The coming and going of St. Patrick’s Day is reason enough to hoist a Guinness, the Irish-made stout that has been around at least 260 years.
A proper serving of the creamy, chocolate-hued brew requires two pours because it is so frothy thick. Veteran bartenders will fill a glass halfway, then wait two minutes for the color to settle before topping it off.
The Dublin-based brewery takes up 60 acres at St. James Gate and operates the best tasting room that I’ve ever visited, seven stories above ground and with walls of windows that show off the Emerald Isle’s capital city.
This Gravity Bar is where you’ll land with a free pint after a Guinness tour, which is much more about fun company history, pop culture and ad campaigns than the brewing process (refreshing because, let’s face it, the basics of beer making are pretty much the same from one brewery to another).
Guinness Storehouse, headquarters for the beer making and tours, is Ireland’s top tourist attraction. Open daily; admission is roughly $21. guinness-storehouse.com
There’s another way to “think Guinness,” and that’s all about world records. The idea to document them goes back to the 1950s, as a way to settle pub arguments about who or what is fastest, biggest, oldest and so on. guinnessworldrecords.com
Head online and plug in “Wisconsin” to see how we’ve made a mark on the world. For example:
+ Since 2010, no horse in the world is taller than Big Jake, a Belgian gelding that is 6 feet, 10.75 inches (without shoes). He is 17 years old this year and weighed 240 pounds at birth.
Big Jake lives at Smokey Hollow Farm, Poynette. The best time to see him is November and December, when the cut-your-own-tree farm operates a gift shop and occasional barn tours. smokeyhollowfarm.com
+ The highest death toll from wildfire is what we know of as the Peshtigo Fire, which happened on the same day in 1871 as the Great Chicago Fire. An estimated 1,200 to 2,500 people in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan died because of it.
That makes the Peshtigo Fire Museum, inside a former church, much more than the average small-town repository of artifacts. Pay your respects at the adjacent cemetery. The seasonal museum reopens Memorial Day weekend. peshtigofiremuseum.com
+ The world’s first amphibious vehicle “duck” tour for sightseeing happened in 1946 in Wisconsin Dells, through the company now known as Original Wisconsin Ducks. The vehicles were used for military purposes during World War II.
Duck tours through the Dells last one hour and are available daily from mid March to mid November, weather permitting. wisconsinducktours.com
+ The Mercury Marine Pyramid of Janesville formed the world’s largest human waterskiing pyramid was formed in Janesville and involved 80 skiers in four tiers in 2018. Guinness refers to it as the Mercury Marine Pyramid because Mercury Racing outboards did the pulling.
The skiers were from the Rock Aqua Jays of Janesville, Aquanuts of Twin Lakes and Webfooters of Fremont. All perform free shows for the public during summer. rockaquajays.com, aquanutwatershows.com, http://www.webfooters.org
+ Rachael “The Doughnut Queen” Cholak of Kenosha compiled the world’s tallest stack of doughnuts in one minute at Mike’s Donuts and Chicken, Kenosha, in 2018. She put together a stack of 12 doughnuts in that time.
Expect an eclectic menu. One tamer example: Drunken Pig Biscuits are biscuits topped with braised pork and a drizzle of bourbon glaze. Find a cheeky mix of breakfast, lunch, shakes, cocktails, nitro brews and more at mikelikesbeer.com.
+ Cheese carver Troy Landwehr of Appleton used a 2,000-pound block of aged Cheddar to create the world’s largest cheese sculpture on Sept. 18, 2015. The sculpture, of a cheeseburger, weighed 1,524 pounds and was for The Melt in Hollywood, Calif., to honor National Cheeseburger Day.
Landwehr operates Kerrigan Brothers Winery, Freedom, whose specialty is wine made with Wisconsin-grown fruit. Get four tastes for free, or $5 for eight at this big and rural setting. kerriganbrothers.com
+ The annual Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward is a hotbed for setting world records. Competitors hold 18 world records for their speediness in traditional Northwoods skills, boom run to underhand chop.
Sawing, climbing and logrolling are what the international spectacle is all about at the Lumberjack Bowl. The next championships are Aug. 1-3; one-hour lumberjack shows happen May 26 to Sept. 1. lumberjackworldchampionships.com
+ The International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, set a record for world’s longest human-led migration in 2000 because of its Whooping Crane Recovery Plan. That’s when ultralight aircraft began leading cranes from Necedah to St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve in Florida. The 1,250-mile trip took 39 days during the first year.
The foundation’s headquarters is undergoing a $10 million expansion and won’t reopen to the public for guided tours until 2020. It is the only place in the world where all of the world’s 15 species of cranes live. savingcranes.org
+ The world’s largest scoop of ice cream was 3,010 pounds and served during the annual Cedarburg Strawberry Festival in 2014. The strawberry ice cream, produced by Kemps, was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 6 feet, 2 inches wide.
The 33rd annual festival is June 22-23 in downtown Cedarburg. Admission is free. cedarburgfestival.org
+ The world’s largest cheese platter (4,437 pounds and 9.92 ounces) was prepared in 2018 in Madison by Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to raise money for the Great American Milk Drive. It was 35 feet long and seven feet wide.
Ten of the top 20 finalists in this month’s U.S. Championship Cheese Contest were made in Wisconsin. That level of Badger State domination is business as usual. uschampioncheese.org