Road Trip to Ripon July 25

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We were thirsty, but the EAA was in town.  Great time watching planes fly over, but not a good time to visit Oshkosh taverns.  What a dilemma!  We decided on a road trip to Ripon, home of Ripon College, the Republican Party and Rippin Good Cookies.  The cookies are long gone, but the college is doing just fine.

            One of the legs of this trail ride took us to the athletic center.  In 1973 Elaine introduced women’s athletics to the campus thanks to Title IX. She became the head coach for women’s volleyball, basketball and track and field, a title she held for 20 years.  The college has since seen fit to recognize her achievement by creating a Wall in her honor within the newly renovated college’s sports center, Willmore Center.

            How cool is that!  We took pictures of The Wall and Elaine next to her picture and sports statistics emblazoned on The Wall.  Her teams won 10 conference championships during her 20-year career. Then we toured the athletic and fitness center.  We learned that Ripon had received a huge grant from the USDA to help fund the expansion and fitness center of what was then called the Storzer Center.  Judy and I tried out some of the weight lifting equipment.  The fitness center is open to Ripon residents for just $15.00 per month.  Good deal!

            We continued our tour of the building and checked out the Red Hawks suite that overlooks the basketball court.  We left untouched the bottle of Chardonnay Ste. Michele cooling in the refrigerator.  We’re on beer tours, not wine, for heaven’s sake.

            We were impressed with the red surface of the indoor track.  And both Marv and Don got in the runner’s start position, but didn’t dash off. 

            All this made us thirsty, so we drove to downtown Ripon to visit Knuth’s Brewery at 221 Watson Street.  David Knuth is the head brewer and founder of this craft brewery. He credits his father-in-law who gave him a homebrewing kit for his bachelor party for getting him interested in brewing beers.  On the brewery’s website he also credits George Washington who not only was the commander of forces during the Revolutionary War, but also our first President.  And, he also had a brewery at his Mount Vernon home. We hear it has recently been started up again.

            Knuth’s was jumping.  We met Ryan the head brewer and placed our order.  Elaine had a Blue Eyed Blonde, Marv and I had Red House Ale, Don and Judy shared a flight of six Knuth beer: an APA, Citra Spice, Honey Wheat, Hefelwiese, Blue Eyed Blonde and one other I forgot to write down.  Usually a flight comes on a long narrow tray that holds the small glasses of beer in a line, a flight line.  But not here.  Instead they had a wooden tray shaped like the state of Wisconsin (but not as big) with niches to hold the glasses. 

            We chose a table just off the end of the L-shaped bar. Across the room from us was an arrangement of padded leather couches and chairs.  In front of the bar were two long wooden benches with small tables.  The benches, I’m sure, were formerly pews in a church.

In addition to being a brewery, Knuth’s is also a restaurant.  That explains the cookies and tortes in a case next to the bar.  Elaine and Gary who have dined there told us the food was very good.  Knuth’s has a pretty good menu with neat appetizers such as cream cheese and smoked salmon and several different kinds of crackers. Also a soup of the day made fresh every day from scratch, wood-fired pizza, several interesting wraps and sandwiches, a pretty full menu according to Elaine.  But no burgers, reminded Elaine.

On the wall next to the bar and close to us was a chalkboard advertising a token system.  For 5 dollars you could buy a beer for the person whose name you had written on the board. A woman tried to explain this procedure to us, but I think she had had one too many or else I was just too dense to understand.  Marv votes for “one too many.”

            While we were there, Don and Judy told us about their trip to Morocco to attend a wedding.  They were in Rabat which they described as a lovely city cooled by breezes off the Atlantic Ocean.  Inland, however, was a different story—hot and dry.  Alas, they did not get to Casablanca to see Rick’s place, although Don had a bottle of Casablanca beer while there.

            Alas, our glasses were empty.  We avoided the woman at the bar who now wanted to give us (mainly the guys) hugs.  Time to move on.

 

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Frankie Mengeling

Frankie Mengeling taught English at Oshkosh North High School and Lourdes High School and was co-director of the Fox Valley Writing Project at UWO. She lives on the Oshkosh’s only hill, with her husband Marvin, son Tom and cat Katrina. The blog www.ridingthebeertrail.wordpress.com began in the summer of 2009 after the three couple beer trail began.

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