By Mel Grau
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Truly authentic Bavarian pretzels have a tough outer skin seasoned with salt, surrounding a chewy, delicious center. Considering Wisconsin’s strong German heritage, it’s no wonder Wisconsin breweries and pubs tout superior soft pretzels and delicious beer pairings. Explore how these seven beer destinations make their mark on the traditional brezel with beer-infused cheese dips, alternative seasonings and delightfully over-the-top presentations.
Freiburg Gastropub offers the most traditional pretzel on the list. Made fresh every morning from a recipe brought over from Germany, the Bavarian pretzels are served with house-made sweet mustard. Take advantage of other dips available, like the sinus-clearing Dusseldorf mustard or Obatzda cheese spread with caraway and garlic. To round out your authentic meal, try the three-day-aged Sauerbraten with one of the 30 German beers on tap.
The “Uff Da” pretzel at Grumpy Troll Brewery lives up to its name—it’s one and a half pounds! Grumpy Troll also makes the dipping sauces for the frisbee-sized pretzel in-house. You’ll get honey mustard and nacho cheese, but the best dip is the Spetsnaz Stout Dijon mustard, which is made with one of the brew pub’s original beers. Order a beer sampler to taste the rest.
You’ll visit one of the oldest buildings on Madison’s famous State Street to try the pretzel at Wisconsin Brewing Tap Haus. Specially made for the Tap Haus, the 12-ounce Bavarian pretzel is served hanging on a large metal hook with beer cheese sauce. The Inaugural Red Ale, which was developed by UW-Madison brewing students, is the perfect complement to the salty, buttery pretzel.
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The Old German Beer Hall is modeled off Munich’s famous—and sometimes raucous—Hofbrauhaus beer hall. Milwaukee’s Beer Hall also gets its giant pretzels from Munich, made with flour from the Royal Bavarian Mill and served with traditional beer cheese dip. After savoring your pretzel, dance to live polka music, play a game of Hammerschlagen and grab a liter of Munich’s finest beer.
Camino is a low-key, creative craft brewery in Milwaukee’s Walker Point. Most menu items have a twist, including their pretzel. Camino’s pretzel makes a departure from the traditional salted pretzel by adding sesame seeds. Made for Camino by a local bakery, the pretzel is served with Camino’s craft beer mustard. Try out their Kombucha beer for an off-the-wall pairing.
A nod to Whitewater’s nickname, Second Salem Brewing Company builds on the city’s legends of witch covens, séances and hauntings. And its pretzels are scary good. The deep-fried Bavarian-style pretzels are served with Witchtower beer mustard. Pair the dish with the Bone Orchard India Pale Ale.
This German-inspired restaurant partners with the family-owned Miller Bakery to bring a huge, authentic Bavarian pretzel to the table. You’ll get the traditional dips—Dusseldorf mustard and a lager cheese spread—with the pretzel, as well as Wisconsin’s Widmer’s brick cheese spread. Have a large group? Reserve the Stammtisch, or “regulars’ table” to fully enjoy Café Bavaria’s German hospitality.