Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese makers

Bars, wine, beer, cocktails, drunken escapades
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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby jman111 » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:34 pm

I'm giddy like a school girl in anticipation.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:42 pm

I went last year and loved it. I've got my tickets in hand with two additional six packs thanks to Star Liquor's deal. Ya for beer and cheese.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby jjoyce » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:18 pm

Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest is sold out!!! If you have a ticket, we'll see you down here. If you don't, we'll see you next year.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Stebben84 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:54 pm

Just got back. I had a great time. The lines were just as bad as last year although. It almost felt more crowded. Part of it had to do with people getting their beer or cheese and then just standing there. I attribute it to dumb people more than poor planning.

I was also a bit disappointed that you had to buy separate tickets for the beer pairings when last year it was first come first serve for free. $10 on top of a $40 dollar ticket is starting to get a bit steep. I liked the set up last year in another space as well. It helped spread out the crowd a bit more.

One thing to note is that I took advantage of the free cab ride there. I called an hour in advance to schedule a cab and they were 45 minutes late. I realize it was a free ride, but if they can't handle the volume, they shouldn't offer the service. At best they could have said to book the cab earlier. Next year I will definitely just pay for another cab company.

Oh, and to the folks selling the cheese jerky and not offering samples, how did that work out for you? Every other booth offered samples, this one did not. I think I saw one person at the booth the whole time I was there.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby pattymcnutt » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:19 pm

A friend and I were there this afternoon. I thought there was a nice selection of brewers and cheese makers, but was disappointed with how crowded and difficult to move around it was. I would have liked to see some taller tables, just to have a place to set my beer down so I could make notes on the checklist.

Stebben, I totally agree with your assessment- the cheese jerky place (Snack Squad) that was trying to get people to buy their overpriced product with nothing to taste was really tacky, and there were a lot of people just standing in front of the booths, oblivious to the huge crowd of people waiting behind them.We ended up leaving around 3:30- probably would have stayed longer, but the crowd had gotten uncomfortably dense, and several booths had completely run out of everything.

Overall, I think the event was not worth $45, especially with paying for parking and having to pay $10 extra for the sessions (which we did not do). I like the idea, but I think there need to be some improvements before I would pay that much to do it again next year.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Right Bower » Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:36 pm

Just got home myself...stopped after the fest for some pizza with a friend.

No complaints here. Lines moved along just fine, gave us enough time to drink the beer we had in hand and eat some cheese. I actually enjoyed the crowd - kind of a controlled chaos, almost a house-party feel sometimes, but everyone was polite and most seemed genuinely interested in just sampling good beer and cheese.

If you actually paid $45, you missed out on easy ways to not: 1. Buy a ticket before the day of ($40). 2. Buy a couple six packs of beer at Star and get a ticket for $35.

I agree on the pairing thing - $10 more is getting overboard. That said, I know one of them was sold out, so apparently enough people didn't seem to mind the extra $10.

Also, Rush River is making some incredible beer...wow.

Well done. Will be back next year. Now looking forward to the Madison Malt Society distilling event.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby pattymcnutt » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:03 pm

Actually we did only pay $40 since we got them beforehand-not sure why I was thinking $45. And luckily we got a ride so we didn't have to pay for parking. But either way, I don't feel like it was worth $40. There were several beers we wanted to try, but because of the crowds, we weren't able to get anywhere near the booths, and there were at least 2 cheese makers that were totally out of cheese by 3:00.

Right Bower wrote:
If you actually paid $45, you missed out on easy ways to not: 1. Buy a ticket before the day of ($40). 2. Buy a couple six packs of beer at Star and get a ticket for $35.


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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:21 am

I had a fantastic time.

Honestly don't understand the crowd complaints and I say this as someone who detests huge crowds and long lines. I guess to me it didn't seem like there really were any lines -- if you wanted a drink, you just went up and asked -- so I guess if you thought you were waiting in one, no wonder you never got anywhere. My group and I routinely split up, grabbed samples, and met back up in one of the corridors between booths and there were always plenty of relatively empty places to stand away from the thronging masses (not to mention a handful of tables -- but I agree there could have been more.) And everyone was so genial and well-behaved, I never felt overwhelmed by the crowd.

My only real complaint: No rinsing stations. There were water coolers, sure, but nothing to dump the watery remnants out into. Not a huge problem, but a strange oversight at an event which expects you to use the same glass for so many different drinks over 4 hours. Loved that Vintage rinsed your glass before the pour (using a Budweiser tap -- heh.)

The Rush River stuff ruled (the Double Bubble IPA is amazing), as did the Vintage (which I'm now ashamed I haven't been to.) I also really liked the St. Francis weiss, the O'So Hop Whoopin', the Pearl St. Dankenstein, and Dave's BrewFarm's Breakfast Ale (which has the greatest-ever beer slogan, "You can't drink all day unless you start in the morning!") The only beer I tried which I couldn't stand I can't even identify, as one of my crew just said, "Try this!" -- it was some kind of super-alcoholic nonsense that might as well have been formaldehyde. (Anyone know what it was? There was nothing else like it that I came across.)

The cheeses were also generally fantastic. Can't remember everything I tried that I liked, but I came home with hunks of Edelweiss Creamery Gouda (thanks for the great shopping bag too!), Nordic Creamery Grumpy Goat, and best of all, Carr Valley's Menage, a sheep-goat-cow blend that is absolutely scrumptious.

And yes -- the cheese jerky booth offering no samples was baffling.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby jjoyce » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:05 am

Some people hate crowds and I'm not sure what you can do about that. The point of an event like this is to attract a lot of people and I think we're very (overly?) sensitive to making sure that people can get to the booths, so that's what I asked everyone yesterday.

I spoke to a couple guys who said they had to remind themselves to slow down. Other people said that it's in the sconnie nature to line up for stuff, even if you don't have to, and the vast majority of booths were just walk-ups. Gotta remember to say 'excuse me' and just move on through.

The points about the tables and rinse stations are good ones, although that can often lead to people simply camping out all day and then you're back where you started.

I didn't get there until 2, at which point the event was sold out. There were still a few hundred ticket holders who hadn't arrived yet, but the bulk of the attendees were punctual and stayed for a couple/few hours. If you were there at the start, it was a little tougher to get to certain booths than at, say, 3.

Saw some people leave with massive wheels of cheese.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby jman111 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:21 pm

We had a blast. Personally, I didn't think the crowd size was a problem. What seemed to hold some people up was their apparent insistence upon hitting tables in a particular order. There seemed to be many folks who tended to progress down each aisle, instead of just going where the crowd wasn't. (I didn't notice any particular table that was consistently backed-up.)

One question for Jason. Were cheesemakers discouraged from selling? Last year, most (or all) were anxious to sell. This year, some said they weren't allowed to sell, while others sold openly. Just curious. The upside was, several who weren't selling were willing to give free packages, if asked.

Right Bower wrote: I actually enjoyed the crowd - kind of a controlled chaos, almost a house-party feel sometimes...

I agree. Seemed to draw a younger crowd this year. Another thing apparent this year (and not last year, that I remember) was the crowd reaction to dropped glasses. I hope the drops by a few sloppy drunks doesn't necessitate a move away from glassware.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby TheBookPolice » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:35 pm

Two rounds of Crave Brothers Petit Frere for $10? Yes please.

I'm with you, Prof. That Double Bubble was amazing. Rush River might be sneaking onto my local beer Mount Rushmore.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:22 pm

jjoyce wrote:Saw some people leave with massive wheels of cheese.

I know you probably don't quote yourself when selecting forum comments for the paper and ink version of Isthmus, but could you make an exception for this one? Just put it in context with some other posts about the Fest.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby arizmendi » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:26 pm

Stebben84 wrote:One thing to note is that I took advantage of the free cab ride there. I called an hour in advance to schedule a cab and they were 45 minutes late. I realize it was a free ride, but if they can't handle the volume, they shouldn't offer the service. At best they could have said to book the cab earlier. Next year I will definitely just pay for another cab company.


Sorry for the problems. Last year, we took 50 trips into the fest (about 250 people). This year, there were a lot more tickets plus the volunteers and vendors expected free rides (which didn't happen last year and caught us by suprise). It also sounds like the majority of people waited until 12:40-12:45 to be picked up which caused a huge crunch.

I haven't seen the numbers yet, but from what I have heard is that the volume tripled or quadrupled from last year. Had we known that in advance, we would have staffed for it. I like the idea of requiring notice (perhaps a 48 hour window to allow us to gauge the volume). I'm sorry that we were part of the negatives for the day. Thanks for the tip.

John (Union Cab)

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby Stebben84 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:15 pm

arizmendi wrote:
Stebben84 wrote:One thing to note is that I took advantage of the free cab ride there. I called an hour in advance to schedule a cab and they were 45 minutes late. I realize it was a free ride, but if they can't handle the volume, they shouldn't offer the service. At best they could have said to book the cab earlier. Next year I will definitely just pay for another cab company.


Sorry for the problems. Last year, we took 50 trips into the fest (about 250 people). This year, there were a lot more tickets plus the volunteers and vendors expected free rides (which didn't happen last year and caught us by suprise). It also sounds like the majority of people waited until 12:40-12:45 to be picked up which caused a huge crunch.

I haven't seen the numbers yet, but from what I have heard is that the volume tripled or quadrupled from last year. Had we known that in advance, we would have staffed for it. I like the idea of requiring notice (perhaps a 48 hour window to allow us to gauge the volume). I'm sorry that we were part of the negatives for the day. Thanks for the tip.

John (Union Cab)


Thanks for the response. It sounds like it was a lot more popular this year.

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Re: Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest: 27 breweries, 26 cheese make

Postby O.J. » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:09 am

Prof. Wagstaff wrote: The only beer I tried which I couldn't stand I can't even identify, as one of my crew just said, "Try this!" -- it was some kind of super-alcoholic nonsense that might as well have been formaldehyde. (Anyone know what it was? There was nothing else like it that I came across.)


O'So Picnic Ants? I was told it was 21%. I wasn't a big fan of that, but their Hop Whoopin' was excellent. I agree with the Rush River. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Dave's until the end of the day, and they were sold out.

My complaints were very minor. I was disappointed that Bolzano's didn't make it, but that was hardly the Isthmus' fault. At times, people seemed confused as to which way they should approach a booth, but everyone was well behaved, and the sometimes three-way traffic wasn't that great of a hindrance. Kudos for blending the beer and cheese booths together this year, instead of being in separate locales.

I took home a decent haul of cheese: the wonderful Carr Valley's Menage that Prof. mentioned, Crave's Petite Frere(that was a great deal), Roelli Dunbarton Blue, White Jasmine's Cumin Gouda(which will taste fantastic on top of the chili I'll be making this week), Edelweiss Havarti, Red Barn Family Farm's Heritage White Cheddar, and a trio of Pasture Pride's ovenbaked cheese(Parmesan, Cheddar, Goat). I also bought a stick of the Cheese Jerky, and it was fairly tasteless, which might explain the lack of samples. It appears that my diet will be on hiatus for a few weeks.

This is an excellent event, and I hope it continues for years and years.


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