On Saturday, August 9th, I attended the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison WI. Always held on the second Saturday of August, the festival features over 100 brewers from 11 different states serving over 1000 different beers. For $60 you are given a very cool commemorative glass (yes actual glass) and have five hours to sample as much as possible. Tickets go on sale the first Sunday in May and sell out within a few hours. There are two ways to acquire tickets. One is to drive to Madison and go to one of the 7 or 8 bars and liquor stores selling them. Tickets go on sale at noon, so it is a good idea to get there the night before and camp out. 5000 tickets are sold this way. The other method is through the lottery, 2000 are sold this way. If you are like me who didn’t win the lottery, you hit up your friends who did. My plan this year was simple, visit brewers I like and ones I want to try. I avoid the “big guys” like Bells, Goose Island, Three Floyds etc, because the lines are too long. Favorite beers from this year include Right Brain (Traverse City) Spinal Tapper (IPA), Pipeworks (Chicago) Simcoe (a big tasty Imperial IPA), Solemn Oath (Naperville) Pyrros (Farmhouse Saison) and Dryhop (Chicago) Imperial IPA. This year the brewers that attracted the longest lines were Toppling Goliath (Decorah, IA) and Perennial Artisan Ales (St. Louis). If you are thinking of going next year, plan on arriving at least the night before. Great Taste Eve features many of the downtown Madison bars hosting pre-parties with special tapping’s. Next year’s event is Saturday August 8th. Next up is the Detroit Beer Festival on October 24th and 25th held at the Eastern Market.