Update: Due to the huge building project going on at the Stevens Point Brewery, there won’t be any public tours for about another month, but here is my take on the tour experience from 2011:
If there is one constant in the eleven years of The Great Brew Tour, it is that we always visit the Stevens Point Brewery. Even back in 2001 when Mark and I were just a couple of guys out drinking beer and driving around aimlessly, we still found ourselves at Point.
The Point Brewery is the only location that we have visited every year of our tours. The main reason for this is that Point has the best public brewery tour in the state of Wisconsin. In a lot of ways, the Point tour is your run-of-the-mill brewery tour: You have a college kid showing you around reciting lines from a prepared script, you learn a bit about the history of the brewery, you get to see the warehouse filled with what seems like millions of beers, and you get some free samples to taste at the end. What’s different about the Point Brewery tour is the access that you get. Do you want to stick your head in the brew kettle? Go for it! Do you want to go in the room where the kegs are filled? Here it is! Do you want to touch the tanks holding the fermenting beer? Be my guest! I don’t know how many times complete strangers have asked me how Point can give such a comprehensive tour. You hear lots of comments about lawsuits and liability and insurance. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m sure glad that they do. Hot rooms, cold rooms, wet floors, staircases, the bottling and canning lines; Point Brewery patrons get to see it all.
When I look at the right way to do a brewery tour, Stevens Point Brewery would be a great example; lots of access, good sized tour groups, and great beer to sample at the end of the tour. When I think of a poor way to give a tour, I’m reminded of our last trip to Miller Brewing in Milwaukee. On that tour, we basically got to look at all the beer in the warehouse through plexiglas and were forced to drink Miller High Life before we could sample something that would be a bit more palatable. Given, the size of that facility was impressive, but you’re not allowed to see the working parts of the brewery on the public tour.
If you haven’t experienced the tour at the Stevens Point Brewery, I whole-heartedly recommend you do. I would also recommend that you call a few days ahead and make a reservation. The word is out, and the word is good!
You can reach the Point Brewery for a reservation at this number: 1-800-369-4911 and make sure to tell them that The Great Brew Tour sent you. (sorry.. my inner radio announcer just slipped out there for a moment.)