Vintage Brewing Company deluges devotees with bountiful beers born out of Belgian, German, and American traditions. These refreshing hop-laden selections rest beside a slew of creative culinary concoctions, many of which comprise locally sourced ingredients. A plate of AJ's pretzels ($6) saunters in at the beginning of a feeding frenzy, with house-made pretzels perched on a pedestal and set to dive into a sea of VBC beer mustard and cheese dip. Vintage Brewing Company ups the burger ante with bratwurst burgers ($10.50) that explore what happens when two 4-ounce grilled brats are picked to live inside a beer-bread pretzel roll with oatmeal stout bacon sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and beer-cheese sauce. Throughout the visit, diners can pair plates with an array of bottles and cans, beers on tap, and wine.
The Old Sugar Distillery produces small-batch liquors made from Midwestern ingredients. Its cornerstone concoction, the Old Sugar Factory Honey Liqueur, is distilled from dark-brown beet sugar and then aged in a wooden womb of American oak before being subtly sweetened with pure Wisconsin honey. The Cane and Abe Freshwater Rum, named in honor of President Lincoln and his favorite criminal-scaring stick, is made with cane sugar lovingly beamed up from the saccharine states of Hawaii and Louisiana and then aged in charred American oak barrels. These luscious liquids can be sampled either by sipping a freshly made cocktail ($6) at the distillery's long wooden bar, or by buying a bottle ($30) for midnight sips in the dead chill of winter. The Old Sugar Distillery also offers free tours and tastings with up-close views of the large copper pot still.
Village Vintner Winery & Brewery poses a gastronomic triple threat, operating as not just a restaurant and winery, but also a fully functioning brewery. A battalion of stainless-steel machinery ferments the hand-selected wheat and barley that make up the vanilla-cream ale, the German-style hefeweizen, and the Vintner Hop Rocket, an 8.2% ABV varietal culminating from six types of hops and mad, mad science. At the tasting bar, guests can sample these brewery end products, along with Village Vintner’s expansive selection of homemade red, white, and fruit wines. The main restaurant area houses a wood-fired pizza oven, which bakes the pesto pizzas and smoldering baby back ribs that complement potables.
A spirit of good-natured fun permeates the copper-hued premises, as evidenced by a free monthly wine and mug club. Live music is a common occurrence on Friday nights, and Wednesdays star Chef Rob’s pork special.
Tighthead Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Bruce Dir?a tighthead prop back in his rugby days?taps nearly two decades of personal and professional brewing experience and transforms it into beer. His brewery regularly churns out several types of beer seen in local bars and restaurants, including Comfortably Blonde ale, Scarlet-Fire and Irie IPA named for its viability as a session beer.
Attached to the brewery is a tap room, where guests can enjoy pints while watching games or catching up with friends. The watering hole also dispenses take-home growlers of any of the beers on tap, which include several experimental and theoretically impossible beers only available at the brewery. Though not a restaurant, the tap room keeps a stack of menus from local restaurants on hand, and orders delivery from them when asked.
Located inside a brick-hewn building reminiscent of a grand castle, the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery recounts the history of the company’s former brewery, which dates back to 1844. Visitors tour Pabst’s corporate offices, take photos with a statue of Captain Frederick Pabst, and drink tall pints of the brewery’s concoctions. The gift shop stocks vintage Pabst memorabilia, including steins, shirts, and artwork. Best Place’s halls and courtyards can also be rented for banquets, weddings, and other events.
Horny Goat Brew Pub crafts a menu of comfort fare and American fare with its private label of craft microbrews, Horny Goat Brewing Company. The recently built BFT (Big Fun Tent) spans 14,600 square feet and boasts a 20'x20' stage, a 10'x16' flat-screen video wall, and lounge furniture. The heated complex also includes sand-volleyball courts. When the aggressive yelps of an ignored appetite prove too bothersome, the eatery can provide empty stomachs with a Loaded Tots appetizer, topped with beer-cheese sauce and bacon, and the pulled-pork sandwich, served with apple coleslaw. On Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., the brunch menu fulfills diners' desires with savory options such as the Eggs Benny—an english muffin, canadian bacon, and hollandaise—or the crisp belgian waffle, served with strawberries and whipped cream.