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Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery

Whistle StopServing food anytime

In a word: When in Woodman, you can't miss it.

The specs: #0737  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yahoo! Travel; Facebook, official/town web site, Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery on Urbanspoon

Latest Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery news and reviews

JM ate the prime rib sandwich with a root beer.
Keith ate the Italian beef with a root beer, a jalapeño ale and a stout.
Leslie ate the bacon cheeseburger with curly fries and a raspberry ale.
Nichole ate the mushroom Swiss burger with sweet potato fries, a pumpkin ale and a stout.
We took home a six-pack for $8 (2 each 77 Draft, oatmeal stout, and red ale).
The bill was about $15/person, plus tip.
JM and Leslie gave Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery a B; Keith and Nichole gave Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Whistle Stop Restaurant and Brewery in tiny Woodman is a scenic two-hour drive west of Madison. We took the opportunity to meet up with Driftless denizens and food writers Keith and Leslie of Driftless Appetite. Discussing the size of the town (population 96), Leslie commented "100, now." This is why we love eating with them. (That, and Keith gets JM's Britcom references.)

None of us would have heard about Whistle Stop if not for its appearance on the List after Isthmus wrote up their beer. Lucky for us, the food was also good. The beers on tap are hit and miss. In our brief experience, the bottles are almost always misses, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

For lunch we got bar favorites: burgers and beef sandwiches. Keith's Italian beef on buttery garlic bread was tasty if not too exciting. Likewise JM's prime rib sandwich was easy to eat and had a nice clean flavor with no pretention; just a good beefy sandwich.

Bacon burgerPrime rib sandwich

Leslie and Nichole were glad they got burgers, and extra glad they splurged on the 1/3 pound patties as opposed to the 1/4 pound standard. The well-seasoned, juicy meat extended past the edges of the buns, and where there was bacon it was perfectly curled. The sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese melded into burger heaven, and the fries - particularly the sweet potato crinkle fries - were excellent.

But really, the beer is what drew our attention. JM was particularly excited to see they had 1919 root beer on tap, as not a single place in Dane County seems to have this excellent tap-only root beer.

Keith, Leslie and Nichole sampled four kinds of beer, some from bottles and some on tap. A bottled jalapeño blonde ale (possibly Jamarillo renamed?) was really excellent for its style, with the bright flavor of peppers and a good backbone of ale flavor too. Leslie described it as "beer and nachos in one," which got a raised eyebrow from the brewmaster. Keith opined that it would pair well with Indian food.

A draft pumpkin ale had a lot of cinnamon in the nose and a light, sweet finish. The draft stout was so good we got two pints - it was perfectly creamy and smooth.

The raspberry ale was the only one we would call a dud. It was watery, with an almost  Kool-aid esque berry flavor. Lovers of fruity things like Leinie's Berry Weiss would probably be especially surprised by the difference between this and a sweet berry beer.

Jalapeno beerIt was a leisurely two-hour lunch, after which we we took a six-pack home for sharing and sampling. We got two each of the 77 Draft (not realizing it was a "light" beer, we set it free later), the red ale and the oatmeal stout at the recommendation of the brewmaster, who described it as a rich, dessert-like beer.

The brewmaster also told us that Woodman's grocery stores in Madison now carry his stuff, so we picked up the Halloween ale, a New Zealand pilsner, and another jalapeño.

As we shared the bottles over the next few weeks, we were disappointed to discover that the thin, bitter notes we tasted in the raspberry ale were present in almost all the beers. The red ale and the stout were nearly too sour to drink; the Halloween ale (not the same as the pumpkin) was slightly better, but went unfinished. The New Zealand pilsner was cloudy but had a bright flavor and held promise. Again, after a couple sips, we ended up boiling brats with the balance of the bottle.

The bottle of jalapeño ale, however, was just as good as it had been in the bar, and did in fact go well with some chicken tikka masala.

So, we figure it's better to make the trip and get the full Whistle Stop experience. That way you can sample the best beers on tap and meet the man who keeps the place running with a friendly but sort of taciturn hospitality. Plus, the best. electronic bulletin board. ever. lives on the wall, announcing scads of community events from free Wii games to Euchre to seafood night, but our favorite?

"Sunday school starts at 9. $2 beer until noon."

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