New review July, 2015: My old review reflects the old brewery, located on the other side of town. The hilltop brewery is a better experience for the beer geek in every way, with a beautiful gift shop and tasting room and just awesome deck with a panoramic view of the valley below. Iíve visited four times in the last three years, most recently twice in the past couple of months to pick up some Zwickel. Obviously for those out of state itís worth coming for the year-round beers, but even for an in-stater like me there are often these special brewery-only gems. I havenít taken the tour at this new location yet but Iím sure itís fairly cool. As some others have mentioned, it would be great if they offered just a little food, but I suppose if they did it would end up encouraging people to stay and making the place more crowded than it already is - sometimes the parking lot is absolutely full, even on weekdays. Anyway, essential.
Original review October, 2006: Did the self-guided tour; would have loved to have gotten one from Dan Carey but I didnít have a lot of choice as to when I came. It IS a very informative tour, the facility is beautiful and exceptionally clean even for a brewery; I swear you wouldnít mind eating off of any surface. Very impressed by the gift shop -- they had several different glasses, gift packs, t-shirts, glasses from other breweries (kinda cool) and rubber Holsteins. Yeah the sampler isnít worth it though if the Raspberry Tart had been from a keg I wouldíve had to have sprung for it. Anyway, a good tour for anyone and a must if you love this brewery.
Wow, this place is completely over the top. There must be a ton of money in Spotted Cow, because this place must have cost a small fortune to build. Itís impressive but certainly not the cozy brewery tasting room experience that I enjoy. You have to stand in line to get a tasting glass and wrist bracelet with three tear off charms. You then stand in line with your glass to get it filled at the cost of one of the "charms". Itís efficient I guess, but very impersonal. They had six beers on offer, a coujple of which were pretty mediocre. The beer garden tasting area was very pleasant, offering sweeping fews of the Wisconsin country side. I donít think I will be back.
I was there Friday(6/10) for the latest R&D release. Meet a lot of great beer enthusiasts there at 6 in the morning. Around 8 am, Deb Carey came around and walked amongst us and spent time talking beer and asking us questions. I saw her here and there for the 6-7 hours I was there. The release was well organized and fun. The brewery is easy to get around and, in the simplest of words, a beer mecca. Great layout, easy to get around, and a beer court that is worth visiting.Canít wait to go back.
I have been here a few times now and I always look forward to going back. The brewery itself is stunning and the beer here is my favorite of all time. I have never been on a hard hat tour but the self guided tours are nice. They have an ok beer selection on site but I wish they had more rarities as well. The gift shop is nice and the beer garden is amazing in the summertime.
GT (672) Oceanside, California | November 30, 2015
In summary, this is how Disney World would make a brewery.
It is immaculate, stunningly large and spotlessly clean. There are information placards around for self-guided tours. They have the most pristine brewing facility I have ever seen in over 250 breweries and brewpubs visited around the world. The copper kettles on display are beautiful and fully functional.
NG is split into multiple sections among its grounds. First, there is the actual bottle shop where you can buy bottles to go - a lot of them. Cases and cases of their core and seasonal brands. Plus, a hefty number of their fruit beers in 750mL bottles and, if you are lucky, 500mL bottles of their limited releases. Prices are super reasonable. Staff is very nice.
There is then a more touristy gift shop that looks straight out of Disney. Lots of glassware, shirts, breweriana, and even cheese.
The real "meat" of the NG experience is the courtyard where you have to first wait in line to get your glass and ticket for a beer. Once you pay for your glass and ticket, you have to stand in a second line to get your full pour of beer. The price seems higher, but you get to keep your glass, which is a very nice logoíed, custom pilsner flute.
The facility overall looks like a Little Switzerland from Disneyís Epcot or a village from Magic Kingdom. That isnít to say it is corny, it just looks too perfect for a brewery. In stark contrast, our visit to Madisonís Capital Brewery that next day, and it was filthy.
JK (360) St. Louis Park, Minnesota | August 22, 2015
Visited Friday afternoon before Great Taste. This was my first time here and I did not realize how big New Glarus brewing was. This is a large industrial operation, and the brewery is open to wander through. The outside area is very nice, in the cross of a Swiss village and ruins of a medieval abbey. Terraces and views in several directions. Only four or five beers on, so there is not much selection. Musicians blowing the horns than mountain folk might have used to communicate hundreds of years ago was fun. No food available, given how packed this place is, a simple bratwurst and pretzel stand would be a goldmine. Lots of fun.
A beautiful brewery on top of a hill overlooking the town. A bavarian themed brewery with a large beer garten, and indoor drinking space as well as a gift shop and a separate bottle shop. Service is always great and friendly. Happy to talk beer too! Always a good number of beers available on tap and in bottles. Prices a great and they have a vendor come in with a pizza oven for food sometimes. A world class brewery!
This is a massive place on a hilltop that dominates the small town beneath it. You pass the old NG brewery on the left as you approach the new brewery, and sours are still brewed at the old facility. The new place has tons of parking, once you navigate the windy road up the hill. Many buildings, each with different functions, so itís worth poking your head into each one that doesnít have a "brewers only" sign. You can stroll around the brewery itself, large and impressive. There are several stores, but the highlight is a massive multi-level patio out back with multiple tasting areas, tables, and faux abbey ruins. We visited for an R&D release which was not crowded at all. Very well organized, although that system leaves you with multiple bracelets and indelible ink marks. Tasters of three beers was $8. They allow outside bottles and coolers, so tons of folks were sharing bottles among the tables. Earns its nickname as the Disneyland of Breweries, but in a good way.
Although it has a "in the middle of nowhere" reputation, itís not too hard to find. Itís right off the main road into and out of the town. Coming from the south, the landscape was picturesque even before arriving on the New Glarus Brewing campus / farm. What they did with the driveway was pretty impressive as well - although I could see being terrifying in icy conditions - and very scenic. Parking was ample, the staff was friendly, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. The gift shop and bottle shop where both abundantly stocked and almost overwhelming. You can basically buy whatever beer theyíre currently distributing in bottle form from their bottle shop. The samples are prices in groups of three for $3.50, and theyíre pretty healthy 3 oz pours - so you can try everything they have on tap without breaking the bank - although be careful because the food options are limited (although I couldíve bought cheese and sausage from the gift shop now that I think of it). There were nine options on tap when I was there, and they were all available for sale in bottle form, plus a few others that werenít on tap in the sample room. It definitely had a beer wonderland feel to it - a worthwhile stop for the casual tourist or beer adventurer.
As far as a brewery experience goes (without doing a "hardhat tour", by the way), this place is pretty awesome. They built the production facility with glass walls everywhere, so you can just walk throught the brewery yourself and look at what is going on everywhere. Going there for an event (to buy R and D Peach) was pretty fun too. Plenty of bottle sharing in line, very well organized, and you could enjoy the outdoor "taproom" afterward. I docked them a couple points for food, because they donít really offer anything, and when they do, it is pretty limited (only pizza when I was there for the R and D Peach release... it was pretty good pizza, though). New Glarus itself is also cool, but small and sort of a one day thing, but there is plenty of cross-promotion between the businesses there, including the brewery. Overall, I really like it (Iíve been there four times already, and Iím sure Iíll be back plenty more).