Guess what? A night out in Milwaukee, drinking local beer and taking shots off of wooden skis, can leave you with a wretched hangover. The four of us woke up scattered around the floor in Wes's apartment - Wes had inexplicably left his bed vacant in lieu of the hard living room carpet as well. Slowly, gradually, we peeled ourselves off the floor, bid Wes thanks for his hospitality, and with no skip in our step whatsoever, shuffled out the door in the early afternoon.
We had one more obligation before we vacated the city, one that Joey and Sarah had experienced before but Bern and I had not. They briefed us before we arrived, that we should prepare ourselves to hear the phrase "It's Miller Time" about a hundred times during our visit. Miller Brewing Company
, one of the nation's largest breweries, was the perfect place to douse our hangovers with a little light beer. The Talking Heads still in our heads from Chicago, we strode in and prepared to fight fire with fire.
The tours left on the half hour so we waited in the lobby in the meanwhile. The timeline along the wall detailed the life and times of MBC, and its growth and acquisition of other, smaller breweries over the years. The trio of Miller, Coors and Budweiser make up the three top-selling beer companies in the U.S., which is an absolute travesty, considering they taste practically indistinguishable from each other. But like Budweiser the week before, and our planned visit to Coors in Golden, Colo., a visit here was an essential element of our trip.
Our tour began with a promotional video in a small theater, for which our guide left the room because her head would explode if she had to watch it again. They hadn't changed the video since Joey and Sarah had visited a few years ago, and it was just as ridiculous as they said it would be. Did you know that couches were made for Miller Time?
The tour went through the bottling and canning room, where for the life of me, I couldn't find where the Miller Lite was being filled. Numerous other brews flew by us at rapid speed, and without many questions from the tour group (it was a Monday), we moved on.
Soon we got to a storage room, where our guide said we'd probably never again be in a room that held so much beer. Countless kegs and cases lined the room, which was roughly the size of a very large Walmart. Quite impressive.
Finally, and most unusually, the tour led us up the street and into an enclosed cave. This cold rock enclosure was once their cooling room, where the walls were packed with ice and the beer sat and waited for its judgement day. The lights went down and another video played for us on the wall, which was quite different from the opening video but quite possibly just as ridiculous.
Finally, we made it - the beer garden. Each of us was entitled to three free samples of any of the Miller products on tap, which I was pleased to see included two Leinenkugel
brews, a Wisconsin brewery that had been acquired by Miller. A free tour with free beer and even free postcards is okay by me, regardless of how much of a blatant marketing blitz it is. I kind of thought my own last name was Miller by the time we left.
Now, the drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis is no walk in the park - five and half hours, to be exact. Coupled with our lethargic departure from Wes's and our mandatory brew tour, the long drive meant that we would have very little time to spend around Minneapolis that day, as we'd planned.
But we looked a little deeper into one of our upcoming destinations, the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn. See, I'm a staunch believer in the merits of an early arrival to camping festivals, for the fact that the early bird gets the most desirable campsite. However, according to the 10KLF website, anyone arriving before 10 a.m. on the day the festival began, would be turned away. Since we'd planned to arrive a day early, this meant we could take it easy tonight and bounce around Minneapolis tomorrow. Frankly, I don't know that we had the energy to do otherwise.
On the way into town, we nabbed up a hotel with some help from Priceline
. Upon our arrival, we nestled in and realized we were all very hungry. Nobody seemed to have any interest, however, in getting back in the car and hunting for any food nearby. So we went the easy way out for our first time this trip, and got some reasonably priced room service meals.
Wings, burgers and some kind of seafood for Joey all came within twenty minutes at a cost of about forty bucks. We accidentally double-tipped, but all in all, this was as terrific a meal as I could have hoped for. Inevitably, we found cartoons on TV and drifted away, another long day ahead of us tomorrow. More on that, coming very soon.