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 it’s worth poking your head into each one that doesn’t 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. It’s a medium sized building but with a small tasting room that is more of a gift shop. They’ll sell you 750s of Belgian Red and Raspberry tart for $8.75, when just down the street at Roy’s Market they can be found for $7.50 each, or by the case for only $84 (!!). Similarly, Roy’s Market had all of the singles available at New Glarus plus a couple that weren’t, 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 they’ll 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 I’ve ever met at a brewery, even whiffing on the softest softball questions I could throw at her. I’m 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 I’m 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 don’t 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 it’s 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 you’re into collecting glassware. Outside they’ve 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 can’t 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.
I have long waited for the chance to visit New Glarus; I have heard so much. The drive up feels like you are entering beer disneyland indeed. Beautifully manicured grounds, ornate driveway lighting. There is construction at the site so they had two people directing cars to park in a grass lot. Hoofed it the last quarter mile, up a manicured trail through the woods with picnic tables and benches. Beautiful. The grounds are also impressive, although the construction mars an otherwise amazing view. You walk into the courtyard and start to look around. There are signs, but things are kind of, confusing. There are two outdoor bars selling full pours of a half dozen of their most common beers; nothing that I can’t buy at the local grocery store. Inside its mostly souvenirs and bottle sales. Again, nothing beerwise not available elsewhere, and for less money at that. I did not take a tour. In the end I felt pretty let down. Zero beers that are even remotely unique to the site, and as beautiful as it is, it seems like it is more about cash inflow than actually providing a quality beer experience. I left bummed.
Visited around the noon hour on the day before July 4th. I love what the company’s 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 wasn’t 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)
(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.
This is my favorite brewery, but I’ll 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.
It’s a bit strange place. It’s 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.
jackl (740) Minneapolis, Minnesota | September 18, 2016
Visited during GTMW week for the latest R&D release. Before commenting on the brewery experience I’ll just say that these guys probably run the smoothest beer releases in the country. I was probably 300th in line and had my beer in hand 5 minutes after they started serving customers. The hilltop brewery is a handsome place with sweeping scenic views of the surrounding countryside. There’s a tap room, souvenir shop, and bottle shop for visitors to check out. Beers on tap numbered about 6-8 and included most of the core range in addition to a couple of exclusives. Tall pours of Belgian Red in perfect condition made the drive from Madison worth it. Service was kind and friendly. Overall, this place is a destination brewery for any beer enthusiast. Well worth a long detour.
GT (672) San Diego, 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 logo’ed, custom pilsner flute.
The facility overall looks like a Little Switzerland from Disney’s Epcot or a village from Magic Kingdom. That isn’t to say it is corny, it just looks too perfect for a brewery. In stark contrast, our visit to Madison’s Capital Brewery that next day, and it was filthy.