When one thinks of Wisconsin, it’s only natural for images of delicious cheese, beer and various pork products to dance in their head. So upon learning of New Glarus’ 2nd Annual Beer, Bacon & Cheese Festival a few months ago, making the trip north to celebrate this glorious trinity of delights was a no-brainer.
Home to one of the best breweries in the country, New Glarus is known as “America’s Little Switzerland.” Nestled amongst rolling hills of green farmland is a quaint downtown lined with a handful of shops peddling a variety of tasty comforts and Swiss imports. As part of the weekend-long Polka Festival, Beer, Bacon & Cheese took place in the heart of downtown with approximately 25 Wisconsin-based vendors lining the block.
As the hometown brewery and festival sponsor, New Glarus Brewing set up under the main tent and poured a nice variety of its beers to a background of live polka music. They also held the “Big Squeeze,” in which attendees were encouraged to bring in at least five pounds of rhubarb to be squeezed for their new Strawberry Rhubarb beer and get a free beer token. Other beer vendors included Ale Asylum, Capital Brewery, 3 Sheeps, Gray’s Tied House, Grumpy Troll, Potosi and Rhinelander.
From vendor to vendor, one’s palate was treated to a new exciting adventure after another. Cheeses covered a wide spectrum from spicy and smooth to dry and crumbly to spreads and curds. Bacon was used in a variety of ways, including macaroni and cheese, bratwurst, mashed potatoes and even Culver’s maple frozen custard (huge chunks of chocolate-covered bacon!). Other highlights were fudge made with New Glarus’ Serendipity fruit ale, summer sausages and a wide selection of beef jerky.
Not only did this festival make a lasting impression on me, but the town of New Glarus itself has made my decision on whether or not to return next year an easy one. In fact, with New Glarus Brewing’s renovations shaping up in the coming months, a fall voyage back into town to stock up on beer, meats and cheeses may be in order.