Barry Levenson can tell you the exact date he became a mustard collector: October 28, 1986. It was the early morning after his beloved Boston Red Sox lost the World Series, and he was wandering an all-night grocery store "looking for the meaning of life," as his website puts it. Then, in a flash, it hit him: mustard. Barry would amass the world's largest collection, and people would journey from miles around to see it.
This unlikely epiphany set the course for the next 30 years of Barry's life. He began snatching up every type of mustard he could get his hands on, which wasn't always easy given his time-consuming job as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Wisconsin. Once he even snagged a jar from a hotel hallway?and stored it in his pocket during a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. No one could accuse Barry of lacking commitment to his vision.
By 1992, he had compiled a large enough collection to open his dream museum. Today, the National Mustard Museum stands more than 5,624 mustards strong. The premier attraction?The Great Wall of Mustard?represents all 50 states and more than 70 countries. Elsewhere, visitors can play a Food Whiz game or gaze at a collection of antique mustard pots, tins, and advertisements. Of course, there are ample opportunities to taste the mustard, too. Visitors can typically sample around 500 varieties, and then pick a favorite one to buy and take home.
Though Sand Creek Brewing Company officially launched in 2004, its heritage stretches all the way back to 1856. That's when the Swiss-born Ulrich Oderbolz built his Oderbolz Brewing Company. on the side of a hill in Black River Falls. The facility changed hands and names over the years?Badger Brewing Company, Pioneer Brewing Company?before the Sand Creek team relocated from their makeshift brewery on a Wisconsin dairy farm.
These days, Pioneer's brewmaster Todd Krueger?a winner of three World Beer Cup golds?joins forces with Sand Creek's Jim Wiesender. Together, the duo concocts 10 year-round and seasonal brews, from an award-winning oatmeal chocolate stout to a German-style ale made with Wisconsin-grown cranberries. Brews flow every Friday evening at Sand Creek's taproom, while free tours offer glimpses into the historic building and its 19th-century beer cellar, where bottles are fashionably attired with top hats and monocles. Besides extended taproom hours each summer, the microbrewery participates in myriad events throughout the year.
Several years ago, Ken Smith and Chase Williams were typical door-to-door salesmen. In need of a gimmick to boost sales and a quicker mode of transport, the duo tried riding Segways and immediately fell in love. Eventually, they turned their love for the two-wheeled transporter into their current venture, All American Segway. Their company provides all manner of Segway engagement, including guided Segway tours that offer rolling educations in local history and wildlife. Customers can also discover the revolutionary devices on their own by renting out Segways for recreational use, private parties, or as a friend for a lonely office chair or shopping cart.
In 2007, the Pub Crawl Kings organized a casual pub crawl right around Thanksgiving time. Every November since, that crawl has grown larger, enabling its founders to add more events to their calendar throughout the year. That success has also allowed them to add on a commemorative t-shirt with pub crawl admission?a less costly tribute than a face tattoo. Today, the Pub Crawl Kings continue to engineer themed pub crawls, as well as networking events and charitable efforts.
To create small batches of wines and spirits at Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery, the proprietor draws upon the best raw materials available throughout the United States. But those aren't always the raw materials you'd imagine: Spirits include vodka made from fruit rather than grain, and original wine recipes are equally distinctive, ranging from sweet-tasting pinot noir and zinfandel blends to port-style moscato.
At Infinity Beverage's Tasting Lounge, tasters enjoy free samples of wines, specialty cocktails, and the occasional taste of libations in development. Besides a place to unwind with a drink, the tasting lounge is home to weekly entertainment and specials, including live music every Friday and special chocolate-based martinis every Wednesday.
Ivy snakes around door frames and fine stemware dangles above the Von Klaus Winery Tasting Haus?s bar where racks of all-natural fruit wines give off a kaleidoscope of colors. In this space, Von Klaus's staff re-creates the secluded winery experience right in downtown Baraboo. During four-course tastings, they pour samples of their sulfite- and preservative-free wines crafted from handpicked apples, wild cherries, or New Zealand kiwis. As guests gaze out the windows onto the historical square, the staff brings out small plates that may include Wisconsin cheese, jumbo shrimp, and chocolate truffles. As intimate as these pairings can be, the team at Von Klaus also finds a way to re-create the same feeling on a larger scale at private events. In addition to mobile tastings, the winery also brings its traveling vineyard to events in which a professional wine steward is on hand to offer guests a variety of sips.