Wisconsin is truly one of this fine nations greatest tributes to alcoholism.
Never before have I been to such a place where the average citizen’s primary means of of acquiring beer, drinks, food, entertainment, and socialization comes from the corner bar, tavern, or pub.
If I were to move to Wisconsin, I would surely become an alcoholic.
Probably not though, because I wouldn’t go to meetings, so technically I would just be a “drunk.”
We started the night out with a place called “Palukas Pub and Grill” in De Pere.
Sadly, there are no pictures of this place. I don’t know why. (I blame my camera woman, I need to get a new one.) We all went there for dinner (and by “We all” I mean a dozen of us, between the ages of 23 to 88)
Palukas goes by many names, with every local calling it something different. As much as I hate the idea of calling a pub “Palukas,” that is the only name that I can remember. It’s right up there with “Shenanagins” and “Goofy McFuntimes.”
I had a great ham and cheese sandwich at Palukas. Also, I had some chili with spaghetti noodles in it. I guess thats a Wisconsin thing. Either way, its just chili with spaghetti, no big deal. Also, I had half of Grandma’s pork chop sandwich, which was the best (and only) pork chop sandwich I have ever eaten.
To drink, it was nothing but Leinie’s, my new favorite beer, which the bartender (a girl that could have been no more then 24) would open with her forearms. Thats a real women right there.
Palukas is also where Corinne’s step-aunt Patti had her “Old Fashioned,” that crazy drink with the mushrooms.
Moving on, we (now it was now down to 5 of us, between the ages of 23 and *40-something*) headed over to the East Town Pub in Green Bay.
I loved this place. It reminded me of the type of joint that I would frequent back when I was in the Navy. They had food (although the kitchen was closed), a good beer selection, a large bar with no bad seating (For Packers games, I’m sure), darts boards and pool tables.
Dig that fake brick floor!
One thing I have not directly brought up yet is the fact that beer is ridiculously cheap in Wisconsin. At least it was at the places we went to. The normal prices there are like the prices you pay at happy hours here. In fact, I’m pretty sure in Wisconsin “happy hour” means “free booze.”
At the East Town Pub I was drinking grenades. I have heard the term “grenade” used before to describe small, fat bottles of beer. I had never had one until that night though.
By the way, those little grenades are 75 cents each. Thats $0.75 each. Thats $1.50 for two, which comes out to 16 ounces of beer (8 ounces per grenade). Thats more then the regular 12 ounce bottles, but unfortunately I don’t remember how much those cost. Either way, I’m sure it was a better deal to buy the grenades rather then the 12 ounce bottles.
Supposedly, Patti’s son worked at this bar. He wasn’t there that night (he seemed like a cool guy when I met him earlier in the week), but the bartender that was there was quite knowledgeable about booze, and therefore an interesting guy to talk to. He poured me a shot of bitters, which I’m quite familiar with, but the stuff he had seemed quite thick, almost like a syrup. (Again, sorry for the lack of pictures, but I was having to much fun to remember to remind my camera girl to keep shooting.)
Finally, we went to Van Boxel’s Bar, also in Green Bay.
My world was turned upside down at this place. And it wasn’t from the beer. I was generally sober, just buzzed the whole night. I didn’t want to forget any of this.
This is the door we went in. However, this is the back door. The front door remains locked, or so I was told, to keep out non-locals. We had Patti with us, so we were welcomed. According to Patti’s father Roy (Corinne’s step-grandfather), Patti “damn near lives at Van Boxel’s.”
Notice the carport. Thats for the owner, who lives in the apartment upstairs. Or used to, I’m not sure exactly. Either way, there is an apartment upstairs where somebody lives. Roy told me the history of this place, but it was pretty standard and pointless to repeat.
The building is wedged next to a larger building that was some other random business, and on the right, just beyond a small fence was the East River. Check out the map in the sidebar (if you want) and you’ll see what I mean.
When you walk into the door under the sign, you are forced to go right and up some narrow stairs, then turn left and go up some more narrow stairs, up to an open door which leads into the bar.
This is what greets you when you go through the door. A long, narrow room with the bar situated in the center, accessible from any angle. There are some ancient video games against the right wall, along with a jukebox which I’m pretty sure hasn’t been updated since the the early 2000’s (For Wisconsin, thats roughly translated into “the early 1990’s)
At Van Boxel’s, the beer selection wasn’t to great, but they did have Pabst on tap. It doesn’t get much better then that.
After all, we were in Wisconsin. So there was Miller, more miller, Pabst, and the obligatory Budweiser product since we are in the United States.
This poster is the greatest thing ever. It is lit from behind, made of translucent plastic, and features the best damn Pabst Blue Ribbon Fly Girl you will ever see.
The bar was inhabited by Green Bay citizens, no mistaking that. I didn’t have too many pictures taken of them because it would have seemed weird. I had to sneak some in though, because the whole experience was overwhelming and I was afraid I would forget some hilarious detail of the other people in the bar.
This is about as good as it gets for viewing the Green Bay locals. They were all there when we arrived, and they all stayed after we left. And thats just that one corner of the bar.
Notice my little glass of Pabst. Thats how they do it there, at least at the places we went to. Little glasses, once again 75 cents each. Crazy. It takes a really special bartender to keep those little glasses full.
And here is that special bartender.
When we first arrived and sat down, I was convinced that this guy was mentally retarded. Not because of how he talked, but just based on looks alone. He was kind of hunched over, he tended to shuffle around from the tap to the patrons as he moved behind the bar, and, sadly, just look at the dude and tell me you wouldn’t assume he is retarded.
After being there a bit and listening to him bullshit with the customers, I realized that he was just a weird looking guy. He told a story about staying at some bed and breakfast somewhere with his wife and their friends, and it was all understandable and coherent, not some retarded mans fantasy.
Even coming to the realization that this guy wasn’t retarded didn’t ruin the night. What the hell do I mean by that? Let me explain.
In some weird, twisted way I was enjoying the fact that the bartender was retarded. I made up a story to myself about how he must be the owners son, and his whole life he had to spend most of his time in the bar if he wasn’t at school or whatever, and one day he just started serving drinks. Kind of like a idiot-savant, and his special skill was bar tending.
If I was an idiot-savant, thats what I would want my super power to be. Screw reciting Pi or drawing really accurate pictures.
So it really inspired me, the story of the retarded bartender. You know, the story my intoxicated head concocted.
Anyway, me and the guy talked a bit, and he’s a a decent chap. And I’m not just saying that because he’s retarded in my mind and I feel obligated to not dislike him at this point.
So that was the bar scene I got to preview while I was in Wisconsin. I had a great guide, was accompanied by some good family (and Corinne), and enjoyed the 75 cent beers.
By the way, I figured out that a glass of beer was cheaper then buying a bottle of water in Wisconsin. Another reason why Corinne doesn’t want to move there with me.