Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yet Another Annual Tradition

I'm starting to rack up annual traditions at the Capital Brewery Bier Garten. On top of Bockfest I've now got Great Taste Ticket Day. Here's the deal: the Great Taste of the Midwest is one of the pre-eminent beer tasting in the United States. Over a hundred breweries and brew-pubs set up booths under outdoor tents in Olin-Turville Park, overlooking Lake Monona. The taster, in this case me, goes from booth to booth requesting free samples of the respective beers. It is one of the greatest days of the year. Here's the catch - only 5,000 tickets are sold, and once they're gone there's no way to get into the Great Taste. Two years ago I was lucky enough to be invited by Paul and Amy, friends from Wed. night poker. They had one extra ticket and I was the lucky beneficiary. I offered to repay the favor by waiting in line for tickets the next year. So on a chilly May morning last year I met Paul and Amy at the Capital Brewery loading docks at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. Tickets went on sale at noon. This year I arrived an hour earlier, and still found myself about halfway back in line. Here's the line at 8:00 this year:
Paul and Amy and their friends Adam and Katie had been out the night before at the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert at the High Noon, and although we had agreed to meet at 7:00, there was no sign of them by 7:20 and I called to let them know that the line was rapidly filling up. Only 400 tickets are sold at the Capital Brewery, and each person in line is limited to 4 tickets to purchase. Just about everyone buys 4, so the hundredth person is the last one. By 8:15 the line was at 100. Thankfully once a place in line was secured you could move around, even send someone back to the car to get coffee and McDonalds breakfast. I brought my own coffee so I was perfect. Since the line was already full before 9:00, the volunteer staff that run the operation came around and told us that at 10:00 they would be moving everyone in line into the Bier Garten itself. The year before we were in the loading docks due to a wedding scheduled for that afternoon. This time we got to go inside the Bier Garten and sit at the tables. As you came in the gate you received a numbered ticket signifying your place in line. Here's a picture of us lining in:
Once seated, the friendly staff at the Capital Brewery opened the taps. It was the best thing that can happen to a guy at 10:15 on a Sunday morning. Paul had brought along a set of poker chips and we got a round of drinks and played a few cards. I got a couple of Baltic Porters, a new limited series that is quite delicious. At noon the line re-formed and people got their tickets. Here's Amy with her four:
Now I'm just waiting until what will certainly be the best week of August. I'll be going to Chicago for a Cubs game for my sister's birthday on Wednesday, celebrating my own on Friday, and to top everything off I'll be at the Great Taste on Saturday. I can hardly wait.


Blogger PrincessGreen17 said...

Yummy...waiting in line doesn't sound bad at all! The tasting sounds like a good time too. You'll have to write a post with any new beers you find and your recommendations.

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