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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 47.0° F  Overcast
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Gearing up for the inaugural Madison Craft Beer Week
Spirit smackdown, it's beer versus wine all over town
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Madison's first Craft Beer Week will run April 29-May 8, which, and you are correct, is actually Craft Beer Ten Days (even without counting the pre-party day). There's just that much beer spilling forth in this big event highlighting the work of craft brewers. Almost a hundred activities have been scheduled, most of which are special tastings, or pairings, or full-fledged beer dinners.

Organized by Robyn Klinge and Jeff Glazer of Madison Beer Review, Beer Week "just kind of exploded" says Klinge. The two started talking about it last November and began planning in January by meeting with area venues friendly to craft beer and with distributors.

Some highlights: a couple of bike-based pub crawls; a class pairing "beer cocktails" with food at Underground Kitchen; a blind taste-testing competition at the Old Fashioned; numerous beer trivia nights; an aged beer seminar at Barrique's Fitchburg; IPAs galore at the Harmony; cask ale night at the High Noon; blending Flemish Red Ales at the Malt House; and a brewer's olympics at Demetral Field.

Special beer dinners include Tyranena at Graze, Summit at Merchant, Vintage at Steenbock's on Orchard, Angry Minnow and Furthermore at Underground Kitchen, Samuel Smith at Brocach, Chameleon Brewing at Sprecher's Restaurant, Hibiscus Saison at Vintage Brewing Co. and "The Slow Food Approach to Beer" at the Madison Club.

Klinge is especially excited about the Friday fish fry nights, where they got restaurants to pull a macrobrew tap off-line for the night and sub a craft brew: "We hope it will turn a new audience on to craft beers." Full schedule, and we do mean full, at madbeerweek.com.

Not to be outdone, downtown Middleton will hold its first-ever Spring Wine Walk on May 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. Twelve downtown Middleton businesses will host tastings of one red and one white wine at each spot (plus hors d'oeuvres), with wines from California, Washington, Spain, Italy, Chile and New Zealand. Tickets: $15; more info, 608-628-0773.

If you feel that you must choose between beer and wine, consider attending the Grains vs. Grapes dinner on April 27 at Sprecher's Restaurant ($45, reservations required, 608-203-6545). Four courses will each be paired with a beer from Sprecher Brewery and a California wine; learn about what goes with what.

The Owen Roe Winemaker's Dinner on April 28 at Harvest is full (with a short wait list), but there is still room at its Asparagus Dinner on June 5, a five-course celebration of asparagus ($65). The menu for this year has not yet been set, but last year's included asparagus fried, grilled, pickled and steamed, as well as asparagus ice cream. Call 608-255-6075 for info. And Underground Kitchen will host a special Rabbit Dinner on April 24. Seven courses will include antipasto, salads, a main rabbit entree, sides and dessert ($50). Call 608-514-1516 for info.

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