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Winter Brew Hop

Wisconsin: the home of Summerfest Music Festival, the state the Barbie Doll was born in, the homeland of Culvers, the diary state, a state located on two of the five great lakes, home of the Packers who took home the first NFL Super Bowl Championship, and the land of brats and beer.

Breweries in Wisconsin are on a different level: there are always happy hour deals, more often than not there is live music, and most breweries are typically open most days of the week making them the spot to meet up with friends (if you’re 21+).

As a born and raised Green Bay Girl, I am pretty familiar with the brewery scene in the Packers homeland, and ever since moving to Sheboygan, I’ve grown familiar with a couple more breweries farther South of GB. This week, I’m going to share with you my favorite three breweries from Green Bay down to Sheboygan so you can make a weekend trip out of Brewery hopping from the Bay to Lake Michigan.

Starting Point: Cocoon Brewery in De Pere, WI (Green Bay area)

Cocoon Brewery is one of the newest editions to the land of Greater Green Bay breweries, having just celebrated their one-year anniversary earlier this month. The brewery opened their doors in February 2023, and has been a popular destination for socializing ever since.

In addition to their taproom, the 4-acre property has a games lawn, event lawn, an event stage, a grove of quaking aspens, and Adirondack chairs under string garden lights, but what makes their property stand out the most are their four individually themed huts, appropriately named “cocoons,” that provide a more private space to relax in while kids have the space to run around. This addition makes the property truly unique in my opinion, and although it is a popular destination year round, I particularly love to visit during the warmer months so that I can really enjoy all the thought put into the design and usage of the four-acre property.

As for the beverages, each beer that Cocoon brews is crafted to be unique, and furthermore, they only brew ten barrels at a time, so chances are there will be something unique each time you come. Most of their brews are themed and named after different butterflies, moths, and caterpillars, as part of the cocoon branding.

On top of having 50 beers posted in their online collection, Cocoon also offers gluten-free beers, house cocktails as well as seasonal cocktails, a list of seven wines, and non-alcoholic beverages. I always get excited seeing gluten-free options at a brewery, and on top of that, I also get excited to see non-alcoholic beverages; it really enhances the family-friendly brewery vibe, which, trust me, is a popular type of representation to see in Green Bay. Let the kids run around playing on the property drinking glasses of lemonade, while the adults get to relax in a private cocoon catching up and listening to a live band perform. Sounds like an ideal spring or summer night to me.

Lastly, there is a full food menu (also including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options) with favorites like pizza, breadsticks, cheese and olive based appetizers.

Mid-Way Point: PetSkull in Manitowoc, WI

PetSkull is your halfway destination brewery between Green Bay and Sheboygan, an alternative style brewery with an emphasis on live music. Like Cocoon, during the summer they have outdoor seating, some green space for kids to play, and a platform for performers. There’s still live music indoors during the colder months, and the layout of the inside of the building is constructed around the fermentation tanks and the inner-workings of the brewery, providing guests with a unique insight into the industry.

One tip I have for you if you are heading to PetSkull on a day with live music, get there early! The inside is very atmospheric, but it’s not massive. If you prefer to sit during your time there, you’ll want to arrive in plenty of time before the band begins to secure a spot, otherwise be okay with standing around barrels with your friends drinking your brews and watching the band. It’s a very casual type of atmosphere, so if you are physically able to stand, it doesn’t ruin your experience.

As for the beers, their selection fluctuates as well, but at the time I’m publishing this blog, they have 19 different beers on tap, many of which pay homage to rock bands. That’s kind of PetSkull’s M.O. if you haven’t gotten that vibe from their name. I am a big rock and roll/heavy metal fan, so I dressed for the occasion and I was not disappointed. If you’re a rocker, this place is definitely for you.

PetSkull is less family-friendly because of the limited amount of indoor space, but when the weather is good the kiddos could tag along, enjoy the outdoors and get a bite to eat while you get to relax with some good beer and good music. The food options at PetSkull are the usual: pizzas, bar food appetizers, and Wisconsin classics like cheese curds. They do make a point of saying on their menu that they are not a gluten-friendly kitchen, so if you have a severe intolerance, you might want to pass on the food at PetSkull. They do offer seasonal and house cocktails so there are alcoholic beverages that are not beer.

Last Stop: 3 Sheeps Brewery in Sheboygan, WI

We’re all familiar with the saying “Three sheets to the wind!” Well, welcome to the Wisconsin twist on the saying. 3 Sheeps is the Sheboygan brewery destination, with a large indoor tap house, outdoor space to sit and for kids to play, live music, events like game tournaments, beers, seltzers, and more to enjoy.

Their tap list includes IPA’s, Ambers, Pale Ales, Lagers, Stouts, and Barrel Aged beers. Additionally, 3 Sheeps has their own line of hard seltzers called Cloudless that come in five different flavors and are all gluten free. 3 Sheeps has earned its reputation across the state; since its start in 2012 their brews have grown in popularity and have made the brewery a must-see stop for those coming to or passing through Sheboygan.

The taproom is generous in size, and the space is highly accommodating for large groups, families, and gatherings. The inside has an open floor plan with barrels and long picnic-table style seating so there is guaranteed to be a spot for everyone in your group. The bar and merch shop are planted right in the middle, and the seating wraps all the way around them. There is a stretch of lawn off the side of their taproom complete with more seating, tents, and plenty of space for the kids or your dogs (yes, dogs! 3 Sheeps is pet friendly) to run around when it’s nice outdoors.

The industrial environment of 3 Sheeps includes large garage doors that open into the lawn and outdoor seating. I love this aspect of the layout, it certainly makes the space feel more open, casual, and family friendly. There are snacks and candy available for purchase, and 3 Sheeps collaborates with the beloved Faye’s Pizza in town to deliver their carry-out pizza straight to the brewery. Faye’s makes a gluten-free crust in addition to their traditional pizza so you or your friends and family can indulge in food and beverages during your brewery experience that everyone can enjoy.

I’m thrilled to end this blog on an exciting note, and that is that Manitowoc Noon Rotary is hosting their Winter Brewfest this weekend, Saturday, February 17th and I’m pleased to say we are offering a giveaway of two tickets to the festival! The event takes place at the Manitowoc County Expo from 1pm – 5pm on Saturday, and includes more than 125 beers from more than 25 breweries to sample, and new this year are brew dogs and charcuterie boards! We’ll be collecting registrations through Friday, February 16th at noon, with a pair of tickets awarded that afternoon for pick up at will call on the day of the event.

Good luck to you all! We will notify the winner via email on Friday afternoon and announce it on our social media when the prize has been claimed! Additional tickets for purchase are available for $40 in advance or $50 at the door.

Register to Win 


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