The Clash of beer festivals, the Great Taste of the Midwest features over 1,000 beers from 150 Midwest breweries. While there are other fests that are larger in size, the Great Taste is quite possibly “only beer fest that matters.” If you think you have to go to Germany or Belgium or Portland or San Diego to get a killer beer, you are wrong. The Midwest boasts some of the best beers in the world, and Great Taste is one-stop shopping.
I had the good fortune of early entry at The Clash this year, and it was fun to watch the regular ticket holders cross the threshold an hour later at the fest’s noon start time. You see, eight-year-olds making haste in grade school hallways aren’t the only ones to employ the run-walk style of ambulation. White-haired sixty-year-olds also try to play it cool while hustling their asses to the New Glarus, Founders, and Perennial booths at a beer festival.
And who can blame them? These breweries are stupendous, and they all come to The Clash with their big guns. I’ve been to a lot of festivals all across the country, including the granddaddy of them all, the Great American Beer Festival, and I’m here to tell you, though tickets are difficult to come by, you really should make an effort to attend The Clash.
With the best of the Midwest’s best bringing their absolute best (and with a laundry list of special events taking place not only on Great Taste Eve but throughout the week that leads up to the Best Saturday of the Year), this festival is a “can’t freaking miss.”
I believe that it’s absurd to make a best-of list, because, for goodness sakes, there were 1,000 beers on offer, and I didn’t scratch the surface. I hit some new-to-me-breweries and scouted some locations for a project I’m quietly working on somewhere in the margin on my busy beer life. I hit some personal favorites. I hung out with some of my brewer-friends, including a long stint drinking mystery beers from the Beer Glory Hole behind Peace Tree’s booth. With one exception, I didn’t bother with long lines. I had a lot of great beers, and for the record, I lingered at but a handful of places like Destihl, Prairie Artisan (I put up with the lines here), Une Annee, and Upland.
It was my fourth Great Taste, and I can’t wait for my fifth. If you can score tickets, do. It’s intimate, beautiful, and delicious. This fest carries the J. Wilson Guarantee. For what that’s worth.