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Commerce Street Brewery Hotel

Mineral Point, WI


Crusin' Rating: A

Booze Rating: C-


Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Commerce Street Brewery Hotel- Exterior

This week is our first update to a 2021 article we did from last year! Initially, when we visited this spot we thought the food alone was worth the trip from Madison and wouldn’t you know, almost a year later we stopped back in because we heard that they finally had the beer production up and running. Welcome to the Commerce Street Brewery update of 2022!

Our initial article went pretty in depth on the vibe and hotel that takes up the top floors. If you recall, Mike, the owner, also made a mention in our Best of the Year 2021 post as one of the most engaging staff that we had the pleasure of meeting last year. This trip we are focusing on the beer, talking a little bit about the menu changes that happened over COVID, and finally, hitting on some of the recent fame that this brewery has hit with the unfortunate passing of Betty White.

First up, the food. You know that we long struggle with finding a place that can do both beer and food. You also know from our initial article that I had traveled to this spot looking for beer but initially only found lunch as production had not started on the brewskis. I had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of food initially, enough that I brought Hannah back to the scenic little art spot that is Mineral Point for an excellent lunch and a walk around the shops- mainly art galleries- in town.

This time, the menu has shifted as has the brewery from full on restaurant to “brewery bites” or small plate pub food. I’m going to admit right now that when I saw the menu had changed, my heart sank. I had really been impressed with the food and I immediately assumed that the food quality would go out the window and we would be faced with yet another mediocre food scene while drinking beer.

I’m here to announce that that assumption was absolutely wrong and while the menu may have changed in size and choices the food is absolutely still worth it.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Commerce Street Brewery Hotel- Cru Tasting Beer

The cheese curds at Commerce Street, we can say (¾ of our team, in fact) are some of, if not the best cheese curds in Wisconsin. Their jalapeno breading and jam set them so far ahead of the pack, you debate ordering a second plate of them, even if you already have more food coming. On this trip, throughout our tasting, we tasted all but two items on this revamped menu. Hannah and the Artist had high praise for the bread pudding, pork sliders, and chili. I myself thought my chicken and wild rice soup was excellently warming on a freezing January day and their fries, as always, are awesome. The entire menu is just, worth the trip. If the chef is still there on staff he’s nailed it. You have snacky items like pretzels and soup or fries if you are just trying to take the edge off a bunch of beers or the options for sliders if you’re a little hungrier. I think some sliders, fries, and cheese curds would be plenty enough for anyone to have for lunch and each item is crafted with care with no corners cut. There is still a lot of year left but I think we already are looking at a contender for best food at a brewery this year. While this is no longer a destination restaurant, I think they have pivoted into an excellent menu.

I hope that, as time goes on, some of the options on this smaller menu change to keep it fresh, but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing about it (except maybe the bread pudding but that’s personal preference).

The vibe is more or less unchanged. The historic limestone walls had been updated with some artwork and other decor, there was a small potbelly style stove and some new drapery. It’s rustic, cozy, and while there was a steady stream of people, we were able to while away an hour or two completely undisturbed while enjoying our annual staff meeting for the blog.

They currently have five of their own beers on tap that they make on site in addition to others made off site (including a very, very sour grape beer made in conjunction with Eagle Park). Flights were $8.00 for four beers which is $2 under our average of $10 per flight.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Commerce Street Brewery Hotel- Beer Flight

Blonde Betty II - This was a beer that I enjoyed, a Cream Ale that was very pale yellow and smelled of sweet cream and a fruitiness I couldn’t quite pin down. Not fruity like a basket of fruit, but fruit like you catch a whiff of a summer-themed perfume. Low carbonation throughout, this beer was smooth with slight milky flavors which made for a very understated and pleasant experience.

Farmhouse 008 - If you’re wondering what a farmhouse style is, chances are you’ve had one, which may be one of the most famous beers to ever be made here in Wisconsin, Spotted Cow. Farmhouse ale is what we might call an Americanism as the term may not include a distinct enough set of characteristics to warrant its own distinct beer category. For our purposes, I’m going to judge this as a Saison, which is what most Farmhouse Ales are close to even though I’ve seen Saisons, Biere de Garde, and even Gueze beer be called “Farmhouse Style.”

That little bit of background aside, we all thought this farmhouse really had the farm aspect in hand. We all picked up aromas of wet hay, a little wheat, and even some grain feed that you’d find on a farm. The taste was also something unexpected as we got notes of smokiness, like right when you light up some kindling, according to Hannah. There was almost a scotch smokiness throughout and a strong, dry hop finish.

Now, I am not a brewer and I only did some cursory searches on some home-brewing forums on smoky-tasting beers to say what was going on, but I do think that this one is not supposed to taste smoky. I know for certain that the Saison style or other styles typically under the moniker of Farmhouse also do not contain smoky notes. I’d say pass on this one unless the smokiness gets resolved.

Redemption II - This Belgian Pale ale featured high clarity and golden color with high carbonation. I thought this smelled of bubblegum and yeast with lots (LOTS) of floral hop notes just before drinking. I thought the hop character, filled with pine and resin, was a little too on the nose here and expected just a little more fruitiness. When I think of a Belgian Pale, I think of some herbal or spicy notes to the taste, and a little sweetness but I did not find that here. This beer finished very dry and the hoppiness stuck around.

[Hey] Starboy - This opaque brown Stout had a creamy, full head and smelled of dark roasted morning coffee with just a little bit of chocolate peeking through. Hannah and The Artist both pointed out that this tasted like coffee with some alcohol notes in it, rather than a coffee flavored beer if that makes sense. Not quite like a cocktail, but not as cohesive as a Coffee Stout should be. The flavor was decent, a velvety dark roast and I thought that the coffee notes were a little intense, it was enjoyable enough. I did find it to be a little light in the mouthfeel instead of that thick fullness you tend to get with a Stout, which may have lent to the notion the other two picked up on.

If you’ve seen the news lately, chances are you were heartbroken at the passing of Betty White. Well, Commerce Street has been making headlines throughout the nation as they started a program where you could buy a beer for Betty and the program reached heights that owner, Mike, never saw coming. You can read all about the program in the Washington Post, or on NPR The gist is, Betty is a bit of a local legend because one of her late husbands hails from Mineral Point so people have been buying beers for her for some time in hopes to entice her to visit the small town and sip some beers with the locals. Support for the program has surged since her passing as fans continued to buy beers to honor her memory; the brewery is set to make a $6,000+ donation to the Iowa County Humane Society in her honor. Seeing the board completely filled and pages with additional tally marks fastened next to it was a heartwarming sight, to be sure.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Commerce Street Brewery Hotel- Beers for Betty
Tally Marks of all of the "Beers for Betty"

In all, I think the beer, for the first few months of production is off to a promising start and we will definitely be heading back, perhaps with the grandparents guest-reviewing, as summer comes back around and the weather turns pleasant. I count down the days to when we get to have some of the amazing cheese curds and while some of the beers could see improvement, it’s still very early in the story for Commerce Street Brewery and I know I will be following along with interest.

Go out and try the cheese curds. It’s worth it, I promise.

Until then, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

**All photo credit goes to The Artist. Thank you for following us around and making us look cute!**

To learn more about Commerce Street Brewery Hotel please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @CommerceHotel or on Instagram: @CommerceHotel

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