It may seem like heaven - or at least 10 days in paradise. Beginning May 4, Madison Craft Beer Week will offer more than 175 events at 50 beer hangouts around the city. It'll be a chance to try one-time-only taps and attend special beer dinners, beer education classes, and many tastings, some of them free. The full schedule (at madbeerweek.com) can be overwhelming. It's hard to whittle down, but here are my picks for some the best, day by day.
It's best to check times and possible schedule changes again before you go. Some special events require advance tickets.
Start off with beer and a Friday night fish fry; there are over a half-dozen scheduled. The Stable Grill at Quivey's Grove is always a great place for fish fry, but this is one not to miss, as there will be at least four Ale Asylum brews on tap.
Lake Louie's Tom Porter will be at Quaker Steak and Lube in Middleton, with five Lake Louie beers on tap and music by the Lake Louie Growlers (8:30 p.m.).
Of all the events, this is one I'm looking forward to the most. Pooley's on Madison's far east side will host a mini Cask Ale Festival, with many cask-conditioned brews. It's a great way to learn the nuances of this traditional way of serving beer, complete with a brass quintet and German drinking sing-alongs (2 p.m.).
The first tapping of the beer called Common Thread, made collaboratively by area brewmasters just for Craft Beer Week, gets released at the Great Dane (both Hilldale and Fitchburg locations, 10 a.m., with brunch).
Later in the day, enjoy a beer movie and a brew; Comeback, the Wisconsin Beer Movie will be shown (with directors Tim Tynan and Caitlin Iverson) at Drackenberg's Cigar Bar, 5 p.m.
The beers of former Madison resident Shane Welch and his Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Six Point Brewery will be featured in a four-course meal at Merchant (5:30 p.m., $45).
Madison gets its first serious taste of a brand-new commercial brewery, Port Huron Brewing Co. of Wisconsin Dells. Port Huron released its first beer just two weeks ago. Old Chicago will serve four of Tanner Brethorst's beers on tap: an alt, a hefeweizen, a honey blonde and a porter (7 p.m.).
Proof that beer can be the elixir of love will be found in a theme sampling of dark, fiery, sensual brews on the taps of the Malt House (5 p.m.).
Collaboratively brewed Common Thread will be tapped at Vintage Brewing with brewmaster Scott Manning (4 p.m.).
This will be one of the best beer dinners of the week. Vintage Brewing on Whitney Way will host a multi-course Farm-to-Table Beer Dinner that features fresh, locally grown ingredients and Vintage house brews (6:30 p.m., $60).
Page Buchanan will be at the Coopers Tavern with four of his House of Brews beers and food by Coopers made with House of Brews beer.
Beer Wars: The Hop Heads clash with the Malt Minions in a bitter-versus-malty taste-testing featuring several Ale Asylum brews at the Malt House (6 p.m.).
Lake Louie's Tom Porter tells his "Rags to Riches Story" at a special beer dinner at Vintage Brewing (6:30 p.m., $20).
Barriques-West Washington Avenue will become home to House of Brews, with few unique beers from brewmaster Page Buchanan that you won't find anywhere else in the city (6 p.m.).
At Gray's Tied House, brewmaster Fred Gray teams up with Bruce Workman, master cheesemaker of Edelweiss Creamery, for a workshop tasting with special beers and cheeses that's sure to be informative (5 p.m.).
Mother's Day beer brunches are scheduled at the Coopers Tavern, Gray's Tied House, all Great Danes and Vintage Brewing. Or check out the Brewers Olympics (Demetral Park, 2 p.m.), where area brewers will attempt feats of athleticism involving grain sack races and a server obstacle course. Bring your own beer and a picnic.