This past weekend, we took a luxury Ready Bus to Eau Claire to hit a few breweries in the 715!
The wife & I have been to all three of these places in the past, but this time around, we were with about 20 friends & listeners for a day of drinking & discovering new beers!
First off, the drive from La Crosse to Eau Claire was visually stunning. Didn’t take any pictures on the ride up, but the views in Arcadia, Independence, & Eleva were spectacular! Definitely looked like this week was peek for leaf-peeping!
Also, a MASSIVE “THANK YOU” to our friends, Brenda & Mike from the Sweet Stop & Sandwich Shoppe in Preston! They were a sponsor for this bus trip & went out of their way to make it a success. I know everyone really enjoyed the goodie bags filled with stuff from some of the amazing local businesses in Preston!
Our first stop was at the Jacob Leinenkugel brewery in Chippewa Falls. We got to the Leinie Lodge right as they were opening at 10am and enjoyed our samples before the tour. As we’ve already done the traditional tour in the past, I was really hoping to take the Pilot tour or the “Behind the Scenes” tour, but they don’t offer those on Saturdays, unfortunately. That just means we’ll have to plan a return trip to Leinie’s for one of those!
Thankfully, one of our two tour guides(Harper & Na-Na) tends to lead the historical tour, so she was able to provide us with some more detailed information along the way, and was also able to answer a lot of our questions. The grounds are very interesting, and there’s a ton of history at the brewery. I’d really like to visit in the late Spring or early Fall when the weather is nicer so we can sit outside to enjoy our beers.
I can’t remember when the wife & I first took the tour at Leinie’s, but at that point, we were told by our guide that their Summer Shandy accounted for just over 25% of the brewery’s annual sales. This time around, that number had grown to 53% of their annual sales, according to our guide. That’s INSANE!
They had most of their beers on tap in the lodge and I was able to try the Oktoberfest, the Dark Lager, the Red Lager, and the Toasted Bock. I’ve had all those in the past, and they definitely started our day-drinking on the right foot.
Sadly, because we were on a schedule, our time at Leinie’s was a bit limited, but we were able to enjoy a few beers, grab some merch, and take the tour. Definitely going to go back and likely spend the night in the area so we can spend more time at the brewery!
Our next stop was Lazy Monk Brewing for another tour & more sampling!
Our tour guide was the owner, Theresa, and she was absolutely FANTASTIC! She was funny, insightful, educational, friendly, and welcoming! The tour lasted about 45 minutes and really showcased all the really cool history on display at the brewery. It was awesome to see an owner who still has a lot of passion for what they do and has a willingness to share that passion with other beer lovers!
If you go to Lazy Monk for a tour, make sure you find out how Theresa & her husband met! Such a great story! It was also her birthday, and I think she was a bit embarrassed when I started yelling really loud and encouraged everyone at the brewery to sing “Happy Birthday” to her. Not the first or last time I’ve been loud & obnoxious in a bar!
They had a rather nice spectrum of beer to choose from, and I went with the dark stuff again. The Peanut Butter Milk Stout, the Baltic Porter, the Cold-Pressed Dark, the Scottish Ale, and the Imperial Stout. All were very tasty, with the Peanut Butter Milk Stout shining bright! Certainly my favorite of the bunch!
Again, I’d really like to come back in the Spring/early Fall when the weather is a bit nicer to sit outside on their patio & enjoy a few beers!
Our final stop of the day was at the Brewing Projekt, just up the street from Lazy Monk.
My wife & I visited their original location several years ago, and they’ve since moved across the street.
I was hoping for a tour of the new building, but as we were planning this trip, they informed us that their Halloween party was on the 28th, and it wasn’t possible to do the tour with everything else going on at the brewery that day.
Totally understandable! At this point in the day, I think everyone on the bus was happy to just grab some beers and relax. There was a band playing, a bunch of food trucks outside, a crafty vendor market happening upstairs, a costume contest, and trying to shoe-horn our tour amongst all that wouldn’t have made sense.
First off, this place is beautiful! The giant can-wall behind the band is a nice touch, and their patio looks phenomenal. Sadly, it was a bit too chilly to sit outside & enjoy our beers on Saturday…but I once again look forward to returning to the Brewing Projekt when the weather is more agreeable to outdoor drinking!
The Brewing Projekt has a large menu full of IPAs & sours, and a few dark beers. Also, they had a few specialty cocktails on the menu for their Halloween party. I thoroughly enjoyed their “Irish I Was” chocolate stout with Irish creme!
To be perfectly honest, I was a bit drunk at this point, and food was my main concern as we hadn’t eaten anything yet. So, I didn’t do much sampling at the Brewing Projekt, but again, that just means we’ll have to go back for a tour & some flights in the future.
It was another good day visiting some really cool breweries in our area. I think that in the future, if we’re going to be doing tours, it might be best to limit our stops to two, instead of three. Got a bit blurry at the end, but we still had a blast!