Mars Cheese Castle

The Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha is 46,000 square feet of cheese, gifts, bakery items and craft beer, along with a restaurant and bar. The store is a popular tourist stop along Interstate 94, about 8 miles from the Illinois state line.

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.

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Spotted Cow prices

A pyramid of beer from New Glarus Brewing Co. is displayed at the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. A case of Spotted Cow and other New Glarus brands, which are sold only in Wisconsin, is $44.99, one of the most expensive price points in the state.

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.

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Mars Cheese Castle

Mars Cheese Castle along Interstate 94 in Kenosha is a regular pit stop for tourists from out of state.

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.

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Spotted Cow prices

Travelers departing the Dane County Regional Airport can grab Spotted Cow, but it will cost them. A 12-pack of cans is $26.99 while a six-pack of bottles is $19.

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.

Send retail-related tips and story ideas to badams@madison.com or call Barry Adams at 608-252-6148.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.