Drinking, Wisconsin

Potosi Brewing Company and the National Brewery Museum- Potosi, WI

When we’re on a road trip, you can bet we’re going to attempt checking out a local brewery on our path.  Driving down the Great River Road from LaCrosse, WI to Dubuque, we typically cut across at Marquette, WI which provides beautiful views of the Mississippi from the Iowa side of the Mississippi. Our destination was Potosi Brewery but what we also discovered was that Potosi is home to the National Brewery Museum.

On this particular road trip, we continued down the Great River Road through a cute little river town called Potosi. Our destination was the Potosi Brewing Company, a brewery tucked into the bluff. What we discovered was not only the Potosi Brewery but also home to the National Brewery Museum, Potosi Transportation Museum, and a Mississippi River Interpretive Center. We had no idea! 

Great River Road Interpretive Center

This museum serves as a Great River Road Interpretive Center, one of 70 museums along the Mississippi River. You can learn more about the Great River Road history as well as pick up brochures for other attractions along the Scenic Byway. 

How Long Will the Tour Take?

To take in the entire self-guided Potosi Museum experience, plan to spend 1 to 2 hours minimum to walk through all the rooms of displays.  If you have less time you can certainly breeze through very quickly for a brief overview. Depending on how deep your love of beer nostalgia runs, you could peruse for longer. If you plan to visit on the weekend you can also take in a brewery tour which will add some time to your visit. 

Potosi Brewing Company

It is interesting to note that Potosi Brewing Company is a non-profit organization putting its profits back into the community by supporting historical and educational projects and charities. Potosi Brewing Company operated from 1852 to 1972 was revitalized in 2000 and has been going strong ever since.

Beer lovers will also appreciate the historic value of visiting the Potosi Brewing Company, as it was founded in 1852

Read more about another historic Wisconsin Brewery tour we took at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls.

Take a Self-Guided Tour

We decided to stretch our legs and check out the museum first and save the tasting for last. At the time of our visit, the $5 self-guided museum tour that includes a pint of beer in the pub was our only option.  You’re free to stay as little or as long as you’d like. The tour has audio and video recordings throughout so it’s a very informational self-guided tour. 

Brewery tours are available on Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $15 and includes a pint glass from the gift shop, a pint from the Brewpub, and a year-long pass to the National Brewery Museum & Library. 

Potosi Transportation Museum

We started with the history of the Potosi Transportation Museum. The displays explain the history of the brewery that operated from 1852 – 1972. Potosi was brought back to life in the 2000s and is now thriving. This portion of the museum shows the various ways that Potosi Beer was transported throughout the years including horse-drawn wagons, steamboat rail cars, and delivery trucks.

The Potosi Beer Cave

Peek into the beer cave where beer was once stored to cool and age. Looking close, you can see the fresh spring water streaming through the cave. 

National Brewery Museum 

As craft beer lovers, to say we were aware of the National Brewery Museum would be a lie. We had no clue this existed and was located so close to home in the Southwest corner of Wisconsin. Nor had we heard of the American Breweriana Association (ABA). 

American Breweriana Association

Say what? Breweriana, a term we were not previously familiar with, is a collection of beer bottles & cans, advertising materials, trays, coasters, steins, and anything else that breweries put their logos on. 

These are personal collections that have been donated by ABA members and are from breweries all over the United States. 

It’s quite nostalgic and if your dad or uncle liked a certain beer, it’s likely on display at the National Brewery Museum. Historical equipment that was used to produce beer is also on display. 

This is where a person could really get lost in the collections if you chose to, depending on your level of nostalgia for brands. 

Walk into the research library to discover brewing publications, books, leaflets, and more. As the sign states, this museum and library are preserving America’s brewing history.

Museum Library

The library is open to peruse books and other publications dedicated to the production of beer.

Potosi Brewing Company Restaurant

While you wait for the hostess to seat you, look down! You’ll notice the window to the spring water that flows through the earth and is used in beer production. This Brewpub restaurant has a large dining room as well as a patio tucked into the hillside. The Brewpub offers standard pub fare with appetizers, soups & salads, sandwiches, burgers, and even dessert. 

We did find a Veggie Burger on the menu with roasted garlic & quinoa patty, greens, tomato, cilantro, and crema that looked good. We also noticed a portobello mushroom sandwich that could be modified. We opted for a basket of fries to go along with our beer. 

Potosi Beer

Potosi brews a lot of beer! Currently, Potosi has 5 core beers and also rotates in seasonal beers throughout the year. They also have a signature can series and produce barrel-aged beer and Root Beer. At the time of our visit, there were about 20 beers on tap. 

We shared a flight of beers. The flight includes 6 beers.

Road Tripping to Potosi Brewing Company

During our time at Potosi, we noticed people of all ages stopping in for lunch. They seem to be known for their food in addition to their beer. It’s a great place to stretch your legs if you’re driving through the area or enjoying the Great River Road in Wisconsin.

Potosi Brewing Company is located in southwestern Wisconsin. 

From Bloomington, MN: 238 miles | 4.5-hour drive

From Mankato, MN: 233 miles | 4.5-hour drive

From Dubuque, IA: 20 miles north | 24-minute drive

From La Crosse, WI: 98 miles  (take the Great River Road!) | 2-hour drive

From Madison, WI: 85 miles | 1.5-hour drive

Our visit to Potosi, WI proves you never know what you will find on a road trip!

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