Monday, August 15, 2005

Festival Season

Wow. We've been BUSY. Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Fest July 23rd, The Indy Beer Fest July 30 and the Great Taste of the Midwet this past weekend - it's enough to wear out even the seasoned professionals. I love seeing all of my brewery friends, all of the beer-fans that have been coming out for years and just soaking up the good energy of a day in the park with good beer and good people. I think its awesome to see the growth these festivals have had. More and more people getting turned on to the fun world of craft brewing. It's all about the people, and at these fests the people are there. I realized this weekend, that this was my 13th year going to the Great Taste. It is the granddaddy of the Midwestern beer fests, and any of us that put on successful festivals elsewhere owe the Madison Homebrewers a nod of appreciation for setting the bar.

Over the last few fests, we've poured some really great beer as well. We've poured Mad Hatter through the "Hatterizer", an in-line hop infuser, we've poured oak-aged Hatter, vintages of Phi, Pilgrims Dole and Dragon's Milk. Zoomer, Paleooza and Sundog have gotten their work-outs as well, and Ichabod was a sneak-preview of this season's first batch at Madison. I must say that one of the great things about beer festivals is the instant feedback. It's motivating and gratifying to see and feel so many people enjoy the beer, and see what they like and hear why. Getting the crew out of the brewery and into a park where they can see people enjoying their hard work is absolutely priceless and so fun to be a part of.

The party isn't a bad part of it either. We were proud to win the "Best of Show" booth competition at the Great Taste this year. We put on "The Mad Hatter's Disco" with 70's garb, rotating disco balls, a dance floor and a DJ booth. The dance-off at 4:30 won Benji, the infamous Kalamazoo native a gorgeous 2 liter boot. Jessy, of Maduro-fame was a close second, and it broke our hearts to have to choose one winner. Everybody seemed to dig the disco though and we had an absolute blast. Thanks to everybody for the booty shakin good time.

Speaking of Maduro, our hats are off to Brian and the gang; Vanessa, Jennifer, Jessy at Maduro on Main St. Long time friends, they showed us wonderful hospitality, a deep beer list (including NHBC beers) and a knack for making killer Buddha's Lusts. Buddha's Lust is a cocktail I created late one night on the customer side of Maduros' bar. Now that we're making spirits, expect it to show up in our pub sometime soon. Lemon-infused vodka (Hanger One), splash of cranberry; shaken, served up with a splash of soda and a twist. Dangerous.

While I'm mentioning accounts, it was also great to see Johnny at the Echo, a classic wisconsin bar experience. We love that they have Mad Hatter on tap and plan to be back soon. The fish fry rocked. No Madison bar mention would be complete without giving a shout out to Steve over at Wonder's. A cagey veteran, Steve runs a great beer joint that is the home-base for the Madison Homebrewers. Phi was on tap at Wonder's Pub this weekend; a rare treat - so if you're close by - you better get it while you can.

I'll come back for a look back at Ypsi and Indy.