This year’s Great Brew Tour was scheduled to begin as usual. We almost always leave Rochester, MN around 5:30 when Pete gets home from work. We then make the short jaunt to LaCrosse, check into the hotel, and hit the town around 8.
Several years in the past people have asked us if we’ve ever visited the Pearl Street Brewery. We’ve always had to answer “no” because: 1) We arrive in LaCrosse too late to see the place and 2) We really had no idea what we were missing.
Thanks to one of our favorite LaCrossians? LaCrossites? …residents of Lacrosse, Sara, we were finally able to make a visit to Pearl Street Brewery a reality. Sara contacted us about a week before our tour and asked us about a possible visit to PSB. Sara’s fiance, Caleb, works at the brewery and cheerfully agreed to show us around the place. The brewery and taproom at PSB close at 8pm on Tuesday nights. Thankfully, Pete was able to get off work early, and we were able to arrive there around 6.
We really had no idea what to expect from this place. We had heard that the beer is really good and it was well worth the visit; that’s about it. We put the address in the GPS and headed over. We arrived at the gigantic LaCrosse Boot factory. We were wondering if we were at the right place until we saw the sign.
This place has the potential to be as big as they want to be. I don’t recall how many square feet of space they’ve got there, but they will be limited only by their own ambition and their ability to acquire additional brewing equipment.
We entered the PSB taproom and were quickly greeted by Caleb and Sara. We were also greeted by by the 90+ degree air in the building. Air conditioning would be next to impossible in the cavernous space that the building provides. I would guess that it doesn’t hurt beer sales in the taproom though. It’s really cool that the taproom and gift shop areas are left open so you can see the beer being made.
Our tour was conducted by Caleb, who was very knowledgeable about the workings of the brewery and was able to answer all of our questions. While the tour was going on, I couldn’t keep from thinking, “Why hadn’t we done this earlier?” However, that happens to us a lot in Wisconsin. When you only have 4 days a year to explore the craft beer in such a great beer state, and you have some favorites that you visit every year, you’re bound to miss some gems. This is one of those gems. Thanks again to Caleb and Sara for introducing us to a new brewery and some fantastic new beers.
After a comprehensive look around the historic Lacrosse Footwear factory, we retired to the PSB Taproom. There, we all ordered the sampler tray. We’ve done this at many breweries before, most memorably at the, now deceased, Adler Brau in Appleton, WI. Sample trays at breweries are nice because you can get a good feel for many beers the breweries are putting out without falling off of your barstool. The sampler at PSB is REALLY cool. All the samples are in these awesome tasting glasses hanging from a rack. I wish I could show you a picture of it, but blame my out-of-control blood alcohol level on the fact that it didn’t occur to me to snap a picture of it. All I can do is recommend that you visit personally and see it first-hand.
My personal favorite beer that I tried that day was Dankenstein. This brew is a limited release Double IPA. The 9.5 ABV of this one may have contributed to my lapses in my duties as Tour Historian that night. I won’t go into too much detail here, as Dankenstein may be a future beer of the week, but it’s a well crafted Double IPA with a lot more malt character than you usually find in beers of this style; just how I like it… Bold and balanced. I was very happy I showed up at home on Friday with a growler full of this one!
Thanks again to Caleb and Sara for being great hosts to us and introducing us to the Pearl Street Brewery. We were thrilled to visit a new place that had so much character and such exceptional beer. You are both great ambassadors of your city and your local brewery!