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Riley's Wines of the World

Not Rated.
Riley's Wines of the WorldRiley's Wines of the World
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

72 Ratings
Ratings: 72
Reviews: 54
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: n/a
[ Store ]

402 W Gorham St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703-2004
United States
phone: (608) 257-0400

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @rileyswow

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: cokes)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 72 | Reviews: 54 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of badbeer
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

Real nice selection of brews from all over. Plenty of micro's from all over the US and plenty to choose from abroad. Almost all of the beer was kept in coolers and away from harsh light. The service here has never been something to write home about, in fact the only reason I usually head here is because they offer more than other stores in the area.

Update: Service is variable. I haven't had a bad experience here in a long time. There seem to be some BA's working there and service has improved drastically. Again, great selection, and it seems the service there is now as good, if not better than some of the other establishments in Madison. Pretty much a must stop if you're in town. I'll average my overall service here at 4 (which includes the bad experiences).

Photo of shivtim
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

I stopped in here to by some Wisconsin beers, and boy is this the place to do it. From the outside it just looks like a little crappy liquor store. As soon as I walked through the door I saw that the place is about 4 times bigger than I thought. Straight in the back are various 6 packs of all kinds of microbrews. To the right is exactly what I was hoping for: single bottles! All kinds of Wisconsin stuff here, with many WI microbreweries well respresented (Central Waters, Sand Creek, Tyranena, Harbor City, Capital Brewing, etc). They have a better New Glarus selection than the actual New Glarus brewery does! Mix and match 6 packs save 10%, so it's not too expensive. This is a great store to put together a "wisconsin sampler" at.

Oh, they also have a lot of non-wisconsin beers, and more wine than you can shake a stick at, but I wasn't paying too much attention to that.

Photo of blackie
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%

quality: I've never had a beer here that seemed to be either light struck or past its date.

service: I've never really had to ask many questions here, but most of the guys seem to know their product well.

selection: Great selection, especially for Wisconsin and Midwestern goodies. Great selection of six packs of Lake Louie, Capital, Central Waters, and New Glarus...and plenty of others that I could never recall. Nice rotating singles selection as well, well representing the wonderful Wisco breweries.

Photo of JeffKrenner
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

I visited this place along with Woodman's on the way from MN to Chicago. I was looking for a couple things in particular and wasn't disappointed.

This place looks like a little hole in the wall from the outside, but when you walk in you are shocked at how big it is. Very good beer selection. Great Lakes, Three Floyds, etc. The reason I went here was I had heard that they had a couple things that Woodman's wouldn't, namely Central Waters and Lake Louie. Low and behold I ended up getting a bunch of each as both were very well represented.

This is definitely a recommended stop if you are in Madison.

Photo of tavernjef
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

Stopped in for a big stock up on beer goodies while cruising through town on my to and from the Chicago area for a weekend clinic. - Small parking area in front and some street parking. From the outside it doesn't look promising but once you walk inside the place is pretty damn big and packed in there with all sorts of stuff. And so the seeking begins.

Beer is to the right with a few coolers available to pick through of singles with what is available in sixers in the back area in coolers. New Glarus, Capital, Three Floyd's, Two Brothers, Central Waters, Lake Louie, Dogfish, and quite a few others are all sitting there for the taking and in good supply. The coolers in back are impressively stocked and quite a bit more to choose from what was available in the sigles coolers. Lagunitas was a surprise to see as was some cool Sprecher 750's of some specialty brews, but were way to pricey. Most of those were labeled for $18.99 per bottle, yikes. Overall the selection was super solid for local micro madness. Some Belgian, German, and England stuff is here too. Easily could come here everyday and find something new for a year and beyond. My head was swimming with glee, yet the pocketbook only had so much room to expand.

Service was good. They opened 5 minutes early for me and my group, yet once inside they never asked if we needed any help with anything. Most of the youngster help was busy straightening up and downing the espresso from the market they purchased form the ongoing market square. Check out was a snap and we were on our way. This is definately a place to stop into again and again without much hesitation to drive the extra 15 minutes into the city off Hwy 90 when driving through the state. And of course if you happen to be in Madison for whatever reason, then its a must.

Photo of Erdinger2003
2.7/5  rDev -34.1%

I walked in and I saw the most liquor I have ever seen in one place. Then I saw the three coolers reserved for beer. The selection had a few I was looking for, but mostly not a lot for the local people. A bomber was 7.99+tax and that's pretty pricey for Wisconson it turns out, if I had known that I would'nt have bought very much from here and got the better price in Milwaukee. Service was pretty ok, they were ready to help me out and I saw and met skids (a fellow BA). The selection could've been better and bigger, but it was ok. I wouldn't go again for a few years to see how it's going.


After my second trip I have to re-review this one. Initially I thought the beer coolers in the back were for BMC (Bud Miller Coors) only, however as it turns out the back coolers are full of local and other microbrews that look really great. Cheers to Riley's

Re:
After pricing Riley's with other stores around the Madison area I have noticed that these guys are marking up their beer a lot because they keep lot of it in the back and slowly put it out. And because it is rare when they put it out (2 months after it's release) thy can mark up their prices. No one I have met yet there even knows about good beer. The lady who owns the place is just taking advantage of the local beer drinkers by hiking up prices for more money while at the same time she gets lots of money from the local college kids who go there because it's within walkin distance from the college.

We found a couple of 2004 Sammichlaus's there a month ago and I were asked if I wanted to buy the rest that were in the back (at $5/bottle), I said ok and bought half a case of '04 Sammichlaus. Today a month later I went back and saw two more '04 Sammichlaus's for almost $6/bottle. These people are rude and don't care about their costumers, no baskets, no carts, I guess you just keep having to carry your beer up to the counter.

Photo of aforbes10
4.65/5  rDev +13.4%

On the tail end of our wedding anniversary trip to Wisconsin, I was determined to find a place where i could find all the top WI beers to take home with me. We found this place while walking down State Street on Sunday and walked around town for an hour until it opened. I am VERY glad we waited. They had everything i was looking for...Bitter Woman from Hell, Viking Big Swede, New Glarus Unplugged series, Central Waters, etc. A helpful staffer pointed out some other locals that i might like too so i grabbed them as well (if he's a BA and reads this, thanks dude, you were very cool!). Not too pricey and a 10% discount on the mix-a-sixer cooler. nice.

Also should mention that this place had one of the finest selections of beers in general that i've ever seen. I was only in the market for WI beers but i could have taken home 3 Floyds (Rabid Rabbit, Gumballhead), Dogfish (WWStout, 120 min, Raison D'extra, Golden Shower, Fort, etc..), Bells (i saw the wheat series there), Lagunitus, Rogue. too many to name. in fact, maybe i would have bought some of these but some crazy guy was following me around the store because i told him i'd buy him a Rockstar Energy Drink to keep him off the drugs and he wouldn't take money instead because "he doesn't drink that alcohol". Of course later he hit me up for $2 for his "alcoholic girlfriend".

If i go back to Madison i'm coming here again.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4/5  rDev -2.4%

Stopped up here after Dark Lord Day with warriorsoul, goodbyeohio and kmpitz2. Riley's is located right in the downtown of Madison and is even within walking distance from the Great Dane if it's a nice day and you're down for some exercise. We drove over as we figured we'd have plenty of stuff to haul back. Located right on a corner, Riley's has a huge sign ya can't miss and a little parking lot in front. We got a spot easily and I dunno why some many people hate on the size of the lot...here in Chicago we're happy to see ANY parking lot at all!

Upon entering we made our way to the right side of the store where there's a huge cooler with a myriad of singles from Viking, New Glarus, Capital, Lake Louie, Central Waters, Smuttynose, Tyranena, Bell's, Three Floyds and more. Singles seemed bit a pricey but you did get 10% of any mixed sixer. There were also lots of the new 750ml Sprecher stuff, DFH Golden Shower, White Winter. Go further back to the back wall of the store and you'll find a good selection of sixers from all the local brewers. I snagged a sixer of Old Chub here as well. Overall, a nice mix of brews and you're pretty sure to find something you'll want to leave with.

Service was friendly, I believe fellow BA Skidz was the one helping us. He took the time to look in the back and found some NG Tailwagger Barleywine for warriorsoul to take back home with him, which was really cool. Overall, this is a nice little bottle shop in Madison, however it does seem to be a bit more expensive than some of the other locals. If you're visting the Great Dane there's really no reason you shouldn't run in here as well!

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%

Riley's is a great place to buy good beer and is the obvious choice in the downtown Madison area. It's also the place that my 'Madison connection' purchased the Bitter Woman that has kept me happy as a clam over the past several years. Sadly, he's moved to another city, so if anyone else is interested in traveling between Des Moines and Madison every few weeks... no, I didn't think so.

Believe what everyone says about access and parking. I had no trouble getting a parking spot on a Saturday morning (most of the campus was probably sleeping off their Friday night of Memorial Day weekend revelry), but getting in and getting out was awkward. It'd be a stretch to say that I came close to getting into fender benders on both occasions, but there was a lot of stopping and starting and waving going on. No raised digits though.

Don't avoid the back wall even though the coolers look like they contain nothing but macros. There are a handful of good sixers and a few imports back there that are worth a look. The mother lode is along the right hand wall in coolers and shelves. Riley's is the place to come if you want the really good Wisconsin beer in singles. New Glarus, Tyranena, Great Waters and Lake Louis are all well-represented. I saw quite quite a few bombers from Three Floyds, Avery, etc. as well.

This was my second biggest haul after Woodman's, but was probably of better quality overall. Woodman's had the advantage of coming sooner on my itinerary. I picked up Fantome Automne, N'Ice Chouffe and few other Belgian 750s, as well as Bitter Woman From Hell (which I'd also seen at my previous stops), 3F Rabbid Rabbit... too many to list. It's a tough call, but Riley's just might be my favorite Madison beer store.

I'm sure that the people who work there know their stuff, though I really had no need to find out. The guy who checked me out communicated in grunts and nods (and probably wished that he'd had the opporutunity to sleep off his Friday night), but helped me carry the beer out to my car. I'll give service the benefit of the doubt since I trust the opinions of the BAs who go there on a regular basis.

Riley's Wines is yet another 'must stop' in Madison. If you're looking for great Wisconsin beer in sixers and singles, this is the place to come. If I had had a store like this when I was in college (and if I had been into craft beer), I doubt that I would have graduated on time since a significant portion of my student loan would have been poured down my throat. Worth a trip from Iowa.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%

I was in Madison for work at the capital and it was in walking distance. I was interested in lots of good local beers and they did not let me down. I am a big fan of singles, 12 oz., bombers, or 750ml it doesn't matter. They had a great selection that was about 2 cooler doors full of local singles.

When I got to the parking lot it was small but if it gets full wait 5 minutes and you can get a spot. It is lots of college kids buying everything from kegs of the Beast to wines with trendy logos. Inside they have a medium size space with stairs to the wine loft. The beer coolers of to the right was all that I was concerned with. The have good regional beers with some Belgian, English and California beers.

I was happy to find lots of local along with the East cost beers that are afraid to sell in Illinois. If you buy a 6-pack you get a discount on the singles so I had to buy in several 6-packs.

The Tuesday night I was in there it was pretty busy so the employees didn’t have time make rounds through the isles they were all working at the cash registers, but they were friendly enough.

If you are downtown and having a good time at the Great Dane make sure to get to Riley's for some good local brews to take home.

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

interesting shop to say the least. i see people complain about the parking.. well, it's in a city. at least there IS a lot and little to no parallel parking is required. could be alot worse! regardless, the place is hard to miss with expansive signage. on our trip, the facade was accented by a crackhead lady out front screaming into a cell phone (always a nice touch).

the store itself has beer divided into two areas. coolers and shelving on the right wall, and coolers and stacks in the rear left on an elevated platform. place even carries a slight assortment of brewerania- glassware, hats and tees. everything from singles to sixpacks, kegs and cases are available here.

selection was decent. lots of imports but i was here primarily for midwestern stuff. this place stocked all of the sprecher 1L limited bottles, all bell's including the wheat series, central waters stuff, pretty much everything by lake louie and a great selection of new glarus including unplugged series beers. the opportunity to purchase from a large range of refrigerated singles was great for someone like me who would be 'carrying on' my beer treasures when i fly home. sixers would be lost on me as i wanted to try a large variety of stuff.

prices.. eh. $19 for sprecher barleywine and $4 for fish tale 10? sounds slightly on the pricey side to me.

the service was really good during my visit. i believe the young lad assisting me was BA skidz (not 100% though). i told him i didn't know much about LOCAL local stuff. he looked through my basket, gave honest opinions on my purchases, and filled it out with some things i just couldn't leave without trying. i consulted with the other guys i was with who agreed he had suggested quality items. also, another member of our group wanted a certain out-of-stock beer that he went searching for in the back and actually found. A for effort and knowledgeability.

all this, and you can walk from great dane on a nice day. recommended.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

Riley’s has some tremendous ups and some pretty hefty downs. I’ll start with its weaker points.

Bad

1. Location: They have 4 parking spots, 6 if you’re really clever, and 7 if you count the handicap spot. They are located on a bizarre corner between a bunch of busy streets so actually getting into their parking lot is really hard. They are located mid-State Street so there are no parking ramps near by to park in and walk from.

2. Prices: Prices are a little hit but mostly miss. Some singles are priced ridiculously high. Six packs have the collage campus surcharge on them so they're all a buck or two higher than most places.

Good

1. Great selection of Belgian imports.

2. Best singles selection in town. A 10% discount if you buy 6 bottles helps relieve the aforementioned high prices.

3. Solid service. They even have a BA or two working there. I’m always complemented for buying good brews. That makes me feel special.

4. Tons of Saison and Geuze.

Photo of dirtylou
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

I used to use beerfly all time...lately ive been "stuck" in madison(believe me you could do much worse as a lover of music, politics, and beer), but i think these reviews can be quite useful to people

Well, the worst thing about this place is definately the level of difficulty of getting there....Traffic is very bad right around here, at least when I'm driving by (daily around 4:30-5). The traffic patter is quite obnoxious and slightly dangerous, and the parking is minimal.

All that aside, if you make it inside, theres plenty of things to keep you happy. There seems to be a large selection of premium liquors and fine wines. The beer selection is pretty impressive too. The back wall is where the 6 packs are held....a pretty large wall of refrigerated beer across from a few shelves of non-refridgerated. Expect to find the standard(read low alc) bell's beers, some founders (no bfast though), everything the locals (lake louie, new glarus, and capital) have to offer and a fair amount of other things (great lakes, DFH, viking, etc)

That stuff is all good and dandy but its the singles cooler that really gets the job done for me....They usually have the more premium bells beers(tcoa, expedition, 7000, etc), premium founders(devil dancer), the avery bombers, a few rogues(imp ipa singles), some goose island, all the dfh premiums(d'extra, wws, etc), some locals, some belgians, and even more.

There seems to be way too many people working...if you ask them something they know whats up, but i dont usually need much help

location is crucial for me, its literally right on the way from my work (wisconsin ave) to my apt(west main)

prices seem to be rather hit or miss...some things are very cheap, others are not(why did batch 7000 increase 1$ a single? and why was it not sold in 6 packs in the first place?)

overall...there are 4 places you must go to in madison...Steves on the west side and univ ave, Rileys, woodmans, and ....(another place im trying to keep on the hush, but its near my apt!)

Photo of granger10
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%

This place was huge, ofcourse it had more than beer, but the beer selection was huge. Too many Wisconsin micros for me to choose from. Seriously, I was looking forever trying to figure out what to buy with the little amount of money I had coming in. There was also a good amount of west coast micros I hadn't seen before and a few Cantillons and such we don't normally get in Michigan. The only selection letdown I got was the fact that they were out of Lake Louie, all the Lake Louie beers. Apparently that stuff goes fast around Madison.

Service was not too good. There were like 4 guys by the register and no one offered any help. The 10% off a six pack purchase was nice though.

Quality seemed good as there was no dust, almost all was well refrigerated, and there were lots of good singles. Pricing was very good as well.

Great store all around, I just wish the workers could have been more helpful or offered something that I didn't see. Besides that, this is definitely worth a stop in Madison.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%

Riley's is a piece of cake to find just a few blocks up from where Gorham magically transforms into University. With Sunday hours, how can you go wrong?

The store is well lit and the beer is presented in sixers in a back cold case up a level and some warm sixers in front of the case. The case is mainly filled with Midwestern micros, some macros, and a few imports. To the left as you enter is a cold case and shelving unit that contains single bottles of Midwestern brews and Belgians. The Belgian selection is small, but the beers from the area are plentiful.

The pricing at Riley's is in line with other places and the service was acceptable, but on our second time in the store we still were never asked if we needed any assistance despite the persons restocking and blocking the beers. At any rate, no dust in the store.

I'd go back to Riley's in a heartbeat!

I wonder what is located in the other two stories of the building?

Photo of Golden2wenty1
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%

Being a student here at UW-Madison, I am quite familiar with Riley's, a campus staple. Its tiny parking lot is always full on a friday or saturday night as people make their liquor runs before 9pm. Inside its large floor is dominated by wines as its name implies. The left wall is all liquor with the back wall full of refridgerated beer cases and 6-packs and the right wall with refridgerated singles and "malt beverages". Their singles selection is fairly extensive, with a good selection of local micros, a few out of region micros and imports. Six packs offer about the same, several locals, a few regionals and a few imports. Probably the best selection outside of Woodman's and Steve's in Madison, and certainly the best in the downtown area. One of the few places around to find Lake Louie stuff and they also have some mini-kegs which can be fun. With it being frequented mostly by college kids getting drunk off PBR, it doesn't seem their micros get rotated too often, so be careful of expiration dates when possible. Service is hit or miss, not too knowledgeable, but friendly. If you're in Madison it's worth a look for it's local micro and singles selection alone.

Photo of battlekow
3.55/5  rDev -13.4%

An imposing two-story building on Gorham & Broom, Riley's is blessed with an enormous sign, good word of mouth, and a very tiny parking lot that makes it seem like an exclusive club. It is not, however, blessed with a particularly good selection of beer. Being in Madison allows it to carry growlers of Lake Louie, which is a godsend, but their other beers are scattershot. They do have quite a lot of singles, all refrigerated, but it's extremely hit or miss. They even lack some Capital Brewery varieties; being in the same city, I'd expect them to at least carry a full line of that. They also advertised having Rogue Brutal Bitter, but didn't, which pissed me off. As for six-packs, they have have another refrigerated wall kitty-korner to the singles with most of the same stuff. Directly across from this is a shelf with some haphazard other sixers. Employees are friendly and eager, but ignorant. Prices are higher than I would have expected, by a couple bucks sometimes.

Photo of kmpitz2
4/5  rDev -2.4%

Stopped here while visiting town, specifically seeking out Lake Louie beers. I walked back to the cooler at the back and found a few varities and grabbed one. I asked the guys at the counter if there were any others and they directed me over to another set of coolers that I had not seen before. Found what I was looking for there. After making my purchase, I talked with one of them a little more. He told me that the LL milk stout was awesome. I didn't see that one, and he let me swap out for it. Super nice guy. There was a nice selection of local beer. Not a whole lot of imports compared to other places I have been, but still nothing to scoff at. There was no service on the floor, but at the register, the guys were really nice and helpful. I really enjoyed my experience here and would stop in again.

Photo of bnuttz
3.7/5  rDev -9.8%

Not a bad place, I usually stop here when I am in madison to pick up a few things. There selection is not too shabby. The things that bring me in here are the Lake Louie (obviously), central waters, and viking. None of which are available in Milwaukee. Everything else pretty much is at one store or another. I have found some prices to be solid, such as 2.49 for new glarus unplugged, where i pay 2.99 in town, but other times such as 8.99 for a sixer of three floyds, which i can pick up for 6.99. Such is life. I've only been to one other place besides this in madison, so its hard for me to compare quality wise, but if you are in the downtown area and want to pick up some wisconsin gems, hit this place up

Photo of nchrist13
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%

riley's has really improved over the last 2 years, it seems. old beer has become less of a problem (this may be tied to the fact that most things i buy are local or things that are new, but i also think it just genuinely is so). selection is pretty good, they have almost everything cold, and they carry pretty much all of the wisconsin/great lakes brews you could want and also a decent amount of far-away domestics and a respectable amount of dank imports (always rocking the fantome and dupont, which impresses me). always have a pretty good 22oz bomber selection, which is a big plus, and prices on the bombers are almost identical to every other place around town.

they do allow you to mix and match any 6 single beers to get 10% off, and after the discount, the price is still pretty reasonable (personally i prefer to get 6 or 4 packs, but ymmv). selection is only beaten in town by woodman's, and a lot of the time you're better off just staying downtown rather than driving out to gammon road for a sixer or a couple of bombers. some beers have strange pricing which doesn't seem to be in line with other places around town (for instance slab city's milkhouse stout is $9 here, whereas it is $6.50 at woodman's), but for most things you'll find a fair price.

Photo of Sixpoint
3/5  rDev -26.8%

Ummm....

It's funny. With all of this selection, you'd think this place would be a haven for microbrews. Well, the fact is most of the people who get their beer here are college students. And college students are broke. And broke people drink Keystone Light.

As a result, most of the microbrews (a lot which are unrefrigerated) are outdated and dusty. To make things worse, the service is pretty lousy. It's a steady stream of meatheads who think it would be cool to work at a beer store.

You can get a decent selection of microbrews, but pay attention to how old they are. Try to grab a sixpack of a hot seller, that way you know the stock has been rotated.

Photo of cokes
3.35/5  rDev -18.3%

Update:
Skidz and crew have turned this around of late. It gained a beer entity unto itself, as many fantastic brews are available here and nowhere else in town. I still have some gripes (see below, but mute it somewhat), but its definitely heading in the right direction. I stop here with a good degree of frequency, which I never have in the past, even when I lived much closer nearby. The singles selection is very solid. I currently recommend a stop for all Madison beerhunters.
---
Next to Woodman's West, and the two Steve' stores, Riley's has the best selection of beer in town. And it is located right on campus, which would logically make this a favorite of mine. However, I will only shop here occasionally to pick up beers I can't get someplace else.

The reason? The service and management absolutely suck. Most of the clerks are too stoned to answer any questions (and I'll give them leeway here), But the owner must be a descendent of Pol Pot. Students and campus area customers are victims of some of the highest prices in Madison (although some brews are reasonable). The MO here is $$$, thus care for the brews they offer, or the customers is nonexistant. Old stock is rampant, and no one seems to give a shit.

Quote from the owner when I addressed her with some outdated beer: "Put it back then, if you care. Someone else will buy it. Those dates don't mean anything".

Worth a stop only to get what can't be obtained elsewhere, otherwise steer clear.

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Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI
92 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.