lifeblood. You could say we’re lactose enthusiastic. We have the best cheese on Earth, and no shortage of places to grab a hunk of it. But according to our readers, their passion for dairy is best found at these local spots. Eau Claire Cheese & Deli (1636 Harding Ave, Eau Claire) – formerly known as Nelson Cheese Factory – is a charming spot up the hill from downtown Eau Claire where you can grab the best local cheeses, gifts, or nab a fresh-made sandwich (cheese lovers should try the Cheesemaker). Marieke Gouda (200 W. Liberty Drive, Thorp), the pride of Thorp and world renowned cheese champ has award-winning gouda that’s more than worth the drive. And in third place, Yellowstone Cheese (24105 Cty Hwy MM, Cadott) is a farm in Cadott where you can find the realest of the real; their cheese is made with tons of love of no additives. – Eric Christenson

Best Place To Buy Alcohol

1st Place: Woodman’s Markets
2nd Place: Festival Foods
3rd Place: Coffee Grounds

Eau Claire routinely ranks among the so-called “drunkest cities in America,” so it’s only natural that we Chippewa Valley folk know our way around a liquor store. Here in the Valley, our liquor stores are built like castles so that we may drink like kings. Woodman’s Market (151 Bluestem Blvd, Altoona) sports a massive liquor store – seriously massive – with floor-to-ceiling bottles and boxes of booze. They’ve got literally everything, plus a great selection of craft beer too. Similarly, Festival Foods (multiple Valley locations) is another great one with great deals, and craft beer lovers can customize their own six-packs with bottles of new stuff to try. Finally, you should really stop by the Coffee Grounds (4212 Southtowne Dr., Eau Claire) and try something new. They have an amazing selection of bottles of beer, wine, malt wine, and liquor from all over the world – not to mention the adjacent K Point Brewing has their tasty local beers on tap in the next room. –Eric Christenson