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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: 8.29%
[ 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 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.

goodbyeohio, May 02, 2006
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.

DaPeculierDane, Dec 02, 2005
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!)

dirtylou, Oct 25, 2005
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.

granger10, Sep 28, 2005
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?

GCBrewingCo, Aug 17, 2005
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.

Golden2wenty1, Jul 20, 2005
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.

battlekow, Jul 17, 2005
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.

kmpitz2, May 08, 2005
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

bnuttz, Mar 23, 2005
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.

nchrist13, Jan 14, 2005
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.

Sixpoint, Nov 16, 2004
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.

cokes, Jan 02, 2003
Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI
92 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.