Fallin’ for the Willmar Lakes Area Winery and Breweries

Goat Ridge Brewery

By Bailey Hovland

Sipping on a smooth brew from Foxhole Brewhouse under the warm lights and amongst friends? I can’t think of a better way to spend a fall day with Rachel Hardy.

Sweater Weather + Fall Feels + _______ = Happiness.
Any ideas on what’s missing from our equation?

How about the comforting flavors of peanut butter, chocolate, graham crackers and roasted marshmallows, all combined into a dark porter? Or maybe subtle notes of hazelnut, biscuit, and chocolate, embodied in a creamy nitro head? Possibly an English amber ale with toffee and caramel aromas with an exceptionally smooth finish? All of these options sounds like great answers to me. Available at Foxhole Brewhouse in Willmar, these drinks seem like the ideal way to spend a fall afternoon. The Perkins Lumber Peanut Butter Porter offers rich and comforting flavors (i.e. peanut butter, chocolate, graham crackers and roasted marshmallows) that pair well with a cozy sweater and conversation with friends. It’s the perfect drink to transition from the bonfire weather of summer to the cooler days of fall. The Hazelnut Oatmeal Stout, a creamy nitro brew, is accentuated by any pumpkin-flavored bakery item. And the EKG Amber, a bronze medal winner at the 2017 U.S. Beer Open Championship, takes English hops and malt from 3 continents and couples them with floral notes along with toffee and caramel aromas. This smooth masterpiece works best when enjoyed in the crisp air while planning fall adventures around the Willmar Lakes Area.

A few other answers to the formula above can be found out at Goat Ridge Brewing just off main street in downtown New London. With more than a few delicious brews to choose from, Goat Ridge is an ideal space to spend a fall day. Sharing a space with Model Citizen, a locally sourced restaurant that just opened this last year, Goat Ridge offers brews with a wide range. Sip on the Bad Apples Cider Ale, a fermented cider with ale elements and back sweetened with honey, while you plan your next trip to the Sunnyside Orchard in Willmar. Dive into the chocolate, flaked barley, ad oats flavors present in the Mudface Stout as you execute a great fantasy football lineup for the games this weekend. Roll the Beezle Bubba around on your tongue, full of transcendent flavors from local white clover honey and floral earthiness, while you watch your kids play cornhole on a beautiful autumn day.

Karina DeJong, dressed for the transition from summer to fall, takes advantage of a gorgeous afternoon out at Glacial Ridge Winery.

And last (but never least), this formula can be solved with…WINE. Yes, the majority of this blog has focused on our beer lovers, but don’t worry wine enthusiasts. We have some answers for you. Out at Glacial Ridge Winery in Spicer, the wine is abundant and perfect for the coming sweater weather and fall feels. Green Lake Girl, names after the “Green Lake Girl” plane recovered from Green Lake in 2007, is a beautiful cabernet with a soft smokiness from French oak used in the fermentation process. Its finish, a velvety experience, pairs well with high-rise boots and the sound of crunching leaves underfoot. Molly is a dreamy red wine with blackberry, plum, and black cherry flavors. This wine is best enjoyed after a home cooked meal, like butter-nut ravioli or spaghetti squash or any other dish that screams, “Fall!” And Dragonfly Bay is a medium bodied table wine with dusky, rich, grape jam tones. A glass of this wine is a great way to reminisce about the warm, dragonfly summer nights and look forward to the crisp fall evenings.

All of these mouthwatering local brews and wine selections have me certain of one thing: I’ve fallin’ for the lovely breweries and winery in the Willmar Lakes Area. And once you’ve been in the friendly and cozy atmosphere of Foxhole or on the edge of river at Goat Ridge or in the inviting vineyards of Glacial Ridge Winery, you’ll be fallin’ too.

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