Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 180 - The New Glarus Brewery Hard Hat Tour

I have never been on the New Glarus Hardhat Brewery Tour. The Hardhat tour, which is a thorough tour of the nearby New Glarus brewery’s full scope of operations, is something I have always wanted to do since I moved to the Madison area but never acted on before today. The quality and diversity of New Glarus beers have made them a staple for get-togethers and parties I have attended since I first became acquainted with New Glarus products. In fact, I still remember the first time I tasted my first New Glarus product, Spotted Cow, roughly a decade ago at a party hosted by a friend of mine. Since then, my respect for the brewery has grown, and my love of the New Glarus portfolio of beers has expanded with each of the company’s new releases.

The Riverside Brewery

Our head gear 

Ready for some brew

Considering this perspective, I knew I needed to make my first experience with the New Glarus Brewery Hardhat tour a part of my “I have never...” year. As a result, purchasing tickets for the tour was one of the first tasks I took on after beginning my “I have never...” year, but the popularity and limited availability of the tours meant the first opportunity I had to attend the event was in early November of this year. Although I was stunned to see how far out the tours were booked solid, I knew committing to the event would give me something to look forward to as I approached the midpoint of my “I have never...” year. In turn, late in May I purchased tickets to attend the New Glarus Hardhat tour today, which resulted in me getting to share a full experience of an incredible brewery with my Brother, Abe, just days before his 32nd birthday.

Starting the tour

Brewing the fruit base

The old tools of the trade

After our time at the brewery today, I know it would be a challenge to describe the sights, sounds, and the experiences Abe and I had in one of the best days I have had in some time. As a result, I’m not going to go into detail about the experience of being in a state-of-the art microbrewery in full operation; I won’t talk about the multiple interactions we had with some of the happiest employees I have ever encountered in any business; and I won’t try to describe the terrific conversation that carried on as Abe and I drink our fill of New Glarus beer at the end of the tour and shared stories with our tour guide, Scott. I will simply say that the New Glarus Brewery Hardhat tour is something that everyone should experience, whether they like beer or not. There is something uplifting about being surrounded by people that work in an environment that permits them to show their passion, joy, and love for their craft in everything they do. It provides perspective, and, frankly, it is quite infectious.

The Hilltop Brewery

After we spent a few hours touring the Riverside New Glarus brewery and the new, Hilltop New Glarus brewery, the experience had the added benefit of letting Abe and I sample a wide variety of New Glarus beers with an accompanying array of cheeses in a second story room overlooking the brewery’s incredible biergarten and the quaint city of New Glarus. As if the brewery experience wasn’t enough, taking the afternoon to sip at beers, tell stories, and share laughs was a near perfect way to spend one of the waning days of autumn and celebrate my Brother’s birthday a few days early. Hours flew by as we worked through the tail end of the tour and made our way back to the brewery entrance. By the time we left for the trip back home, the sun was creeping toward the western horizon, leaving blankets of color lingering over the barren fields of rural Wisconsin. In what seemed like only a few minutes, Abe and I had spent a full day at the New Glarus Brewery, and we walked away with an experience we won’t soon forget.

The Biergarten 

I will be the first to state I have done some amazing things so far in my “I have never...” journey, but I must admit some of the simplest things I have encountered thus far have proven to be the most incredible experiences. I have visited plenty of breweries and taken more than my fair share of brewery tours in my life, but the time I spent with my brother at the New Glarus Brewery today was more than just another trip to a brewery. It was an experience about people with real heart doing what they love each day and going out of their way to give some customers the best experience possible, and it was about a couple of Brothers spending some overdue time together having a new experience at an amazing place. If waiting six months is what I had to do to have today’s experience at the New Glarus Brewery, it was well worth the wait. Without question, this is an experience that will stick, and that’s saying something in a year of 365 new experiences.

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