Nothing says summer in the Midwest like a cold pint and the best cheese on the planet. Seriously: The first U.S. cheesery to win the world cheese championship (yes, that is a thing) in almost 30 years is in Monroe, Wisconsin. The honor solidifies the artisanal-cheese-making cred and Swiss heritage that run deep in Green County, where Monroe is dubbed the cheese capital of the country, and, 20 minutes north, the village of New Glarus is known as America’s Little Switzerland. Plus, there’s craft beer. Of course. Here’s the plan.
Day 1: Monroe
Start at Alp and Dell, a cheese store that fronts the flagship Emmi Roth USA cheese plant—winner of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest with its nutty, full-flavored Grand Cru Surchoix—for a guided creamery tour (Monday through Saturday). Your guide, Swiss-born owner Tony Zgraggen, will dish on the cheese-making process and, if you’re lucky, yodel a farewell.
Hungry? Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern, the state’s oldest cheese shop, is one of the few eateries in the region serving rare Limburger. Summon your inner foodie—and your cojones—and order a sandwich smeared with the über-stinky cheese made with the same bacteria that produce foot odor (yep, for real). Can’t stomach that much? Grab a tiny toothpick tasting and buck up.
Wash it down at Minhas Craft Brewery, the country’s second-oldest brew house. Go for the creamy Huber Bock lager, one of a dozen on tap. The $12 tour will take you all the way back to 1845.
Day 2: New Glarus
For lunch, try the cozy Cow & Quince, which serves local cheeses like the grass-fed Gouda from Edelweiss Cheese—a major ingredient in the epic French toast made with Door County cherries and pork belly.
New Glarus Brewing Co. only sells its beer in Wisconsin, making it all the more covetable. Explore the Dutch Bavarian–inspired buildings and get a trio of three-ounce samples ($8), like the hoppy Moon Man.
Dinner at the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant calls for a pot of bubbly Old World–style cheese fondue or a classic Swiss dish made with local Emmi Roth mild Raclette cheese melted over potatoes.
Festival alert:Beer, Bacon & Cheese on June 10, an event sandwiched into New Glarus’s weekend-long Bavarian-style Polkafest, is a four-hour deep dive into artisan-crafted gluttony.
Pro Tips: Be Cheesy
Alp and Dell’s Tony Zgraggen on what to try on your visit
Roth Private Reserve
“Made with raw milk, defined by an earthy taste—foodies might describe it as ‘barnyard-y.’ ”
“When they cut this 22-pound wheel, salt water dribbles from the holes in the cheese.”
“This one, made by a Dutch family, is available aged beyond 24 months.”
Stay:The unstuffy 66-room Chalet Landhaus Inn (from $159) in New Glarus has traditional Swiss decor.
While You’re There:Bike the Sugar River State Trail ($5 passes and bike rentals from $15 at trail headquarters in New Glarus).
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