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.
We visited at around noon on a weekday, a few days after Christmas, and found the place busy but not overcrowded, which made for a nice visit and a lot of photo ops. Itís a medium sized building but with a small tasting room that is more of a gift shop. Theyíll sell you 750s of Belgian Red and Raspberry tart for $8.75, when just down the street at Royís Market they can be found for $7.50 each, or by the case for only $84 (!!). Similarly, Royís Market had all of the singles available at New Glarus plus a couple that werenít, so, while this is an excellent destination, a place that any true beer hunter should visit at least once, they do inflate the prices a bit in the gift shop, which is understandable. The walking tour is short but at least a little interesting, and theyíll pour bottle samples for a small fee with a free tasting glass throwin in (no taps, bummer). The host was probably the least informed about their own beer of anyone Iíve ever met at a brewery, even whiffing on the softest softball questions I could throw at her. Iím standing in New Glarus Brewing Company asking what style a beer is and all I get for an answer is an ale? Seriously I felt bad for the lady, because she had no clue. Must have been a bad day to visit. I sound like Iím complaining but I honestly had a fun visit. See pics here: http://flickr.com/photos/michaeljames/2156082504/
Visited twice now, once in 2011 and once on the way to GTMW this year (August 9, 2013).
This place is really cool, even if you donít like their beer. They have somewhat of a castle on top of a hill. They finally paved the road that leads up to it but itís still kind of remote and rustic. Inside is both a humungous brewery (they actually just added a whole other building for more fermenters) that you can take a self guided tour of and a gift shop. They have at least a dozen different types of glasses for sale, if youíre into collecting glassware. Outside theyíve done some work and have built some ruins down the side of the hill. They have a bar too of course. You have to buy the glass the first time for an extra dollar. Fills are kind of expensive, as is the merchandise, but I guess I canít complain about being able to get pints of Serendipity on tap. Below the building is a bottle shop. You can buy individual bottles or you can buy cases (they have case discounts). They also have a truck come out that does brick oven pizzas. Really cool place to hang out but know that they respect their distributors and mark the beer up more at the brewery. Go to the gas station down the street if you want to buy the beer cheaper.
(Visited 08/2014): New Glarus is located in beautiful farm country outside of Madison. Parking is available in multiple areas.
The brewery is gigantic and is laid out like a famstead, and and offers both guided and self-guided tours. There is a gift shop and bottle shop, as well as a beer garden which offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding area.
The beer selection in the beer garden included 9 selections, with some more common options as well as Strawberry Rhubarb, There And Back, Belgian Red and Moon Man. There is a token-based system for ordering the beers, and the ones I tried were excellent.
Service at the beer tents and in the stores was good. The bottle shop has all the year-round brews plus seasonals and Thumbprint choices.
New Glarus does not serve food.
All in all this place lived up to and in some ways surpassed my expectations, and I would love to go back again.
Visited around the noon hour on the day before July 4th. I love what the companyís going for in this quasi- "mountain"-side Swiss-German chalet. The self-guided tour highlights an amazingly clean, modern and ship-shape brewing operation. The tasting room itself wasnít open this day, but they were offering tasters out of the gift shop, which was fine by me. Great value in their sampler options with a glass thrown in, but they only had about 6 of their beers. Nice outside patio (a work in progress) with a nice view of the hilly Wisconsin countryside. They sell a few chessy snacks, or you can bring your own. Nice place. (Brewery #607)
This is my favorite brewery, but Iíll do my best to rate it fairly. Huge place. It was PACKED but this was the Sunday following GTMW so there were a lot of people coming here on the way out of town. It was wonderful wandering the brewery while sipping a pint of beer. Beer to go downstairs. Gift shop, tasting room and access to the brewery upstairs. Lots of cool stuff in the gift shop including a wide variety of German made steins that were way out of my budget unfortunately. Lots of shirst, glassware, other swag. Everyone was very friendly despite the crowds. Beautiful outside beer garden and grassy areas. Plenty of parking. I loved it.
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.
Itís a bit strange place. Itís like a movie set without any originality. Samples only by threes. No Raspberry Tart available which I came here for. I was disappointed. The village of New Glarus was more interesting than the brewery... unfortunately.
Cool spot - gift shop/brewery site has a European feel, very nice. Brewery is large - they said they are doing about 95,000 barrels/year now. Very clean also. Self guided tours. Large gift shop with steins, glassware, clothing, etc. Sampling is 3 for $3.50, plus you keep the tasting glass. You can buy singles to-go of many of their beers as well.
Made the pilgrimage to the new hilltop brewery on the way home from a weekend in Madison. The facility is very large, state-of-the-art, and inviting. It almost seems too new, though, and lacks a bit of character in that way. The exterior is designed to go along with the whole Swiss theme of the town, but as one of the people who went with me said, it seems a little Disney-fied. That said, the inside is impressive. We did a self-guided tour (doesnít seem like theyíre giving tours at this point) and saw that this is a world-class facility. Beautiful and clean. The staff was all super friendly. We got a draft sampling of 3 tastes for $3.50, and man does the Belgian Red taste great on tap. The gift shop is very nice, and there is a bottle shop downstairs for any available NG beers. I dropped quite a bit of cash in there in order to stock up, and the prices are a bit high. Iíve seen a few of the same beers around WI for the same or cheaper, so Iím surprised they didnít take a cut from retail to reward making the visit and buying there.