WHAT IS THE GREAT TASTE OF THE MIDWEST?
The Great Taste is, to our knowledge, the second longest-running craft beer festival in North America. Every year over one hundred breweries and brewpubs serve about 1000 different beers right here in Madison, Wisconsin (Beer Capital of the Midwest!) in a beautiful lakeside setting with a view of the state capitol, with great food for sale, and space to spread out on the grass in sun or shade to enjoy the beers and music.
We also limit ticket sales to a reasonable attendance figure so you aren’t standing in line all day for beer. We usually get the brewers themselves to attend and pour, so you actually have a chance to talk to the people who brewed the beer rather than someone who may not know what he or she is serving.
WHERE AND WHEN IS IT?
The Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival is at Olin Park in Madison. It’s always held on the second Saturday in August. The festival site is just off John Nolen Drive, across from the Alliant Energy Center (formerly the Dane County Coliseum). The gates open at 1:00pm and the event ends at 6:00pm. NOTE: There are no onsite ticket sales.
HOW MANY BEERS ARE THERE?
There will likely be over 1000 beers this year.
Yes, it is a great selection of beer. And we don’t want you to drink all of them. Or even try. Enjoy the chance to be selective about the ones you try. That said, we should also point out that a single ticket price covers all sampling, two ounces at a time. There’s no pay-per-beer drink tickets that discourage you from learning about unfamiliar styles! Your ticket price includes unlimited sampling in a beautiful commemorative tasting glass between 3 and 6 ounces, perfect for sampling a variety of styles, and an informative program book to guide you through the brewers and beers. Many people save the book to use as a beer travel guide for the region long after the festival. Smartphone users will have iPhone and Android apps that contain the same brewery and beer lists as the printed program but also feature real-time updates to beer lists that augment the program listings.
HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS?
The ticket price for the 2013 Great Taste of the Midwest is $50. Yes, all that beer, glassware, printing, tents and toilets, city permits and park rental, security, insurance, and the dozens of other kinds of expenses that go into an event like this do cost a lot of money. But unlike many beer events, we’re not out to make a buck. The Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild is a nonprofit group–a homebrewing club, in fact! We do it for the love of beer, to educate others about beer, and because we enjoy a great party. Also, we support other good causes (other than beer education). Proceeds from the event benefit WORT 89.9FM, a community radio station in Madison, and many other local groups and charities.
WHERE CAN I GET TICKETS?
Please read our ticket sales page carefully for all of the details. The 2013 Great Taste sold out in May.
WHERE CAN I FIND A ROOM NEAR THE FESTIVAL?
Although we can’t offer any firm suggestions, check with the Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau for hotel information. They may be able to help you find a room close enough to be able to walk to the park if you call early. In any event, they’ll be able to help you find a room somewhere, even if not as close as you might like. If you can’t find a room within walking distance, be sure to have a designated driver or take a cab or shuttle bus to and from the event. Local brewpubs will offer shuttle service again this year. Some people camp in nearby county or state parks.
See our lodging information page for a list of nearby hotels. Some are within easy walking distance and others near shuttle locations. Some hotels even run their own shuttle to Olin Park.
WHAT ABOUT PARKING AT THE FESTIVAL?
There is absolutely no patron parking at Olin Park. There will be no patron vehicular access to the frontage road within the park, which will be a designated tow away zone.
All park roads are reserved for brewers and festival workers only. The small lots there will be reserved for brewers and festival volunteers who have heavy kegs and dispensing equipment to haul. If you take up their spaces, how are they going to be able to serve you beer?
The best advice is don’t even think about parking right at the park or even near the park for that matter. Take a bus, shuttle, or cab. Get dropped off by your designated driver. Park downtown in a city parking ramp (a maximum of $5/day on weekends) and enjoy a 30-minutes-or-so scenic walk from downtown to the park. Or walk from your car to a nearby brewpub, brewery or restaurant and catch a shuttle. All Great Dane brewpubs, Vintage Brewing, The Ale Asylum brewery, Middleton’s Capital Brewery, The Alchemy Café, Dexter’s Pub,and The Weary Traveler sponsor free shuttles to/from the festival grounds. Grays Tied House brewpub in Verona also sponsors a free shutle. Madison Metro bus line #13 will take you right to the park for $2 each way or a day pass to ride all day. It is our intention to make this a non-driving event.
WILL THERE BE FOOD?
Of course! Plenty of foods will be available, from small snacks to bigger meals, for both carnivores and vegetarians. Stop by the food vendor tents and have some of Madison’s tastiest treats. We’ll have food from The People’s Bakery (Mediterranean and Lebanese), Jingles (brats, burgers, etc), Banzo, (falafel), Jamerica (Caribbean), Nutcracker Sweet (roasted nuts) Glass Nickel Pizza, Milio’s Subs, FIB’s (Chicago-style hot dogs), and The Smokin’ Cantina (which introduced Bacon on a Stick to the world).
LAWN CHAIRS, PICNIC COOLERS, AND BLANKETS
The festival grounds are quite large. Many people bring blankets or lawn chairs and set up their own tasting lounges on the outskirts of the festival grounds, away from the hubbub of the beer tents. Please be considerate and keep your chairs and blankets out of the middle of the festival grounds so as not to obstruct traffic flow between the beer tents. Reasonable-sized coolers with food and soft drinks are acceptable carry-ins. Bringing your own water is encouraged. You may not set up your own tent. There are oak savannah restoration areas that are roped off and we ask you to help us care for this beautiful park by respecting those boundaries.
Designated driver tickets are $5 and available when and where you purchase your sampling ticket, whether in-person or by mail order. This ticket entitles your driver to admission to the festival grounds and free soft drinks from the food vendors and brewers who offer sodas. No commemorative sampling glass or beer samples are available to designated drivers.