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Your guide to Great Taste of the Midwest 2013 eve pre-parties and beer tastings
The festival is sold out, but the week before is only getting bigger and better

"There are people from all over the world coming into town to explore what Madison has to offer in good beer," says Great Taste of the Midwest chairman Mark Garthwaite.

On Saturday, August 10, Olin Park will once again be filled with thousands of beer fans enjoying the 27th annual Great Taste, which is organized by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild. Tickets were sold out months ago. Actually, just hours after being made available, they were long gone. The Taste is recognized as one of the premier outdoor beer festivals in the United States. Attendance is capped at around 6,000, and those who get in will find more than 1,000 different beers made by nearly 150 brewers.

Perhaps even better for those who live in or are visiting Madison, ticket or not, are the dozens of Great Taste pre-parties that are held around the city in advance of the festival. These celebrations of become an unofficial extension of the Great Taste that benefits all beer enthusiasts. A festival atmosphere reigns throughout town, and it's getting bigger every year.

Great Taste pre-parties are a recent development for the festival, and there has been steady growth in their number over the past few years. There were just under 20 venues hosting parties in 2010, just over two dozen parties in 2011, and a big jump up to almost 40 parties in 2012. This year, that number exceeds 60. Many of these celebrations are held at restaurants, taverns, brewpubs, and breweries, and are centered around special tappings and appearances by brewmasters. "There are already events scheduled as early as Tuesday [August 6], and we're even seeing some events organized by breweries that aren't in the Midwest," adds Garthwaite.

To help you navigate through the impressive number of Great Taste pre-parties, and find one that is convenient to where you live or work, we've compiled a list of locations, starting times, and participating breweries. As the number of parties has grown, we include beer lists and other details where possible to help distinguish the range of options available. Be sure to check back, because more pre-party information will be added to this list as events get schedule up until the Great Taste itself. Most parties are scheduled on Friday, August 9.

Parties coinciding with the Great Taste of the Midwest include:

  • 608
    Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin: Brewmaster Brian Destree will be on hand serving his beers on over 12 tap lines. A highlight will be a special one-time only release of Capital's newest beer, Appleanche, a doppelbock made with apples. Destree will also provide a limited release of Capital Dark that has been infused with coffee, vanilla and mint. For hoppy beer fans, he plans to bring a version of Capsized (an Imperial IPA) made with additional amounts of Simcoe, Amarillo and Cascade hops.

  • Ale Asylum
    All week
    • No specific parties are planned. However, in the days leading up to the Great Taste, brewmaster Dean Coffey and head brewer Chris Riphenburg are unveiling a new one-off batch, their Blonde IPA. Ale Asylum offers a new special limited release beer every couple of month, and are generally only available in the brewery's tasting room. Based on the creative ideas and homebrew recipes of those who work at Ale Asylum, these brews often go unnoticed by tasting room visitors because they only get a small mention at the bottom of the menu. Given this, regulars have learned to ask, "So what do you have on tap that I don't see on the signs above the bar?" This latest beer is big at 7% ABV and shows off a single hop variety called Calypso.

  • Alchemy Cafe
    Wednesday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • New Holland Brewing Company of New Holland, Michigan: This long-time Great Taste pre-party host is hosting an early party at this Schenk's Corners pub. Its Dragon's Milk (barrel-aged stout) will be served using a hop rocket filled with bourbon-steeped oak chips
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Potosi Brewing Company of Potosi, Wisconsin: Brewmaster Steve Buszka will be on hand to serve his beers on seven tap lines, including a pale ale, hefeweizen, Fiddler Oatmeal Stout, a Belgian IPA, and his latest limited release brew. Named Stinger Jack, it starts as an Imperial pumpkin ale and is aged in Templeton (Iowa) Rye whiskey barrels. This party will also feature giveaways that include tickets to the Potosi Brewfest and an upcoming Hop Head Beer Tour.

  • Argus Bar Grille
    Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, Indiana: Beer enthusiasts are likely to be found standing shoulder to shoulder at this party, all seeking brews hat don't regularly turn up in Madison. Special tappings include Masonic Rite (wit), Evil Power (Imperial pilsner), Battle of Charro (American red ale), and Name of Suffering (American black ale). One of the brewery's most popular brews, Zombie Dust (American pale ale), is also expected but not confirmed. A few more common Three Floyds brews will also be served, including Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale and Gumballhead (American pale wheat).

  • Barriques-West Washington
    Friday, starting at 6:30 p.m.
    • Bos Meadery of Madison, Wisconsin: Taste the specialty meads made by Colleen Bos, including her latest creation, a mead made with hibiscus and ginger. Other meads on hand will include the meadery's Wildflower, Wildflower Oaked, Buckwheat Wildflower, and Pomegranate Pyment.

  • Blue Moon Bar and Grill
    Wednesday-Thursday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio: This brewery marks its 25th birthday this year, and is celebrating with two nights of Great Taste pre-parties. The celebrations open with a special version of Rocketing Eddy Fitz, which is made with coffee and cocoa nibs. There may even be a special dessert to go with Rocketing Eddy! The second night of this silver anniversary celebration will feature Class of '88, an Imperial smoked porter made in collaboration with with Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon -- both breweries were founded in 1988. Class of '88 finishes at 9% ABV and 50 IBUs. Other Great Lakes brews expected to be served through the week (at least while supplies last) include its Oktoberfest, Silver & Gold (India pale lager), Commodore Perry (IPA) and Edmund Fitzgerald (porter).
    Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • O'so Brewing Company of Plover, Wisconsin: Owner and brewmaster Marc Buttera will be bringing serving tap list includes a rye barrel-aged Imperial Black Scotch Ale, Faster Than Down (a sour version of Night Train porter), Nitro Night Train (made with coffee and coco nibs), a strong Grand Cru, and his sour-acidic Brett'n Red.

  • Bonfyre American Grille, Fitchburg
    Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
    • Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois: Among the featured brews at this ticketed party are 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Sofie (Saison), Pepe Nero (dark Saison), 25th Anniversary, Matilda (Belgian Strong), Bourbon County Brand Stout, Goose Island IPA, and Pere Jacques (Belgian Dubbel). The cost is $20, or $10 for wine locker holders. Reservations are encouraged, and food samples will be served.

  • The Brass Ring
    Friday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • 3 Sheeps Brewing Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin: This year-old brewery comes to town to serve its central lineup of beers, including Really Cool Waterslides India Pale Ale and Baaad Boy Black Wheat Ale. The brewery will also feature its new double IPA named First Kiss that is expected to appear in four-packs later in August. Brewmaster and owner Grant Pauly says he may bring along a funky firkin or two, including a Black IPA made with squid ink.

  • Brasserie V
    Thursday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Stillwater Artisanal Ales of Baltimore, Maryland: Owner and brewmaster Brian Strumke brings samples of his very special saisons. Among the special treats will be Existent (dark Saison) and Cellar Door (Saison brewed with white sage and a blend of Sterling and Citra hops).
    Friday, starting at noon
    • The Monroe Street gastropub will serve several rare European imports. These include: Ægir Lynchburg Natt, an Imperial porter aged in Jack Daniels barrels and made by Ægir Bryggeri of Flåm, Norway; Klokke Roeland, the house beer at the Het Waterhuis in Ghent, Belgium; and, Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien, a sour ale aged in barrels previously used for Cabernet, Merlot, whisky and grappa, made by Brasserie des Frances-Montagnes of Jura, Switzerland.

  • Brennan's Market-Watts Road
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Lift Bridge Brewing Company of Stillwater, Minnesota: This brewery crosses the St. Croix River for a party that features samples of its Farm Girl Saison, Crosscut Pale Ale, Chestnut Hill Nut Brown Ale, and Hop Dish IPA. Brewery founders Dan Schwartz and Jim Pierson will be on hand to pour.

  • Brickhouse BBQ
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Central Waters Brewing Company of Amherst, Wisconsin: Over a dozen beers are on the menu for this fourth annual pre-party, with special tappings of Fifteen at 7 p.m., a yet-to-be-named chili pepper stout at 8 p.m., and Exodus at 9 p.m. Most of Central Waters' standard lineup of brewers will be served as well, including Ouisconsing Red Ale, Shine On (Irish red ale), Belgian Style Blonde Ale, Octoberfest, and several others, along with Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale (barley wine), Le Petite Mort, and a quartet of bourbon barrel-aged brews. These beers will be served on the third floor of the restaurant.
    • Shorts Brewing Company of Bellaire, Michigan: Back once again at Brickhouse, Shorts will bring up to 20 beers for this tap-to-tap challenge with Central Waters. Among the brews making this a great stop on the Great Taste pre-party tour are Huma Lupa Licious (IPA), Prolonged Enjoyment (IPA), Strawberry Short's Cake, and a Saison named Kiwi Destroy Mission. Shorts will anchor the second floor bar of the restaurant.
    • Hinterland Brewery of Green Bay, Wisconsin: The second floor celebration will also feature six taps from this Green Bay brewery, including nitro lines of its Luna Stout and Pub Draft, along with Bourbon Barrel Dopplebock, Oktoberfest, and White Cap White India Pale Ale.

  • Brocach Irish Pub-Monroe Street
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Upland Brewing Company of Bloomington, Indiana: Beers on tap at this party include Double Dragonfly (Imperial IPA), Infinite Wisdom (Belgian Tripel), Valley Weizen, and a bourbon barrel-aged rye pale ale. Brewery staff are also expected to be around for questions.
    • Destihl Brewery of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois: Five taps are slated for this takeover, which will feature Abbey's Single, Black Angel Stout, Dead Head Double Red Ale, Vertex (IPA), and Strawberry Blonde. This brewery's staff are also expected to be on hand.

  • Buck and Badger Northwoods Lodge
    Friday, at 5 p.m.
    • August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota: The second oldest family-owned brewery in the nation, Schell's crosses the northwoods border for this tap takeover. At least two beers will be exclusive to this pre-party, brewery representatives will be on hand, and not least, there will be Great Taste ticket giveaways.

  • Cannery Wine & Spirits, Sun Prairie
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Billing itself as "Dane County's east side homebrew headquarters," this merchant caters to beer aficionados in Sun Prairie and surrounding areas. A special tasting will feature a range of Oktoberfest and other fall beers, including releases from Hinterland Brewery, O'so Brewing Company, and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu.

  • Capital Brewery Bier Garten, Middleton
    Thursday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • Capital offers all of its beers under the sun and stars. One special treat will be its Oktoberfest infused with nutmeg and dates.

  • Capital Tap Haus
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin: This State Street restaurant will be serving its standard menu of Capital brews, along with several treats, including Mutniy IPA infused with pineapple and grapefruit. At 8 p.m., there will be a Great Taste ticket drawing.

  • Come Back Inn, Essen Haus, and Up North Pub
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • This joint pre-party features four breweries at three neighboring establishments on East Wilson Street. Over 20 beers will be served, and four live bands are scheduled to perform. The party's promotional poster declares "Merry Beermas," and with brewers from four different states getting together, it's sure to be lively.
    • Tyranena Brewing Company of Lake Mills, Wisconsin: Eight beers are on the menu for this celebration with Tyranena, which is centered on the Come Back Inn. One of the brewery's newest releases, Prom Date Cherry Saison, is slated to be served, along with Rocky's Revenge (a bourbon barrel-aged brown ale), Bitter Woman IPA, Headless Man Amber Alt, Three Beaches Honey Blonde, Three Beaches Honey Blonde, Stone Tepee Pale Ale, Chief BlackHawk Porter, and Hop Whore (Imperial IPA). There will also be fish fry battered with Rocky's Revenge.
    • Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Lyons, Colorado: Velvet Elvis Porter is making its public debut at this party, and Old Chub Scotch Ale and Mama's Little Yella Pils (Czech pilsner) will also be served. This party will be centered on the Essen Haus.
    • Tallgrass Brewing Company of Manhattan, Kansas: Two brand new beers are being unveiled at this party; neither have an official name yet, but the brewery is tentatively calling them Area 51 Robust Porter and Area 51 Barley Wine. Its other brews on tap will include Buffalo Sweat (milk stout), Eathos (IPA) 8 Bit (hop-rocketed American pale ale), Halcyon (unfiltered American wheat), and Wild Plum Farmhouse Ale (Saison). This celebration will be centered on the Up North Pub.
    • Revolution Brewing of Chicago, Illinois: Bolzen Beer Band will provide the soundtrack to this Oktoberfest release party, with the beer menu also featuring Anti-Hero IPA, Mother of Exiles (German pilsner), A Little Crazy (Belgian pale ale), and Very Mad Cow (Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel-aged milk stout). This portion of the joint party will be centered on the outdoor patio that adjoins the back doors of all three establishments. Merry Beermas, indeed.

  • The Coopers Tavern
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma, California: It has become an annual tradition for the folks from Lagunitas host a pre-party. The brewery is not actually included in the actual Great Taste festival, and comes to Madison just tp be part of these Friday celebrations. Coopers will show off its newly opened second floor bar for the part, which will feature at least four Lagunitas brews paired with selections from Carr Valley Cheese. The beer and cheese pairing menu includes Dogtown Pale Ale with 5/6 Year Cheddar, Lagunitas IPA with Casa Bolo Mellage, Lucky 13 (an "ultra-mega-mondo" red ale) with Cave Aged Marisa, and Maximus (IPA) with Applewood Smoked Cheddar. And, paired with Sweet Vanilla Cardona, will be a limited keg of Undercover Investigation Shut-Down, which is a strong ale made in remembrance of when the brewery was shut down for 20 days in 2005 by California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for operating a "disorderly house."

  • Dexter's Pub
    Tuesday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • The "Cicerone Smackdown" will feature five Wisconsin-certified cicerones tasting hoppy beers from a hop rocket. From 5-8 p.m., attendees can sample beer flights and vote for a favorite, with the winners announced at 10 p.m.
    Wednesday, starting at noon
    • Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Lyons, Colorado: Several beers will be on tap all day, and can be paired with wings featuring Oskar Blues sauces. The menu includes Deviant Dales IPA and Old Chub, a Scottish strong ale that will be served on a nitrogen tap line. A special tapping is in the works for 9 p.m.
    Thursday, starting at noon
    • Vintage Brewing Company of Madison, Wisconsin: The west side brewpub plans to bring around a dozen beers, including several rare one-offs. From 3-5 p.m., Vintage brewmaster Scott Manning will be on hand to talk about his beers. The tap list includes Daytripper (English summer ale), Grätzer, McLovin Irish Red, Dedication (Belgian Dubbel), Woodshed (oaked IPA), Crooked Grain Crooked Grain (rye India brown ale), Tabula Rasa (a Belgian table beer that hasn't been around since 2010), Black Mirror (Belgian double black IPA), Hibiscus Saison brewed with Brettanomyces yeast (its public debut), Trepidation (Belgian Quadruple), Bourbon Barrel-Aged Max Stout (Russian Imperial stout), and Honey Crisp Brandy Dedication (a Belgian Dubbel aged for eight months in barrels from Yahara Bay Distillers of Madison). The biggest Vintage brews may be held for later in the evening.
    Friday, staring at noon
    • Toppling Goliath Brewing Company of Decorah, Iowa: One highlight of this party is a special 3 p.m. tapping of ZeeLander, an American IPA that shows off Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. The beer is currently rated 94 (outstanding) at BeerAdvocate and 97/96 (overall/style) at RateBeer. Another highlight of the party is a special 9 p.m. tapping of Assassin, an Imperial stout that is currently rated 100 (world-class) at BeerAdvocate. The menu will also feature PseudoSue (American pale ale) and more beers through the day.

  • Dotty Dumpling's Dowry
    Friday, starting at 8 p.m.
    • Ale Asylum of Madison, Wisconsin: The menu at this pre-party will feature several Ale Asylum standards, including Hopalicious (American pale ale), Big Slick Stout, and Madtown Nut Brown. Co-owner Otto Dilba also says they're planning on bringing a four-year-old aged version of Tripel Nova to the party.

  • Drackenberg's Cigar Bar
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Bluegrass Brewing Company of Louisville, Kentucky: This brewpub has participated in previous Great Taste pre-parties at the north side tavern and smoking lounge, and returns this year for another celebration. The tap list is a surprise.

  • Echo Tap
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: C.J. Leinenkugel, a sixth-generation member of the iconic Wisconsin brewing family, pours the latest in the Big Eddy series of limited release beers. This is an opportunity to get an early taste of Über Oktoberfest, a new brew in the Big Eddy lineup that is just starting to hit store shelves. This Imperial Märzen is dry hopped and finishes strong at 8% ABV. Other Big Eddy brews on tap include Ryewine and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. The tap lines will also feature several standard Leinenkugel's beers, including Honey Weiss, its traditional fall Oktoberfest, and the brewer's newest year-round label, Hoppin' Helles.

  • Eddie's Alehouse and Eatery, Sun Prairie
    Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Sand Creek Brewing Company of Black River Falls, Wisconsin: The brewery will serve its English Style Special Ale, Oscar's Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, and its Hard Lemonade. Brewmaster Todd Krueger will be on hand as well, and won't tip his hand too much but says he will be bringing something special with him for the party.

  • Forequarter
    Wednesday, starting at 8:30 p.m.
    • Stillwater Artisanal Ales of Baltimore, Maryland: Owner and brewmaster Brian Stumke will be tapping Stateside Saison, Existent (dark Saison), As Follows (Belgian strong pale ale), Cellar Door (Saison brewed with white sage and a blend of Sterling and Citra hops), and Bronze Age (a collaborative brew created with Brouwerij Hof Ten Dormall of Tildonk, Belgium that is made with estate grown barley and raw spelt). There will also be two beers from the limited release Sensory Series, Lower Dens (herb beer) and Small Black (black Saison), for which the bottles have QR codes that link to live video featuring music by the bands of the same names. The restaurant's menu will also offer suggested food pairings for the beers, flights will be available for purchase, and two special cocktails featuring these brews will be available.
    Friday, starting at 11:30 p.m.
    • House of Brews of Madison, Wisconsin: A light night start for this pre-party promises that celebrations can continue well into the day of the Great Taste itself. The tap list will feature House of Brews regulars Prairie Rye Ale, Bungalow Rye ESB, and Kremlin (Russian Imperial Stout). For the those who enjoy brewmaster Page Buchanan's barrel-aged beers, he'll be on hand to pour a Belgian Dubbel aged in a Heaven Hill Rye Whiskey barrel, Standing Stones Scotch Ale aged in a Heaven Hill Bourbon barrel, and Rickhouse Stout (a version of Snug Oatmeal Stout) aged in a Heaven Hill Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrel. Forequarter will also offer flights that pair the beers with the samples of the whisky or bourbon associated with the type of barrel used in the aging process. The restaurant will be extending its late night food menu hours, and serve sausage made with Kremlin stout.

  • Free House Pub, Middleton
    Wednesday, 6:30-9 p.m.
    Thursday, starting at 8 p.m.
    • Hinterland Brewery of Green Bay, Wisconsin: Brewery staff will answer questions and lead a guided tasting of five beers at this ticketed party. The brews on tap will include Luna Coffee Stout and Hinterland IPA, both on nitrogen taps. The brewery's well-known Cherry Wheat will also be served. Then there's Hinterland's latest release, a dopplebock aged in Templeton Rye Whiskey barrels. Admission to this event is $11.

  • Genna's Lounge
    Friday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • Berghoff Beer of Chicago, Illinois: Previously produced in Monroe and now brewed in Stevens Point, this line of beers has a long association with Wisconsin. Berghoff introduced a new line of reformulated beers in June, and is serving most of them at this pre-party, including Solstice Wit, Dortwunder Lager, Sir Dunkel Crispy Dark Lager, Reppin' Red Ale, Straight-Up Hefeweizen, and Germaniac Pale Ale.
    • 5 Rabbit Cervecería of Chicago, Illinois: The founder of this Latin-inspired brewery was involved with the relaunch of Berghoff, and now both will be appearing together at this pre-party. Its menu will feature 5 Rabbit (American blonde ale), 5 Vulture (pepper beer), 5 Lizard (Witbier) and 5 Grass (American pale ale), and both co-owner Andres Araya and brewmaster John J. Hall will be on hand to answer questions.

  • Glass Nickel Pizza-Atwood
    Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan: This party will be held in the downstairs bar, where Founders will serve at least a dozen of its beers. The menu features KBS Kentucky Breakfast Stout (bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout), Curmudgeon Old Ale, Rübæus (raspberry beer), Spite Hot Pepper Pale Ale, Devil Dancer (triple IPA), Doom (Imperial IPA), Double Trouble (Imperial IPA), and an Imperial stout.

  • Great Dane Pub
    All week
    • No special pre-parties are planned for the four Great Dane brewpubs in Dane County. However, the Hop Head Beer Tour bus is making stops at the Hilldale and downtown locations on Friday night. At all of the Danes, the standards that never go out of favor will remain on tap, including Crop Circle Wheat, Landmark Lite Lager, Emerald Isle Stout, and Stone of Scone Scotch Ale.
    • Great Dane-Downtown: Alone with the standard menu, a few of the special release brews available the week before the Great Taste include Dark Mild, Tri-Pepper Pilsner (made with habanero, poblano and jalapeño peppers), Farmhouse Saison, and an ESB on cask. Also going on tap early in the week is Door County Cherry Ale, made with Wisconsin cherries.
    • Great Dane-Hilldale: The beer list at this near west side brewpub always has a few unexpected brews unique to the location. The week before the Great Taste serves up its Imperial IPA (West Coast-style) and Texas Speedbump IPA served on a beer engine. Seasonal brews also found at the other locations include the Tri-Pepper Pilsner and Farmhouse Saison.
    • Great Dane-Fitchburg: Brewer Pat Keller has just tapped his Sugar River ESB, which is made with Fuggle hops and English malts.
    • Great Dane-East: The seasonal made at the other Danes and provided to this non-brewing location include Texas Speedbump IPA, Farmhouse Saison, and a summer pilsner.

  • Greenbush Bar
    Sunday, August 11, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

  • Hop Head Beer Tours
    Friday, 7 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

  • House of Brews
    Friday, starting at noon
    • House of Brews of Madison, Wisconsin: Owner and brewmaster Page Buchanan hosts an open house of Madison's smallest production brewery. Visitors can also learn about the new partnership between House of Brews and Greenview Brewing, which will produce gluten-free beers.

  • Hydro Street Brewing Company, Columbus
    Sunday, August 4, starting at 9 a.m.
    • Hydro Street Brewing Company of Columbus, Wisconsin: The brewpub hosts is second annual Ales and Arts festival under the Columbus City Hall clock tower at 105 N. Dickason Blvd. The event will feature a craft beer tent with brews from Hydro Street, Sweet Mullets Brewing Company, and One Barrel Brewing Company. There will also be a homebrew competition focusing on hefeweizens. Live music begins at 11:30 a.m., with sets by The Madpolecats, The Stellanovas, Steve Schad, Big Bang String thing, and Ron Denson. Proceeds from the festival go to support the Ride for Research efforts of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, as well as the Columbus School District music program.
    All week
    • At the brewpub, owner and brewmaster Aaron Adams will feature his latest release, a chocolate stout.

  • Inn on the Park
    Thursday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Summit Brewing Company of Saint Paul, Minnesota: The Signature Lounge, located on the ground floor of this hotel on the Capitol Square, is the site of this pre-party. Beers on tap include Summit Bohemian Style Pilsner and Sága IPA, which is part of the Unchained special release series. Bottled beers will be available as well, including Summit Oktoberfest, Horizon Red Ale, Great Northern Porter, and, from the Unchained series, Old 152 (rye beer). Brewery staff are expected to be on hand to pour and answer questions.

  • Ivory Room Piano Bar
    Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: Leine's will also host this pre-party, where it will continue to focus on the Big Eddy series of limited release beers. The menu features Big Eddy Ryewine, Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, and Über Oktoberfest, along with some standard releases, including Oktoberfest and Honey Weiss. There is no cover charge for patrons who arrive before 8 p.m.

  • Karben4 Brewing
    All week
    • Karben4 Brewing of Madison, Wisconsin: No "official" Great Taste pre-parties are panned, but throughout the week the brewery will be offering its summer IPA, named Fantasy Factory, on a nitrogen tap line. Brewmaster Ryan Koga is also releasing a second batch of gin-barrel SamuRyePA, which will be tapped sometime Friday night. This is a very limited release, and only two barrels have been made by Koga so far. One is gone, and this remaining one won't last long.
    Sunday, August 4, starting at 11 a.m.
    • Karben4 will host a fundraiser for Capital K9s, a non-profit that assists the Madison Police Department in developing its K-9 unit. The event begins with brunch (11 a.m.), which will be followed by brewery tours and a demonstration by the MPD and its dogs. Kids are encouraged to attend, and there will even be a coloring contest with prizes.

  • Lucky's Bar and Grille
    Thursday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin: Brewmaster Brian Destree presents his newest beer, Appleanche, a dopplebock brewered with apples. He'll also be serving a lavender-infused version of Lake House.
    Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Pearl Street Brewery of La Crosse, Wisconsin: At least six beers are on the menu for this pre-party, including Pearl Street Pale Ale, Me Myself and IPA, Appleweizen, Java Lava Coffee Stout, Rubber Mills Pils, and El Hefe. Pearl Street is also giving away two tickets to the Great Taste.

  • Madison's
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois: King Street buzzes with energy for this annual party, which once again features many hard-to-find beers from the Chicago brewery. The menu includes Matilda (Belgian Strong), Matilda Bruxellensis (American wild ale), Sofie (Saison), Sofie Paradisi (Saison with orange peel and aged in wine barrels), Goose Island IPA, the Illinois (Imperial IPA), Cucumbersome (Czech pilsner), Dark Traveler (Munich Dunkel), and Pepe Nero (dark Saison). Serious Goose Island fans will also find at least two beers from the Bourbon County Stout series (a cherry rye and a special surprise).

  • Maduro Cigar Bar
    Friday, starting at noon
    • Bells Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan: Bell's has been a mainstay of Great Taste pre-parties for years. Among its 19 taps on the menu for this celebration are Batch 9000 (bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout), Deb's Red (American amber), Überon (bourbon barrel-aged Oberon), Smoked Lager, Le Batteur (Bière de Garde), Le Contrebassiste (Bière de Garde), Le Pianiste (Bière de Garde), Quinannan Falls Special Lager (strong pale lager), Oarsman (Berliner Weisse), Sparkleberry (a blend of Sparkling Ale and Raspberry Ale, a new brew for 2013), and Black Note (a bourbon barrel-aged blend of Expedition Stout and Double Cream Stout), as well as some well-known favorites like Two Hearted Ale, Oberon, and Porter.

  • The Malt House
    Wednesday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • AleSmith of San Diego, California: This launch party with brewmaster Peter Zien will feature special tappings of Speedway Stout (Imperial), Speedway Stout brewed with Vietnamese coffee, AleSmith IPA, and Horney Devil (Belgian strong ale).
    Friday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • Potosi Brewing Company of Potosi, Wisconsin: A special firkin of Good Old Potosi made with peaches and mangoes and dry hopped with Australian Galaxy hops will be served by brewmaster Steve Buszka.
    • Titletown Brewing Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin: Brewmaster David Oldenburg will be on hand to serve several of his latest beers, including Loose Caboose (Belgian IPA), Berliner Weisse, Polaris Pale Ale (made with the new variety of Polaris hops), Pullman Porter, and Green 19 IPA.
    • Malt House owner Bill Rogers always seems to stash away something special for Great Taste Eve. This year he's reserved a wooden-keg of Aecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoke, made by Brauerei Heller-Trum in Bamberg, Germany. "There are no bigger beer geeks than the Great Taste's brewers, and I wanted something very unusual for them to try," says Rogers. At 8% ABV and 40 IBUs, this amber bock from a classic German brewery is known for its maltiness.

  • Mason Lounge
    Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • The Blind Pig Brewery of Champaign, Illinois: Brewmaster Bill Morgan will be on hand to serve several of his beers, including Brett Emeritus (an Old Ale made with Brettanomyces), Mysterious 274th Brew (Imperial stout brewed with vanilla and coffee beans), and a Belgian IPA hopped with Simcoe, Citra, and Centennial hops.

  • Merchant
    Friday, starting at 2 p.m.
    • Founders Brewing Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan: Happy hour starts early at this pre-party. The special tap menu will feature KBS Kentucky Breakfast Stout (bourbon barrel-aged Imperial stout), Backwoods Bastard (Wee Heavy), Curmudgeon Old Ale, Rübæus (raspberry beer), All Day IPA, and a limited supply of Doom, also known as Hand of Doom (Imperial IPA), which is a rare find in Wisconsin.

  • Metcalfe's Market-Hilldale
    Friday, starting at 2 p.m.
    • Hydro Street Brewing Company of Columbus, Wisconsin: The brewpub will be offering a tasting of several beers, including its Crawfish River Brown IPA, Golden Creek (Belgian Dubbel aged with Merlot-soaked wood chips), and Orange Balloon (a gluten-free sorghum-based beer made with orange and spices).

  • Metcalfe's Market-West
    Friday, starting at 4:30 p.m.

  • Natt Spil
    Friday, starting at 5 p.m.
    • Furthermore Beer of Spring Green, Wisconsin: This King Street nightspot welcomes Furthermore back for this tap takeover, with the beer list including Fatty Boombalatty, Oscura (amber lager made with Nicaraguan coffee beans), Proper (English pale ale), and Knot Stock (American pale ale with cracked pepper). Furthermore's special treat for its 2012 pre-party at Natt Spil, a lemon-ginger version of Knot Stock, is likely to return this year. Brewery representative Joe Collins will be on hand for questions and to pour beer.

  • New Glarus Brewing Company
    Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
    • New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin: The brewery is presenting a very limited release of its newest fruit beer, Very Very Sour Blackberry Ale. Each day, beginning at 10 a.m., a set number of bottles will be offered for sale: 750 on Friday, 360 on Saturday, and a final 360 on Sunday. The bottles are 500 mL and are $8 apiece. Purchases are limited to two bottles per person. For those making a trip to the brewery, it's worth allowing a little extra time for a free self-guided tour. (The Hard Hat Tour requires signing up in advance, and is conducted Fridays at 1 p.m.)

  • The Old Fashioned
    All week
    • No official Great Taste pre-parties are schedule for this year, but the Old Fashioned is always a great place to find a long list of Wisconsin beers. The Capitol Square institution offers over 150 different Badger State brews, and about a third are on tap. Since the beer menu at the Old Fashioned constantly changes, it's a good place to not only find well-known Madison brews, but it's also where many smaller and far-flung Wisconsin breweries are showcased.One of the newest beer startups in southern Wisconsin, Pecatonica Beer Company, just went on tap there. Nightfall Lager is the first beer offered by this Gratiot-based business, which brews under contract at Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe.

  • One Barrel Brewing Company
    Friday, starting at 3:30 p.m.
    • Great Taste ticket-holders are invited to stop by One Barrel Brewing Company for this pre-party. Anybody who shows their ticket when purchasing their first beer will get a free One Barrel tuxedo T-shirt to wear at the festival. Supply and size availability are limited, so folks should get there early. The east side nanobrewery's special release for the Great Taste is its new Beetlejuice! Beetlejuce! Beetlejuice!. The beer is rooted in the style of an American pale ale, and is made with beets grown in assistant brewer Dan Sherman's garden. Owner and bremaster Peter Gentry says a very limited supply of this beer is already on tap at the brewery, but it's expected to be gone by Sunday, August 4.

  • Paul's Club
    Thursday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Lyons, Colorado: The bar beneath the tree will be taken over by Oskar Blues, which will serve seven of its beers on tap or in cans. The menu features Mama's Little Yella Pils (Czech pilsner), GUBNA (Imperial IPA), Deviant Dales IPA, Dale's Pale Ale, G'Knight Imperial Red Ale, G'Knight on a nitrogen tap, and Old Chub (Scottish strong ale).

  • Roast Public House
    Friday, starting at 6 p.m.
    • Milwaukee Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This pre-party will feature at least six beers from this Milwaukee brewer, including Louie's Demise (amber ale), Louie's Resurrection (bourbon barrel-aged amber ale), Weekend @ Louies (tea-infused amber ale), O-Gii (Imperial Witbier), Doppelvision Doppelbock (bourbon barrel-aged), and Anti-Matter (bourbon barrel-aged Schwarzbier) Many of the brewery's staff will be on hand to answer questions and pour beer, including owner Jim McCabe, and lead brewers Kurt Mayes and Brian Blazel. There will also be a contest giveaway of a ten-person VIP tour of the brewery.
    • Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts: The largest craft brewer in the nation, best known for Samuel Adams beer, comes to Madison to join this Midwestern celebration. Its tap list will feature Cherry Wheat, Backwoods Porter, White Lantern (Witbier), and Double Bock (Doppelbock). Brewer Kevin Spatz (who is based in Cincinnati) will be attending the party, which will include giveaways of signed Sam Adams gear, including a three feet tall Oktoberfest stein.

  • The Rigby
    Friday, starting at 1 p.m.
    • Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The menu at this party will include 25th Anniversary Belgian-Style Apricot Ale, Rendezvous Bière de Garde, and a maple-vanilla dopplebock named Chris that was made for the My Turn limited release series.
    • Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio: Great Lakes is joining in this party, and togther both breweries will present fourteen different beers. The combined menu will be rounded out by Class of '88, an Imperial smoked porter made by Great Lakes in collaboration with Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon (and so named because both were founded in 1988), Silver & Gold India Pale Lager, Aloha Ale (American blonde ale), among other brews.

  • The Side Door Grill and Tap
    Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Summit Brewing Company of Saint Paul, Minnesota: Brewery staff present a selection of beers from the Union and Unchained series, including Extra Pale Ale, Sága IPA, Pilsener, Summer Ale (Kölsch), and Meridian Session Ale (a Belgian-style table beer in the limited release Union series).

  • Star Liquor
    Tuesday, 4-7 p.m.
    Wednesday, 4-7 p.m.
    Thursday, 4-7 p.m.
    • Potosi Brewing Company of Potosi, Wisconsin: A free sample tasting of the brewery's standards, including Good Old Potosi.
    Friday, 4-7 p.m.

  • Steve's
    Location at 3618 University Ave.
    Friday, all day
    • No specific tasting is planned as in year past. However, all day, Steve's will offer specials on micro and limited release beers.

  • Sweet Mullets Brewing Company, Oconomowoc
    Saturday, August 3, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Great Taste ticket giveaway
    Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m.
    • Great Taste ticket giveaway

  • Tex Tubb's Taco Palace
    Friday, starting at 4 p.m.
    • MobCraft Beer of Madison, Wisconsin: One of the region's newest brewing projects is utilizing social media crowdsourcing to plan its lineup of beers. At this party, MobCraft will offer a special tapping of its Participation Pale Ale that has been cask conditioned with sumac. This is a unique event, as the brewery will not be serving at the Great Taste.

  • The Tipsy Cow
    Friday, starting at 3 p.m.
    • New Holland Brewing Company of New Holland, Michigan: The Tipsy Cow, and before that The Local Tavern and King & Mane, has been the site of the Great Taste pre-party for New Holland for several years now. The brewery returns once again with a tap list of at least nine beers, including Four Witches Black Saison, Michigan Hatter (IPA), BeerHive (a honey ginger Tripel), Night Tripper (barrel aged Imperial stout), Barrel of Monkeys (Saison aged in B. Nektar Meadery barrels), Black Tulip Tripel Ale, Farmhouse Hatter (Belgian IPA), Dragon's Milk (barrel-aged stout), and at least one cask conditioned ale.
    • Dark Horse Brewing Company of Marshall, Michigan: This brewery presents special tappings, with the menu featuring Mighty Peach Basil Ale, Raspberry Ale, Smells Like a Safety Meeting (West Coast IPA), Double Crooked Tree (Imperial IPA), and Krystal Wheat (American wheat).
    • Boulder Beer Company of Boulder, Colorado: Another four taps at this pre-party are presented by this Colorado brewery, and will include Mojo (wine barrel-aged IPA), Hoopla Pale Ale on a nitrogen tap, and the smooth and malty Planet Porter, which dates back to 1979 and is the brewery's oldest recipe.

  • Trixie's Liquor Store
    Thursday, 4-6 p.m.
    • Summit Brewing Company of Saint Paul, Minnesota: This East Washington Avenue shop hosts a special tasting session that will feature four beers: Summit Oktoberfest, Summer Ale, Sága IPA (in the special release Unchained series), and Meridian Session Ale (in the limited release Union series).

  • Underground Butcher
    Wednesday, starting at 5:30 p.m.
    • Stillwater Artisanal Ales of Baltimore, Maryland: This menu for this pre-party will feature Stateside Saison, Existent (dark Saison), As Follows (Belgian strong pale ale), Cellar Door (Saison brewed with white sage and a blend of Sterling and Citra hops) and Bronze Age (a collaborative brew made with Brouwerij Hof Ten Dormaal of Tildonk, Belgium). Owner and brewmaster Brian Stumke will be in attendance.

  • Vintage Spirits & Grill
    Friday, starting at 3 p.m.
    • There is no specific Great Taste pre-party planned for the campus Vintage, but it will be serving its taps of Vintage Brewing Company beers for half-price from open until close.

  • Vintage Brewing Company
    Friday, staring at 3 p.m.
This list will be updated through the week about these and other Great Taste of the Midwest pre-parties as more information becomes available.

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. More information about Great Taste Eve can also be found in a preview provided by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild. 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 bus, public transportation and taxis are a safe and sensible option for a great evening.

Kristian Knutsen contributed to this article.

[Editor's note: This preview was updated through Friday, August 10 with additional information about events.]

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