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For the 6,000-plus beer enthusiasts who made it into the Great Taste of the Midwest with a tasting glass in hand, it was glorious on Saturday, August 10. It’s no secret that tickets to the annual festival are difficult to come by, and those who acquired them could only feel fortunate.

Saturday provided perfect weather at Olin-Turville Park, situated on the south side of Madison along the shores of Lake Monona. For its 27th year, the festival hosted 150 brewers serving more than 1,000 different beers over five too-short hours.

Great Taste chair Mark Garthwaite noted he’s seen many changes over the years, but what stood out to him is how knowledgeable Midwest beer drinkers are about craft brewing and the industry it has built. “They are so much more informed about beer and brewing,” he said. “They also know what they’re searching for.”

First-time Great Taste attendee Ted White, of Brooklyn, New York, flew into Madison just for the festival. He arrived on Friday afternoon and was met by friends who had an extra ticket. “I was picked up at the airport, and in 15 minutes I was at One Barrel Brewing’s pre-party,” he said. “I’m delighted to go to a place that has such a high regard for craft brewing.”

Barrel-aged Favorite
1100 Wheat Wine from Fitger’s Brewhouse of Duluth, Minnesota
This bold, smooth and sweet wheat-based beer is aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for several months before it’s released.