Thank goodness, Madison Craft Beer Week is actually here.
There has been an unprecedented level of controversy in the run-up to this year's, with the Great Dane calling out perceived disparaging remarks in an interview by Beer Week co-founder Jeff Glazer, and a Lake Louie event at a strip club reigniting the fiery debate over sexism in beer.
This is, you know, ironic because the real story going into Madison Craft Beer Week 2015 is a feel-good one in which gender also is center stage: the woman-led Common Thread collaboration beer. If you didn't have this spicy-fruity-yeasty Belgian tripel at the launch party last night, downing a glass of this year's edition of Common Thread should be a top priority today as Beer Week really gets going.
But in any case, let's turn the page from all this controversy and get down to what Beer Week is all about: the beer.
Today's kickoff of Madison Craft Beer Week has one of the deepest roster of events all week. Here are my picks for the very best ones:
Karben4: A new beer from the Madison brewery that brings you (Beer Bracket champion!) Fantasy Factory IPA is always a big deal. Today malt maven and K4 brewmaster Ryan Koga rolls out his brewery's first session IPA, mysteriously called called Boom! Taco Central. Tacos will be served. The taproom, 3698 Kinsman Blvd., opens at 11 a.m.
Baldwin Street Grille: The offerings from Madison's MobCraft Beer can be a little intimidating. Even I, baron of beers, find it tough to plunk down eight hard-earned dollars on a bomber of durian-cashew pilsner or a cocoa-coffee-coconut wit. What if it's just too weird and I'm left with 19 undrinkable ounces? It's the fine line MobCraft's extreme beer walks, and a tap takeover is just the cure for that: small pours, maximum experimentation. Offered at Baldwin Street Grille will be at least five MobCraft beers: a sour from the new Sour Stash line, BatShit Crazy coffee brown ale, Hop Gose the Grapefruit sour wheat, Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana, a blood orange sour; and possibly Eggnostic Stout, made with cinnamon, nutmeg, lactose and vanilla. MobCraft founders Henry Schwartz, Giotto Troita and Andrew Gierczak will be on hand to mingle and, at 6 p.m., tap a special keg of Beelzebub's Run raspberry chocolate porter that mellowed in rye whiskey barrels. 1304 E. Washington Ave.
The Malt House: Central Waters Brewing is one of Wisconsin's most sought-out breweries, and it has a couple of jaw-dropping events during Beer Week. The first is tonight, when the Amherst brewery rolls out 12 of its most exclusive beers, including the Madison debut of Peruvian Morning, a star-crossed bourbon barrel coffee stout that was made in extraordinarily limited quantity this year for release only at festivals and special events like this one. But the tap list is deep, too, featuring rare-in-Madison beers like Seventeen anniversary bourbon barrel stout, Rye Barrel Stout and the tap-only HHG APA. Brewmaster Anello Mollica will be on hand from 5-8 p.m. 2609 E. Washington Ave.
Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace: This winter Tex Tubb’s held a homebrewing contest called ReinheitsRevolt centered around using non-traditional ingredients forbidden by the centuries-old German beer purity law. The winner would have his or her beer scaled up and brewed on Next Door Brewing's system and poured at Tex Tubb's during Beer Week. The moment has come for Patrick Siebold’s winning brew, an American stout brewed with cacao nibs and ancho adn chipotle peppers. It's the first of several beers you'll find only at the East Side taqueria during Beer Week. 4-11 p.m. 2009 Atwood Ave.
Johnson Public House: Chicago-based Good Beer Hunting does some of the nation's best, most intelligent and beautifully photographed writing about beer. Tonight, the Good Beer Hunting + Intelligentsia event series comes to Madison to talk about coffee beer, a field with a wide array of techniques to merge two extraordinarily complex beverages. The event features hands-on demonstrations and tastings led by Paul Schneider, a brewer at Solemn Oath Brewing in Naperville, Illinois. Tickets are $25 at go.madison.com/coffeebeer. 7:30-10 p.m. 908 E. Johnson St.
There's much more going on; check out today's full schedule here.