Riley's Wines of the World


55 Reviews
Riley's Wines of the WorldRiley's Wines of the World

Type: Store

402 W Gorham St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703-2004
United States

(608) 257-0400 | map

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Reviews: 55 | Ratings: 86
Photo of Birchgrove77
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

Visited 11/06/2010 in search of some great Wisconsin locals after a visit to the Farmers Market.

Store appears quite small from the outside and is tucked right next door to the Brickhouse BBQ and only a few blocks from the parking around the Capitol.

Was nicely greeted when I walked in the store, and I knew exactly where to go from a previous visit. Beer is located straight back, with a ton of sixers in the cooler. Stocked with the locals (NG, Tyranena, Central Waters, Lake Louie, etc.), but had a decent selection of Midwest and other craft brewers. There was also cooler space on the right that had a very large mix your own six pack stocked with a ton of locals. Belgian selection appeared to be small, but very high quality.

Prices were just a touch higher than Woodmans, but still very reasonable for nearly all of the beers, and there is a 10% discount if you fill a mix six pack. Scored some CW Brewhouse Coffee Stout and then a bunch of random locals CW Y2K Barleywine, Tyranena BGW beers, some Lake Louie Scotch ales...didn't want to leave.

If you're in downtown Madison this is great place to score beer and will be my go to spot when in town.

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Photo of Florida9
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

Appears like a small little dump from the outside, but Riley's is a lot bigger than it looks. Kind of a poor layout with beer in the back and then again along the sides with sixers and cases stacked everywhere there is an empty spot to put them.

The selection is good with lots of Wisconsin brewers being represented. However, there are a lot of Midwest brewers missing, but, as someone who was shopping here for beer I can't get in Chicago, what they were missing wasn't what I was looking for, so it didn't really matter much.

Service was non-existent until I checked out. But once I did and I happened to ask a certain question it was as if the flood gates had opened and I quickly realized that not all of the beer they have is necessarily on display. If you're looking for a limited release, I suggest asking someone - it worked very well for me - with them advising me of limited releases they had that I wasn't even looking for in the first place.

I'll definitely hit Riley's up the next time I am in town.

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

Stopped in here on a recommendation from the guy over at Fromagination (a local cheese place and a must if you are a cheese person visiting Madison). The place looked tiny on the outside, utterly TINY, but upon going in you realize it isn't just the storefront you see on the outside, but the multi-story building it is attached too. The beer selection is nice, not amazing but nice and well taken care of. It is in the back of the store away from light, about half refrigerated and includes all the locals you want including New Glarus and Lake Louie.

I didn't talk much to the beer guy (aka the guy loading cases of BMC) but he did have the exact answer to the question I had, so that's good. I spoke at length to someone about Liquor though, and the selection was impressive. Upstairs is a select area of wine and liquor, which is amazing. Lots of small batch and interesting things.

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Photo of AmberMan22
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

Really nice store, well laid out and labeled. Even better now that it's got Brickhouse BBQ right next door. The store is well lit and organized sensibly.

The staff are friendly and helpful, but only if you go looking for help. I don't really expect anyone to come up and ask me if I need help, so I don't really mind it.
Actually, come to think of it, a guy told me there was a seperate fridge for Belgians...I need to go back for that.

Selection is very solid. Tons of WI local brews (Tyranena, New Glarus, Ale Asylum are all great, among others), and plenty of other top-notch domestics. Foreign beer section isn't too bad, and I haven't even gotten to look at the Belgian aisle yet. Damn, that's making my mouth water.

Prices are all very reasonable, pretty much as good as or better than you'll find anywhere in Madison. Pair that with their wide selection, and we have a winner.

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Photo of johnkale
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

This is, thankfully, my local liquor store (this unfortunately means I live pretty close to State Street). Excellent selection of bombers and individual bottles, not enough space to provide the six-pack selection I would like. Staff is friendly, though not overly attentive, but in the end I tend to enjoy shopping without too much intervention. Everyone there is generally good at answering any questions I might have. Pricing is typical for Madison, certainly cheaper than my corner store. There are occasional deals, but generally on middling beer, I have yet to find a real steal in their clearance section.

Additionally, as the name implies, they have an excellent wine selection, especially from more obscure appellations, and they have some great top shelf liquor. Considering that its only a six block walk to this place, I can't think of a much better place to go beer shopping.

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Photo of Ek0nomik
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

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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Photo of BeerBelcher
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

This is one of the best liquor stores I have ever shopped. WI is a great state for liquor stores (far better selection than many other states I've shopped), and this is one of the top couple in the state, if not #1. There are a lot of beers in WI that don't make it out of state, and Riley's has all those plus many others I've not seen elsewhere. A giant selection, big coolers, lots of singles for mixed 6-ers, a knowledgeable staff - this place pretty much has it all. Throw in a downtown location convenient to other places in Madison you'd like to visit and you've pretty much got anything you could want in a liquor store.

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Photo of ShareANevada
4.15/5  rDev +3%

Stopped in after the Great Taste to see what was kicking around the Madison bottle market. Was not disappointed.

Small corner store, about 4 parking spots in the lot (with street parking surrounding). Sixers line the fridges on the back wall, very much with regional craft, but a solid selection of other US brews, (ie- stuff I can get at home). Lots of Tyranena, Capital, New Glarus, Ale Asylum and whatnot.

There is another section of beer, mostly belgians and bombers of Us beers, along the right wall. Adjacent to this are a couple shelves of warm beer, which included a Dark Horizon v2 and Old Rasputin XII, quite a surprise to me. ($22 for each)

While there, a couple was asking about Dreadnaught, and when the worker found the beer, he offered to go find them a better bottle, as the last one in the cooler had the old label. Plus 5 for being in the know, and for caring enough to make the effort to look for a better bottle. Nice to see.

Quick easy stop to grab some quality brews. I didn't think the prices were too out of line with what I see at home. I would gladly patronize again.

Also, they had a solid Southern Tier line, and their Stone bombers were all a dollar less than we pay at home.

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Photo of DarbyOGill
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%

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.

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Photo of sweethome
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%

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.

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Photo of spointon
4.15/5  rDev +3%

I visited this place on 11/29/2008.

On a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Madison, WI, I stumbled into a beer store on State Street and saw only a few bottles of craft beers. Disappointed, I selected 2-3 good ones and went to the counter. Fortunately I was wearing my Beer Advocate winter cap and the guy behind the counter told me to forget those 3 beers and walk a block over to their sister store, Riley's Wines of the World.

Upon entering, I noticed that the place is mostly wine, but they had a large amount of cooler space dedicated to 4 packs and 6 packs as well as a bunch of coolers dedicated to single bottles. They let you build your own mixed six packs w/anything in the singles cooler. Nice.

Selection was mainly local and regional brews (Sprecher, Capital, New Glarus, Bell's as well as some more national stuff I can't get in IL like Stone brewing).

I really liked this place and would be glad to have it in my town! If you find yourself in Madison, I highly recommended a visit.

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Photo of Grinder
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

WOW - they are correct when they say it's bigger then it looks. Problem is that 95% of the place is wine.

I would think they would have MORE beer being so close to campus.

A decent enough collection of craft and macro brews. A lot of local Wisconsin microbrews that can be found at most good liqueur stores.

So - yea - good place for craft beer . . .but there are better.

The help was very helpful as I needed a cheep church key and and really did not want to buy a cheap silver sharp one that opens cans (do they still make cans that need and opener like that?).

He must have seen me lamenting over the options and found an old one. SWEET!!!

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Photo of brdc
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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.

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Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%

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.

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%

Riley's is conveniently located right off State Street, and is a haven for all ages and events: college kids trying to tie one on for less, couples trying to find something nice for the evening, beer and wine dudes looking for something new, or old, good and familiar, and people just stepping in to see how much they have before settling for some JD or a 12-pack. Upstairs they have a nice collection of fine liquors...I've only been up once, but I'm plenty happy downstairs on my paycheck, and I want for nothing. The beer selection is impressive, with a great range of regional and national microbrews, imports, and macros. There are also several aisles of wine, and a good collection of liquor around the south edge. The overall service is mediocre, and I get more tips from distributors passing through than I do from most of the employees. To be fair, a couple of them do know their stuff, but I don't always see them, and the other employees don't seem to know as much, so I don't bother. Prices are good, but not the lowest around.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%

The first time I pulled into town and drove past Riley's I assumed that it wasn't worth a visit as it seemed like a college beer shop. Boy was I wrong! I drove for miles in all directions looking for a place that sold single bottles and came up pretty dry. Oddly, the other place right near where I was staying (Steve's Wines?) also had a good selection, but I didn't go there at first either. Finally, on about my third trip to Madison, I stopped in at Riley's just to see if they had anything that I'd missed. I started with the coolers of six-packs along the back wall and was impressed, but still left wanting, and then I found the bank of coolers on the east wall loaded with single bottles! Beer nirvana! I took home $80 worth and could easily have done that three times over. They have a great selection of imports, and an excellent selection of local beers! So don't be fooled by the surrounding campus and give it a shot. It's without a doubt the best selection of single bottles in the area!

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Photo of blitz134
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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.

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Photo of wardough
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Dropped in there a few weeks back when I was visiting Madison and the university. I was happy from the moment that I walked into the store. The staff was very helpful in directing me and very knowledgeable on their products. Found loads of New Glarus stuff (Mecca for me), including their Unplugged series. Even found 3 Floyds Anniversary X and Gumball, and some Founder's products (yet another Mecca). Good selection of Midwestern beers. Good place to go. There was waaay too much in the store for me to bring back in my suitcase. Warrants another trip to Madison.

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Photo of alexgash
4.15/5  rDev +3%

Stopped here on the way home to the Twin Cities just to try and find some Central Waters and Lake Louie. Luckily, I found both and much more. Modestly-sized store that was a little messy and cluttered but in a good way. Coolers along the walls housed an impressive selection of WI micros, and other good micros from around the country. Was really glad to see lots of singles! Also happy to find 3 Floyds and lots of New Glarus. The service was good with nice suggestions and decent beer geek knowledge. Was in a bit of a hurry, but easily could spend more time here and will be back.

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Photo of jdoherty
4/5  rDev -0.7%

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.

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Photo of emerge077
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%

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.

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Photo of terrabyte
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%

I don't get downtown much, so I've been waiting patiently to stop here for some time.

The worst thing about the place is the parking. There are about 6 spots in their parking lot, worth their weight in gold (thus filled), but what can you expect of a store downtown. It's more than some of the nearby locations could say.

I had beer tunnel vision, so wasn't even aware of what else they carried beside beer. They had about 10 coolers of craft-brewed 6 packs. Just as much space for more 6-packs (warm), and then 1 cooler for imported singles, and 2 coolers of American singles.

I stocked up on every single I needed that Woodman's doesn't carry, and walked out with 24 bottles. (I had to hold myself back) They even had Central Waters singles - something that Steve's Liquor Stores won't do to their 6-packs.

Definately a great place to get a wide variety of beer, slightly more expensive.

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Photo of EvilKeith
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%

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.

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Photo of badbeer
4.15/5  rDev +3%

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).

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Photo of shivtim
4.15/5  rDev +3%

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.

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Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI
4.03 out of 5 based on 86 ratings.
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