The Raw Deal, located on South Broadway in Menomonie, Wis., is more than just a coffee shop.
Nestled in a large historical brick building, this business houses a community intent.
With raw/vegan food options (which is not heated above 109 degrees, according to their to-go pamphlet) fresh-squeezed fruit juice blends and smoothies, house-grown wheat grass shots, live music, seminars and other events, this is a place to go for more than just a cup of in-house roasted coffee. And yes, it is a well-known and accepted fact this is the best coffee in town...possibly the best within a hundred mile radius.
Each month, for instance, the Raw Deal celebrates a local artist by inviting the artist to hang his or her works on their walls. Many times these artists are able to sell their wares or make future commission due to their spotlighting.
Because Menomonie is, by nature, an artistic town, the Raw Deal is ever-changing visually with the multitude of artists available to showcase. However, the establishment changes more than just its art. The main purpose for this article is to praise the beer selection.
For Menomonie, the Raw Deal is very forward thinking, and very forward drinking. Excuse the pun. On the chalkboards and on the menus is the adage, “No crap on tap,” and that's a promise. The four beer tap selection changes as frequently as patrons can drink through the kegs, and there is usually something new to try on a weekly basis.
For people who enjoy good beer but don't enjoy the Menomonie bar nightlife, this is an ideal place to sip good suds.
The Raw Deal's atmosphere is not that of a bar, it is quiet, never crowded (unless there is a belly dancer show) and since it's a coffee shop it's open early every day. No need to lose sleep in a dingy bar crowded with drunk college kids in order to have a pint on draft. Here is a calm place filled with patrons who respect quality of life, art, food and drink.
Beers on Tap
As mentioned previously, taps change out frequently, and they're cheap! Drafts are $3.50/pint and snifters range from $4 to $5.
Currently on tap are two selections from Oskar Blues out of Lyon's Colorado: Mama's Little Yella Pils (a 5.3 percent ABV Bohemian-style pislener) and G'night (an award-winning imperial red/double IPA, 8.7 percent ABV). According to the Oskar Blues Web site, G'night is a tribute to a “Vietnam vet who died fighting a 2002 wild fire outside of our Lyons hometown.” More information regarding this tribute can be found on the OB Web site.
The third tap is pouring Rush River's The Unforgiven, brewed nearby in River Falls, Wis. The Unforgiven is a dry-hopped amber ale at 5.5 percent ABV and a staple craft beer for Menomonie.
The remaining tap is charged with Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal Stout from Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls, Wis. This full-bodied , 4.5 percent ABV stout is a 2000 World Beer Cup Gold Medal winner. Sand Creek Brewing is one of Wisconsin's largest microbreweries, whose history dates back to the late 1800s according to history section on the Sand Creek Brewing Web site. This brewery also offers contract brewing.
The bottled beer selection is large and also changes with availability. The bottle selection is a thick one, with over 20 beers to choose from. For the sake of brevity and since it's wintertime, below is a snapshot of the Raw Deal's dark beer selection.
Dark Wisconsin beers include Angry Minnow's 16 oz Oaky's Oatmeal Stout from Hayward, O'so's Night Train of Plover, and the Mudpuppy Porter from Central Waters of Amherst. These bottles range from $3.75 to $4.
As of this writing, Lefthand's Milk Stout Nitro, 6.0 percent ABV, is available in bottle form. Lefthand Brewing hails from Longmont, Colo. Also, Stouts bottled with Nitro is a match made in heaven for beer. Buy a bottle for only $4.25.
There are also two beers from Michigan breweries, including Founders' Dirty Bastard, a 8.5 percent ABV scotch ale from Grand Rapids, and the Scotty Karate from Dark Horse Brewery out of Marshall, Mich. Each of these beers can be also purchased for $4.25
I forgot to mention the kombucha you can buy at the Raw Deal. Good lord, there's kombucha!