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Turtle Stack Brewery

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

La Crosse, WI


Crusin Rating: C

Booze Rating: C+


The outside of Turtle stack building
Photo credit: Turtle Stack Brewery Facebook Page

It is always interesting to learn the story behind the name. Turtle Stack explains on their website:

“The Mississippi River Valley is known for its abundance of water channels and tributaries. The inspiration behind the name came from the river turtles that can be seen on any given day stacked up on logs competing for the best location to bathe in the warmth of the sun.”

This is actually our second stop at this brewery in as many months. Our first stop was initially in early spring as the sun was going down and they were nearing close so we didn’t really feel like we were doing the place justice. Between the limited time and the COVID regulations still in place we did not feel this place got a fair shot on our initial stop.

Our second journey out, during June, gave us plenty of sunshine on a weekend afternoon and a group of reviewers (the same group from our La Crosse Distilling Co. review) who were eager to try some beer after a morning out in 90 degree weather. The only thing that separates this brewery from the Wonderful Riverside Park in La Crosse is a parking lot. The park offers a plethora of views of the mighty Mississippi, green space, and benches galore. Around the corner The Pearl Ice Cream Shop tempts those with tasty treats, a great stop after some beer and there’s some really solid cajun food at Buzzard Billy’s if you need something more substantial, also just around the corner.

If there is one thing Turtle stack did brilliantly, it’s their location, but to be fair, downtown La Crosse isn’t huge, everything is within walking distance. That’s not to say they don’t have a great spot, they could have gone farther out like 608 Brewing or Pearl Street which we’ve reviewed previously and there were not tons of attractions near either of those spots via walking.

Inside of empty Turtle Stack Brewery
Photo Credit: Turtle Stack Brewery Facebook Page

Like the first time, we were hit with just how small this place is. I wouldn’t go so far as to say intimate because it all appears to be a little too bare bones. This may be a carryover from COVID, but Turtle Stack only has a handful of tables inside and we had to wait for a table big enough for the four of us to sit down. The space is very clean and has that same urban-industrial feeling as the distilling company down the street. The fellow behind the bar was cheerful and helpful enough, but the vibe really was muted.

The four of us could hold a conversation and talk about our thoughts on beer without having to shout over pumping music which ended up being an issue that detracted from the aforementioned distillery. We got a table by the windows which offered ample natural light and it was so wonderfully cool inside when compared to the sweltering heat.

Overall, the space was pretty middle of the road. Since there was so little seating we felt rude staying a long time and it didn’t feel comfortable enough to sit and throw a few beers back with friends. It is close to the water and across the street from a park which is nice, location can hardly be understated in importance, but overall nothing about the space jumped out at us especially so because you can’t take the beer with you to enjoy the park. We aren’t familiar with growler carry out laws in La Crosse so maybe you could have yourself a beer picnic if you stopped in to Turtle Stack first.

Beers on tap when we vsited
All of the Beer on Tap when we visited

Now, on to the beer.

4 half pours of beer at Turtle Stack Brewery
Pina Colada Belgian Blonde, Hoppy Saison, Maibock, and Smash Golden Ale

Right out of the gate, this place does not offer flights. This actually almost caused us to skip reviewing here the first time around; while we do love beer, and I mean really love beer, we don’t always want to get blitzed when we have multiple stops in a day which is exactly what happens when a place only has pints to review (since we like to try a smattering of beers). To the best of our recollection on our first trip we were not offered ½ pours, which may have been due to COIVD.

Our second trip did afford us a chance to try ½ pours which was welcome. Two of us were able to try pints while I did the four beers pictured above for our taste test.

Pina Colada Belgian Blonde (7.1% ABV) - What a lot to pack into one beer. Pina Colada is a pretty ambitiously-strong flavor to pursue in a beer. To add to that I’m looking for those bitter notes from the Belgian but also the well rounded characteristics of a Blonde. This beer was heavy on the coconut and pineapple juice right on the nose. The mouthfeel was crisp with some definite acidity. Definitely tasted as our Doctor said “like suntan lotion on a hot day”, which I am totally fine with that flavor, I enjoy Pina Coladas. There was also notes of that lager yeast, a classic Blonde characteristic that gives a sort of bready reminder to your beer. I did lose any bitterness from the hops that are usually characteristic of a Belgian though. This beer was polarizing throughout our table. In the end I’d say this beer tried to set its own bar too high and missed it’s marks. However, as a Pina Colada flavored ale, it would work.

Hoppy Saison (8.2% ABV) - I do enjoy a Saison here and there that's for sure. This beer was the color of straw and we could all smell esters of apricot and orange peel on the nose. Mouthfeel was dry and I know I’m getting to know my beers when I could definitely tell they used Mosaic Hops. We had initially thought Citra hops on our first taste but as we kept going we settled on Mosaic for sure. This beer was really hoppy, I’d say it was really closer to a Belgian style IPA. With a Belgian Saison I’m usually looking for hints of spices to add to complexity but didn’t find any here. Without those spice complexities I’d have a hard time recommending this one as a Saison.

Maibock (6.9% ABV) - Pale and Malty, just how I like Maibocks, or is it a Helles Bock? We can leave that debate for another day. With a sweet malt aroma this beer went down smooth with a medium mouthfeel. Compared to the dryness of the Saison this beer seemed “wet” in comparison, swirling on the tongue. This was a fine beer that checked all the boxes and was a solid entry into the category.

Smash Golden Ale (4.7% ABV) - This one was nice so I tried it twice, once on the initial stop and once on the second. Usually an American Golden is not hoppy or hazy while this is both. I would put this closer to a British Golden which does afford some hops but either way I do not mind it. The low carbonation means easy sipping for us and there were tastes of both honey and fermented fruits with medium bitterness. This was just what I was looking for a hot summer day.

Overall here the beers here were average or maybe a little higher. I’d say there are more interesting beers to try in La Crosse, WI that are better executed. The location of Turtle Stack is a real saving grace so if you’re already in town trying out 608 Brewing or La Crosse Distilling it’s a decent destination to hit after a walk through the park.

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

To learn more about Turtle Stack Brewery, visit their website at: or on Instagram @TurtleStackBrewery or on Facebook @TurtleStackBrewery

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