I was able to attend this festival as a beer pourer for the Parched Eagle Brewpub. Shout out to brew master Jim Goronson! If you live in the Madison WI area..you gotta stop by and grab a pint of Jim’s beer.

Quick hits

  • The festival went from 12-6 with the 1st 2 hours being ‘VIP/Special tastings’
  • For my money, it appeared as if the $25 extra dollars were worth it as there were zero lines at any of the vendors for the 1st 2 hours.
  • With only 20 cheese vendors and 100 breweries, if you wanted to taste cheese without waiting, you would have had to do it in the 1st 2 hours.
  • In ‘The cask ale room’, some fantastic beers were on display. We are seeing more ‘real ale’ put aside and dispensed in it’s own dedicated place. I feel we are in a ‘real ale’ movement here in the US and I am very thankful for that.
  • I posted a few Facebook live videos in our private group on facebook.

The memorable beers in no specific order:

  • Twinkie Beer!!! One of the riskier breweries in the Madison WI area is Bent Kettle Brewing out of Fort Akinson WI. These guys added Twinkies to the Mash and produced a very nicely balanced ale with some background smoothiness going on.
  • Neapolitan Milk Stout on nitro from Sagatuck was being dispensed in crowlers by my friends over at Trixies/Growlers to Go Go.  This bear was creamy and tasted like the well known ice cream flavor.  I’ve had it before, but it was better this time.
  • Black Friday from Lakefront brewing has become a favorite of mine at this festival. One of the only times to have this one draft or anywhere unless you get your hump over to the brewery on Black Friday. One of the best BB stouts in my book from the state of WI.
  • Potosi brewing company had a few offerings that were fantastic.  (see below)
  • Metropolitan Magnetron is a very nice Schwarzbier that I got try again.

Best in show:

Beer: While I tasted many new really good beers, I have to go back to Lakefront brewing’s Black Friday as my best in show.  This batch felt roaster and more chocolaty than in the past.  I went there with high expectations. I excited to be able to get a taste and expectations were met!

Brewery: Potosi brewing company rocked the Isthmus beer and cheese fest for me.  They 2 BB, 1 cask and their Hopsmith Double IPA that were just the best lineup I tasted from one brewery this afternoon.  The cask was their brew ‘ginger snap’ which tasted like a cross between ginger snap cookies and a the softer gingerbread cookies. It wasn’t over spiced, it was nicely balanced..you could still recognize it was beer. ha!  The 2 Bourbon Barrels(BBs) were ‘the secret stash’ and they were hidden from view. The one I was able to write about was the Grand Amber, a brandy barrel-aged barleywine. Nice balanced barelywine that wasn’t too boozy or sweet.  I feel this brewer is a touch under appreciated in our local market.  A visit to their facilities is high on my summer visiting list.

The Verdict: The Isthmus Beer and Cheese Festival is a good time but I advise grabbing a VIP ticket if you wish to thoroughly check out the cheese.