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Potosi Brewing Company

Potosi, WI


Crusin Rating: A

Booze Rating: B+

Historical Potosi Brewing from the outside

One of the first posts we did here at Crusinforbooze was a little winery that is in a town that really stole our hearts, Potosi, WI. You can read my initial impressions of the town of Potosi in that article, but here’s the short and sweet. Nestled in a steep valley just a hundred or so yards from the Mississippi, Potosi is one of those places that captures small town Americana and is really and excellent example of the type of town that Crusinforbooze is all about. With the bulk of the town and few shops existing on one street that leads directly to the mightiest river in our nation, Potosi is nothing less than one of those towns you see on a postcard. We continuously go back there for an excellent fish fry, small-town kindness, and magnificent scenery.

This trip, we are focusing on the place that draws us back time and again with both the beer and the fish fry, Potosi Brewing Company. Potosi Brewing Company is old, a lot older than I had realized before I got into beer. It’s also pretty widely distributed. It’s one of those breweries that, before I was in to the beer scene I had seen out of the corner of my eye in stores, coolers, and on tap but never really registered that it was Wisconsin-based back in college where my world pretty much existed in a five block radius of State Street in Madison.

Now that I’ve become more educated in various imbibements to my layman’s perspective, Potosi ranks right up there with New Glarus and Leinei's for distribution in our state. I know, I know, Those other two are leagues ahead, but I honestly can’t think of another brewery that isn’t largely commercialized with beer so widespread in our state (excluding, of course, massive international beers that shall not be named here and are about as Wisconsin as that guy driving the wrong way around the lake).

The building itself is fairly old and steeped in history, sporting an original beer cave as well as the American Breweriana Association National beer museum. While the Museum is a small, one-room, self guided tour (no guided tours due to COVID every time we’ve gone their over the past year) we did find some information to take away and it’s an excellent use of time while waiting for a dinner table.

As you know, we don’t usually focus on food too much but Potosi has an absolutely outstanding fish fry, with the caveat that you should go later in the day or earlier to avoid the dinner rush. We once, mid-COVID spring went in to find the place largely empty at 7:00 PM and were able to make friends with some locals, chat with the bartender and sample some phenomenal cod. Another time, of course as I traveled with my grandparents, the entire restaurant seemed to be under the sole command of the high school cheer leading team. One of our party members had to wait thirty minutes after everyone else had been served to get her food because an entree was forgotten. Rather than put a rush on that, people seated 20 minutes after us got all of their food while we were left hanging. So there was definitely some hit-and-miss service, which was not great, but the fish still was. When I say the fish is good, I’m talking better than some local Wisconsin favorites of Lakefront Brewing or even Oakcrest Tavern in Madison. The only place so far where we’ve found a better fish fry is Quivey’s Grove in Madison but that usually has a minimum hour wait for a table, in which case, why not just drive to Potosi and take in the sunset over the river?

Anyway, back on track. The restaurant is set up with polished whitewood, corrugated tin accents, neon and metal beer signage and the space is dominated by an old school dark wood and brass bar that rivals Miller. With stained glass and an impressive display of some twenty taps, it’s actually really impressive while staying very true to a Wisconsin tavern. It can get pretty noisy on a busy day but if you’re lucky enough to be trying some beer on an off-night you’re in for a treat. It’s such a refresh to see a place stick close to it’s roots and history, stay clean, and really just emulate that old-school Wisconsin feel. While it could use a little more natural light, we really can’t fault the space and when not dominated by by the not-old-enough-to-drive squad, the staff was pleasant and quite friendly.

The bar inside of Potosi Brewing

I’ve said it before and I’ll restate it. Something about the town, even the newer offices and newer production facility built by Potosi still gives off this great vibe. You can tell it’s a working town and you can tell that the people there take great pride in the work they do. We were even stopped by a fellow, about retirement age, who regaled us with tales of his family working for the brewing for multiple generations and how happy he was to see visitors come in to enjoy the hard work the townsfolk put in.

When you’re there for fish, park across the street, stop by and listen to the small creek rush underneath the woodshop for a moment and take it all in. Take the time to stop down by the river and just listen to the water lap up against the rocks and watch that sunset before you enter the brewery to the buzz of happy conversation and know that this is what Wisconsin is all about.

Flight of Beer

As to another thing this blog is all about, beer:

For flights, you can pick 6 beers for 8 bucks, with a $2.00 up charge for some of their specialty samples. Really an affordable deal that, with two tastings, you can try almost all of the beers they have.

I want to hone in on six today:

Cave Amber Ale (5.5% ABV) - This amber was the color of burnt pumpkin when held up to the light with fairly high clarity. This was a full bodied, beer with medium-high malt content that features notes and baking spice that finish sweet. Rich malt meets your nose with hints of caramel. Overall it was a solid amber.

Good Old Potosi Golden Ale (4.5% ABV) - This golden ale had very high clarity and was the color of warm straw when held up to the light. It was easily drinkable and sort of refreshing, really, which is typical of the style. Medium bitterness and a dry, but sweet finish, it had an understated hop aroma. While it didn’t wow me, I found nothing wrong with this ale.

Snake Hollow IPA (6.5% ABV) - This IPA was decidedly overly hoppy and bitter with a dry finish that did not have the quenching effect they described. The aroma was slightly resinous and wasn’t quite as refined as other IPA’s we’ve tried but the hops were definitely featured, so it was passable.

Oktoberfest (5.5%) ABV - This Marzen was reddish brown, almost the color of stained cherry wood when held to the light and the aroma smelled of toasted bread crust. It tasted rich with malt and toasted bred. The beer had low clarity, but it wasn’t cloudy. When it hits your tongue it starts sweet with that toasty malt but finishes dry, perhaps a little too sharply with medium carbonation. Overall a serviceable Oktoberfest.

Steamboat Lemon Shandy (4.2% ABV) - Here’s a beer that I would put at 3rd behind Summer Shandy and then Crop Circle Wheat from the Great Dane but Hannah actually prefers this to summer shandy. This Shandy features a high portion of lemonade than the others giving it a little more of that bright lemon juice and, to me, tastes not enough like beer, but for Hannah, who doesn’t overly relish beers that aren’t sours, it was a great addition to her collection of beers she can order while out. Cloudy and smelling of lemonade, this shandy hits with that mix of sugary sweet tartness that brings you back to having your own lemonade stand trying to save up for some legos or a trip to the movies back in the 90’s. Nostalgia aside, this is a beer we have started to stock over the summer when we need something light to take on the boat.

Riverside Radler Grapefruit Hefeweizen (4.2%ABV) - Comparing it to the other Grapefruit Hefeweizen (yes, I know they call their version a shandy) that I know from Leinies I wholly think this is the better of the two. I’m not particularly partial to grapefruit (if I had to rank fruits, this would absolutely be in the bottom five, looking at you, too Durian fruit) but if I had to pick a grapefruit beer this one wins out. With the typical cloudiness and low carbonation of the style I actually pick up small hints of banana bread as well as grapefruit on the nose. The grapefruit here is understated and not overpowering, complimenting the banana esters already present instead of shooing them off the stage to be front and center. Also, no matter how many times I try it, Leinie's grapefruit always tastes like Fruit Loops milk and beer to me. This one, thankfully does not. So while the flavor of the fruit may not be my favorite, I can recommend this as your go-to grapefruit beer if that’s your beer of choice.

Potosi Brewing Company, in many ways, reminds me of a smaller, more regional-focused Leinenkugel. Both have a beer for almost any occasion, both are affordable, and both have distinctive labeling that I can pick out anywhere. If I want a shandy, Potosi has one. Oktoberfest? You bet. Porter? Done deal. How about a little barleywine? Potosi has it. I have got to say, on the whole I do enjoy several of their beers and those that I don’t love still have the characteristics of being average or above for their respective styles. They may not wow some pickier people but they definitely have the correct process behind a style. There are some, like their Grapefruit Hefeweizen, that I actually prefer to Leinie’s. Hannah also enjoys Steamboat just a little more than Summer Shandy since she’s partial to more of that lemon flavor.

In sum, if you are looking for a fantastic little slice of the Midwest, enjoy checking out the Mississippi and want a place with a great fish fry and some good beer to go with it, Potosi Brewing Company absolutely comes with the Crusinforbooze stamp of approval. It’s worth the trip.

Until next time, don’t stop crusin, keep on boozin.

To learn more about Potosi Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @PotosiBrewingCo or on Instagram: @PotosiBrewingCo

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