Vacationers to Wisconsin hoping to whisk a case of Spotted Cow across state lines may want to plan ahead.
There is no shortage of the popular farmhouse ale from New Glarus Brewing Co. but the price can vary widely depending on where it is purchased and, in at least one instance, is nearly $15 more than a nearby grocer.
The 46,000-square-foot Mars Cheese Castle along Interstate 94 in Kenosha, about 8 miles from the state line, is a major tourist draw and often a last stop for out-of-state travelers before they cross into Illinois.
The business, founded in 1947, sells a wide variety of cheese from around Wisconsin and the world, has a bakery, restaurant, bar and a gift shop. The store, with six check-out lanes, also has an impressive craft beer department anchored by cases of Spotted Cow, which is famously sold only in Wisconsin.
But the price for 24 bottles of what has turned into the state's signature craft beer is eye-popping.
On a visit to the store last weekend, a case of Spotted Cow was going for $44.99 and appears to be one of the higher price-points around for the bovine-themed brew. In fact, less than four miles to the south, at the corner of I-94 and Highway 50, Woodman's Food Market sells a case of Spotted Cow for $30.79.
But what about other retailers at major state exit points?
At Keyport Liquors in Superior, a case of Spotted Cow sells for $34.79, while it goes for $32 a case at the Family Fresh Market in New Richmond, northwest of the Twin Cities. Historic Casanova Liquors in the I-94 border city of Hudson sells a case of Cow for $39.99.
In Beloit, the Cornellier Superstore, another popular tourist spot that sells cheese and souvenirs at the interchange of I-90 and I-43, a case of Spotted Cow retails for $37.99, while at the nearby Badger Spirits it's $36.98 a case. Over in Prairie du Chien, a case at the Piggly Wiggly sells for $34 and at the Woodman's in Onalaska it retails for $29.99.
In the Madison area, Steve's Liquor on University Avenue sells a case for $34.06, tax included, while Star Liquor on Williamson Street retails it for $33.99 and Costco in Middleton for $30.75.
But the Mars Cheese Castle price of $45 a case pales in comparison to the price of Spotted Cow in the Local to Go section at the Metcalfe's Market in the terminal at the Dane County Regional Airport. A six-pack of bottles is $19, which would equate to $76 a case, while a 12-pack of cans is $26.99.
Like I said, plan ahead.