Fred Swanson of the Madison Homebrewers & Tasters Guild called last Tuesday. The conversation went something like this:
Fred: Are you and Paris coming to the Great Taste of the Midwest
this weekend or what?
Me: We don't have tickets.
Fred: I have tickets for you.
Me: We're there.
(Follow along with the Google Earth Map.)
So we flew to Madison on Friday, dodging thunderstorms all the way. Our first stop after checking into the hotel was the Great Dane in Madison's Hilldale section.
Great Dane Pub and Brewing — Hilldale
Good beers there, as we've come to expect from Great Dane, and the boneless wings were fantastic.
Capital Brewery, Middleton WI
Kevin & Mary having a Capital time
We decided to visit a bar we'd never heard of, but that has a good reputation for serving top-notch beers. This would be Dexter's Pub, and this night they featured beers from Michigan's Dark Horse Brewing.
- Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Bier Ale
- Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA
- Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout
- Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA
At this fun bar, we met a fun couple. Amanda and Wayne are Madison locals who enjoy a good beer as much as anyone I know. They accompanied us to the nearby Malt House — or Union House, depending on who you ask — which we had visited last time we were in town. We had a few pints here; the only one that made it into the notebook was Steenberge Atomium Grand Cru.
We were at the hotel by 1:30am or so. Just as it had rained most of the day, it rained most of the night. It was pouring down rain when we crossed the street for breakfast on Saturday. This did not bode well, as the Great Taste is an outdoor festival. Indeed, Olin-Turville Park was quite a mud bowl when we arrived.
After Fred handed over our tickets, Paris cast a spell to make the rain stop. And it worked. And the sun came out. And the temperature rose to the mid-90s. And waves of humidity boiled up from the waterlogged ground. But there was plenty of fresh water for glass-rinsing and drinker-hydrating, and we made our rounds.
Nebraska Brewing, Papillion NE
Delafield Brewhaus, Delafield WI
Dragonmead Microbrewery, Warren MI
White Winter Winery, Iron River WI
Red Eye Brewing, Wausau WI
O'so Brewing, Plover WI
Hinterland Brewery, Green Bay WI
Fat Head's Brewery, North Olmstead OH
Swiss musical entertainment. The observer's shirt on the left reads: If you get drunk, you'll die. If you don't get drunk, you'll still die. So get drunk!
Titletown Brewing, Green Bay WI
Cumberland Brewery, Louisville KY
Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior WI
Brugge Brasserie, Indianapolis IN
Harrison's Brewery, Orland Park IL
Casks in the Real Ale Tent
23rd Street Brewery, Lawrence KS
Half Acre Beer Company, Chicago IL
Bull Falls Brewery, Wausau WI
Surly Brewing, Brooklyn Center MN
Muskie Capital Brewery, Hayward WI
Ohio Brewing, Niles OH
After a much needed cool shower and some time off our feet, we met up with the crew from Nebraska Brewing along with some homebrewing friends from Menasha at the Malt House. The conversation was a bit subdued, and the beers didn't go down very fast; the day's heat had taken all the energy out of us. We called it an early night, and flew home on Sunday.
Here are a couple of articles about the weekend's festivities:
- Great Taste of the Midwest beer fest draws fans from 35 states (madison.com)
- The beer gods smiled on Great Taste of the Midwest 2009 (thedailypage.com)