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Potosi, in southwestern Wisconsin, less than a mile from the Mississippi River, is a dream mini-vacation for beer enthusiasts. This small town houses one of the state’s oldest breweries, originally built in 1852. Today is home to both the American Breweriana Association’s National Beer Museum and the Potosi Brewery. Housed in a three-story-tall building, the museum boasts more than three million  artifacts, displayed on a rotating basis due to space limitations. There are thousands of historic photos.

Some pieces date back to the 1880’s and are an extension of the history that can be found not only in the museum, but in the old lagering cellars still on-site, carved into the hillsides. If those weathered bricks could talk they’d tell a story of beer booms and busts, wins and losses, successes and sabotages in the beer industry in the last 160+ years. And those walls would boast that Potosi was one of only 133 breweries (out of nearly 3,000 country-wide) that survived Prohibition. It’s survival was possible because they switched gears, selling ice, coal and rootbeer, and bottling milk from local farms. Also, Potosi continued brewing and selling Supreme Lager, a beer that was legal due to its low alcohol content.

The old brewery stood vacant for four decades before the community embarked on resurrecting the crumbling building in 1999. It took the village of Potosi, the Department of Natural Resources and other federal agencies, the formation of the non-profit Potosi Brewery Foundation (the first of its kind nationwide), and the generosity of friends and strangers alike to return it to its former glory.

Renovated to retain its authenticity, it is truly a local gem where the old is respected, and the new is appreciated. Why not plan a day trip? (And beer is available on-site, freshly brewed in an on-site state-of-the-art building.) Tell them your favorite Beer of the Month Club sent you!

ASK MR. BEERHEAD: FRED THURSTON OF MANITOWOC, WI ASKS:”A HUGE DIMPLED GLASS MUG IS PART OF MY BEER MUG COLLECTION. IS IT SPECIAL?”

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Tracie Burket
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