New WPT Documentary Explores Wisconsin's Historic Bars and Brewing Traditions

October 25, 2012

For More Information:
Lynn Brockmeyer, WPT publicist, 608-263-3364, lynn.brockmeyer@wpt.org
David Hestad, WPT producer, 608-262-6825, david.hestad@wpt.org


Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries — a new Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) documentary premiering 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 on public television statewide — showcases the history, architecture and economics of Wisconsin’s breweries, bars and taverns, and explores the rich traditions that defined a culture that is uniquely Wisconsin.

Throughout Wisconsin’s history, taverns have provided a place for communities to gather, offered a meeting place for new immigrants, shaped local politics and influenced generations of families in the state.

Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries visits Wade House, a historic stagecoach stop in Greenbush, and Puempel’s Olde Tavern, a well-preserved hangout for locals in the Swiss community of New Glarus. In Milwaukee it stops in at Wolski’s, a neighborhood bar for more than 100 years, Bryant’s the city’s oldest cocktail lounge and the spy-theme nightclub the Safe House. The DMZ Bunker in Waterford exhibits impressive military artifacts and history. In St. Germain, the rustic log structure of Sisters Saloon is a favorite destination for vacationers. In La Crosse, The Casino, steps back in time with its rare art deco-style interior. Burlington’s B.J. Wentker’s retains it’s high-class, turn-of-the-century interior in a triangular brick building. The Joynt in Eau Claire displays a colorful past as a small venue for legends of jazz, blues and folk music. In Hurley, learn about the checkered history of Dawn’s Never Inn. Also enjoy the elaborate interior appointments at RH Landmark Saloon in Jefferson and Big Jim’s Sports Bar in Fall Creek, originally tied house taverns, built by breweries to showcase their beers.

As Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries visits these distinctive taverns, it explores the intertwined relationship between bars and the brewing industry, including changes brought about by the temperance movement, Prohibition, the rise of the state’s big breweries, and the resurgence of microbreweries.

In the small town of New Glarus, business entrepreneurs Deb and Daniel Carey talk about founding the New Glarus Brewing Co. and the historic Wisconsin roots of their flagship brand, Spotted Cow.

In Potosi, viewers also will visit a small brewery that survived Prohibition. The Potosi Brewing Co. building is currently the home of the National Brewery MuseumTM,where visitors can enjoy browsing nostalgic exhibits of beer and brewery items known as breweriana collectibles.

Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries is produced as a partnership of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Public Television.
Funding for Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries was made possible by The Wisconsin History Fund supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.

Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries was produced by WPT Producer David Hestad.

Bottoms Up: Wisconsin’s Historic Bars and Breweries is a companion to the book by Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

WPT is a service of the Educational Communications Board and University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Wisconsin Public Television is a place to grow through learning on WHA-TV/Madison; WPNE-TV/Green Bay; WHRM-TV/Wausau; WLEF-TV/Park Falls; WHLA-TV/La Crosse; and WHWC-TV/Menomonie-Eau Claire.