Happy Friday Nerd City. I don’t know what you did last weekend I heard there was some stuff going in the city comic book related but I was miles away friends in a land called Wisconsin. Wisconsin according to my 8th grade geography class is above Illinois or to north. This weekend in the city Madison was the Great Taste of the Midwest. 90 breweries from across the midwest with over 500 beers. Big breweries like Bell’s, Great Lakes & Two Brothers and small guys Flossmoor Station, Jolly Pumpkin & my new favorite O’so Brewing Company.
Day 1 of my adventure there where all sorts of party’s going on I went to the New Holland party first. It was located at a great place called Local Tavern. There were over 5 different New Holland Mad Hatter’s on draft. New Holland’s Mad Hatter is there year around IPA, they decided to have some fun with the recipe; Imperial Mad Hatter a big IPA (an imperial IPA they use 2x or 3x the amount of hops of a regular IPA), Bourbon Barrel Aged Mad Hatter (they place the beer in an old Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel to age and pick up some bourbon flavor, this also brings the ABV to 10%), Farm House Hatter (they use Saison yeast to give the beer characteristics of a Saison a Belgium style spring beer, it had the body of light summer beer with the hops of an IPA. My favorite beer), Cask Hatter (real ale beer or firkin beer that is unpasteurized and served in a cask at cellar temperature) and a Rye Hatter (made with rye). The best part was the staff of New Holland was there to answer every geek question I had for them, they were awesome I had a blast talking beer with them.
Next I went to the Bell’s party at Maduro a cigar bar next door to Local Tavern. They had over 20 Bell’s beers on draft Deb’s Red (an awesome amber/red ale), Poolside (a wheat ale with a subtle cherry flavor), Golden Funk (a belgian style pale ale bursting with flavor), Oarsman (A Czech style pils that was awesome 3.8% ABV this is Bell’s session beer we will see in Chicago this fall), and Hop Slam (double IPA that is always great). I also had the chance to meet Larry Bell owner of the oldest craft brewery east of Colorado. Larry was super approachable he and I talked beer, scotch, girls and several other things. Larry Bell is one of the greatest advocates of craft beer there was a group of us standing around talking beer and some one said "Larry why is Bell’s the best?’ Larry said "We are not the best there are a lot of great beers out there and we are all making good stuff and its you the beer drinkers that are making it happen". It reminded of something said earlier in the evening from one of the brewers from New Holland again bunch of guys talking beer and some asked the question "why are you guys the best" the brewer from New Holland responded with a brilliant quote "The rising tide helps all the ships get out of the harbor. There are some great things going on with craft beer and every one making good beer just helps the community". I think the best part of craft beer is the feeling of community, a community that wants to see every one succeed and make unique beers. New Holland and Bell’s are both great and it was a unique experience to meet the brewers and brewery staff. I will leave with one last quote from Sam Calagione owner of Dogfish Head "Craft brewery scene is 99% asshole free industry" till next time, Cheers!