The Madison Craft Beer Week website and app have brand spankin’ new features. The event listing is live. My preview of some of the new breweries and venues coming to Madison is one way to narrow down what events to personally cover. And still, you may feel that you’re overwhelmed by the options. The granularity of the data points. The beer, my god, all the beer.
What you want — dare I say, what you need — is a tap takeover. Calgon take me away, just put me on a stool and give me one or two breweries to pore over for a couple hours. Well, I happen to have a few of those in mind too, since I listed only a couple in my initial preview.
HopCat will be pouring big beers like KBS and a 2015 Imperial Stout from their fellow Grand Rapids, Michigan, natives, Founders (April 29). Similarly high-value targets will be on tap from Perennial at the Coopers Tavern (April 29) and Surly at Tipsy Cow (April 28). Look for Abraxas from the former and Darkness from the latter, if you want the high ABV whale experience.
On the quieter side, Sixpoint will take over four taps at Tavernakaya (May 5). Sixpoint’s beers are never particularly loud or aggressive, which should make for comfortable pairing with Tavernakaya’s menu.
Sheboygan’s 3 Sheeps Brewing is having a moment, celebrating its 5th anniversary over the weekend in its year-old taproom. Brasserie V will have plenty of Sheeps to go around for a MCBW kickoff party (April 28), and Dexter’s will split its taps among 3 Sheeps, Hop Haus, and the Fermentorium later in the week (May 3). If you want to get a little nuts, the Side Door will host a 3 Sheeps brunch and onesie pajama party on the first Saturday of MCBW. Please securely button all flaps.
We cannot live on bread alone, not even liquid bread, and as such there are a number of quality tap takeovers accompanied by some quality eats. Blue Moon’s Friday fish fry with O’so will also afford you the opportunity to purchase bottles of O’so’s Count to Two, an excellent fruited sour (April 28). If you’ve had enough Friday fish after going through Lent, enjoy Ian’s Pizza alongside an Avery/Upland joint takeover at Cask & Ale on State Street (April 28).
Continuing the pucker, New Glarus sours (hail, the returning Strawberry Rhubarb) will be paired with Roth Kase cheeses at the Coopers Tavern (May 4). Forequarter will turn its kitchen over to Like Minds chef Paul Funk, as its taps are taken over by Like Minds beers (May 7). And back at Blue Moon a few days after O’so, you’ll be able to devour Conscious Carnivore sliders with beers from Black Husky and Central Waters (May 4).
Ease off on the sours, Nabilcy, you might be thinking. Well, all right, how about the superb Keller Pils from Summit Brewing? Summit will take over the taps at the Up North Pub, featuring a hefeweizen and a wit for all your old-school needs (April 29). Near the shores of Lake Monona, Metropolitan’s quality lagers will flow at Off Broadway (April 29).
And then there are the wild cards. In addition to beers from local wild child O’so, HopCat will tap a handful of beers from Louisville’s Against the Grain (May 3). Those dudes are always unpredictable. And if generally unpredictable isn’t unpredictable enough, there’s the Three Floyds mystery event at Tip Top Tavern (May 4). I honestly have no idea.
Of course, if this whole exercise is designed to ease your analysis paralysis, you couldn’t possibly get more straightforward than the New Holland Dragon’s Milk tap takeover at jacs on Monroe (May 4). Dragon’s Milk is damn near the house beer at jacs, and though the many adjunct variants of this beer will also be on tap, there’s something to be said for ordering the usual, even during Craft Beer Week.