We are in the midst of what I affectionately term the "busy season" for the brewing industry. Every weekend from mid-August through mid-October has at least one, if not two, or three beerfests going on around the state. I'll mention a few here, but please, if you know of any others, throw 'em up in the comments and I'll promote them up to the article.
I have a particular bias for two of them, and I'll talk about those when we get there. But, let's just look at the ol' calendar, shall we?
September 10: Milwaukee Oktoberfest (through October 2) - held at the Old Heidelberg Park in Glendale this event stretches every weekend (not Sundays) from early September to early October. Flush with polka and more accordians than you can shake a stick at, the beer flows freely (though not for free). It's not a typical beer fest, though, so don't expect tasting samples of obscure brands, it's a family-ish event to celebrate our German heritage. Gee, maybe you could learn a thing or two.
September 11: Thirsty Troll - one of the best values on the circuit. It is not exclusively Wisconsin-only, but it's darn close. A great place to get a taste of all the great beer this state has to offer at a reasonable price and little pushing, shoving, or snobbery. Just a good ol' laid back time.
September 17: Great Lakes Brew Fest (also on the 18th) - the beer fest with ego issues; it now spills over on to a second day, just to "prove" that it must be the best. And they do get awfully darn close to being "the best" - unrestricted to breweries from the Midwest as the Great Taste is, you can find beer from all over the country and spend two days in drunken bliss. Also on Friday night is the Cystic Fibrosis Keg and Cork event at Capital Brewery. I have to admit a little bit of bias since I helped them a little to get some of it set up, but it's a great, laid back, social event more than a beer fest - meant to be a night out with some great beer, wine, and food more than a beer fest of 4oz pours.
September 24: LaCrosse Oktoberfest. Ah. Not-Sober-Fest. What do I need to tell you about this that would make a lick of difference. You're going to go. You're going to get hammered. You're going to like it. Just make sure you check out Pearl Street's newest seasonal beer - their Oktoberfest, brewed specifically (and only) for this event. Also, September 24-26 is the New Glarus Oktoberfest; a grand time of yodeling and celebration of Swiss/German heritage - and the release of New Glarus' Staghorn Oktoberfest. [ed note: thanks Anonyous #2]
October 2: Quivey's Grove - another venerable institution in Madison. Every one that I've been to has been absolutely gorgeous weather. I think it's because the fest is held at Camelot. Also on October 2 is the Sand Creek Oktoberfest held at the brewery: "Craft booths, food, live music, and beer of course." [ed note: thanks Nate!]
October 16: Dells on Tap. Thank you Anonymous #1.
October 22: Crackle - a newcomer to the schedule, this is another one that I've had my paws in to some extent. Mrs. MBR is a board member of Olbrich Gardens where this event is held. Fair warning - the beer isn't free, but there will be great giveaways, awesome food by Food Fight, and five raging bonfires throughout the gardens to keep you warm. This is my favorite time of the year - cool, crisp air, wet leaves, football, fires and marshmallows, beautifully colored trees, a nice Oktoberfest beer. Personally, I choose to believe that they scheduled it here to celebrate Mrs. MBR's wedding anniversary (the 18th through 21st). So, bust out a mere $20 and come to my anniversary party.
November 6: Janesville Fall Fest-of-Ale. Thank you Anonymous #1, again. As a side note, this event appears to be indoors, which is probably for the best in early November, anyway.