Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Glarus

On our way to Madison last weekend, we took a side trip to the cutest little town in Wisconsin. New Glarus is Swiss inspired, with a whole collection of Alpine inspired shops and buildings. It was quite adorable, but we were there for a very specific purpose... to visit the famous New Glarus Brewing Company!

We tasted while we toured, and took some awesome (*sarcasm noted*) iphone pictures to document our adventure. They built this new brewery just a couple years ago, and it was the most shiny new brewery we've ever visited. There was a self guided tour, which sounded fun. Really, though, it just meant "self guided walk around and guess what stuff was". A map or info sheet could have gone a long way! They seem to have built this brewery with visitors in mind, so it was surprising that the "tour" was so lame. Luckily, we know how the brewing process works!

I would have loved to have learned more about the actual brewery. For instance, they have a female president of the company, which is pretty rare in the beer world. They're also #21 on the list of largest craft brewers by volume, which is pretty impressive considering they're only distributed in the state of Wisconsin.

There was a tasting room, which is always a highlight of a brewery tour, obviously.

A fancy lunch at the brewery.
Cheese Curds, Meat Sticks, and Beer Flavored Chips.

I like their attitude!

New Glarus was a fun brewery to visit, and I'd probably go back on our next visit to Madison. The setting is beautiful, surrounded by rolling hills. I imagine it's quite lush in the summer, and the beer tastes good year round. If you're in the area, take a detour to New Glarus to check the brewery out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Band You Need to be Listening To

I know you've seen this picture before. A band, kind of far away, with lots of strangers' heads in the foreground. They're rocking, but could be anyone. Oh, and it's blurry, because it's a cell phone picture taken without a flash or any fancy camera tricks. So why am I torturing you with these crappy pictures?

This is The Head and The Heart, and I want everyone to know how awesome they are. We saw them at the Vic last week, and the show seriously rocked. They're from Seattle and have been playing shows in Chicago for about a year now. They started at Schuba's, a tiny little club at the back of a bar. That was only one year ago, and this past week they sold out TWO shows at the Vic, which is one of the biggest venues of its type in Chicago and has a capacity of about 1,400.

If one person reads this and has a listen, I will be happy. Because as soon as you listen you'll be hooked, and I like sharing good music with people. So put down the Katy Perry CD, and listen to these guys! Look, I'll even make it easy for you. Click here to link to YouTube, and hear The Head and The Heart for yourself. You can thank me later.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Running Away!

You know the phrase "Sometimes, live gives you lemons"? Well, I don't think that phrase is specific enough to how the last couple weeks have been around here. I think a better phrase is, "Sometimes, life gives you giant, sour, terrible lemons". Yeah, you might still be able to make lemonade, but it's going to take a lot more effort to do so. While I don't feel ready to talk about the specific lemons that I've been dealing with, I do want to share my favorite fix for a shitty day/week/month/etc.  GET OUT OF TOWN!!

We decided to spent Saturday night in a place that we've talked about visiting for years: Madison, Wisconsin. It's just a few hours from Chicago, and is know to have a great food/beer/culture scene. It's a nice college town, bigger than Columbia, Missouri, where Joe and I met as undergrads. It's the state capitol, and the home to tons of beer-centric bars and restaurants.

The capitol is a beautiful building, and it's open to for the public to visit. The domed building had tons of mosaics, columns, and beautiful architectural details. It was so calm inside, too... especially compared to the huge protest going on outside! It had been one year since the governor of Wisconsin signed the collective bargaining law, and about 35,000 people showed up to protest and rally for his impeachment. No wonder it was so hard to find parking downtown!

We spent the evening eating and drinking downtown. We had a couple beers at The Great Dane, a local brewpub, then found a great little Italian place for dinner. There were a number of great sounding restaurants around town, but more than once we were told there would be a 90 minute wait! Um, no. This place, Papavero, was an excellent option for rustic, handmade Italian food. And of course, we had to end the night with a couple more drinks, so we went to The Old Fashioned, which had about 1,000,000 beers from Wisconsin on the menu. Sensing a theme yet?

Sunday morning we went to check out the University of Wisconsin campus. It's on the edge of a huge lake, and the spring-like weather yesterday made it perfect for wandering around. So many people were out taking advantage of the beautiful weather, and we enjoyed wandering along with them. Imagine how nice this must be when the trees are all green!

And now we're home, and in the process of making lemonade with said lemons. Yeah, life doesn't always go as planned, but we're healthy and happy in our relationship, with a lovely home and great friends. Our jobs are good, our families supportive, and it's almost SPRING. So we'll look towards the future, which will most likely include another trip to Wisconsin in the warm weather months...

Any other weekend getaways near Chicago that you'd recommend? I've still never been to Michigan, so a visit to the east is going to have to happen soon!