Tasting Notes from the 2014 Great Taste of the Midwest

Happy Monday(?) everyone,

Yes Beer Nirvana, aka the Great Taste of the Midwest, once again was completely bliss-inducing here in Madison on Saturday! Perfect weather coupled with a beautiful lakeside location, and upwards of 170 breweries pouring their delights for us all afternoon.

This was my last year as a volunteer musician at the GT as I VERY much look forward to hopfully having a Parched Eagle stall at next year’s Beer Mountaintop. It’s fun to think about potential special releases at 20 minutes after the hour! Also that’s me on the left in the photo (and I think I was drinking Fat Head’s Bone Head Red then).

Here are my top 12 tastes (in no particular order):

  1. Cumberland Tripel Crown: smooth, complex, restraned spicy phenolics mixed with slight light fruit esters.
  2. Tighthead Hat Trick Tripel: another fine example of a Belgian Tripel with well-balanced complexity for the style.
  3. Blind Pig Bamberger Smoked Rye: YUM! Rye mixed very nicely with the smoked malt. Prost!
  4. B. Nektar Peach Kill All the Golfers: my gods a mead made my top 12!?! Like drinking fresh peach juice with a bit of honey and alcohol. I’m not a big mead fan (most are too sweet for me) but this one is fantastic!
  5. New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole Wheatwine: once again did not disappoint at the GT: a complex/boozy wheat barleywine! Nicely bitter finish, as well.
  6. Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA (a perennial GT fave): I’d put Head Hunter up there with ANY west coast IPA! A GREAT beer that’s deserving of the several awards it’s won..
  7. Fat Head’s Bone Head Red imperial red ale: similar deep/complex hop profile as Head Hunter mixed nicely with crystal (caramel) malts. Excellent!
  8. Brugge Brasserie Tripel de Ripple: yet another damn good tripel. Brugge Brasserie is a must stop at the GT!
  9. Old Bavarian Gerstewein Tripel Sticke Altbier: Wow! An early taste favorite: an altbier ramped up to be a German barleywine. Very well done!
  10. People’s Brewery Abbot Dark Strong: very smooth with the malty/spicy complexity you want in a dark strong.
  11. House of Brews bourbon barrel Kremlin: my good buddy Page knows how to barrel-age beers, and nailed it with Kremlin (a damn good Russian Imperial Stout). Bourbon flavor nicely balanced with Kremlin’s dark roasted malts, hop bitterness and aroma/flavor, and pleasing alcohol presence.
  12. Sweet Mullets Beorn Oud Bruin: very nice example of a Flanders Brown Ale: good sweet/sour balance!