New brews, awards, dishes, events for 2016

micheladaSpring is a time for renewal, and my notebooks are fat with snippets of new and new-to-me gleanings from annual state tourism and Midwest FoodService Expo conferences.

A few of Wisconsin’s best-known beverage makers are experimenting with new flavors.

Wisco Pop! in Viroqua uses whole fruit to add strawberry soda to its all-organic lineup in June. The company began in 2012 with ginger pop (plus honey, lavender, lime and lemon juices). “We like to think that we make it okay to drink soda again,” the product promo says. Available at Whole Foods and food cooperatives., 608-638-7632

Cadence Cold Brew in Madison cold-brews coffee “without the need to add milk and sugar to mask bitterness.” The husband-wife team of Roy LaValley and Jennifer Roth use their new plant to brew three blends, sold by the keg, can and bag-in-box., 608-467-8019

Laurie Pedersen of West Bend in December introduced Moondance Michelada, kind of a beer margarita, after discovering the cocktail during her travels to Mexico. She bottles a ready-made mixer. You add it to beer. Or tomato juice. Or liquor. “No rules” is a motto for this product, billed as a good meat/chicken/fish/tofu marinade, too. It already won a national Fiery Food Challenge Award (third place for cook-off beverage mix)., 262-689-1922

Dancing Man Wheat, a Bavarian-style beer, has reappeared after a three-year absence at New Glarus Brewing Co. Self-guided tours are free at 2400 Hwy. 69, New Glarus., 608-527-5850

Newly released at Yahara Bay Distillers, 3118 Kingsley Way, Madison, is Ginger Lemongrass Liqueur (which begins as a small-batch vodka). The distiller’s 20-some products include a whiskey kit, for aging your own mini-barrel of hootch., 608-275-1050

And from Sprecher are a trio of new brews: Pineapple X-Press, a Belgian-style ale with whiffs of melon, mango and pineapple (only on tap); Grapefruit Radler, a wheat ale with citrus; and Cidre de Pomme, a hard cider., 414-964-2739

Leigh Yawkey-Woodson Art Museum, 700 N. 12th St., Wausau, has won a state tourism award and is one of 30 finalists for national honors.

Director Kathy Kelsey Foley recently accepted the 2016 Arts, Culture and Heritage state tourism award. She will learn later this spring about the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service award.

This is the Woodson’s 40th anniversary, it is the only full-service art museum in northern Wisconsin and it is internationally known for the annual “Birds in Art” exhibition. Opening April 9 is “Making Marks,” avian-themed drawings; other temporary shows include “Capturing Nature: Owen J. Gromme,” in place through Aug. 7, and “Audubon to Wyeth: Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures,” up all year., 715-845-7010

Winner of state tourism’s Stewardship Award is Meuer Farm, N2564 U.S. 151, Chilton. Owners David and Leslie Meuer operate a 150-acre beef and crop farm that makes environmental sustainability a priority; they also won the 2015 Leopold Conservation Award.

Chef Tracy Darling presents four-course and monthly (May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15) dinners at the farm. Each has a theme and includes a farm activity; the cost is $60 per meal. Brunch dates eventually will be added, too, because these dinners hit capacity fast last year., 920-418-2676

Teams from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China and the United States compete Sept. 9-11 at the World Water Ski Show Tournament in Wisconsin Rapids. Each team gets one hour for a theatrical production that involves “all disciplines of waterskiing” – barefoot skiers and wakeboard riders to ballet lines and pyramids.

Originality, presentation and execution are judged. The host is Wisconsin Rapids Aqua Skiers, and competition happens on Lake Wazeecha at Red Sands Beach of South Wood County Park, 7200 S.Park Rd. It’s a $5 ticket for spectators., 715-459-6117

Lobster Wurst returns to the menu at Dream Dance Steak, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, after a three-year hiatus. Executive Chef Chase Anderson in early May introduces his version of the “new Wisconsin cuisine” that a predecessor – Jason Gorman – created about 10 years ago.

Expect a lighter spin, regarding richness and flavors. Gone are the lobster-scallop dish’s mascarpone pierogis and Tahitian vanilla butter. Incoming is a vanilla bean mustard and whisp of fennel and herb salad. I got a taste during an invitation-only dinner to explain the evolution of cuisine at the fine-dining restaurant, inside Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary and began as a 2,500-seat bingo hall., 414-847-7883

BTW: Jason since October is executive chef at Café Calatrava, facing Lake Michigan and in the Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr., 414-224-3200

Ron Faiola of Milwaukee introduces two major projects this spring. Out in June is “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round” (Agate Midway Books), his second book on the subject, spotlighting 50 locations not in his 2013 “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience” (Agate Midway).

He’s also a filmmaker whose “Tilt-A-Whirls, Cowbells and Beer,” a look at church festivals in Milwaukee, soon is paired with the coast-to-coast, slice-of-life “Lamerica” at the Wisconsin Film Festival. The two shorts will be shown together at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St., at 9 p.m. April 16, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

The April 14-21 festival features 158 films, including a Robert Altman tribute and the rarely shown “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a 1984 Bill Murray comedy. See one show for $10, or buy a festival pass to all for $300., 608-262-9009

A new aquarium is home to freshwater species from around the world at Discovery World, 500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee. That means poison dart frogs, red-bellied piranha and alligator snapping turtles.

Inside the exploratorium for science and nature lovers are more than one dozen aquariums, plus hands-on lessons about sound, genomes and much more., 414-765-9966

April 28 is the deadline to register for “Mess Night at the Museum: The Enemy at Home,” 5:30 p.m. May 5 at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 W. Mifflin St., Madison.

The $30 ticket for this new and quarterly dinner-talk features Cora Lee Kluge of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. Her topic is anti-German American sentiments in Wisconsin and elsewhere around World War I., 608-267-1799

New since October at Wildwood Zoo, 608 W. 17th St., Marshfield, are two Kodiak bear cubs whose mother was illegally killed by a hunter in Alaska. The Kodiak are the world’s largest bears and can grow to 10 feet in height and 1,400 pounds. It is unusual for a U.S. zoo outside of Alaska to house them.

Zoo admission is free, although donations are appreciated to maintain a one-acre woods and den building for the bears, Munsey and Boda. Roam on your own or book a one-hour guided tour by a zookeeper for $44., 715-384-4642

You’ve heard of farm-to-plate dining. Now comes wall-to-plate ingredients.

Picture of 100-square-foot indoor wall of herbs, dressing up a restaurant like ivy on banisters and rafters. Chefs can snip what they need from the vertical garden, right before adding it to your plate.

The concept was floated during this year’s Midwest FoodService Expo. No takers, yet, but perhaps it’s just a matter of time and indoor landscaping.

You have until Monday (April 4) to tell me about a pet-friendly destination in Wisconsin that is of interest and accessible to the average traveler, or a tourist-friendly business where a pet lives or goes to work with its owner.

One person who spills the beans will receive a one-night Pet Friendly Package at Jefferson Street Inn, Wausau, based on availability. Estimated value is $269., 715-845-6500

The winning essay, as determined by a panel of impartial judges, will be no more than 50 words and sent to (type “pet friendly places” in the subject line).

Photos of pets at tourist-friendly businesses also are eligible and should be uploaded to (the post also should name the business, pet and location). Facebook submissions are pre-screened for appropriateness.