Saturday, December 3, 2016

Brewing up some happy holiday memories

The Miller Brewery has kicked off their Holiday Lites display and last night my mom and I went for our yearly visit. I bet this photo got your attention!

We'll revisit this lion later. He was hanging out drinking from his lion decorated stein in the stables.

I'll start in the Miller visitor center. There was a new sculpture there this year. My interpretation of it is that it's a modern Miller worker surrounded by a bunch of little Miller workers from the past.

One of the little guys that was standing down by his foot:

A Miller themed Kendall Johnson motorcycle:

After watching a promotional Miller movie, you walk to the light show. There are lights and decorations lining The Miller Valley. 

Those are conveyor belts moving up above, I assume with beer.

A lovely stained glass window with the girl in the moon.

So now we're arriving at the light show. You'll probably remember the big white house.

There were some new parts to the show this year. This may have been the best light show yet!

I said "the big white house" before, but it looks many different colors depending on the lights.

This was my favorite look for the house:

I loved that magenta color cast up on the trees too:

Something new that I liked were the little lit up shapes that appeared in the windows. There were dancing gingerbread men and snowflakes:

Another new addition was the keg tree:

I bet you haven't seen one of those before!

I like it lit up with all those colors reflecting off of the shiny metal. The keg tree was sitting atop that fortress looking building which I think is a bar/restaurant.

One more new thing was snow! We didn't have snow falling last night so they created some for us. I know this photo looks more like it's of some white animal's fur, but it's fake snow blowing overhead.

A few pics from the other direction as we walked back:

After the light show, the tour group went into the Miller Caves. You probably remember the caves from past years. A surprising thing about the caves was how warm they were. I say surprising, since their old use was for keeping the beer cool.

Nicely, we had a pretty small tour group this year. It was probably the smallest group we've been with ever. So I had space to move around in the caves and get some new photos.

That mural is of the Miller workers in the beer garden.

In front of the mural is a sculpture of a cooper.

As you might remember, after a brief explanation of the caves, we get to meet the ghost of Frederick Miller, via hologram. He brags up his brew and gives an inspiring little speech. It's always the same and I always look forward to it. This is the best photo I've managed to get of him yet! He walks back and forth a lot while talking, and it's a challenge to take a clear picture of moving light.

A tribute to Gambrinus "The Patron Saint of Beer"

The decorated ceiling lamps and the girl in the moon:

This shot turned out surprisingly cool. I was just trying to get the antique lamp, but I ended up liking the whole scene. Nice spooky shadows and lighting!

After visiting the caves, we went into what were once the old stables to have some beer samples. This old bar area is where you pick up your beer and pretzels.

The first sample everyone gets is Miller Lite.

We had a few choices of which beers to taste after the first cup of Miller. Both of us chose the Redd's Wicked Apple Ale which we remembered liking from last year. After that I chose the Blue Moon Cappuccino Oatmeal Stout and mom went with the Leinenkugel's Bavarian Dunkel.

You can see the Blue Moon was dark. At first I didn't realize there was a cappuccino part, let alone the oatmeal part. It's just that I didn't want the other choices, so I went with Blue Moon. The brew sounds potentially strange, but I actually ended up liking it. I get that it might not be for everyone. If you like something that tastes like both a dark beer and coffee, you'd be into this.

See, it even looks like a mix between dark beer and coffee:

Here's a glance around what's in the stable room:

There's a stage type area with some Christmas decorations and an antique sign.

You guys might be familiar with "The Girl in the Moon" who is a big part of the Miller brand and logo. You've seen her in different forms through these photos.

From what I could tell by reading this old ad, this giant wooden girl in the moon used to sit above "The Beer Hut" pictured. There's a cute message in this ad which you can probably read if you enlarge this pic. It's hard to tell when this photo was taken, but root beer was only 5 cents. I'm guessing the 1940s or 50s?

And here's our friend the lion again.

There were some antique machines from the beer factory out on display. This one is the filling machine. Bottles were placed under each of these spouts and beer would flow into them. According to the sign, the pressure of carbon dioxide pushed the beer out of this machine. Individual servings of beer could be packaged for the first time with the aid of this machine.

This next machine is the blender. What this machine did was blend four separate brews attached to it into one mix. That way, if there were any differences they'd be evened out into, as the sign put it, "one quality beer".

I like to take pictures of the signs or plaques that go with historical objects and read them later. I just liked the looks of these old machines. They look kind of Steampunk.

Back near where we were parked, there was a beer themed Christmas tree.

See the cans? Here's a closer look:

And the bottle star at top:

I was calling this one "the skeleton tree" because it looked like it had a spine.

Another cool tree, uplit in blue:

I hope you enjoyed this year's photos!

Remember, a week from today (Dec. 10) I'll be posting the Christmas sweater party pics! So send me those photos of you wearing your wildest Christmas sweater, hat, etc. and I'll include you in that post. I finally figured out more or less what I'm going to be putting together for an outfit!


  1. Great photos, Justine. Where exactly is this at?
    My father only drank Miller Light. He said it was the same beer he used to drink way back under a different name and Miller bought it out. Something how they now are "crafting" beer flavors for people's different tatses.

    1. Lorelei ~ Thank you! The Miller Brewery is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Miller Valley is on State Street if you should find yourself in the area. :)

      I'm wondering about what you said about the beer brand Miller bought out. I could tell you about the Miller brand changing hands after being in the family for several generations, but I'm not sure about brands Miller bought. Could it be Leinenkugel's? I read that Miller bought that brewery in 1988. But the Miller Lite brew recipe originally being made by a different brand? That I don't know about. Sounds like something to research.

      Oh wait! I just looked at Miller Lite's Wiki page. Check out the history section:

      Miller Lite Wiki Page

      Wow, I'd never even heard of Meister Brau until now. So your dad was probably drinking Meister Brau "Lite" in the 1960s-early 70s?

  2. Great post Justine! You always put events into motion for me.
    I will have to get up there for this.

    1. The October Boy ~ Thank you! Oh yeah? I don't know if we've talked about the Miller tours before. We usually talk Ren Faire every summer. Did you end up making it to Ren Faire this year? I remember you saying that you were planning to go.

      I just checked and the Miller Valley Holiday Lites tour is on Fridays and Saturdays through December 17. Here's more info if you're interested:

      Miller Valley Holiday Lites Tour Info

      You'll have to type in your birthday or some legal birth year to see the site. Ridiculous, I know!

      Let me know if you end up going! Do you know of any cool holiday events going on in our relative area this month?

  3. Having only ever been there in the summer, it's neat to see how they decorate for the holidays.

    1. Dex ~ The winter light experience is completely different from the summer tour experience! At least when I went in the summer, there was a much longer tour. The same movie and all the nitty gritty about the machinery, supplies, etc. The summer tour seemed a lot longer. I prefer the winter tour because they put on a great light show and you get to see the caves. Come to think of it, the caves were the only place we went inside. So it's more of a checking out the exterior kind of tour in winter. I'm not sure if I'll do the summer tour again, but I always look forward to the winter one each year!

  4. This event looks like it adds a lot to the Christmas spirit and atmosphere - looks fun. You have quite a few events to go to during the holiday season. I'm feeling good today cuz it's foggy outside. Gonna go drink some Bud Ice cuz Miiler ain't on sale.

    1. Matt ~ The Miller tour does add a lot of fun to the Christmas season! It's a yearly tradition I always look forward to. Yeah, they do create a cool atmosphere with the lights, the cave decorations, and even some fake snow this year. We have some actual snow on the ground now, but I appreciated the fake stuff on the tour night.

      Yeah! We're lucky to have a lot going on around here and pretty much all of it is free. Lots of tree lightings and displays. I'd like to go to something new and Christmassy this month, so I'm keeping an eye out.

      So do you guys usually get a lot of fog and rain for December? I don't think I've ever tried Bud Ice. Actually, I haven't had a lot of Bud, period. Interestingly, I was reading yesterday that Anheuser-Busch and Miller might merge into the same company! And Coors is already connected with Miller. So Bud, Miller, Coors, and who knows whatever other beers will be made by the same company. Sounds like a beer monopoly to me, but I guess they're able to do this.

      Enjoy that Bud Ice! :)

  5. Oh, fake snow! Wow, that's what we need around here! That would be neat! You guy's love snow so much that you even put out fake snow - hey, that's dedication! You're making me yearn for a white Christmas.

    Miller is actually a favorite of mine cuz I can drink it with my natural food diet and not gain weight, it's very dietetic. Yeah, the classic American beers are encountering competition from expensive craft beers. From my experience, if you drink these rich tasty craft beers everyday then your taste buds get numb to the taste and it's a waste of money. Better to drink something like Miller during the week and then treat yourself to a six-pack of Beck's or a craft beer on the weekends when you can actually appreciate the taste difference. I wonder if these guys who drink $8.00 a six-pack beers actually drink everyday. You don't have to get drunk to drink a little everyday.

    Oh, it's usually just colder and rainy. That's why I was surprised at the fog yesterday. Fog is more of a warmer weather thingy. Now if you got a castle and some fog, then you got something.

    1. Matt ~ Yeah! Fake snow would be good for California! I don't know if it was the strong wind that night or if the snow machine did it, but that stuff was really flying. Wonder what it was made of? I heard once that some fake snow is made of soap shavings. Haha! Oh, we love snow at first and in small amounts. It's cool in December, but check back with Wisconsinites in February or March and you'll get a different answer. :)

      Yeah, I always got the impression Miller Lite wasn't too caloric. Rolling Rock is a good light beer. Have you had that one? It's my favorite beer overall, actually. You're right about the expensive craft beers! It's crazy, people get so snobby about beer now, it's like they're talking about wine! :) You might get a kick out of some of those links I put up to the different beers we tried. That beer advocate site has some reviews on it that sound seriously like something from a wine tasting. "It has a nice nose, and a nutty aftertaste" You know, stuff like that. :) But it might be a helpful site for deciding which beers to try.

      Oh that's a good question, if the people who drink expensive beers drink them everyday. My theory on that is that unless they're just wild about one of those flavors, they probably only drink that beer in places where they can show off. So, I doubt a lot of that pricey beer is being drunk alone. I could be wrong. It would be interesting to know!

      Hey, a castle and some fog! That's Dracula level!

  6. The stained glass window is very cool ... so is that shot of the caves! :)

    1. Insomniac's Attic ~ I agree! I like the way they incorporated The Girl in the Moon into the buildings and decorations. I think she's a pretty cool character. I was really happy with the cave photos this year! It was nice to have some room to move around and get some different shots. Plenty of good atmosphere in there!

  7. Thanks for the info Justine. Yes we did make it to the Ren Faire this sumer. Had a great time even though it rained on us, but that almost made it more fun. I will let you know if I make it to the Miller tour. Both of my daughters have moved up to Milwaukee and I find myself there more and more. Brings back lots of memories for me even though I have been gone since 1986! maybe someday we might make it back over the line for good.

    1. The October Boy ~ You're welcome! Glad you made it out to Ren Faire. Oh, I know how it is to be there on a rainy day. One time we went and it was sunny for maybe the first hour or so and then it started raining buckets on us. This was near the joust area, so a bunch of us were huddled under this tiny bit of cover where some horses were. There was so much mud. You might remember my photos from that day:

      Rainy Ren Faire 2013

      I know what you mean. The rain adds some fun if it doesn't last too long.

      Your daughters both moved back up here! Do they go to any of the places I blog about? You're one of the few people in blogland who I have to compare notes with on local places. I'm not aware of any regular Wisconsin blog followers. Do you miss Milwaukee sometimes? A lot of things look different in the city since 1986, although I guess you know that from visiting. I take pictures of the skyline whenever I can because it seems like there are always changes.