Raising a Glass to Wisconsin

‘Discover Wisconsin’ explores Wisconsin's craft beverages in new episode

V1 Staff

CENTRAL WATERS BREWERY. Discover Wisconsin hits the road to explore and celebrate the state's craft beverage artisans. At left is co-host Mariah Haberman.

It’s time to raise a glass to all those Wisconsin brewers – not to mention the vintners and distillers – who have helped make 2020 more tolerable.

For much of the year, travel and gathering indoors (particularly to enjoy the beverage that made Milwaukee famous) have been severely restricted. And that means the latest episode of the Sconnie-themed tourism show, Discover Wisconsin, is particularly welcome at the moment. The episode, titled “Wisconsin’s Craft Beverages – Raise a Glass,” premiered Sept. 5 on a network that includes dozens of broadcast and cable stations in the Upper Midwest, including WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. (If you missed it, don’t worry; it’s available to stream through many platforms – including Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku – as well as at DiscoverWisconsin.com.)

“It’s a welcome development for a state that prides itself on using
what we have to make great things.”
-Eric Paulsen, discover wisconsin co-host,
on the state’s craft beverage scene

The program shines a spotlight on numerous craft beverages and Wisconsinites who make them. For those of us who (responsibly) enjoy an adult beverage now and again, the episode is sure to inspire future road trip plans (after we’ve checked all the great Chippewa Valley breweries, wineries, and distilleries off our lists, of course).

Co-host Mariah Haberman kicks off the show in La Crosse County, where she visits Skeleton Crew Brew – a laid-back winery and brewery in Onalaska – and La Crosse Distilling Co., a distillery specializing in field-to-glass spirits in downtown La Crosse. Co-host Eric Paulsen then explores two other La Crosse County spots. Paulsen learns about the science behind artisanal brews at Turtle Stack Brewery and gets a history lesson at Pearl Street Brewery located in the former La Crosse Footwear building, which brews beautiful beers both traditionally and in wine barrels.

Haberman and Paulsen then head to the Ripon area to experience the stops along the Mascoutin Valley Craft Beverage Trail. Haberman first explores Vines and Rushes Winery, a local-focused winery that uses 100% Wisconsin-grown product and brings people together in a beautiful vineyard setting. She then visits the Hendricks Family Distillery, which produces hand-crafted potato vodka in small batches. Paulsen stops by Rushford Meadery and Winery in Omro to taste mead, wine, and cider in their unique converted schoolhouse and finishes up his time in Ripon at the Knuth Brewing Company for some handcrafted artisan beers and wood-fired pizza.

The craft beverage adventure continues in Stevens Point with the Central Wisconsin Craft Collective. Paulsen’s first stop is Stevens Point Brewery; established in 1857, this iconic brewery serves everything from beer to soda to hard cider and is an originator of craft beverage making in the area. Great Northern Distilling in Plover brings the sophistication of chemical engineering to their craft spirits, producing unique gins, whiskeys, and flavored liqueurs.

The next stop is Sunset Point Winery, a family-owned and operated winery with a home-away-from-home feel in downtown Stevens Point that features unique flavors made from local grapes. Haberman wraps up the episode at Central Waters Brewery, one of the most environmentally sustainable breweries in the nation, which produces variety of year-round and seasonal brews.

“Wisconsin has always been a bustling bright spot for great food and drink. But the scene with craft beers, wines from Wisconsin-grown grapes, meads made with Wisconsin honey, ciders from Wisconsin-grown fruit, and spirits from Wisconsin grain showcase a boom in this industry we haven’t seen in ages,” Paulsen said. “It’s a welcome development for a state that prides itself on using what we have to make great things. This episode offers just a sample of what visitors from neighboring states and around the world can experience in Wisconsin – in a glass. Or many glasses. I had a ton of fun learning, sampling, and enjoying!”