The motto for the state of Wisconsin is “FORWARD” and that’s exactly how I felt about the direction of craft beer at this past weekend’s Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI.

Over 6,000 people attended the sold out event put on by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild to try over 1,400 beers from 190 breweries, cideries, and wineries from across the Midwest.

The weather could not have been more perfect with partly cloudy skies, a small breeze coming off of Lake Monona, and temperatures in the low 80s.

Without having to worry about tokens or tickets, I enjoyed myself and attempted to try as many beers as I could from breweries from far and wide.

Here are the ten winners from the Great Taste of the Midwest in alphabetical order by brewery name.

Pumpkin Smasher – Big Muddy Brewing (Murphysboro, IL)

As coffee chains are announcing their plans for the Pumpkin Spice Latte drop, Big Muddy Brewing beat them to the punch with their Pumpkin Smasher at Great Taste. This beer was full of pumpkin flavor, along with a subtle yet tasty amount of the traditional pumpkin recipe spices, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Double Spirit Føul – Fair State Brewing Cooperative (Minneapolis, MN) & Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA)

Spirit Foul is the original juicy and hazy IPA collaboration between Fair State Brewing Cooperative and Modern Times Beer. Double Spirit Føul was a timed release at 4:15 pm and led the brew down the DDH AND DIPA roads to make it into a much more dank version than the original. Delicious nonetheless!

Crop Circle Wheat – Great Dane Pub & Brewery (Madison, WI)

Great Dane had their own group of tents next to Lake Monona with tables donning their signature logo, tons of merchandise for sale, and beer pouring from golden taps. They had a plethora of beers to choose from and Crop Circle Wheat caught my eye for it’s 10 IBUs and an ABV of 5.5%. It was a solid beer that could be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Delusion – Greenbush Brewing (Sawyer, MI)

Upon your first sip of Delusion, you’re going to think you’re delusional with the swirl of flavors the beer brings to the table. Greenbush Brewing‘s potent beer is creamy yet dark with hints of a whiskey barrel. All of this is backed up with the imperial stout signature of being full bodied and in your face. Right? Right.

OREOja – Iowa Brewing Co (Cedar Rapids, IA)

OREOja was one of my favorite beers of Great Taste and I recommended it to everyone I could. It’s a variant of Iowa Brewing Co.‘s Oja, a light yet robust Baltic porter. The OREOja is brewed with Oreo cookies, both chocolate wafers and the creme in the middle and lactose. It is “milk’s favorite cookie” in beer form. Beautiful!

Black Lily – The Livery (Benton Harbor, MI)

The only selection on this list that is not beer is The Livery‘s Black Lily. Black Lily is a cyser, which is a version of mead made with apples. This cyser was a helluva lot more complex than honey and apples because it is oak aged with raspberries and has a beautiful magenta color. One can taste the tart complexities that make this cyser unique and flavorful.

Gimme S’More – Nebraska Brewing Company (Papillion, NE)

Dessert beers are one of my favorite “styles” of beers, so I’m always on the lookout for one at every beer festival I go to. Nebraska Brewing Company updated one of their brown ale recipes and added vanilla to give Gimme S’More a smooth, sweet taste. Those pouring for NBC suggested mixing their pumpkin beer, Wick for Brains, with Gimme S’More to make Gimme S’More Brains which had a nice balance of sweetness and spices perfect for a fall bonfire with friends and family.

Strawberry Rhubarb – New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, WI)

Whenever friends return from Wisconsin, I’m always happy to share a bottle of whatever they brought back from New Glarus Brewing Company. I was more than excited to see New Glarus at Great Taste, so I tried a handful of their brews to get my fill. The best one I had was their Strawberry Rhubarb, which had a ton of tart strawberry flavor which was refreshing on the warm summer day.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin – O’Fallon Brewery (Maryland Heights, MO)

As I was putting together this list, I found that O’Fallon Brewery and I have something in common – an obsession for pumpkin beers! Their wide selection of pumpkin beers shows that they are serious about the fall season and creating delicious renditions of spiced ales. The Salted Caramel Pumpkin was a perfect blend of salted caramel and a pumpkin spice latte. I wanted more of it and was happy to discover that O’Fallon distributes to Michigan!

The Commuter – One Barrel Brewing Company (Madison, WI)

The Commuter was a simple, true to style Kölsch that was easy to drink. It was a perfect beer to enjoy and cleanse the palate from all of the other beers I was trying. I could see myself sipping on this throughout the summer and it was another top choice from Great Taste!

That’s it for the 10 Winners of 2019’s Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, WI. More thoughts are on the way about the festival from a Michiganders perspective, so stay tuned!






By Ed Norton

Edwin "Ed" Norton was first introduced to craft beer when his designated fraternity Big Brother Vince asked him if he knew anything about the topic. Ed admitted his ignorance and the rest is history as Ed and Vince would split six-packs of craft beers each week during Ed's probationary status. Ed is now a craft beer enthusiast who is always on the lookout for a beer he has not tried when bottle shopping or drinking at breweries and bars. In addition to drinking beer, this livelong Michigan resident enjoys a bunch of hobbies that he doubts you really care about, other than drinking beer and sounding off about it.

4 thoughts on “The List – 10 Winners of Great Taste of the Midwest (2019)”
  1. I think he just put a list of beers together of differing beer styles that he enjoyed at GT. Most of those breweries in general are not great, outside of NG, Modern Times and Fair State.

    1. I would like to think beer is subjective. And you can’t try every beer at a festival. And we don’t want to just stroke a beerfest list with just the highest rated beers and call them the best. At that point, why bother showing up right? We hope you take the opportunity that maybe next year at GT and try these beers or breweries and see what the writer may like about then. Just my $00.02, but I also own Better on Draft and that’s how I’d have written the article Ed did too. Beer is meant to be enjoyed and even some breweries you’ve maybe not liked before, have some good liquid hiding 🙂


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