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Mel's Micro

Richland Center, Wisconsin


Crusin' Rating: C-

Booze Rating: D-


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Mel's Micro- Outside

This week, the Thirsty Troll and I are heading out along Hwy 14 to check out a spot that, admittedly, is easy to overlook and we have quite literally driven right past it on an occasion. If you’ve been out on Hwy 14, you know there’s a handful of small farming communities, permanent farm stands, and little oddities and attractions along the way from more famous spots like Taliesin and The House on the Rock to a little drive in out of a bygone era. Highway 14 may not be the fastest or even the most scenic drive you take in Wisconsin, but it is a nice little alternate route to get to Viroqua and La Crosse should you ever get tired of the freeway.

Mel’s Micro sits right outside of Richland Center, Wisconsin, directly on Hwy 14. An unassuming Wisconsin bar that you may never have guessed is brewing its own beer. While details are fairly scant on when brewing started, we were able to determine that it is the owner who started this out of a passion for home-brewing. I’ll admit, we were not entirely sure that this aging bar was the place we were looking for but we know better than to judge a book by its cover. With an exterior similar to many other country spots around Wisconsin and a few cars in the parking lot, the Thirsty Troll and I walked inside, fully expecting to find out that there was no crafted beer to be had.

Upon entering, we didn’t exactly hit the ground running - a lot of stares and even a glare or two. That’s alright, Hannah and I have definitely been to spots before where we felt unwelcomed. A little off-putting, considering that we hadn’t walked in dressed in anything other than what we’d wear on the usual weekend in September. We try not to let that kind of interaction have any bearing on a review unless it’s persistent and escalates to outright rudeness, which can happen. Luckily though, except for one or two patrons, everyone warmed up to us once the Packer game started and realized we weren’t - well, whatever they assumed we were in the first place.

The space is quite large, with four pool tables, a very long and snake-like bar that sits at least 20 and must be the better part 60 feet in length. There were a mishmash of TV’s of various sizes, some behind the bar, and others more sporadically placed to accommodate those in the back of the space at a handful of tables. I hesitate to use the term haphazard, as I don’t want to disparage this spot, but it did seem to be a little unorganized in how the space was laid out. This space was large, and we confirmed with a little blurb on the menu that it’s large enough to host events - maybe a birthday or retirement party. I don’t feel the space was being fully maximized here, but maybe it simply does not get busy enough to do so.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Mel's Micro

For instance, we were there on a Packer Sunday and while there can be any number of factors that contribute to attendance, I would have expected many more patrons. Some did trickle in throughout our hour of reviewing to the point that the bar seating was filled. Now, In reality, there are only a handful of low tables sprinkled throughout the rest of the space so it might be one of those instances wherein if you don’t have a seat at the bar you go elsewhere.

Mel’s Micro was running a $5 special which included a grilled brat or Chicago dog (for the Packers v. Bears), chips, and what we assumed were home-made baked beans. The beans

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Mel's Micro

were quite good and the rest was serviceable. Mel’s has burgers and sandwiches on the menu, typical tavern offerings and, as a full bar, has mixers, shots, beers - craft, domestics, and imports, some wine, and 4 of their own beers on tap, one of which was out during our visit. As the game started, and Greenbay scored, we were invited to partake in a home-made (by one of the locals) apple pie shots that are free on every touch down coupled with a chant of “Go Pack Go”. As we did our shot we did get to talking with some of the patrons to find out many of them are local industry or farming folk and this is there local watering hole and they aren’t too bothered by the offering of craft beer nor do they feel inclined to try it. I can understand that might be a tough crowd to sell your own beer to. It does bring up the perspective that not every town in Wisconsin needs its own brewery, wants its own brewery, or can sustain its own brewery. I know we are in the middle of a craft beer boom, but there are places, even in our beer-centric state, where a brewery is just not in the cards. The Thirsty Troll and I pondered that over our tasting and came to the conclusion that the owner of Mel’s must enjoy the hobby enough to make his/her own beer, regardless of the market. More power to him.

On to the beer!

Let me just say to start that, Mel’s Micro has the cheapest flight we have yet to come across. With what must be 5 oz pours if not 6 oz and coming in at $7/flight of four, these are the cheapest samples that we’ve found in Wisconsin (that aren’t given freely) at $1.75. The second cheapest pints at $4.50 as well, coming in just behind City Service Brewing in Darlington, WI.

Mary’s Otter Brown Ale (5.7% ABV) - This beer poured reddish–brown with high clarity. Smelling a little floral and definitely of that maillard reaction on toast, even if faintly. With a dull floral note up front and then some perceived metallic tang, and a definite minerality followed by some light fruitiness. Minerality in beer isn’t necessarily bad, I usually assume it comes from the water used to brew the beer, however, that sharp metallic tang definitely does not belong in this style, or really any beer as it's not a decidedly pleasant flavor and while I will not speculate, means something went incorrect somewhere in the process.

C Ya West Coast IPA (5.0% ABV) - This beer poured almost amber with high clarity and featured sweet pine notes on the nose. With a low pine sap sweetness and that definite northwoods pine taste and a dry finish in which the hops didn't stick around long after the finish. I don’t know if this one quite makes it as a West Coast IPA. I mean I was expecting plenty of bitterness and next to no sweetness. While I did not particularly want the hoppiest of hoppy beers I was expecting a little more for a description that read “all the C’s”. I -and this is an assumption - assumed this meant Chinook, Cashmere, Citra, Cascade, Centennial - you know the hops that start with C so I was, perhaps incorrectly, expecting a West Coast so over-the-top hoppy to not be drinkable by design. This was drinkable, and the Thirsty Troll did enjoy two pints - but I actually opted for a pint of a different Wisconsin craft after the tasting was complete.

Wolfhound Irish Stout (4.0% ABV) - We had a rough finish with this almost-black stout. With the two of us picking up a musty, burnt, and quite chemically smell and tasting of grill char, smokiness, and burnt chocolate, this is a beer that neither of us wanted to finish, unfortunately. With that burnt aroma and flavor not belonging in any form of stout. This was an instance wherein we were both in agreement to skip this one, regardless if you are a usual stout lover.

You know, maybe the owner of Mel’s is out there doing the best he or she can with a market that doesn’t exactly welcome new beer to the scene. There were almost 50 Untappd reviews on the beer here so we aren’t the only craft brew fans out here trying a small spot in Richland Center. I am going to say though, that this is not a spot I am going to recommend trying. If you really want some tavern food and are taking 14 then by all means stop in. But I would, unfortunately, not recommend a trip here.

Better luck next time!

Keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!

To learn more about Mel's Micro please visit their website at: Facebook: @MelsMicro

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