Aaron Ottesen nicknames his Wednesday night ritual "the trifecta."
Bike. Burrito. Beer.
While biking on a full stomach could be a risky proposition for some, for Ottesen it is pure bliss.
Ottesen, a La Crosse resident since 2005, lives an active lifestyle while working at Trane and serving in the military.
Ottesen, like many others in the Coulee Region, enjoys two age-old and rich traditions: brewing and outdoor recreation.
just love being outdoors. There are so many great activities to do
around here," he said. "It's rare that I go through a week where there
isn't a beer by bike outing."
many of us can recall enjoying beers around a campfire or hoisting a
pint in honor of a successful day in the field. There is just something
special about the entire experience, whether that be through nature, the
camaraderie, the taste, or some combination of the three.
In Wisconsin, we tend to keep our beer close at hand. Some of us, like Jim Cavanaugh, keep our beer close to our bikes.
has been living in La Crosse since 1990. When he moved here, he was
overweight and out of shape, but biking changed all of that. Years later
and pounds lighter, Cavanaugh can be seen biking all over town and up
and down our local trails.
"I enjoy riding my bike for recreation and exercise. I get bored too easily trying to workout inside," he said.
Cavanaugh's routes lead to the Pearl Street Brewery, where he fills up
his 64-ounce growler with their latest brew. You might wonder how he
transports it home. One-handed steering? A backpack?
Cavanaugh, who also fashions bike helmet rearview mirrors out of bottle
caps, created a growler holder for his bike. Think of it as a biking
beer baby seat.
Cavanaugh likes to rendezvous with other bikers at Pearl Street Brewery, where the staff are "very friendly and inviting."
Ottesen concurred, noting, "The atmosphere is great, and so is the beer. I usually always run into friends there."
Pearl Street Brewery crew has a strong affinity for the outdoors
themselves. Joe Katchever, owner and brewmaster of Pearl Street Brewery,
enjoys slashing snow when he is not mixing hops.
in the mid-’90s, Katchever left his hometown of Milwaukee to cut his
teeth in the Colorado backcountry and in the basements of Colorado's
love the freedom you feel when you're cutting some big S's through a
fresh powder field. The cold air and bright sun. Being outdoors. All
these things have been big for me," Katchever said as he reminisced on
his time out West. "After a morning like that, I would head to work and
brew a thousand gallons of beer."
his time in Colorado, Katchever filled up on the knowledge of how to
fill kegs with quality beer. Eventually, he gambled on a dream, selling
everything he had in order to acquire the necessary equipment for
starting his own brewery. With the help of a few family members and
friends, Katchever founded the award-winning Pearl Street Brewery in La
Crosse in 1999. His brewery operations have grown a great deal since
then, having relocated to the historic La Crosse Footwear rubber mills
and expanded beer production and promotion.
the years, Pearl Street Brewery earned the allegiance of beer fanatics
and connoisseurs from all walks of life. Of course, La Crosse and
Wisconsin in general have a long and colorful brewing history dating
back to the 1800s when a large influx of German brewers settled in the
state and began building their own breweries.
"In Wisconsin, folks like beer," Katchever said, mincing no words.
Crosse's biking enthusiasts appear to be some of those folks and have
taken a particular shine to Katchever's brewery. In response, the Pearl
Street Brewery has sponsored countless bike races, runs and rides. Every
Wednesday is "Free-Wheelin' Wednesday" at the brewery's tasting room. A
free pint awaits anyone who pedals himself or herself there.
the brewery coordinates the Tour de Pearl, an annual summerlong biking
tour of the Coulee Region where riders aim to complete a series of
routes and destinations. Of course, the event always culminates in
enjoying quality beers, and riders are eligible to win a $3,000
of the particular outdoor pastime his customers embrace, Katchever
knows his crowd because he is one of them. Katchever's affable,
down-to-earth personality make him approachable inside or outside the
is nothing more rewarding than knowing you've spent your free time
doing a sport you love and then celebrating by treating yourself with
some good beers with friends," Katchever said.
Pearl Street Brewery has established the perfect destination for just that.