The Audacious Beer and Cheese Celebration touts itself as the “world’s greatest beer and cheese tasting event.” Located in Hartland, WI, the festival is just 20 miles west of Milwaukee. The state is renowned for both beer and cheese, so it’s not a stretch to see why such a celebration would be in order. Featuring world-class brews and artisanal cheeses, the festival began in 2007 with just beverages but added food tastings a year later. This year’s event is preceded by a special, more intimate affair called “Friday Flights,” which takes place in smaller venues in five different locations in the Hartford/Delafield area and are reserved for just 15 people each. Eleven craft beers and offerings from the winner of Best in Show at the 2011 World Cheese Competition and other master cheese artisans ensure a uniquely savory experience.
The main event follows on the weekend of June 24. Friday night is open to the public and features over 100 beers and 20 cheeses. On Saturday afternoon, the big tent is closed for a special event, where 200 ticketed attendees can spend three hours sampling the goods at 16 brewer and 8 cheese tables. One featured brewer will even be behind the bar, working the tap and taking questions. After 6pm, it’s time for the Night of the Barrel’s party, which promises more beer, more food, musical acts and a fireworks display.The event is a fundraiser in connection with the Lake Country Rotary Club and funds humanitarian and environmental initiatives.
Hartland is located within a few miles of 12 lakes, so there is much to amuse visitors both before and after the festival. Camp at Pike Lake State Park or just catch some rays on the beach. There are hiking and biking trails, including the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which runs through the park as it follows the Kettle Moraine, a byproduct of Wisconsin’s glacial past.