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Monday, January 26, 2015  |   Madison, WI: 18.0° F  
Wisconsin beer and breweries: News and reviews
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Your guide to Great Taste of the Midwest 2009 eve pre-parties and beer tastings
No ticket to the festival? Here's the next best thing!

Okay, so you are not among the 6,000 ticket holders to the Great Taste of the Midwest at Olin-Turville Park on Saturday. You can still experience some of the brews that'll be offered at the annual beer festival, though.

A variety of pre-Great Taste parties will be held throughout Madison on Friday night. These are great opportunities to meet a few brewers from around the Midwest (and beyond) and sample some of their special beers. Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild member Fred Swanson says, "These are informal events where you'll find many of the actuall brewers; some may even be behind the bar serving."

Local bars and breweries that are hosting parties on the eve of the Great Taste include:

  • Alchemy
    Starting at 8 p.m.
    Two Brothers Brewing Company (Warrenville, Illinois): Five taps

  • Ale Asylum
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Hop heads can rejoice as the brew pub will be hosting release party for its new beer, Satisfaction Jacksin, a double IPA. Brewmaster Dean Coffey says it finishes at 8.25% ABV, and will have a bitter bite at over 100 IBUs (International Bittering Units). A limited release of bottles is planned for autumn.

  • Argus Bar Grille
    Starting at 8 p.m.
    Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, Ohio)

  • Brasserie V
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, New York)
    Duvel Moortgat Brewery (Breendonk, Belgium): Duvel Green (Belgian ale)

  • Dexter's Pub
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, Ohio): Blackout (Russian Imperial stout), Dortmunder Gold (lager), Edmund Fitzgerald (porter), Grassroots Ale (saison), Independence Ale (amber ale)
    Dark Horse Brewing Company (Marshall, Michigan) at 8:30 p.m.: Boffo (brown ale), Crooked Tree (Imperial IPA), Double Crooked Tree (Imperial IPA), Fore (smoked stout), Perkulator (coffee dopplebock), Reserve Special Black Bier Ale (American strong ale), Rod (amber ale)

  • Glass Nickel Pizza-Atwood
    Starting at 7 p.m.
    Founders Brewery (Grand Rapids, Michigan): Seven taps
    Surly Brewing Company (Minneapolis, Minnesota): A "surprise" beer

  • Great Dane-Hilldale
    Starting at 8 p.m.
    This event at the Hilldale outpost of the Wisconsin brewpub chain is "invite-only," so don't stop by looking to partake in these festivities. Those who scored an invitation, though, will be able to so sample beers from numerous Wisconsin breweries, including Capital Brewery (Middleton), Central Waters Brewing Company (Amherst), Lake Louie Brewing (Arena), Stevens Point Brewery (Stevens Point), and Red Eye Brewing Company (Wausau). Participating breweries from across state lines include Half Acre Beer Company (Chicago, Illinois), Pierce Brewery (Chicago, Illinois), Three Floyds Brewing company (Hammond, Indiana), and ShoreLine Restaurant & Brewery (Michigan City, Indiana).

  • Jordan's Big 10 Pub
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    Three Floyds Brewing Company (Hammond, Indiana): Alpha King (APA) and Robert the Bruce (Scottish Ale)
    Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware): Chateau Jihau (spiced), Midas Touch (spiced), and Sah'tea (Finnish farmhouse ale)
    Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, California): 13th Anniversary (American strong ale) and Levitation (amber ale)

  • The Local Tavern
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    New Holland Brewing Company (Holland, Michigan): Ten taps, including five versions of its flagship American IPA known as Mad Hatter (regular, imperial, casked, oak-aged, and farmhouse)

  • Maduro
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Bell's Brewery (Kalamazoo, Michigan): More than a dozen taps

  • The Malt House
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Dexter, Michigan): Two taps

  • The Old Fashioned
    This tavern and restaurant on Capitol Square that devotes its sweeping beer menu to Wisconsin breweries will be serving special beers from around the state on tap, all $1 off.

  • Sardine
    Starting at 7 p.m.
    Goose Island Beer Company (Chicago, Illinois)

Times for specific brewery servings may vary, so it is wise to call ahead if you're hoping to try a particular beer. A shuttle bus will be running between the parties at Alchemy, Brasserie V, Dexter's, the Glass Nickel, The Local, and The Malt House from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. More details can be found in a guide provided by the Beer Buffalo Lodge and Madison Beer Review.

For those fortunate to be holding tickets to the Great Taste, this year's program lists 112 breweries that are planning to attend. According to festival organizers, that means more than 700 different beers. To plan your strategy, the Madison Home Brewers and Tasters Guild provides reference info here, including the official program, a scorecard, and a map.

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