Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 146 - The Capital Brewery

I have never been to the Capital Brewery. This is one of these rare “I have never...” events I’m ashamed to admit. As someone that has lived in the city of Madison for quite a few years, the fact that I have never made the short trip to experience one of the most famous microbreweries from this part of the state is a ridiculous fact, in my opinion. With award winning beer aplenty, inexpensive brewery tours, and a massive bier garden available to the public, it is clear a visit to the Capital Brewery should have happened a long time ago. As a result, I shifted some plans around and set aside time to visit the Capital Brewery today while my good friend, Ryan, was in town for tomorrow’s “I have never...” event. After making his way down to Madison from Luck, Wisconsin, Ryan promptly proposed we get to the experience, which set in motion a local event to remember.

After getting on the road, Ryan and I made the short trip to Middleton, Wisconsin, home of the Capital Brewery. Upon arriving at the complex, we were greeted by two brewery employees who took our nominal entrance fee, handed us a mug and a free drink ticket, and invited us into the bier garden. With a crowd gathering and a live band performing, it quickly became apparent we were attending a special event, which prompted the two of us to investigate a little bit further... at the bar, of course.

As we approached the outdoor bar, signs and decorations making reference to the Capital Brewery’s Autumnal Fire lit up the area around us. Eventually, we uncovered the fact that the brewery event was specifically designated to the release of said beer, which prompted Ryan and I to spend our free drink tickets on a pour of Autumnal Fire. As a beer I had not tried before, I was happy to gain another new experience for the day and even happier to be out enjoying the beautiful autumn weather. Together, Ryan and I sipped on our drinks, cracked jokes about the cover band doing their best impression of a classic rock radio station playlist, and took in the experience.  With some good beer and good company, everything seemed in order to have a full, but relaxing “I have never...” experience. The only thing left to do was to take the brewery tour.


After finishing our first mugs of beer, Ryan and I headed inside to investigate the possibility of taking a brewery tour. After talking to an employee in the brewery, we learned the ongoing Autumnal Fire release party meant no tour was available during our visit. Although I put in a half-hearted effort to convince to employee to make an exception, Ryan and I ultimately decided the quality of the experience didn’t hinge on the tour. So, we headed back toward the exit, making a pit stop in the few open parts of the brewery facility on the way. While we didn’t get to see much of the brewery in our exploration, we took in what we could before deciding it was time for another beer and some cover band jokes out in the bier garden.

So much beer....

...and one tattered banner.

With another round of beers safely in our mugs, Ryan and I took back to the tents just off the stage where the cover band was playing. We chatted and worked on our second drinks for a few minutes as we watched gathering clouds building over the stage before us. Within minutes the clouds burst into a sudden torrential rain that  stopped the band dead in its tracks (pun intended) and sent the bulk of the crowd running for the few roofed overhangs around the exterior of the brewery. Unaffected, Ryan and I held steady underneath the canopy of the bier garden tent, even as the force of the rain began creating a fine mist through the tent’s woven fabric. Eventually, we found ourselves sitting alone in the bier garden serving as the topic of discussion for the herds of people huddled in plots a few square feet wide. Although I knew they were likely pointing us out as foolish for getting wetter with each passing minute, it was better than being wet and cramped into a pile of strangers. Plus, Ryan and I didn’t really mind what we knew would likely be one of the last warm rains of the year.

An empty bier garden makes for a sad Caleb

Several minutes later the rain finally stopped, sending some people home and others back into the bier garden. As the cover band prepared to take back to the stage, Ryan and I chatted with some of the other attendees and plotted the rest of our day. Realizing we had been at the brewery for several hours, we decided we would drink the last of our beers, rock out on the empty dance floor for a song, and hit the road. In turn, we did all three, leaving our mugs empty, solidifying any idea of our foolishness among the crowd, and leaving plenty of time for further shenanigans around Madison this evening.

Rain can't stop the party... Well, part of it anyway

Today’s experience at the Capital Brewery wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for, but the Autumnal Release party more than made up for anything I may have missed taking the brewery tour. The reality is the Capital Brewery Bier Garden is a fun place to be and it is staffed with some pretty awesome people. With the added bonus of award winning beer at every tap, it was hard not to have a good time at such a unique place. Now that I have taken the time to visit the Capital Brewery, I know I will make it a routine stop when I’m looking for something to break out of the ordinary. While the concept of “ordinary” likely won’t return to my life until the end of my “I have never...” year, it is safe to say I a return visit to the Capital Brewery is in order. After all, I still need to take that brewery tour...

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