Wisconsin June 05, 2019
There’s Years Of Brewing History Hiding In This Tiny Wisconsin Town
Way down in the farthest southwest corner of the state, right on the Great River Road and sitting above the Mississippi River about 20 miles north of Dubuque, Iowa, is the tiny town of Potosi. With a population of less than 700 folks, this place might be just a blip on the map if not for the fact that it’s home to Potosi Brewery. After a few decades of being abandoned, this brewery with roots dating back to 1852 is back – and brewing up some delicious beer. This revitalized spot is drawing tens of thousands of visitors to a part of the state that might otherwise be overlooked unless you really had a hankering to visit the “Catfish Capital of Wisconsin.”
It took an intrepid group of locals to revive this brewery that was once one of the biggest in the state and distributed beer across the country. The first brewery started here back in 1852 was a small, local one that served the community. It was much like hundreds of others across the state that had a low profile and mainly served the nearby community before the invention of refrigeration.
In 1886, Adam Schumaker bought the building and by 1906, he and his brothers founded Potosi Brewing. They survived Prohibition and became the fifth-largest brewery in the state. The brewery was the main employer in this part of the state for more than a century, but was shuttered in 1972. The buildings were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, but sat around empty and falling apart until 1995, when local artist and woodworker Gary David and his cousin Denis David bought them.
Now the brewery has been revitalized and in 2004, it was chosen as home to the National Brewery Museum by the American Breweriana Association. There are millions of dollars of artifacts now housed here and the brewery is a unique model — they donate all profits to charity.
The brewery museum was being courted by cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis, but Potosi was chosen, in part, because of the 160+ years of brewing history that exist here in the very same buildings that still stand today. The museum has everything from old bottles and glasses to archived radio and TV commercials. It's a totally unique and fascinating experience to walk through these rooms chock full of brewing history and ephemera.
This spot is the perfect place to plan a day trip through some of the most gorgeous parts of the state. The Great River Road runs all the way up the Mississippi River and the bluffs in this part of the state are impressive. You might not have considered a stop here, but you'll be glad you did when you discover delicious brews, tasty food, and more brewery history than you knew existed right here in Wisconsin!
The brewery regularly offers tours, but the awesome, rustic, restored brew pub is open the same hours as the museum and is always on the ready to serve up great Potosi beer or Root Beer — plus snacks and meals to keep your energy up.
The pub is a gorgeous mix of old and new, with a massive bar on one end of the room, exposed brick, and cool bits of history everywhere, including in the bathrooms!
Whether you make a quick stop for a totally amazing meal on your way through or plan a day to discover all the awesome history in this spot, you're sure to have a fabulous time.
Potosi is now a destination for hardcore beer lovers. The riches you'll find here include truly tasty beer, more than 160 years of history, buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, and an amazing museum with artifacts you'll never find anywhere else.
Address: 209 South Main Street, Potosi, WI, 53820
Learn more about Potosi Brewing Company
here. There’s more about the Brewery Museum here. Potosi’s Facebook page can be found here.
The American Breweriana Association National Brewery Museum and the Potosi Brew Pub are open Monday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.