Milwaukee: new Blue Ribbon City emerging on Pabst campus

Two things make this Milwaukee brewery tour atypical: Your free pint is tapped before the sightseeing begins, and five minutes – tops – are spent talking about how beer is made. What visitors learn will pertain much more to advertising, architecture, relationships and rebirth than hops, lagers, filters and fermentation. The 90-minute tour at Best(…)

Whipping up lots of suds in Madison with craft beer

Nowhere in Wisconsin does the craft of contemporary brewing seem more contagious than Madison and Dane County. The area is filling growlers and opening new breweries at an appreciable rate. It’s not any one place’s level of production that raises eyebrows, but the proliferation of like-minded businesses, neighborhood brewpubs to production plants with ambitious goals.(…)

Mile-High Denver: Home to more breweries/brewpubs or pot shops?

Under an I-25 overpass, one block from a power plant and almost 1,000 miles from home, I catch a whiff of Wisconsin in Denver. This is about beer, folks, not marijuana – although the latter has drawn tons of attention since Jan. 1, when pot was legalized for recreational purposes in Colorado. There are 54(…)

Mennonite Relief Sale: quilts, bakery, ‘Menno food’

Less than 200 miles separate Wisconsin from Bloomington, Ill., but what a potential difference in buffet lines: Red beet eggs. Ham loaf. Vareniky (stuffed dumplings). Turnip slaw. Suet pudding. Shoofly pie. This is “Menno food” and some of the recipes – like the suet pudding, palatable because of molasses or sorghum, plus whipped cream topping(…)

Beyond waterparks: Next Dells project is downtown revamp

In the Wisconsin Dells area are more hotel rooms (8,000) than year-round residents (5,600). No Wisconsin city contains more accommodations for tourists, and that is one indication of the locale’s popularity. What’s the big deal? Families with children know best. They head to indoor and outdoor waterparks: No other place in the world has a(…)

Dream Dance chef wins pork recipe contest

Meat lovers crave thick and juicy steaks, right? Let’s say “part right,” because pork during the past two years has been the food-service industry’s fastest-growing protein. That means cutting-edge restaurant chefs are giving pork entrées more than a perfunctory nod on their menus. The Wisconsin Pork Producers Association helps this along with the annual Taste(…)

Dells Bells: Low-cost weddings inside Vegas-style chapel

Between the Showboat Saloon and Old River Mini Golf, downtown in Wisconsin Dells, Katie Chandler and Evert Reeve officially began a new chapter of life this month. “There is no institution more sacred than the home you are about to make,” Scott Joles observed, inside the cheerful yellow sanctuary that is Dells Bells Wedding Chapel.(…)

Black history lessons address racism, inventions, music in Macon, Ga.

Whenever Black History Month arrives, I am reminded that Wisconsin is not average. About 88 percent of the state’s population is Caucasian and 6.5 percent is African American, compared to 13 percent nationwide. The U.S. Census stats were even more lopsided during my childhood, and I recall meeting only one black person – at a(…)

Reader mail: shrines, wines, BBQs, B&Bs, world’s fair, restaurant fare

Recent mail from readers seeks and gives advice about travel that is close to home. Here is a selection of what’s on your mind. – My column about the devastating 1871 Peshtigo fire and the city’s fire museum prompted you to write about a place of religious pilgrimage, 60 miles south. “I am familiar with(…)

Artistry on ice: castles, sculptures, windswept lakeshore caves

Single-digit temps. Double-digit winds. Looks like our January thaw is history, but the frosty season which remains is a beauty, thanks in no small part to ice. Ice? The glaze that makes roads and sidewalks perilous adds a warm sparkle to Wisconsin during this time of year. The state is a shimmering showcase of frozen(…)

Wisconsin wines: Fast-growing industry ready for global exposure?

Seems like everybody makes predictions during this time of year. We assign odds to football championships and celebrity romances. We speculate which quirks and changes will turn into trends or cultural shifts. Those who guess right become experts and visionaries. Those who guess wrong risk their credibility. So it pays to have a clear crystal(…)

Coming soon: new Kenosha baseball team, oldtime bikes at Old World Wisconsin

When hopes for a new year include outings, the destinations need not be exotic to be fulfilling. Here are ways to put a fun and enriching spin on the first six months of 2014. January: I’m plunging into winter with three Wisconsin authors whose newest books are tributes to rural living and published by Wisconsin(…)