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Annual Great Taste of the MidwestSM
Saturday, 14 August 1999, 1-6pm
Olin-Turville Park, John Nolen Drive
(Beer Capital of the Midwest!)
The Great Taste of the Midwestsm, presented by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, is well worth a trip from anywhere in the Midwest... well, actually, anywhere in the country! The Great Taste is North America's second longest-running craft beer festival, second only to the Great American Beer Festival, and features the brewers (and more than 400 of their beers) from nearly 100 of the Midwest's micros, brewpubs, and regional breweries. Anyone who has ever attended will probably tell you that it is among the best beer events anywhere.
6,000+ happy beer enthusiasts had a great time at the 13th Annual Great Taste of the Midwest! As usual, the weather was perfect, and 90+ breweries and 400+ different beers provided plenty of variety for everyone to sample. With available hotel rooms even more scarce than a usual summer weekend because of a drum and bugle corps competition in town, we had more bus trips for the event than usual. We may see more of the same in 2000, with a rural postal carriers convention occupying rooms that might ordinarily be occupied by Great Tasters. The lesson: book early! Hotel scare or not, the event had (as has every Great Taste since 1992) a sellout crowd. Tickets are sold in advance only (starting on May 1) and not at the gate. Second lesson: buy tickets early to avoid disappointment.
If you've never attended the Great Taste and want an idea of the event, here is an abbreviated version of the program book, modified a bit for web publication and without the advertising. The program, as presented here, is organised into separate Envoy files, starting with the INTRODUCTORY SECTION, followed by the exhibiting brewery listings for each state (links below). [If you need an Envoy viewer (performs the same function as Adobe Acrobat but in a more efficient and less bloated format), be sure to click on the link to download the file to install on your computer.]
In case you missed the paragraph above, you need an Envoy reader or browser plug-in to view these files. WordPerfect users already have the reader. The viewer and plug-in downloads are free; get it here. Don't be afraid! The plug-in download is MUCH smaller than Adobe Acrobat. Even if you have a 486, a 14.4 modem, and a hard disk measured in MBs rather than GBs, this is a friendly and functional program.
How to get here
Madison is about three hours from Chicago, four hours from Saint-Paul, just over an hour from Milwaukee, 90 minutes from Rockford or Dubuque... you get the idea--we're convenient to everywhere! I'm going to assume that if you're reading this and interested in beer, you can find your way to Madison. Once in the area you have a couple different options.
US 151 is East Washington Avenue, and is reached either from I-90/94, US51, or WI30. Keep going east until you see a big dome in front of you (the State Capitol). Follow the downtown instructions below.
By US 12/18 (the beltway), take the John Nolen Drive exit. A Sheraton and Holiday Inn will be on your right (east) and the Dane County Coliseum (look for the big clamshell roof) on your left (west). The park is just past the Sheraton. Take a good look at it and remember where it is but don't turn into the park because you won't be able to park there, so don't even think about it. Instead, proceed downtown (just look for the Capitol and the Monona Terrace Convention Centre). Take the Broom Street exit (a left exit before you enter the tunnel under the convention centre) and continue to one of several city or county parking garages (follow the signs with the big "P"). Parking is only $1 on weekends and evenings. From there you can either walk directly to the park (about 30 minutes) or walk to one of Madison's famed downtown brewpubs, Angelic or Great Dane. Sure, if you're there, now go have a beer, but they also offer FREE shuttle transportation to and from the fest! Those aren't the only brewpubs offering shuttles. If you keep going west on the beltway, you'll hit the Whitney Way exit. Take that to Odana Road and Whitney Way for J.T. Whitney's, where you can park in their lot and HOP (great in an IPA!) aboard their shuttle bus. If you take shuttles, not only do you save parking hassles, but you'll also be dropped off at one of three places where you can get a great dinner afterward. If you're still not ready to drive after dinner, cabs will be available to homes and hotels in Dane County. Please get back safely!
Madison Metro bus service on John Nolen Drive is, regrettably, very limited even during the week and worse on Saturdays, but check the schedule on their web site and you might just hit it. Perhaps a better bus alternative is to get a bus to either downtown (and get the Great Dane or Angelic shuttles) or to the West Transfer Point (right next door to J.T. Whitney's, where you can use the J.T. Whitney's shuttle).
BICYCLING! The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and the Dane County Bicycle Transportation Alliance will be providing valet bicycle parking. Ride your bike! Leave it with them in the designated area. They'll give you a claim ticket and will attend the bike area while you enjoy the fest! It's the only way you'll be able to park so close to the action! Whatta deal, eh?
Take the bus to Madison and don't worry if you can't find a hotel in Madison. VanGalder Bus operates a shuttle between Madison and O'Hare, with stops in Janesville, South Beloit, and Rockford. Drive to one of those cities, park the car, and let VanGalder be your designated driver for less than the cost of a cab within Madison. If you need a hotel room, there are several hotels within walking distance at each location. See the hotel link on the main Madison Homebrewers page for a listing. In Madison, VanGalder Bus stops at a park and ride lot at US51 and Broadway (share a cab to the fest from there) and at University of Wisconsin Memorial Union (walk from there to Angelic or Great Dane to catch a free shuttle). Be sure to check VanGalder's schedule for times in both directions.
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