Midwest Living Review
Beer aficionados, take note. If you want to attend this uberpopular summer beer festival, which limits attendance, you'll have to come to Madison on a specific day and stand in line for tickets or take a chance through a mail-order lottery. But festival-goers say it's worth it. Celebrating its 24th year in 2010, the Great Taste of the Midwest -- supposedly the nation's second-longest-running craft beer festival -- is held the second Saturday in August. About 6,000 beer lovers have five hours to sample from among 600-plus fermented beverages produced by more than 100 Midwestern brewers and breweries, from (relative) behemoths such as Wisconsin's Leinenkugel's and Bolingbrook, Illinois' Gordon Biersch to tiny microbreweries such as Indianapolis' Broad Ripple Brew Pub. A big draw is the Real Ale Tent, which features more than 50 varieties. The event has a relaxed vibe. Once you enter the festival grounds, pay ($40), and are verified to be at least 21 years old, you receive a wristband and commemorative glass (3- to 6-ounce capacity) and are free to roam around the grounds and sample as many beers as you'd like. To help ensure festival-goers' safety, no one is allowed to drive to the event. Instead, free shuttle buses run from about seven downtown bars and restaurants to the festival grounds. You can also take a public bus ($2 each way) or park downtown and walk (it's a mile give or take, depending where you park). Madison's Union Cab is also the official taxi company for the event; rides cost $1 each way, plus tip.