2019 Beer Wine & Cheese Fest – La Crosse WI

It was a perfect April spring day in La Crosse, Wisconsin; thirty degrees, overcast, and a persistent cold mist that makes a human not want to move at all, much less actually go outside. In Wisconsin, we call it “Festing” weather. I couldn’t dream of better conditions to go to the 16th annual Beer, Wine, & Cheese Fest, a festival that provides four hours of bottomless samples of beer and wine for a measly $60, than trying to forget what the weather is like as it soaks me to the bone. I gathered that’s how my other fellow hundreds of common folk Festers felt as we filed through the gates at 2 pm. The fancy folks with VIP passes warmed up the grounds for us peasants from Noon – 2 pm. Regardless, the promised land of never ending beer and wine awaited those from all walks of life equally. However, the cheese was not as endless as the beer and wine, I guess that’s how the VIP’s warm up the grounds.

This was my friends and I first year going to BW&C, and go figure, it was just a classic Wisconsin April snowfall away from being the worst, although some would argue best, possible “Festing” conditions. Even if snow would have fallen on that glorious day, it still would not have persuaded us to stay away from the Wisconsin festival that houses more than 57 beer and 27 wine vendors. The nine cheese vendors that were allegedly there managed to allude me in my four hours on the premises. Complaints about average Wisconsin weather and disappearing cheese aside, the experience in the tents was everything I could have hoped for it to be. Vendors lined up one next to the other manned by efficient and mostly amiable bartenders. I tested the wares of both beer tents with my way too small albeit legally sized 2 Oz sampling glass. I would say one tent was better than the other when it came to beer selection, so I spent most of my time and BA level there. This choice tent roofed the likes of New Glarus, New Belgium, and Turtle Stack to name just a few among the fine breweries present. The other tent was home to the national favorites of Guinness and Samuel Adams. All said and done, there was no wrong choice when it came to beer tents.

After spending an hour or two in the beer tents, my friends and I wanted a change of pace and taste. We decided to head over to the other tent that provided the wine. Needless to say, this tent was more popular and populated with our female counterparts. A tent of free wine might just be the best opportunity to converse with the opposite gender, and methinks my friends knew that all along. Needless to say, I just kept to myself because I had business to attend to, not because I am socially inept with the ladies. On to more important business, which is of course the wine. I was hard pressed to find any red wines that I actually drink like a merlot or pinot noir. These vendors were mostly peddling dessert wines, blends, and coolers. Not exactly what I had hoped for, but after two hours of free beer, I would have tried and enjoyed just about anything. I wasn’t going to complain at this point. I am no wine connoisseur, but that what I had was pretty good.

As the day went on, the jolly atmosphere inside all of the tents was a welcomed contrast to the gloomy darkness of the day outside. Lines were fast, glasses were filled, people were dry and good humored, and most importantly everyone was having a good old fashion time. I have heard stories of how this event slowly turned into a mini Oktoberfest over the years, but I didn’t see or hear any signs of that kind of ruckus. Sure some patrons over indulged in the sampling, but in the four hours I was there, those instances were few and far between.

All in all, the weather was miserable but Beer, Wine, & (Not Much) Cheese fest easily made it an enjoyable April Saturday in this part of the Driftless region for this guy and his buddies. If you have an opportunity, I highly recommend coming to my neck of the woods next year April to try the fest yourself. If you like cheese make sure to get the fancy VIP ticket for early access or maybe just bring your own cheese, Lord knows they could use more cheese.

By: Nolan Arentz

About The Beer Wine & Cheese Fest

Taste over 200 quality brews poured by distinguished breweries. Experience over 45 types of wine from local and world-famous vintners. Sample and purchase gourmet cheese and other good eats All attendees receive a souvenir glass.

Visit Website