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Your guide to Great Taste of the Midwest eve 2014 pre-parties and beer tastings
The week before the festival takes on a life of its own as a celebration of brewing
, and on

Madison is ascending as a destination city for craft beer enthusiasts, a status that's affirmed the second week of every August when it plays host to the Great Taste of the Midwest and a growing host of satellite celebrations.

The 28th annual festival will be held at Olin Park on Saturday, August 9. Organized by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, it's a wildly popular gathering that draws attendees from around the United States. This year, there will be more than 1,000 beers served by upwards of 160 breweries from around the Midwest. Tickets are sold out within hours of being made available.

For beer enthusiasts who don't have a ticket, or those who simply want to make their revelries a multi-day affair, the phenomenon of the Great Taste pre-parties is most welcome. Dozens of these events are held throughout Madison, most on the night before the festival, making for a sustained celebration that is growing as beer fandom does.

Great Taste Eve, as it's known, has been blossoming at a rapid rate of the last five year, paralleling the growth spurt in the craft beer industry. Just under 20 venues hosted parties in 2010, a number that jumped to above two dozen in 2011 and leaped to nearly 40 in 2012 and more than 60 in 2013. This year, the number of parties is inching even higher, and more are being held throughout the entire week preceding the festival. These celebrations are held at breweries, brewpubs, taverns and restaurants, and feature special tappings of many limited release beers. Brewery staff, many in town for the Great Taste itself, are a fixture at many of these events.

"It's very humbling to see how popular this event has become over the years," says Mark Garthwaite, chairman of the Great Taste and the new executive director of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild. "I know the people who organize this thing and pour their heart and soul into it are gratified to see that it's highly regarded," he notes.

There is an exciting bounty of Great Taste pre-parties, and to help craft beer fans navigate all of the options, we have compiled a list of dates, locations, starting time and participating breweries. These listings also include beer menus and other details where possible to provide an expansive guide to the festivities.

Be sure to check back for updates on the pre-parties as additional information will be added to this list as events get scheduled up until the Great Taste itself. Most parties are scheduled for Friday, August 8.

Parties coinciding with the Great Taste of the Midwest include:

All week

  • Great Dane Pub
    All day
    • Great Dane-Downtown: For Great Taste week, the original Dane is serving a lineup of beer that includes its Belgian Wit, Belgian Quadruple (a.k.a. "The Beast"), Tri-Pepper Pilsner, Hop Circus Wheat, Across the Pond Strong Pale Ale, and cask-conditioned Cascade Mountain Porter.
    • Great Dane-Fitchburg: Though it's available at each Dane, the Fitchburg location is highlighting Coppertun (amber saison), the new bomber-bottle release from the brewpub.
    • Great Dane-Hilldale: The west-side Dane plans to tap its Country Road Farmhouse Ale and Tangerine Dream (dopple hefeweizen bock), as well as a kölsch, a Munich dunkel, and an American red.
    • Great Dane-East: A kölsch and an American red are also slated for the Great Taste week menu at this Dane.

  • Merchant
    All day
    Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: Celebrations will run all week long with this tap takeover as the downtown Madison restaurant serves as a Great Taste home base for the north-side brewery. There will be eight Ale Asylum beers served on a rotating basis on the bar's five taps. Look for Hopalicious (American pale ale), Bedlam!, Unshadowed (a hefeweizen formerly called Hatha-weizen), Big Slick Stout (oatmeal stout), and Tripel Nova (Belgian-style tripel), along with specialty releases from the brewery's Limited Asylum series, including Demento (session pale ale) and Pantheon (imperial brown ale). Merchant is also planning to offer a special beer cocktail menu to mark the festivities. An "Industry Launch Party" will kick things off Sunday night at 9 p.m.


Sunday, August 3

  • Hydro Street Brewing Company
    Starting at 9 a.m.
    Hydro Street Brewing Company of Columbus, Wisconsin: The brewpub is a sponsor of the third annual Arts and Ales Festival, an outdoor celebration held in front of the historic Columbus City Hall. Running all day, the party features live music, arts and crafts vendors, taps from a half-dozen craft breweries, and a homebrewers contest. Judging in this competition begins at noon, and the winner of the "People's Choice" award will get to brew their creation with Hydro Street co-owner and brewmaster Aaron Adams for release at the brewpub.


Monday, August 4

  • The Tipsy Cow
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado: At the beginning of the year, this Front Range brewery fully reentered the Wisconsin market after a hiatus of several years. Though it's not a participant in the Great Taste, Avery is joining the pre-party scene with this early week tap takeover. Avery India Pale Ale, Lilikoi Kepolo (witbier made with passion fruit), Summer's Day IPA (made with tangerine), and Avery Anniversary Ale-Twenty One (imperial India brown ale) are all on the menu, as is Hog Heaven (barleywine), the first release in the brewery's "Holy Trinity of Ales."


Tuesday, August 5

  • Brocach Irish Pub-Monroe Street
    Starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, August 4 and running through Saturday, August 9
    O'so Brewing of Plover, Wisconsin: Warm-up for the Great Taste begins early at the west-side Brocach, which is hosting a week-long tap takeover. The menu will feature Temi (English mild ale), Indonesian Coffee Train (Night Train porter brewed with coffee), Hop Whoopin' (American IPA), Rusty Red Nitro (American red ale, served on nitrogen tap), Spike's Maple Ale (American strong ale brewed with maple sap), Holy Wa (Belgian-style golden strong ale), and Funky Lady (barrel-aged lactose sweet stout).

  • Dexter's Pub
    Certified beer experts will have their mettle tested at Cicerone Smackdown II, which challenges brewery reps, distributors and customers to test their skills at this second annual blind tasting celebration. "Industry professionals with Level 2 certification will get to choose the beer on tap and whatever they want to put in the hop rocket," says owner Nick Zabel, who will also join in the competition. Customers can buy flights of sample pours until 8 p.m., but the beers will be labeled with numbers only. Single pours will be offered at 8 p.m., with winners announced after the votes are counted at 10 p.m.


Wednesday, August 6

  • Craftsman Table and Tap
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    North Coast Brewing Company of Fort Bragg, California: Starting last March, this Middleton gastropub started hosting tap takeovers on a monthly basis, and has more scheduled into this fall. The August entry, timed to coincide with the Great Taste week, will highlight North Coast, based in the redwood country of Mendocino County. Revelers to get started particularly early will be treated to taps of Scrimshaw Pilsner, Red Seal Ale (American amber ale), Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, a 10-year barrel-aged version of Old Rasputin, Brother Thelonius (Belgian-style strong dark ale), and Blue Star (American wheat), along with Acme IPA served in bottles. Craftsman will also hold a raffle for one ticket to the Middleton Beer Festival, a brand new event the restaurant is hosting on Saturday, September 13.

  • Dexter's Pub
    Starting at 11 a.m.
    • Green Flash Brewery of San Diego, California: To any bitter beer lover's delight, Dexter's will offer a quartet of Green Flash taps: West Coast IPA, Imperial IPA, Hop Head Red (double red IPA), and Road Warrior (imperial rye IPA). That fourth brew will also be an ingredient in the chef's mac and cheese, on the menu all day at the north side tap house.
    • Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Longmont, Colorado: Beer will also star as the secret ingredient in this special Wing Night, which will feature five hot sauces with the chicken. The tap takeover itself will serve up Dale's Pale Ale, Mama's Little Yella Pils (Czech pilsner), Old Chub (Scotch ale), Deviant Dale's (IPA), GUBNA (imperial IPA), G'Knight (imperial red IPA) and at least one rare barrel-aged version of G'Knight.

  • Hydro Street Brewing Company
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Hydro Street Brewing Company of Columbus, Wisconsin: The brewpub is unveiling a new Great Taste week beer this evening. Part of its Imperial Series, it's an imperial IPA made with Amarillo, Cascade, Columbus, Mosiac, and Citra hops, and is quite strong at 10% ABV.

  • Star Liquor
    4-7 p.m.
    Toppling Goliath Brewing Company of Decorah, Iowa: A free sample tasting.

  • Whole Foods Market
    4-8 p.m.
    Every Wednesday night in the summer, the Whole Foods in Madison hosts its Burgers & Bluegrass grill out. This week's hootenanny will pair SpareTime Bluegrass Band with beers from Tyranena.


Thursday, August 7

  • Bassett Street Brunch Club
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: Chef Matt Pace is teaming up with the brewery to offer a five-course "Southern Hospitality Dinner." Here's the menu: fried oysters paired with Pantheon (imperial brown ale); sweet corn soup and goat cheese dumplings paired with Unshadowed (hefeweizen); red snapper, summer squash, spinach, sweet onion and Andouille sausage with shrimp bisque paired with Hopalicious (American pale ale); sausage-stuffed quail and collard greens paired with Ambergeddon (American amber ale); and lemon buttermilk tart with Tripel Nova. There are two seatings, at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m., the dinner is $40 per person, and tickets can be purchased online..

  • Capitol Chophouse
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    3 Floyds Brewing Company of Munster, Indiana: Chef Craig Summers is teaming up with 3 Floyds for a prix fixe beer pairing dinner. The menu offers four courses: rabbit and pheasant galantine, with sweet and sour Door County cherries, French radishes, garden herb salad and pistachio vinaigrette, paired with Pride & Joy (American mild ale); cured Alaskan halibut "sashimi" with rye croutons, garden pickles, preserved lemon foam and smoked paprika aïoli, paired with Gumballhead (American pale wheat); a Berkshire pork tasting with grilled chop, confit cheek and slow-roasted shoulder, along with parsnip purree, herb barley and Swiss chard, paired with Zombie Dust (American pale ale); and, malted milk profiteroles with caramel sauce and salted peanuts, paired with Robert the Bruce (Scottish ale). The price is $55, and reservations can be made on the phone at 608-255-0165.

  • The Coopers Tavern
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan: It's Great Taste Eve Eve on the Capitol Square at Coopers, which is hosting one of the Midwest's most beloved breweries for this weekend warm-up party. Leading the way is KBS, a.k.a. Kentucky Breakfast Stout, a wildly popular and highly coveted bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout that generates long lines when it's released each spring. It will be joined on tap by Dissenter (American pale lager), Backwoods Bastard (bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale), Curmudgeon Old Ale, Devil Dancer (triple IPA), Double Trouble (double IPA), and All Day IPA (session IPA).

  • Dexter's Pub and Vintage Brewing Company
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Vintage Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin: Dexter's owner Nick Zebel is teaming up with the west-side brewpub for this pre-party. All 24 tap lines at the north-side tavern will be devoted to the west-side brewpub, and will feature new releases, archived rarities, high-gravity treats from barrels, and all Vintage summer seasonals and year-round brands. Moreover, the kitchen teams at both establishments are working together and trading recipes, so for one night only, Dexter's kitchen will serve Vintage dinner menu dishes while its bar will offer a selection of Vintage's signature craft cocktails. Likewise, Vintage will prepare some of Dexter's dinner offerings, and its bar team will offer versions of its partner's drink specials for the night. For those looking to soak in both experiences first-hand, a shuttle will run between Dexter's and Vintage, with trips on the hour until midnight.

  • Inn on the Park
    Staring at 7 p.m.
    Saint Francis Brewing of St. Francis, Wisconsin: The Top of the Park banquet space atop the hotel is the location for this pre-pre-party, which is geared towards people in the beer and hospitality industries. The taps will include limited releases from the Milwaukee-area brewery, including its Cucumber Saison, Pirate Stout (made with molasses and spices), and special cask ales. Light hors d'oeuvres and giveaways are on the menu too.

  • Karben4 Brewing and One Barrel Brewing Company
    All day
    Both Madison breweries will be releasing a collaboratively made barrel-aged beer in celebration of Great Taste week.

  • Lucky's Bar and Grille
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin: This second annual pre-pre party hosted by Capital at the Regent Street tavern will offer 10 beers, one of which is making its public debut. Named "Old and Weiss," it's a new hefeweizen made by Capital brewer Jake Erbe in tribute to his father. The menu is also set to feature Wisconsin Amber, Lake House (Munich helles), Mutiny IPA, Ghost Ship (white IPA), Capsized Again (imperial IPA), Oktoberfest, and Appleanche (doppelbock with apples), along with an apple brandy barrel-aged Appleanche and a bourbon barrel-aged Pumpkinataur.

  • The Malt House
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Against the Grain of Louisville, Kentucky: This brewpub is located in Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Triple A baseball team the Louisville Bats. This pre-party's tap list will feature Galangal Action (kölsch made with galangal root, watermelon and kaffir lime leaves), The Brown Note (brown ale), Killewitte (smoked witbier), and Citra Ass Down! (American IPA). Melted food cart will be serving its gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot, the string band Winn Dixie will perform at 6:30 p.m., and a Great Taste ticket raffle is set for 8 p.m.

  • Mason's on Main, Oregon
    Starting at 6:30 p.m.
    Wisconsin Brewing Company of Verona, Wisconsin: Brewmaster Kirby Nelson is teaming up with chef Daniel Bear on a summer beer pairing dinner at this Oregon restaurant, located at 113 S. Main St. The five-course menu will be centered on kobe beef, and diners will receive a complimentary pint glass and tour pass for the brewery. Seatings are $85 per person.

  • Merchant
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: The week-long tap takeover at this downtown cocktail bar culminates with a release party for Kink, the newest beer from Ale Asylum. It's a Belgian-style abbey ale that's been served with the name Happy Ending at the brewery's taproom. Live music is on the menu too, with Johnny Chimes & Gator Bait playing at 9:30 p.m.

  • Nau-Ti-Gal
    Starting at 4 p.m., Friday through Saturday
    Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts: This dockside restaurant located along the inlet of the Yahara River into the northern tip of Lake Mendota is putting on a summer-long series of tap takeovers every weekend. The featured brewery for Great Taste week is better known as Samuel Adams, and a different special release will featured on tap each day. Roggen Wolf (rye IPA) is on the menu for Thursday, Thirteenth Hour (barrel-aged imperial stout) is set for Friday, and Saturday will feature Fat Jack ("double pumpkin" ale) or OctoberFest. The brewery's flagship Boston Lager will also be served each day.

  • Next Door Brewing Company
    Starting at 11 a.m.
    Next Door Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin: Two Great Taste tickets are the top prize in an all-day raffle being at the east-side brewpub. Patrons stopping by will also have a chance to taste its new Tranquil Tripel, a big 10% ABV Belgian-style brew, which is debuting on tap at 3 p.m.

  • One Barrel Brewing
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    One Barrel Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin: This Schenk's Corners nanobrewery is hosting a celebration of barrel-aged beers over the two nights leading up to the Great Taste. The centerpiece of the party is a collaboration brew made by One Barrel with Karben4 that was aged 14 months in bourbon barrels. Also on the 1BBL menu is its #2 Strong Ale aged in burgundy wine barrels, Jimbo (imperial stout aged in Old Sugar Distillery whiskey casks), Falcor Blackberry Sour Ale (oak barrel-aged wild ale) and Brandywine Bridge (aged in brandy barrels).

  • Star Liquor
    4-7 p.m.
    Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio: A free sample tasting.

  • The Sugar Maple, Milwaukee
    Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wisconsin: Yes, Great Taste week events are cropping up in Milwaukee now. Located at 441 E. Lincoln Ave. in the heart of the Bayview neighborhood, this beer bar serves more than three score craft beer taps. For this pre-party, Central Waters will be joined by a quintet of Midwestern breweries. The lineup, so far, features Perennial Artisan Ale from Missouri, Toppling Goliath from Iowa, New Holland Brewing from Michigan, and both Indeed Brewing and Surly Brewing from Minnesota. Each will make their way hence to Madison for Great Taste Eve.

  • Trixie's Liquor Store
    4-6 p.m.
    Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio: This increasingly prominent bottle shop on East Washington will offer samples from the iconic Cleveland brewery at this tasting. The highlight is Spacewalker, the new Belgian-style IPA from Great Lakes that's at a stratospheric 8.2% ABV; anyone who's a fan of the brewery's Lake Erie Monster (double IPA) should be excited about this new offering. The store is also offering $1.00 off all six-packs.


Friday, August 8

  • 608
    Starting at 7:00 p.m.
    Capital Brewery of Middleton: Brewmaster Brian Destree will be on hand to present 12 beers on tap for this pre-party, including a several of his special creations. The first is a new version of Mutiny IPA, in which he's boosted the amount of dry hops by 50% from its original recipe. There is also expected to be a limited pour of aged Eternal Flame (a vertically brewed annual series of beers that was launched in 2011), as well as offerings of bourbon barrel-aged Pumpkinataur and apple brandy barrel-aged Appleanche (doppelbock with apples). Other beers to be served include standard Appleanche, Wisconsin Amber, Supper Club (American pale lager), Lake House (Munich helles), Oktoberfest, Ghost Ship (white IPA), Dark Voyage (black IPA), and Capsized Again (imperial IPA). Special glassware will be given away to the first 50 people attending.

  • Alchemy Cafe
    Starting at 11:30 a.m.
    Dark Horse Brewing Company of Marshall, Michigan: Fans of the beloved Crooked Tree IPA can rejoice. The east-side gastropub will serve the beer as it celebrates the iconic Michigan brewery with a tap takeover. Another seven beers will be served from the start of the day, including Raspberry Ale, Fore Smoked Stout, Smells Like a Safety Meeting (double IPA), Boffo Brown Ale, Boffo's Belgian Cousin (Belgian-style brown ale), Barracuda Blue (APA with blueberries), and Reign in Blood (IPA with fresh blood orange). Two special tappings are also planned for later in the day. Double Crooked Tree IPA is first up at 4 p.m., and Plead the 5th Imperial Stout (Russian imperial stout) will follow at 9 p.m.

  • Argus Bar Grille
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    3 Floyds Brewing of Munster, Indiana: This beloved Midwestern brewery has made its home at this Main Street tavern for several years, and large crowds of beer enthusiasts gather for this party. Special tappings include Zombie Dust (American ale ale), Gumballhead (American pale wheat), Evil Power (Imperial pilsner), Apocalypse Cow (Imperial IPA),and and Deesko (Berliner Weisse). Additionally, Yum Yum (American pale ale) Big Tiddy Assassin (Flanders red ale) will each be making their Madison debuts. These beers will be served both upstairs at the main bar as well as downstairs in the Argus Underground, where 3 Floyds owners and brewers will host a meet-and-greet with fans at 6 p.m.

  • Barriques-Monroe Street
    Starting at 5:30 p.m.
    Lucette Brewing Company of Menomonie, Wisconsin: The western Wisconsin brewery will serve a half-dozen of its creations at this beer-and-wine-loving coffee shop. The menu will include all three of Lucette's Belgian-style beers: Shining Dawn (Belgian golden ale), Double Dawn (imperial golden ale) and Aphelion (Belgian pale ale). It's the first time that all three have been offered at one Madison location at once. There will also be an opportunity to try the phenomenal weissbier Hips Don't Lie on a nitrogen tap line. Lucette co-founder Michael Wilson and head brewer Jon Christiansen will be attending.

  • Blue Moon Bar and Grill
    Starting at 1 p.m.
    Black Husky Brewing of Pembine, Wisconsin: One of Wisconsin's buzziest and smallest breweries, located near the northeastern corner of the state in Marinette County and reliant entirely on self-distribution, will be making a splash when it brings its canine-inspired beers to Madison for this tap takeover. Brewery founders and owners Tim and Toni Eichinger will join party at 6 p.m. to serve eight taps of their beers. The menu features Equinox and Simcoe hopped versions of its Pale Ale and Howler (imperial pale ale brewed with honey), as well as Sproose (Double IPA brewed with spruce tips), Sparkly Eyes (imperial version of Sproose), Harold the Red (imperial red ale), and Twelve-Dog (imperial stout).

  • The Brass Ring
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Titletown Brewing Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin: Currently in the midst of an expansion with plans to launch its new production brewery by the end of summer, Titletown brewers are making a weekend excursion for the Great Taste and this pre-party. Six beers will be on tap: Green 19 IPA, Johnny "Blood" Red (Irish red ale), Stammtisch Lager (Munich-style helles), Dark Helmet Schwartzbier, Summer Snow (white IPA), and Summer Snow with grapefruit zest. Flights and pints will be available, along with a menu of food pairings.

  • Brasserie V
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    Perennial Artisan Ales of St. Louis, Missouri: This highly rated St. Louis brewery will be featured at a tasting party with nine taps on offer. These include Barrel Aged Sump Coffee Stout (a Great American Beer Festival silver medalist, aged in Rittenhouse Rye barrels for 11 to 13 months), Trixie (Belgian-style wit brewed with grape must), Saison de Lis (Belgian saison steeped on chamomile), Hommel (dry-hopped Belgian-style pale ale), Aria (Belgian-style ale with Brettanomyces), The Last Word (American wild ale with wormwood, wintergreen, and limes), Savant Blanc (Belgian-style ale with Brettanomyces, aged in white wine barrels from Missouri wineries), Loomiweisse (black Berliner Weisse with omani limes made in collaboration with Evil Twin brewing), and IPA 9 (dry-hopped American IPA). Brewers from Perennial will be on hand to discuss the beers, which will be sold per glass or in flights.

  • Brews Brothers
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts: A brewer from the Boston Beer Company will be bringing some of Sam's limited offerings for this happy hour tasting party at this Middleton taproom. Beer geeks who aren't aware of the lesser-known and often excellent small-batch brews made at the Boston Beer Company, which puts out the Samuel Adams line, would do well to give the "largest craft" (or "smallest macro," depending on your criteria) brewery's more select offerings a shot. Sam Adams beers will be featured at the bar though the weekend, while they last.

  • Brickhouse BBQ
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    • Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wisconsin: This eminent brewery from the center of the state returns to its roost atop Brickhouse for a mammoth tap takeover. There are 16 beers on the standard menu: Hop Rise Session Ale, Hop Rise served on nitrogen, Mudpuppy Porter, Ouisconsing Red Ale, Satin Solitude Imperial Stout, Glacial Trail IPA, Honey Blonde Ale, Illumination (double IPA), La Petite Mort (bourbon barrel-aged Belgian-style strong ale), Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale, Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout (imperial stout), Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Bourbon Barrel Stout, Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale (barleywine), La Rivière Coule with peaches (Belgian pale ale), and Call Me Old Fashion (brandy barrel-aged red ale made with bitters from Goodkind in Milwaukee). There will also be a trio of brews tapped in sequence at specific points through the evening. Central Waters 16 (imperial stout) starts things out a 7 p.m. Rye Barrel Cherry Stout is up next at 8 p.m. The final special tapping of the evening is set for 9 p.m., and will feature Plums Were On Sale (American wild ale). All will be served alongside another set of offerings from the neighboring mitten state.
    • Short's Brewing Company of Bellaire, Michigan: Though this brewery does not distribute its beers outside Michigan, it is an ongoing participant in the Great Taste and makes a weekend of the trip to Wisconsin with a commitment to co-hosting a pre-party. For the fifth consecutive year, Shorts is setting up camp in Brickhouse for a tap takeover. Ten of its beers are on the menu for Wisconsin's enjoyment: Yosemite Scooter (APA), Cinnabilly (doppelbock with cinnamon), MMMKay (American pale lager), Key Lime Pie (ale with marshmallow, lactose, lime and graham crackers), Double Bourbon Wizard (barrel-aged barleywine), Cerveza de Julie (Mexican lager with lime), Nicie Spicie (American wheat ale with orange and lemon zest, coriander and peppercorns), Soft Parade (ale with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries), Prolonged Enjoyment (session IPA), and Huma Lupa Licious (IPA).
    • Hinterland Brewery of Green Bay, Wisconsin: The Brickhouse pre-party will be rounded out by Hinterland, which returns for a second consecutive year. The brewery will offer a full dozen taps of its beers, including the new IrRAYSistible Rye, an imperial rye IPA made for the recently opened Ray's Growler Gallery in Milwaukee. The menu will also feature: White Out (imperial IPA), bourbon barrel-aged White Out, Grand Cru, Luna Coffee Stout served on nitro, Lunatic (imperial stout), White Cap White India Pale Ale, Saison Farmhouse Ale, Door County Cherry Wheat, Packerland Pilsner, Pale Ale, and Oktoberfest.

  • Brocach Irish Pub-Downtown
    Starting at 7 p.m.
    Tallgrass Brewing Company of Manhattan, Kansas: Owner Jeff Gill will be on hand to tap the ceremonial firkin for this pre-party. The beer menu will feature Buffalo Sweat (oatmeal cream stout), 8-Bit (hop-rocketed American pale ale), Ethos (American IPA), Halcyon (unfiltered American wheat), Velvet Rooster (Belgian-style tripel), and Area 51 Plum Saison. The Currah will play traditional Irish music to complete the setting.

  • Buck and Badger Northwoods Lodge
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota: Jace Marti is a sixth generation owner and brewmaster at Schell's, which is the second oldest family-owned brewery in the nation. He and two other brewers will be on hand for this pre-party, which marks its second year at the Buck and Badger. Goosetown (gose), Firebrick (Vienna lager), and Shocked Grapefruit Radler start out the tap list, which is rounded out by all four beers in Schell's 30th Anniversary Hefe Series: 1984 Weiss Beer, 2014 Weiss Beer, Dampf, and Weizenbock. There will also be a pair of five-liter mini kegs filled with beers made by Marti just for the restaurant. Prizes will be raffled off through the party, including a pair of Great Taste tickets.

  • Cannery Wine & Spirits, Sun Prairie
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin: Free samples of the releases from the beloved Green County brewery will be served at this tasting.

  • Capital Tap Haus
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin: Brewmaster Brian Destree will be hosting this pre-party at the State Street restaurant, which serves Capital beers on all of its taps. Along with those standard offerings, several small-batch experimental brews are on the menu. One was created by Capital brewer John Abernathy; named "Heeeeeere's Johnny," it features Wisconsin ginseng, honey and a touch of fresh ginger in its recipe. Another is a rye double IPA famed "Franken Rye" -- made with Hopsteiner experimental hop variety #07270, it was developed by Corey Meyer, who was winner of Capital's "Brewmaster for a Day" contest during Madison Craft Beer Week. Both John and Corey will be on hand to pour and answer questions. Other beers on tap include bourbon barrel-aged Pumpkinataur and apple brandy barrel-aged Appleanche. Additionally, a pair of Great Taste tickets will be given away at 7 p.m.

  • Come Back Inn, Essen Haus, and Up North Pub
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    • Four breweries from three states will be featured at this communal pre-party hosted by three neighboring establishments. Two dozen beers are on the menu, and they will be accompanied by three different live music performances. Organizers are calling it the Great Taste Eve Block Party, and it promises to last well into the night.
    • Revolution Brewing of Chicago, Illinois: If a brewery visiting Madison is going to throw an Oktoberfest release party, there's not really a more appropriate place than the patio behind the Essen Haus. Five beers are on tap for this celebration, starting with the just-getting-into-season märzen, and accompanied by Fist City (American pale ale), Rosa Hibiscus Ale, Bottom Up Wit, and Bean Gene (bourbon barrel-aged porter with Dark Matter coffee). This marks the third consecutive year for this particular party. Bolzen Beer Band is returning too, for a second time, to get the crowd carousing with its raging polka.
    • Sprecher Brewing Company of Glendale, Wisconsin: The party continues inside the Essen Haus with Sprecher, which is also serving its Oktoberfest to help get that season started. Also on tap are its Hefe Weiss, Czar Brew (an oak barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout), and the new Hard Ginger Beer. Staff from the brewery will be on hand, and the soundtrack will also be polka, provided by the Rowe Brothers.
    • Tyranena Brewing Company of Lake Mills, Wisconsin: The Come Back Inn is hosting the portion of the party featuring Tyranena, which returns to join these festivities for a second year. The brewery will offer eight taps: Bitter Woman IPA, Rocky's Revenge (bourbon barrel-aged brown ale), Headless Man Amber Alt, and Three Beaches Hone Blonde are standard releases, and will be accompanied by the seasonal Down 'N Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and the limited release Devil Over a Barrel (bourbon barrel-aged coffee imperial oatmeal porter) in the Brewers Gone Wild! series. The final two beers to be served are a session IPA and Citra Imperial IPA (made with three additions of Citra hops); both are Tyranena one-offs that haven't been served very much outside the brewery's taproom. Friday fish fry is the centerpiece of this party's food menu.
    • Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota: This portion of the party will be centered on the Up North Pub, and this brewery from Wisconsin's more northerly neighbor will offer six beers on tap. This menu will feature another Oktoberfest, along with Summer Ale (kölsch), True Brit IPA, Extra Pale Ale, and Southern Cape Sparking Ale from the Union Series. Bottles of Sága IPA will also be served.

  • The Coopers Tavern
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, California: Though it isn't a participant in the Great Taste, this West Coast beer behemoth does take part in Great Taste Eve, and will be returning to Coopers for a fourth consecutive year. For this tap takeover, the brewery will bring Fusion 21 (session brown ale), Fusion 22 (a session version of its Hop Stoopid, an imperial IPA), Fusion 23 (a session version of its Little Sumpin' Sumpin', and American pale wheat ale), Little Sumpin' Extra (imperial pale wheat), DogTown Pale Ale, and its standard Pils and IPA. Lagunitas is also set to serve a firkin of its DayTime (session IPA). This hopheads' brewery of choice is also in the midst of establishing a year-round presence in the Midwest and recently built a new production brewery in Chicago, complete with an adjoining taproom.

  • Dexter's Pub
    Starting at noon
    Toppling Goliath of Decorah, Iowa: This brewery in northeastern Iowa can boast quite a following in Madison, and is making a triumphant return to Dexter's for its party on Great Taste Eve itself. Beginning with the tapping of a firkin at noon, another at 3 p.m., and wrapping up with Mornin' Delight (imperial stout) at 10 p.m., the celebration will run all afternoon and evening.

  • Dotty Dumpling's Dowry
    Starting at 7 p.m.
    Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: Along with its ubiquitous Hopalicious, this pre-party hosted by the north-side brewery will feature Calyptic (blonde IPA), Pantheon (imperial brown ale), and its new Kink (Belgian-style abbey ale). Ale Asylum co-owner Otto Dilba, brewmaster Dean Coffey and others will be on hand to host the festivities.

  • Drackenbeg's Cigar Bar
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Sand Creek Brewing Company of Black River Falls, Wisconsin: Brewer Tanner Luke will be on hand to host this special reserve tapping. The menu will include Oscar's Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Noir Black Belgian Barleywine-Style Ale, Rye Doppelbock, and a barrel-aged version of Wild Ride IPA.

  • Echo Tap
    Staring at 5 p.m.
    Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: Leinie's returns to the Echo for a second consecutive Great Taste Eve celebration, and will offer four beers on tap. Two are from from its Big Eddy line made by Tenth and Blake in Milwaukee: Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and Über-Oktoberfest (imperial märzen). The brewery's regular Oktoberfest will also be on tap, as well as its brand-new year-round release, India Pale Lager (or IPL). Tenth and Blake brewery staff will be on hand, and two Great Taste tickets will be given away during the party.

  • Forequarter
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    A sour beer night at this teeming, tiny restaurant on East Johnson Street means all taps and most of its bottle selection will be on the wild side. Expect styles like Berliner Weiss, Brett pale ales, and Brett strong ales, with the menu featuring Wisconsin favorites like O'so and New Glarus, the latter of which just started releasing sours from its new Wild Fruit Cave.

  • Free House Pub, Middleton
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Solemn Oath Brewery of Naperville, Illinois: A "tap invasion" is in the works for this gastropub in the heart of Middleton. Solemn Oath, a Chicago-area brewery that just started expanding into Wisconsin back in the spring, will bring a handful of its bigger beers for this pre-party. These will include Snaggletooth Bandana (American IPA), Butterfly Flash Mob (Belgian IPA), Ultra High Frequency (imperial red ale), None More Black (black farmhouse ale) and a brew made in collaboration with Stone Brewing Company of San Diego. A firkin of something special may also be added to the menu. Solemn Oath co-founder and owner Joe Barley and head brewer Tim Marshall will be on hand to host the celebration.

  • Glass Nickel Pizza-Atwood
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan: The basement of the east-side pizza parlor will once again host a pre-party with the Michigan brewery. "It's become a Great Taste tradition for the Founders team to meet at Glass Nickel Pizza on the evening before the fest to drink some rare beers and eat tasty pizza," says bar manager Danielle Callanhan. This year, the tap list will feature the 2012 and 2013 editions of Backwoods Bastard (bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale), as well as two recent releases in the brewery's Backstage Series: Sweet Repute (maple syrup bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine) and Dissenter Imperial IPL (India pale lager). The menu is also promised to feature Devil Dancer (triple IPA), KBS (bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout), and Founder's 2013 release of its Imperial Stout.

  • Graze
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    Potosi Brewing Company of Potosi, Wisconsin: The courtyard between the "glass bank" and the Tenney Building is the site of this tasting party. Potosi is serving a half-dozen of its beers, including St. Thomas Belgian Abbey, Tangerine IPA, and its newest release, a hefeweizen. The latter two are typically only available on tap at the brewery's restaurant in Potosi itself.

  • Gray's Tied House
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Gray's Tied House of Verona, Wisconsin: Great Taste Eve is being celebrated at this suburban brewpub with a special release of its new Frapple Apple Ale. Live music by Catfish Stephenson is also on the menu.

  • Heritage Tavern
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Upland Brewing Company of Bloomington, Indiana: This tap takeover at the restaurant just off Capitol Square runs all weekend long. Starting Friday afternoon, patrons can try several Upland beers. These include Dragonfly IPA, Campside (session IPA), Coast Buster (imperial IPA), Infinite Wisdom (tripel), Hill Walker Saison, and a barrel-aged version of Teddy Bear Kisses (imperial stout with fair trade cocoa nibs). Brewers from Upland are expected to open the festivities at 7 p.m. Friday. Additionally, "pop-up" pourings of sour brews are slated to run through the weekend.

  • Hop Head Beer Tours

  • House of Brews
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Mob the House: Three local breweries are teaming up to throw a pre-party like no other. House of Brews, MobCraft Beer, and Greenview Brewing are taking over the taproom and parking lot at the House at 4539 Helgesen Dr., and will be serving their creations alongside others from around Madison. Attendees can expect some 20 or more different beers, including offerings from Karben4, Next Door Brewing, One Barrel Brewing, and Vintage Brewing. The House of Brews itself will serve Bungalow Gone Arye (a sour rye ESB aged in brandy barrels) and both stout and scotch ales aged in bourbon barrels. MobCraft's lineup will feature its new release Sour Support (an oak-aged sour made with ginger and raspberries) and a brandy barrel-aged version of Rabbit's Bounty (ale made with carrots, walnuts and brown sugar). There will also be food carts and live music from the likes of Big Band String Thing, Oh My Love, Sir! No Sir, The Apologists, Lazy Dead Poet and the Jack Selmer Band. Admission is free, but beer tickets will run $4.50 apiece or five for $20.

  • Inn on the Park
    Staring at 4 p.m.
    Saint Francis Brewing of St. Francis, Wisconsin: The hotel on the Capitol Square is hosting its Great Taste Eve party in its Signature Lounge on the street level. The beer menu will feature recent special creations from Saint Francis, including Cucumber Saison, Pirate Stout (made with molasses and spices), and a selection of cask ales.

  • jacs
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Destihl Brewery of Normal, Illinois: The west end of Monroe Street is getting swept up into Great Taste Eve festivities with this tap takeover. Several beers are set to be served, including Abbey's Single (Belgian-style abbey ale), Flemish Amber (American wild ale), Vertex IPA, and Adambier (German-style sour ale).

  • Jordan's Big Ten Pub
    Starting at 11 a.m.
    Coronado Brewing Company of Coronado, California: Though it's not part of the Great Taste itself, this San Diego-area brewery is joining in the Midwest celebrations with this tap takeover. Among the beers to be served is Jurata, a Baltic porter made in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing.

  • Karben4 Brewing
    Stating at 11 a.m.
    Karben4 Brewing of Madison, Wisconsin: This year-and-a-half old brewery on the north side continues to grow rapidly, and is in the midst of getting ready to launch its new line of bottle beers. Karben4 is also continuing to develop and release new beers. Its latest is a big and bold double IPA named Idiot Farm, making its debut in this all day Great Taste pre-party.

  • Madison Children's Museum
    Starting at 8 p.m.
    The 17th annual Great Taste of the Midwest Brewers Reception takes over both floors and the rooftop of the Madison Children's Museum on the night before the festival. This industry-only party promises "free beers from breweries in the Not Yet in the GTMW Beer Festival Beer Festival," along with free pizza and live music by The Fishermen with Raleigh "Nitro" Smith. Brewery I.D. or an official invite are required for entry to this private event, which is put on by Allied Beverage Tanks of Chicago and a host of other brewing-related businesses.

  • Madison's
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois: The happy hour portion Great Taste Eve gets off to a raucous start for many at this King Street nightspot, thanks to a generous celebration thrown by Goose Island. Many of its rarest, biggest, and funkiest beers are served at this pre-party, including multiple offerings from the coveted Bourbon County Stout series of extremely limited releases. This year's menu features Sofie (saison), Matilda (Belgian-style strong pale ale), Gililan (Belgian-style wild ale with strawberries, honey and white pepper, aged in wine barrels), Halia (Belgian-style wild ale with peaches, aged in wine barrels), Kuperweizen (hefeweizen), Devon Ave Ale (pale ale with amchoor spice, cardamom, ajowan, and chai tea), The Ogden (tripel), Two More Weeks (American wild ale aged in wine barrels), Bourbon County Stout Boudoinia (imperial stout aged in bottom-of-the-rack bourbon barrels), and Bourbon County Stout Barley Wine. The first 150 patrons in attendance will received a complimentary beer, and staff from Goose Island will be in attendance.

  • Maduro Cigar Bar
    Starting at 10 a.m.
    Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan: Here's the grandaddy of all Great Taste pre-parties, a legendary tap takeover that has set the pace for the scene over many years. Starting in the morning, a full two hours earlier than last year's noon kickoff, this is a mini-festival unto itself. These additional two hours are being presented as "Breakfast with Bell's," complete with beermosas and Two-Hearted Bloody Marys. The famed southwest Michigan brewery will once again serve 19 beers over the day, with 18 on tap and one in a firkin. Here's the menu: Quinanan Falls Special Lager Beer (imperial pils), Debs' Red Ale, Lager of the Lakes (American pale lager), Wedding Ale (golden ale with orange peel and coriander), Kalamazoo Hopsolution Ale (imperial IPA), Wild One (American wild ale), Raspberry Wild One, Traverse City Cherry Third Coast Old Ale (barleywine), Honey Hearted (bourbon barrel-aged malt beverage made with honey and both orange and lemon zest), Beer Michigan Ale (barleywine), Kalamazoo IPA, Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout, Roundhouse (India red ale), Imperial Red Ale, Special Double Cream Stout served on nitrogen, Oberon, Amber, Oarsman (Berliner Weisse), and a firkin of Two Hearted Ale. Another "special beer" will also be tapped at a random time during the pre-party. About a dozen Bell's employees are expected to join in the festivities throughout the day.

  • Majestic Theatre
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    Capitol Square is likely to be particularly lively this Great Taste Eve, given that it coincides with Live on King Street, a summer concert series put on by the Majestic Theatre. This evening marks the third such show of the season, and will feature Ziggy Marley and Tugg, which promises to draw as large a crowd onto the 100 block of King Street as can fit into it. Beer will be served, of course, and this scene situated amidst many of the Great Taste Eve parties will only add to a general festival atmosphere that will reign throughout downtown.

  • The Malt House
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    O'so Brewing Company of Plover, Wisconsin:
    Steve Buszka, who took over as brewmaster at O'so back in February, is hosting this pre-party at the esteemed craft beer bar on East Washington. The brewery will offer ten lines on tap, with the menu featuring Wee on the Lam (Oud Bruin), Restless Soul (barrel-aged Dank imperial red ale made with Brettanomyces), Dank 12 (Dank aged for two years), Elijah Craig (barrel-aged Spike's Maple Ale), Funky Lady (barrel-aged lactose sweet stout), Holy Wa (Belgian-style golden strong ale), a 2012 vintage of bourbon barel-aged Night Train (porter), Burnheim Wheat Whiskey barrel-aged Dominator Doppelbock, ESB (a 2014 one-off), and Memory Lane (pilsner). These beers will be served alongside cheese selections from Bill Anderson of Creme de la Coulee. The celebration will also feature a bagpiper, giveaways, and a Great Taste ticket giveaways at 6 and 8 p.m.

  • Mason Lounge
    Starting at 6:30 p.m.
    The Blind Pig Brewery of Champaign, Illinois: Brewmaster Bill Morgan will bring several hard-to-find selections from the highly rated brewpub in a fellow B1G city. These beers will include Peach Berliner Weisse (kettle-soured and made with peaches), Hattori Hanzo Pale Ale (a single-malt, single-hop Sorachi Ace pale ale) and the Mysterious 350th Brew (imperial stout made with espresso and vanilla).

  • Natt Spil
    6 p.m.
    Furthermore Beer of Spring Green, Wisconsin: For the third consecutive year, Furthermore is hosting a pre-party at this crepuscular cocktail lair. The beer menu will feature Proper (English pale ale), Knot Stock (American pale ale made with black pepper), Oscura (dark Mexican lager made with coffee), Fatty Boombalatty (Belgian pale ale), Full Thicket (double IPA), and Viking Afternoon (session IPA). A pulsing soundtrack will be provided by DJs Samroc and Real Jaguar.

  • New Glarus Brewing Company
    Friday through Sunday, starting at 10 a.m.
    New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin: Seeking to build a tradition of releasing a very limited and highly coveted special brew during Great Taste weekend, New Glarus is celebrating the scene with a three-day rollout of its newest fruit beer. Called Wild Peach, it's a wild fermented, lambic-style sour brown ale made with Michigan peaches and aged in oak barrels. Developed in part in the new Wild Fruit Cave at New Glarus' original Riverside brewery, this beer is made by blending one, two and three year-old brews, after which peaches are added. It finishes at 7.25% ABV, and is available in 500 mL bottles for $8 apiece. A total of 4,500 bottles will be released. Starting on Friday, and continuing on Saturday and Sunday, 1,500 bottles will be offered for sale at 10 a.m. each day at the Hilltop brewery. Those in line at 8:30 a.m. will be given numbered tickets, and purchases are limited to two bottles per person. Last year, New Glarus released its very limited Very Sour Blackberry Ale during the Great Taste weekend; lines started forming early in the morning, and the 1,470 available bottles sold out fast. Deb and Dan Carey are expected to be on hand at the brewery all three days to greet those making the trip to pick up some Wild Peach. For those who do visit the brewery, it's worth allowing a little extra time for a free self-guided tour. The Hard Hat Tour is another option, but requires advance registration; it is conducted Fridays at 1 p.m.

  • The Old Fashioned
    Starting at 6 p.m.
    • Dave's BrewFarm of Wilson, Wisconsin: Owner and brewmaster David Anderson is blowing into town with at least three beers from his wind-powered brewery.
    • Red Eye Brewing Company of Wausau, Wisconsin: Wiskansan Tornado Brown IPA is a new collaboration brew between Red Eye and Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant of Topeka, Kansas. It debuts at this Great Taste Eve celebration.

  • Paul's Club
    Starting at 3 p.m.
    • Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan: The bar with the tree at its center is opening early for this tap takeover. Founders heads from the Square to State Street for a happy hour Great Taste Eve pre-party. Its beer menu for this takeover will also feature KBS (bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout), Devil Dancer (triple IPA), Double Trouble (double IPA), All Day IPA (session IPA) and Backwoods Bastard (bourbon barrel-aged Scotch ale). The centerpiece, though, is a special tapping of Sweet Repute (maple syrup bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine).
    Starting at 8 p.m.
    • 3 Sheeps Brewing Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Brewery staff will wearing red, white and blue at this pre-party in homage to the '90s TV show American Gladiators. That's a nod to plans to serve three of its beers on nitro: Really Cool Waterslides (IPA), Rebel Kent the First (amber ale), and Cashmere Hammer (rye stout). They'll be joined on tap by First Kiss (double IPA with honey).

  • Potosi Rolling Bar
    5-6 p.m.
    Potosi Brewing Company is bringing its "Rolling Bar" to the Capitol Square for Great Taste Eve. It will park on Pinckney Street outside Graze, where the brewery is hosting a tap takeover, and serve Princess Potosa Root Beer. Forty feet long, this bar on wheels is a replica of the original Rolling Bar used by the old Potosi Brewery in the 1940s and '50s.

  • The Rigby
    Starting at 1 p.m.
    • Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: One of the state's largest breweries makes its return to the East Main Street scene on Great Taste Eve with this tap takeover. Beers on the menu include Wisconsinite (hefeweizen), Extended Play (session IPA), Fixed Gear (American red ale), IPA, Bridge Burner (American strong ale), and Cherry Lager. Two releases from the brewery's My Turn series are also set to be served: Pilo (imperial pilsner) and Andy (pub ale).
    • Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio: Another half of the taps at Rigby will offer selections from Great Lakes, including Lake Erie Monster (double IPA) with a hop rocket infusion of whole-leaf Willamette hops and pineapple, The Wright Pils (Czech pilsner), Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Burning River Pale Ale and Eliot Ness Amber Lager. There will also be two special timed tappings of limited releases. The first, at 4 p.m., will feature Wandering Pelican, an imperial schwarzbier made in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing of Tampa, Florida. The second, at 7 p.m., will offer Tripel Dog Dare, an abbey tripel typically only served at the brewery's home base in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.

  • Roast Public House
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    Milwaukee Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This brewery returns to the State Street gastropub for a second consecutive year, and is serving several sets of beers for the pre-party. The Destination Local Series menu will feature Recombobulation (imperial black ale), Doppelvision (bourbon barrel-aged doppelbock), Dark Matter (imperial schwarzbier), and Anti Matter (bourbon barrel-aged imperial schwarzbier). Other beers in this tap takeover include O-Gii (a green tea-infused wit once known as Godzilla), Hop Freak (double IPA infused with jasmine tea), Outboard Cream Ale and Increase Wheat Gooesberry Berliner Weiss. A ceremonial firkin tapping is also in the works for the start of the party. Patrons will receive a commemorative Milwaukee Brewing pint glass with their first purchase, and can also have a chance to win prizes throughout the evening, including an Igloo rolling cooler, brewery work shirts and tour packages, and a ticket to the Great Taste. Roast will serve a menu of sliders and other small bites paired with the beers on tap.

  • Shamrock Bar
    Starting at 7 p.m.
    Summit Brewing Company of St. Paul, Minnesota: "Pints & Pride" is the theme of this tap takeover, a nod to the OutReach Pride Parade that will be held downtown on Sunday. Summit brewer Mike Lundell will be on hand to discuss his beers.

  • The Side Door Grill and Tap
    Starting at 5 p.m.
    • Atwater Brewery of Detroit, Michigan: Here's a new entrant to the Great Taste Eve scene, a brewery that's known for its Vanilla Java Porter. That beer will be served at this pre-party, along with Blueberry Cobbler Ale, Hefeweizen, Teufel Bock (weizenbock), Dirty Blonde (American blonde ale), Hop-A-Peel (American IPA), Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale (strong brown ale), Traverse City Cherry Wheat, Voodoo Vator (dopplebock), Bloktober (märzen), and Detroit Dry Hard Cider.
    • Nebraska Brewing Company of Papillion, Nebraska: This Great Plains diamond-in-the-rough is the other star in the Great Taste Eve tap takeover at Side Door.

  • Star Bar
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Door County Brewing Company of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin: Owners John McMahon and his sons Danny and Ben just opened the doors of their new brewery a couple of months back, and will be on hand at this pre-party to toasting their growth. The beer menu will feature Little Sister Witbier, Pastoral Farmhouse Ale (saison), Bière de Seigle Authentic Rye Farmhouse Ale (saison), Citra Pale Ale, Saison Nelson, Brux Rye Saison, Svart Vinter (imperial porter) and a cask of its Coconut Milk Stout.

  • Star Liquor
    4-7 p.m.
    Pearl Street Brewery of La Crosse, Wisconsin: A free sample tasting.

  • Steve's-University Avenue
    Located at 3618 University Ave.
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Tyranena Brewing Company of Lake Mills, Wisconsin: The brewery will serve samples of several selections, including some cellared, rare creations aged since last year. This Steve's location will also have special releases available all week on a first come, first serve basis.

  • The Tipsy Cow
    Starting at 1 p.m.
    • New Holland Brewing Company of New Holland, Michigan: One of the oldest Great Taste pre-party pairings is that between New Holland and the restaurant that's located in the flatiron at 107 King St. that faces the Capitol Square. That relationship really started flourishing once the Tipsy opened, though. At the top of the tap list is Cow Tipper, a collaboration between the brewery and burger/beer joint that's a Belgian IPA aged twice in Knickerbocker Gin and neutral barrels. That's joined on the menu by Blue Sunday Sour (American wild ale), Night Tripper (imperial stout), Coffee Dragon's Milk (bourbon barrel-aged stout), Chocolate Dragon's Milk, Pilgrim's Dole (wheatwine) and Four Witches (black saison). Brewery staff are usually on hand and in the thick of the party, which is one of the anchors of the eve.
    • Surly Brewing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota: Yes, Surly is returning to the Great Taste Eve celebrations. The wildly popular star of the Minnesota craft beer scene hasn't hosted a pre-party for several year. But during a swing through town during Madison Craft Beer Week this spring, the brewery hosted a tap takeover at the Tipsy, and that is when discussions started about setting up this return engagement. The menu for this sure-to-be packed gathering will feature Furious (American IPA), Bender (brown ale), Bitter Brewer (English-style bitter), Pentagram (American wild ale), Schadenfreude (Munich dunkel), SŸX (American strong ale), and Blakkr (imperial black ale), which was made in a collaboration between Surly, 3 Floyds of Munster, Indiana and Real Ale Brewing of Blanco, Texas. What's certain to really drive fans wild, though, is the appearance of Darkness (Russian imperial stout), a rare and coveted brew that inspires hordes of its fiends to gather at the brewery on its release day. It's all part of Surly's plan to whet its Wisconsin fandom's palates in advance of a planned expansion into the state.

  • Trixie's Liquor Store
    4-6 p.m.
    Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: Otto Dilba, owner of Ale Asylum, will pay a visit to the store to introduce ts new beer Kink. Earlier in the day, the very first bottles of this Belgian-style abbey ale are set to be filled and packaged. "It's got climactic spicy aromas and flavor with a slightly sweet finish," says Chris Welch, co-owner of Trixie's. For the first time this year, the store will have a booth at the Great Taste itself, where it will offer free popcorn and a Beer Pong challenge with a top prize of a $200 homebrew kit.

  • Whole Foods Market
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    Door County Brewing Company of Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin: Brewery owners John, Danny and Ben McMahon will be on hand at the grocery store to serve samples of their beers and answer questions.

  • Wisconsin Brewing Company
    Starting at 1 p.m.
    The Verona brewery will be hosting free tours all day, and hosts live music by the New Moon Gypsies in its backyard patio come evening.


Saturday, August 9

  • Dexter's Pub
    Starting at 9 a.m.
    The big day starts bright and early at Dexter's, which is once again serving a special pre-Great Taste breakfast before running a bus to the festival.

  • Gray's Tied House
    Starting at noon
    The brewpub is operating a free shuttle to and from Olin Park on the afternoon of the Great Taste. The first trip departs the Verona brewpub at noon, and the service will run continuously until its final departure from the festival grounds at 6:30 p.m.

  • Metcalfe's Market-Hilldale
    Starting at 2 p.m.
    The Hop Garden of Belleville, Wisconsin: This ten-acre hop yard at the northern edge of Green County offers a line of beers produced at the House of Brews in Madison. Three will be served at this sampling in the grocery store's beer department: Local Harvest Pale Ale, Bushel Basket IPA, and Nuggetopia, which is an IPA made exclusively with Nugget hops.

  • Tempest
    Starting at 10 a.m.
    Wisconsin Brewing Company of Verona, Wisconsin: Four different dishes of hearty brunch fare will be served at this Great Taste morning pairing breakfast. The menu options are: rhubarb raspberry waffles, paired with Zenith (saison); shrimp, scallop and grits, paired with Amber Lager; lobster mac and cheese, paired with Imperial Pale Pale Bock (or I.P.P.B), a dry hopped golden ale and new release from the Verona brewery; and, steak and eggs, paired with Porter Joe (with Barrique's coffee). Prices vary based on the dish ordered.

  • Tex Tubb's Taco Palace
    Starting at 4 p.m.
    As the Great Taste starts winding down, this east-side taco joint will re-release a pair of Mexico-themed collaboration brews created for this past spring's edition of Madison Craft Beer Week. The first is a quarter barrel of Saison de Cilantroctus, a farmhouse ale made in collaboration with MobCraft. The other is 50 liters of Enrique Sucio, a mezcal barrel-aged imperial IPA made with House of Brews. They're offered for those craft beer fans who couldn't get tickets to the festival, as well as "for those who can still stand after the Great Taste is done," says bar manager Will Mueller. Both beers are first-come, first-served.

  • Vintage Brewing Company
    Starting at 10:30 a.m.
    Several pre-Great Taste lunch specials are to be served at the west-side brewpub, with some portable options for thos in a rush. A shuttle will also be running to the big event, with the first leaving at noon.


Sunday, August 10

  • Blue Moon Bar and Grill
    Starting at 9 a.m.
    New Holand Brewing of Holland, Michigan: Revelers looking to refuel the morning after the Great Taste will find a hangover-oriented brunch at this near west side tavern. The menu features breakfast burritos along with biscuits and gravy, along with special tappings of White Hatter (Belgian IPA), Pilgrim's Dole (wheatwine), and Dragon's Milk Reserve (a bourbon barrel stout made with chiles that is also known as "Smaug's Breath"). Several beer cocktails will also be served for those seeking a change of pace.

  • Great Dane Pub
    10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
    The Great Dane-Fitchburg and Great Dane-Hilldale will both offer all-you-can-eat post-Great Taste brunch buffets, while the Great Dane-Downtown and Great Dane-East will serve a la carte brunch menus.


This guide will be updated with more information about these and other Great Taste of the Midwest pre-parties as more information becomes available. If you are with a brewery, distributor, tavern or restaurant, and your event is not included here, or if you have more details to share, please send an email with that information.

Specific pre-party times and menus may vary, so it is a good idea to call ahead and find out what beers will be served and when they might be available. Many of the pre-parties are centered around the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, all within short walks of one another, but others are scattered throughout the city and in neighboring communities. The Hop Head Beer Tour free shuttle, public transportation and taxis are a safe and sensible option for a great evening.

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