Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine & Cheese is Back!

The sequel is hardly ever better than the original. This is true in most cases like Transformer movies or Nickelback albums.

It has been three years since my first ever article here where I relayed my experience at my first ever Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine, and Cheese Fest and much has changed in the world since that time. However some things are timeless, specifically three things, and no two of those things are not Transformer movies or Nickelback albums. Shocking I know! Beer, wine, and cheese, especially when put into a fest format is a worthy opponent for any challenger, however not enough for Covid. Alas, a two year hiatus would not dampen mine, nay, the whole contingency of beer drinkers spirits and anticipation for this year’s Between the Bluffs festival of good times and merriment. Nevertheless, this festival had a lot of hype to live up to, both as a place to expand the horizons of the palate and also a place for people to return to a semblance of normalcy.

I arrived at the downtown La Crosse venue, which is also home to the German heritage festivities known as Oktoberfest, around noon on a Wisconsiny overcast and slightly misty day. The usual accommodation for this festival it seems. This did not persuade any of the beer tasters to stay at home however. Especially if they shelled out some extra cash for the VIP tickets, which allows a “Fester” to experience the grounds for an extra two hours, from 12-6 instead of just 2-6. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be a part of this prestigious group of connoisseurs. The main draw of these extra two hours before everyone else shows up is, of course, the opportunity to taste the cheese. My last foray into this festival, I was unfortunately just a general admission peasant. This meant no cheese was to be had by me in 2019. This year I would get my cheese from the Beer, Wine, & Cheese Fest! So I did and it was everything I dreamed of. Cheddar cheese, Portabella cheese, Merlot cheese, and some other cheeses that escape my memory but not my taste. After fulfilling my cheese destiny after three years of anticipation I moved on to the main event. Wine. Just kidding, I did not have any wine, but my sister/photographer did. She said it was good, so you will have to take her word for it. And you should. I would trust her with my life and so should you. That concludes my wine review. Now onto beer.


This event is what beer lovers dream of. From 12% double stouts to Mike’s Hard Lemonades, there’s a little something for everyone. This festival really makes you feel like you’re from Wisconsin no matter where you’re from. And like we always say in Wisconsin, “You can’t drink all day unless you start around noon at a fest ground with unlimited samples”, hard to put on a tee shirt but it gets the message across. My day started with a stop at the nano-brewery, Skeleton Crew Brew and Lost Island Wine. I chatted with the owners as I indulged in a cold IPA. We actually played volleyball against each other that winter, small world. Volleyball article coming soon, but I digress. There were more samples to be had so on to the next stop.

This would be HillsboroBrewingCompany, located about an hour away from La Crosse and also home to the Driftless Music Gardens I had previously attended. The drinks they served would make an excellent pairing with the folky tunes they have there every summer. I recommend checking out both!

Some more samples were had at various other vendors but Beer, Wine & Cheese actually does have more than just beer, wine, and cheese. They also had hammerschlagen, a German game where you try to hit a nail in the stump of a tree with the wedge side of the hammer. Nothing says fun more than testing your construction skills after having a few brews. The prize, of course, is a cowbell. The most treasured of trophies sought out during any Wisconsin festival. I’m sad to report that I did not win, but my friend did, so close enough. If you aren’t up to the competition of schlagen, you can still unwind while still using a slightly dangerous weapon with axe throwing! I do not recall this being here from my last visit. It seemed like a good way for everyone to blow off some steam from the last two years of Covid. If wielding construction or lumberjack tools isn’t your forte but still want physical activity or just sensory delights, then maybe listening to the live music they have to offer would be perfect for you. Plenty of room to dance and plenty of room to sit down, recuperate, and reminisce on all of the fun you have been having and to plan all the fun that is still to begin.


At this point the VIP hours were coming to close and the storm of general admission festers started to appear. It is kind of like a precursor to Oktoberfest five months early. Even with the swarms of people, it was still remarkably quick to get a fill of the 3 oz taste tester glass at almost all of the vendors. While I waited in line during these times, it was actually very common to see someone I hadn’t seen in years to catch up. So even waiting in line wasn’t a bad thing. Depending on the person I was seeing for the first time in years, of course. Beer, Wine & Cheese fest did it again in my eyes. Everything from the beer to the cheese to the hammers and axes all felt exactly how it should after a three year hiatus. I recommend checking it out in 2023 to see what they have in store, hopefully some more vendors and quite possibly even some more dangerous throwing projectile activities if we’re lucky. There’s only one way to find out and that will be when April of 2023 comes around. Hope to see you there, but if you don’t come, I guess that’s fine. More cheese for me!

By Nolan Arentz      |     Photos: Beer, Wine, & Cheese Fest