At this point, you are likely wondering what the rating system I implemented on the "Survey of Wisconsin Breweries" post is really based on. So it is time to clarify.
The stars were given on the basis of overall experience: the beer, the tour, and the brewery itself. In realizing that I was just rating on the overall experience, I also realized that I should probably break it down based on each of these three aforementioned components to give a better take-away message. Thus, I am now doing that for the breweries in that post, and will continue to do it for all other breweries I write about.
I. Stevens Point: Toured August 28, 2010
Beer (★★★) - They brew some pretty great beers (like the 2012), while others are just okay (like their lager).
Tour (★) - I am not going to hate on anyone that got a little too drunk the night before and can't be the utmost functional human being (that is, our tour guide). However, if your job is to tell people about a product your company is trying to sell, you need to get your shit together before coming to work, and most definitely not take out your hangover angst onto your tour group.
Brewery (★★) - With recent renovations, the place wasn't too shabby looking.
II. Leinenkugel: Toured August 28, 2010
Beer (★.5) - I don't think there's really anything that special about Leinenkugel beer. It's sad that sometimes people associate this with Wisconsin beer, because it's not a really good representation. The only beer of theirs I can confidently say I enjoy is Creamy Dark.
Tour (★.5) - The tour guide was very friendly but the tour felt too fake. As I earlier mentioned, it felt more like Disneyland than a brewery tour.
Brewery (★★★★) - It was a massive brewery, and all of it that I saw was sparkling clean. There were some parts of the brewery they didn't allow for us to venture into, so I can't speak for that, but I will give the place a thumbs up for all their employees' hard work.
III. Sand Creek: Toured August 28, 2010
Beer (★★★★) - Delicious! Love their hard lemonade (it's a B+ on BeerAdvocate). More people need to know of these beers and more places in Wisconsin need to have them.
Tour (★★★★.5) - Amazingly informative and fun. The fact that it was just my friend and I getting a tour from a somewhat intoxicated tour guide probably helped the cause a lot.
Brewery (★) - It's pretty much a hole in wall, which I actually kind of enjoyed. So this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
IV. Minhas: Toured August 29, 2010
Beer (★) - It's basic, cheap beer.
Tour (★★★) - The tour guide was very accommodating, despite our somewhat late arrival.
Brewery (★★★) - Owned by 20-something year olds, which is pretty neat. The place is massive and the brewery art museum is a great homage.
V. Capital: Toured September 10, 2010
Beer (★★★) - I really am not a huge fan of Capital beer. It's not bad, but it's not great. Perhaps their best in my opinion is their Oktoberfest. I also enjoy their Supper Club -- it's a true-to-heart Wisconsin beer.
Tour (★★) - Not bad but not all that memorable.
Brewery (★★★) - Their beer garden is a great place to hang out when it's warm.
VI. Granite City: Toured November 5, 2010
Beer (★★) - Best thing is their two-pull. Their selection, however, is very limited.
Tour (★★) - They don't really have tours so it was nice of the manager to show us the tanks.
Brewery (★) - The Madison location isn't much of a brewery, just a couple fermentation tanks.
VII. Lakefront: Toured December 21, 2010
Beer (★★) - Meh.
Tour (★★) - Meh.
Brewery (★★) - Meh. Sorry, but that's really just how I felt about the entire experience.
VIII. New Glarus: Toured March 11, 2011
Beer (★★★★★) - Who in their right mind can't find a New Glarus beer they like? Moreover, this is the beer that everyone outside Wisconsin comes to Wisconsin for. In fact, I traded a 6 pack of Spotted Cow for a 12 pack of champagne bottles of Brooklyn Brewery's 1 and 2 beers; that's just how much everyone knows and loves New Glarus in the beer world.
Tour (★★★★★) - I feel like five stars just isn't enough for this.
Brewery (★★★★★) - Everyone that works there, including the owners, is super friendly, down to earth, and willing to talk to anyone's heart's content-- even mine. Everyone knows the message they want to get across with their beer. And everyone works hard to brew the best beer and keep the brewery pristine so that all their consumers can have the best experience possible.