Great Taste Chronicles—2014, Part 1

Over the weekend, I managed to take my third trip to Madison, Wisconsin’s Great Taste of the Midwest. Now, I haven’t been to every beer festival on the planet, but of the many I’ve attended, Great Taste is absolutely at the top of my list. I exaggerate not.

It’s been a couple of years since I was able to secure tickets (no easy task), and boy, am I glad I made a return. Great Taste Eve—the night-before events that are actually scattered throughout the week—has absolutely exploded and there’s no way that one can hit them all.

I arrived for a Midwest Regional Guild meeting at the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company. There I dug into a cask porter and their Peck’s Pilsner, both living up to my expectations for Great Dane.

Next, I met comrades for a bite to eat at Next Door Brewing Company. There, I had the Ssam Pork Sandwich, which was tasty, and after debating on splitting an order of poutine, the house pickle assortment, or a plate of pickled and deviled eggs, my boys and I settled in on the eggs. They were good, and I especially liked the curry deviled eggs. On the beer front, I tried several. I ordered a pint of the saison when I sat down, and it was okay, but I would have liked it more had the addition of chamomile been dialed back. I also tasted the stock ale (big diacetyl), the IPA (good), dry stout (good) and gose (good).

With a little food in the tank, we shifted to an interesting brewing cooperative located at  4539 Helgesen Drive. Here we found House of Brews, MobCraft (a truly unique concept and you should dash over to their website to learn more) and Greenview Brewing. They had an event called Mob the House, which featured multiple bands, artists and beers. Here, I managed to try five offerings, and I’m ashamed to say that none of them was from House of Brews (I guess I’ll have to go back). I tried MobCraft’s Hop Gose the Grapefruit and Batshit Crazy Coffee Nutbrown. Both were good, but I was especially moved by Batshit Crazy, which I’m told contains lactose, a contributor to the body I so enjoyed.

Greenview focuses on gluten-free beers (the brewer’s wife is celiac), and with a GF wife in my life, we were both looking forward to the possibilities here. We tried their farmhouse, dark and IPA. The first two were fine, and if I were gluten-free, I’d be pleased for their existence. But the IPA downright impressed me. It was quite good. According to the brewer, he’s got a “porterish” beer in the fermenter as he continues his efforts to build a solid, GF dark beer. Which is what my wife is dreaming of…

Our final Eve stop was at Dexter’s Pub. Toppling Goliath was doing an event there, and we wanted to show a little support for our Iowa brewers. We arrived around 10 p.m. as their final beer of the night was being tapped. The bar was packed, and the line for the beer stretched the length of the building out the door. I was fortunate and resourceful enough to acquire the very last pour of Morning’ Delight Imperial Stout. Long story short, it was a worthy nightcap.

Stay tuned for part two of this year’s Great Taste Chronicles when I actually discuss…yep, #GTMW!

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