Riley's Wines of the World

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

73 Ratings
Ratings: 73
Reviews: 54
rAvg: 4.11
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: 73 | Reviews: 54 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Erdinger2003
2.7/5  rDev -34.3%

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 Sixpoint
3/5  rDev -27%

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 -18.5%

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.

Photo of DarbyOGill
3.4/5  rDev -17.3%

Believe it or not, this is the cheapest place to buy good beer near campus (downtown Madison is really pricey).

The place is laid out nicely and clean, no issues in the quality of the store.

The service isn't great, I've never really gotten any help for buying beer there so if you want to get something new I'd suggest surfing BeerAdvocates first.

The selection is pretty good, probably the best near campus, but it's still a little disappointing for being near University of Wisconsin. They have a good selection of Wisco micros, Dogfish Head, Old Rasputin, etc. They also have some Belgium beers and bombers of various different beers.

Overall if I'm going to buy beer (seeing as I live on campus and have no car) I go to Rileys.

Photo of OnWisconsin
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%

Photo of battlekow
3.55/5  rDev -13.6%

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 EvilKeith
3.65/5  rDev -11.2%

Riley’s Wines of the World, as the name would suggest, is very much a wine shop. Signs hang overhead listing the country of origin for the bottles on display. The wine selection is very impressive.
But, this is supposed to be about the beer. So, to the rear of the store is an elevated level with handicap access. Here the warm beers are stacked and coolers line the rear wall. The beer selection is fairly good.
I spotted labels from brewers across the country. Beers from Michigan, Ohio, Texas, California, and Colorado are among your options. The brewers of Wisconsin were well represented. New Glarus, Capital, Lake Louie, all the big ones and a few from smaller breweries too.
The staff was friendly and helpful, the only thing negative was that they were maybe a little pricey.

Photo of sweethome
3.7/5  rDev -10%

For an on campus joint, this place is pricey. They have a decent selection of singles, but pricey. Most average micros run $1.99, good ones are $2.99 to 3.49.

A very good selection of Wisconsin and Midwest beers:
Tyranena, Capital, Lakefront, Lake Louie, Central Waters, etc.
Problem - I have purchased some Wisconsin micros I had not had and asked the help what they thought - never much help - and in come cases - awful (all above NOT included).

Decent Belgian and other import selction, but a bit cramped. Back coolers have a nice six pack collection of Wisconsin beers, midwest and decent Rocky Mountain selections.

A good choice for micros - but I suggest you stick with well rated beers. Don;t count on much help.

Photo of bnuttz
3.7/5  rDev -10%

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 emerge077
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%

Stopped at Riley's on a recent trip through Madison, based on Beerfly reviews.

The layout was easy enough to figure out, I made my way to the singles and import cases on the right side of the store. Small selection of glasses in the aisle closest to this end of the coolers. It was nice to see singles of WI micros here, such as Viking, Central Waters, Lake Louie, etc. Plus Bell's and Dark Horse singles. Extra bonus was the 10% discount for the mixed-six. The downside was that there were only one or two of each in the cooler, and I cleaned out several individual selections. This may have just been an in-between day for stocking this particular area, so no points lost there.

Good selection of imports and seasonals on the shelves behind the right end coolers, including Fantome Noel & De Ranke Pere Noel. In the back coolers, many six-packs to be had, focus on domestic micros. Also shelves full of sixes facing the back coolers.

Service was ok, no one on the floor at the time I visited, but staff were helpful at the counter. There were a couple seasonals in the "employee only" cooler that I spotted, that they retrieved for me. They explained that there wasn't room on the shelves for them at the moment. They were also rare, so go figure.

Overall, Riley's is certainly above average in all aspects, and worth the stop in Madison. Traffic was heavy on a saturday morning getting to the area.

2008: On the last couple visits, the import shelf looks almost exactly the same. A little dusty, some singles in the cooler don't seem to move. Be wary of dates, or out of season seasonals, etc.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%

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 Golden2wenty1
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%

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 granger10
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%

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 22Blue
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of brdc
4/5  rDev -2.7%

This is a lot better than it looks from the outside. The selection is not huge, but it has a decent size, although you have to look around as it is spread around the store. The coolers and shelves mentioned on other reviews belong in the area of singles, but further back in the store there are additional six-packs and other stuff.
You can find just about evrything that is worthwhile from the region, and some good imports. The best feature is a very nice selection of singles, better than most places I have seen. If you need to try a lrge number of midwest beers and do not want to come out with a lot of six-packs, this is your place.

Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of jdoherty
4/5  rDev -2.7%

If a beer is brewed in Wisconsin, it is sold at Riley's. The place is massive and centrally located, with a very nice mix of imports and Wisconsin's best brews. All the local stuff is really fresh and the Belgians are really well taken care of. The staff pretty much just watches to make sure you don't steal stuff, but at least they check you out very quickly, and are lax towards underage Madison partiers (judge that how you will) The value is a bit pricey for Madison but they also have far more quality brews than any other place downtown.

Photo of kmpitz2
4/5  rDev -2.7%

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 Canada_Dan
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of blitz134
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Stopped in while in Madison last week. The place seems pretty nice and much larger than that store front would indicate. A fairly large selection of beers, located in coolers along the back wall and along the right hand wall. Some warm bottle selections as well. Lots of Wisconsin micros with many of them in singles. Didn't talk to the help at all, so hard to comment on service, but the folks seemed nice enough.

Prices seemed off on some beers. The 1L swing top bottles from Sprecher were $17...come on! Founders breakfast was listed for $4 for a 12 oz, no thanks. Most of the other less sought after, but still superb local brews were well priced, even the singles.

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of orbitalr0x
4/5  rDev -2.7%

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 GCBrewingCo
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%

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 drseamus
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%

Saw it on the way to my sisters and decided to drop in. It is much larger than it looks from the outside but unfortunately about 95% of the place is wine and spirits. All the beer is in one 10 foot aisle and 3 cooler doors. That said, they don't waste the space with crap. Pretty much every beer they had was damn good and even though I went in "to look around" i couldn't help but leave with a 6 pack. The prices were a bit high for singles but not high enough to make me leave. Staff weren't overly helpful but answered questions when asked. Not too shabby but not as good as Steve's.

Photo of Ek0nomik
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%

Anytime I am near State Street or the Capitol I stop at Riley's. I'd recommend walking there, as parking in their lot is usually a major pain in the ass.

I don't think I've ever talked to any employees beyond checking out with my selections, but that's fine. I usually know what I want. Although, talking beer can sometimes be enjoyable.

They have a nice selection of beer. Breweries ranging from all over Wisconsin, the Midwest (Three Floyds, Jolly Pumpkin, Goose Island, etc) and the rest of the country (Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Southern Tier, etc). They also have a fair amount of Belgium bottles too.

Riley's is a great beer store. I wish they had another location on the West side so I could make it my primary stop.

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Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI
92 out of 100 based on 73 ratings.