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Madison Craft Beer Week kicks off Friday night

The celebration of all things beer is entering its fifth year and is better than ever.

There are many reasons I miss Madison, but one of the main ones is the beer. Sure, we have beer here in Chicago and yeah, it's actually pretty good, but in Wisconsin beer is engrained in the culture. It's a way of life. The Badgers on Saturday, the Packers on Sunday and beer on every day.

One of the great celebrations of beer in the state kicks off Friday night (and goes until May 10, which is way more than a week) with Madison Craft Beer Week. Its mission statement is a noble and meaningful one to the brewing community of southeastern Wisconsin.

Madison Craft Beer Week promotes Madison's thriving craft beer culture, enhancing beer knowledge and appreciation, by sponsoring a ten-day countywide festival that attracts beer tourism, fosters knowledge of our regional brewing heritage, and serves as a showcase for the Madison area's breweries, restaurants, pubs, caterers, retailers, entertainers, and other businesses with ties to the craft beer community.

There are 350 events featuring hundreds of beers at over 80 different venues across Madison and various suburbs. It's basically a 10-day heaven for beer drinkers. It's like if you got to go on your honeymoon with a bunch of bearded dadbods and drink beer for 10 days instead of spending time with your new wife... wait, that makes it sound terrible. DISREGARD THAT LAST SENTENCE!

I encourage all of you to explore the MCBW website and find some events that scratch where you itch, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Friday night, you can meet the brewers from MobCraft and try some of their weird, awesome beer. Central Waters also begins the week in style with a tap takeover at The Malt House (get there right at 5 p.m. to try Peruvian Morning -- just trust me on this).

Saturday, watching the Kentucky Derby with Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout at High Noon Saloon is bound to be a blast.

Sunday afternoon, try some sour beers at Merchant featuring New Glarus after getting your Great Taste tickets (on sale Sunday at noon) and then spend the evening with Madison giant Ale Asylum at the Come Back In.

Those are just some ideas to get you through the weekend. There will be more events than you could shake a stick at going on next week, so plan ahead, bring bottles of water and try some awesome beer.