Venue Name: Fountain City Brewing Co. – The Monarch Tavern
Type: Brewery, Brewpub, Bar, Eatery
Location: 19 N Main St.
Fountain City, Wisconsin, 54629
Phone: (608) 687-4231
Grade: A- / 4.22
Value: $$ – Reasonable
I stopped in at Fountain City Brewing Co.’s Monarch Tavern during one of my recent beer tours of Wisconsin. The tavern was nestled in a store front on a quaint little street in a quiet town on the Mississippi in Fountain City Wisconsin, just northwest of Winona, Minnesota. From the outside, this place was completely unassuming but once we made our way through the door it was a total stunner; a full-on authentic Irish pub! The tavern featured 20 foot ceilings covered in pressed tin, a full living room set up with a couch and chairs to the right, and a loft with another living room in the back! We sat at the bar and were greeted by the bartender who later turned out to be the co-owner. We were given a run down of the beers they had on tap; a house made Irish Red, Red Lager, and a Dry stout but sadly they were out of their original Fountain City Lager. We settled on the other three.
After a few sips a gentleman came from the back and started to chat with us who turned out to be the owner, Jack. Wow was he a wealth of information! Along with the entire history of the bar as well as the beer history, he had a handful of great stories! The original Fountain City brand was brewed on the very spot where the pub now lies. Sadly a couple fires and 100 years later the brewery didn’t make it. The building was bought and the owners were lucky enough to find the original brewmaster. Jack told us how at 90 years old on and his death bed, the brewmaster gave them the original recipes for the old Fountain brews. The recipes were immediately taken to a trusted friend and brewer who recreated the old beers down to the last hop leaf. And here we sat, tasting a piece of history with every sip.
Since Jack actually used to do business in the Milwaukee area, we had plenty to talk about. He was nice enough to take us on a full tour of the place which included the renovated dining area on the other side of the bar as well as the new downstairs “man cave” area. We joked that if this place had been in Milwaukee he would be a millionaire. After a chuckle he confessed he’d heard that one a number times.
Back up stairs menu looked very interesting with plenty of diversity and the pizza list was very impressive but since we were meeting friends for dinner elsewhere, we passed on food. After a solid hour of great conversation we had to be on our way and with our departure Jack wished us well and told us we were always welcome back anytime as friends. The beer selection might not be extensive, but the warmth of the people working there will amaze you. This place is a must stop if in the area, and I will be heading back anytime I find myself even remotely in the area.