Bike Engines, Beer, and Cheese

Fond du Lac

You have to love Wisconsin.  Where else could a tourist experience all three things in one day!  We drove from our spot in the fairgrounds about fifty miles to the southeast to the Harley-Davidson Powertrain Plant just outside Milwaukee.  Our motorcycle was assembled at the York, PA plant near where we lived for many years, but the engine and transmission were made at this plant.  The 45 minute tour would be interesting to anyone who likes to observe the assembly line process, but to someone who likes engines and has a Harley the tour was especially interesting.

H-D Powertrain Plant

H-D Big Twin Engine

After our motorcycle tour, we continued into Milwaukee to visit the Miller Brewery.  Fredrick Miller purchased the facility in 1855 and they’ve been brewing Miller beer here ever since.

Approaching the Plank Road Brewery Plant

The tour is a walking tour led by two young guides.  It begins in the bottling area and ends in a tasting center.

The first brewery

In the brew house, Miller makes its beer, up to 8.5 million barrels annually in Milwaukee alone. Climb 56 stairs to look down on a row of towering, shiny brew kettles where wort,” a grain extract, is boiled and combined with hops.

Walk outdoors and upstairs to Miller’s packaging-center balcony. A blur of bottles or cans roar along conveyor belts that wind through wet machinery, packing up to 200,000 cases of beer daily.

Bottle Filling – they go by to quickly to see

Cans move faster than bottles – no danger of broken glass

Cases of Miller Lite fly by for shipping

The next stop is Miller’s mammoth distribution center that covers the equivalent of five football fields. Typically, you can see half a million cases of beer.  The warehouse was full and we were told that if we came back tomorrow, it would be filled with all new cases.  All the beer we could see would be out on trucks headed for delivery somewhere in the mid-west.  The workers call this area “Beer Heaven”.

Beer Heaven

At the end of the tour we were treated to a cold Miller Lite!

A young tour participant enjoying a well-earned reward

The third segment of the day was dedicated to shopping for cheese, which is apparently made in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Cheese Mart was a good place to start.

At the nearby Milwaukee Public Market the cheese came in a variety of shapes, even motorcycles!

The Milwaukee Public Market

After all that touring we enjoyed a lunch across the street from the Public Market.

The Wicked Hop Restaurant

Just down the street from the restaurant and market is the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  One of the most recognized buildings in Milwaukee is the Milwaukee Art Museum and it’s distinctive “sun shade.”

 The structure is called a brise soleil, which is French for “sun breaker.”  Unprecedented in American architecture, the Brise Soleil is a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall.  The “wings” open at 10 a.m., close/reopen at noon, and close at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursdays) which are the museum’s hours of operation.  While the Brise Soleil has a wingspan comparable to that of a Boeing 747-400, its two ultrasonic wind sensors automatically close the wings if the wind speed reaches 23 mph or greater. Unlike the airplane, the Museum apparently prefers to remain on the ground.  If you search Youtube you can watch a cool time lapse video of the brise soleil as it opens.

Wow, what a long post!  But what a fun day . . .

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One Response to Bike Engines, Beer, and Cheese

  1. Marsha says:

    We don’t drive or own a motorcycle, but you are right…we would really enjoy the tour!

    Beer tour…count us in. Love the photo of the beers flying around the assembly line. I love Miller light. Who in the heck drinks all these beers? With all the other brands in the world, it just amazes me how all these beer companies stay in business. John, you look real good behind that glass.

    Oh for heaven’s sake…motorcycle cheese. You two were in “cheese heaven.” Who is that lovely lady sitting at the table all by herself? She looks hunger for cheese and beer!

    I love the Museum. I knew nothing about it. How cool to see the Brise Soleil open and close. What a treat.

    Not a long blog at all. I love all the things you did today. We would have the same day as you if we were in WI. Enjoy your Tuesday. Hope you have enough energy to handle it.

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