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Posts Tagged ‘factory tours’

Leg 5 of our Year Long Adventure brought us to the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to tour the Miller Brewery.  Being big fans of both factory tours and Miller Lite, this is something we were looking forward to doing.

Welcome to Miller Valley

We started at the Miller Visitor Center and were pleasantly surprised to learn that not only was the tour free, but we were also going to receive free samples at the end of the tour. The tour starts with a short film that tells the story of how Frederik Miller emigrated from Germany to Milwaukee in 1855 and started his brewery.  He bought the Plank Road Brewery and made his first batch of beer with special yeast that he had brought with him from Europe.

The tour is a guided walking tour that covers 4 blocks, taking visitors to various stops around the Miller Complex.  Our guide was energetic and fun, and we learned a lot.  Unlike many of the other factory tours we have taken, visitors are allowed to take photos and/or video at any stage of the tour.

The first stop was the Packaging Center where the beer is put into cans and bottles.  The machines can fill 1400 bottles or 2000 cans per minute.  Long glass windows allow you to look down at the machinery in motion – very cool.

Cans rushing by

We are always amazed at the engineering involved in the factory process, and the Miller brewery did not disappoint.  You can see a short video of the machinery in motion here.

The next stop is the Distribution Center that is the size of 5 football fields and holds nearly 500,000 cases of beer.  Here we learned a little about the merger of Miller and Coors, and also about all the different brands bottled by the two companies.

That is a LOT of beer

Next, the tour takes you across the street to the Brew House.  It is here where the beer is actually made.  It was around 110 degrees in the room.

The tour then heads to the historic caves where Frederik Miller would store his beer to keep it cool.  He would have ice brought in from frozen lakes in the winter to line the walls of the cave, making it the ideal natural refrigerator.

Historic caves

The final stop on the tour is the Beer Garden where each guest over the age of 21 is given the opportunity to sample 3 different beers from the Miller Family.  They also provide lemonade and cokes for kids or anyone who did not want beer.

Happy Anniversary!

It was our anniversary, so we toasted to 14 years of wedded bliss with the free beer and pretzels before we escaped to the air conditioned gift shop.

Our whole family really enjoyed the tour, and we would definitely recommend it if you find yourself in Milwaukee.

It is hard to believe, but our Year Long Adventure is quickly nearing the end.  For up-to-the minute updates, you can follow us on Facebook by liking Year Long Adventure.

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On Friday we visited the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.  This place is what many children think heaven will be.  Their website correctly touts it as “an exciting, hands-on, welcoming place to play, learn, and dream; a place to pretend, wonder, and explore; a place to discover the past and imagine the future; and a place to rekindle memories and make new ones.”

Giant marble run across ceiling

We were there for more than 5 hours, and our kids (ages 4, 8, and 11) would have stayed much longer.  At first we worried that the museum would be too “young” for our older kids, but we were wrong!  There were activities and exhibits appropriate for all ages.  Some areas involved exploring different scientific principles (a giant marble run on the ceiling), while other areas (like a post office and pirate ship) facilitated pretending and role play.  They really enjoyed all of the hands-on activities, and we did not get to experience everything in the time that we were there.  Mom and Dad had fun too and were wishing a place like this existed when we were kids!

A favorite area was the Hall of Superheroes.  Through the magic of trick photography, the kids were able to see themselves scaling a building like Spiderman.  The girls  had a great time experimenting with different poses to achieve the best effect.

Hall of Superheroes trick photography. This...

... becomes this! Spiderman, look out!

You should definitely make plans to attend if you ever find yourself in Rochester with kids.  Check our Facebook page for more pictures of the whole family having fun at this amazing museum.

Two days later we found ourselves in Waterbury, Vermont, and Mom was psyched because we would be going to a place that she sees in HER dreams.  We took the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour at their headquarters.  Even the pouring rain did not dampen our enthusiasm.  The tour starts with a humorous short film explaining the history and philosophy of Ben & Jerry’s, and then takes you on a catwalk above the processing plant to show you the process for making ice cream.  All of the machines have very technical names like “chunk adder” and “swirl maker”.  The best part of the tour was the Flavoroom where each of the guests was given a free sample of the new 2010 flavor “Milk & Cookies”.

Interesting fact – Ben & Jerry got into the ice cream business after taking a $5 Correspondence Course on “How to Make Ice Cream” back in the 1970s.  That was $5 well spent.  The only thing that would have made the morning better for Mom would have been if were given free samples of Chunky Monkey. Luckily we were able to buy her a scoop in the Scoop Shop on site.

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