In Wisconsin, breweries are the subject of historical lore and also trendy locations. The history of beer in the Badger State is most profound in Milwaukee, the home of German brewers who once produced brews such as Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz and Miller. Besides the history, Micro Breweries are popping up everywhere in this state. There are five that I can name off the top of my head in Green Bay alone, and I might be missing one. What I’m trying to say is, in America’s Dairyland, beer is part of life.
So taking into consideration the two sides to beer in the state, why not find a place that combines both old and new. While it is not in Milwaukee, the Stone Arch Brew Pub, located in Appleton, is the oldest operating brewery in Outagamie County. Add some genuine craft brews with trendy dining areas and this place becomes a can’t miss, at least for the Wisconsin beer lover.
I drive into a small and packed parking lot on a Thursday night. I’m fretting a bit because it is so full, as Heidi is telling me all about her life. I’m thinking that I might not find a spot and will have to turn back. But as I peruse the last row, I find one lone space. I’m saved for the moment.
As we approach the two yellowed limestone buildings, which have endured around 135 years of Midwest weather, I’m struck by the antiquated look of these twin structures. They definitely have a storied past, even if they are not the original structure that housed the lot’s first brewery founded in 1858. Over the years, these two buildings have changed hands and produced different labels of beer. It also was once a mall known as ‘Between the Locks’.
When we enter, we find a long line and I start to wonder if I’ll be waiting for a seat at the restaurant. However, the queue is for another popular attraction in Appleton; The Skyline Comedy Club. The Comedy club is located upstairs and these people are waiting to purchase tickets. Further down, I notice a wood waitress station and am relieved.
We bypass the line for the comedy club and find a very cool patio, It’s as if somebody set up a dining area in an alley. As we tread the wood flooring, we’re having a hard time finding a spot. All the tables for two are taken, and I really don’t want to sit at a table suitable for a party of six.
The waitress spies us surveying the situation and informs us, “Have a seat anywhere, the dinner rush is coming to an end. ” Her tone is of exuberant politeness.
“Are you sure, I just don’t want to take up a lot of space.” I answer back.
“It’ll be fine, would you care for a spot between the buildings or in the sun?”
I look over at the round table, with dishes strewn over its surface, basking in the sun. It’s a gorgeous day and I’d like to soak up some rays. I look over at Heidi. “In the sun?”
She nods and looks at the waitress, “If it’s not too much trouble.”
The waitress smiles genuinely, ” No problem at all.” She clears the table and brings menus and beer list, chirping, “I’ll be right back for your drink orders.”
We look over the Stone arch brews and the Menu. The Menu is just a tad pricey for my taste. It’s not horribly out of my price range but more than what I usually pay. We decide on a 14″ Mediteranean pizza, which is $23 . Heidi chooses the Stone Arch Honey Ale and I go with a Scottish style that is quite tasty.
After we order, It’s a short wait for our Pizza. It’s a perfect setting for some light conversation and relaxation. Granted, there isn’t a gorgeous view from the patio. But the fact that it feels like I’m at the end of an old city alley gives it some rustic urban charm.
Our pizza turns out to be delicious, as its topped with juicy red tomatoes. At the end of our meal, I ask about the buildings and the history. The waitress tells us mostly what I have relayed in this post. Actually, if I had been more attentive, I would have noticed their history on the front of their menus. Ooops.
I also find out the name ‘Stone Arch Brew Pub’ comes from an actual stone archway in the building. During Yesteryear, that arch would have provided passage for horse drawn wagons; with the purpose of hauling beer barrels towards their destination. Today, the arch is sealed off with Brick.
After the meal, we head towards a separate dining area. This one is set in the basement and comes equipped with many beers on tap. A curious little novelty, its presence inspiring one to just hang out, would be the a pile of board games sitting on the floor. The dining area is pretty classy, with stained chairs and tables. There is also a stage where live music plays every Tuesday night.
After all is said and done, besides the menu prices, I judge this place to be a winner. It mixes some things I look for when sitting down for a beer and good food. I love a place with a storied past. Add some beers that are brewed on site and my heart is content. Of course, live music would add to the atmosphere. I guess I’ll have to wait for a Tuesday night. If you’re like me and near Appleton, look this place up!