Riley's Wines of the World


56 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: 56 | Ratings: 87
Photo of aforbes10
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%

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.

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Photo of jegross2
4.51/5  rDev +12.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Riley's is great for three reasons:

1) Selection. They have almost every beer you could want to drink that is sold in the state of Wisconsin.

2) Quality. Rileys not only has a lot of beer, they have a lot of GREAT beer. Impossible not to find something new and interesting to try there.

3) Holding beer for me. I've bought a lot of beer from Rileys over the past 18 months, and a lot of it has to do with not only the helpfulness of their beer guys, but also their willingness to hold beers for me. I'd never been able to try CBS if not for the help of Rileys, and I am very excited for the Oak Aged Old Rasputin they're going to hold for me!

Riley's is the priciest of the quality beer selection places in Madison (the other two being Woodman's and Steve's), but they are not any more pricey than your average corner-liquor store. Making the trip to Riley's is certainly worth browsing their selection, getting their beer help, and most importantly, reserving those rare releases!

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Photo of wardough
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

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 MarcatGSB
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

Another highly recommended stop on your way through Madison. We went to Woodman's first, and stocked up on some bombers of FFF, and some four packs of DFH Burton Baton, but saved some money in our wallets to head over to Riley's, and are glad we did.

The back wall is a large cooler, with a great selection of beers from Wisconsin and abound. The main reason for stopping at Riley's for the slim hope of scoring some Central Waters Peruvian Morning, and sure enough, they had it. I had never tried to beer, but read alot about it, and glad I picked up a few four packs. They had more of the limited releases from Tyranena, Central Waters, New Glarus, and Ale Asylum than Woodman's did, and a better selection of bombers and singles. They stocked quite a few (maybe 8-12) varieties of Jolly Pumpkin, which I was happily surprised with. Also some of the limited release DFH (Namaste, Theobroma, WWS, etc).

Woodman's is definitely cheaper, but Riley's will have some things that Woodman's does not. I would suggest stopping at both, and get the best of both worlds.

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Photo of johnkale
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

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 MilwaukeeCrusher
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

This is probably one of the better stops in Madison if you want to get high end micros. Their service is top notch and the place really uses their space well considering their size. Pretty much everything is there you can get, with the exclusion of maybe some lesser or lower demand stuff. If something comes out new, this is a place to go and get it. Staff is courteous and knows quite a bit about beer. Will be back again, and probably would be more often if parking wasn't a pain and all the wild college traffic in the area.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

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 NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

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 AmberMan22
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

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 blackie
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%

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.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.3/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

A gem in downtown Madison right off the UW campus. I heard about this place through other beer seller who suggested that I stop by this place for 3F bombers. This place sold all the New Glarus beers among the many microbreweries of Wisconsin. They also sold an arsenal of Mikkeller, 3F, Stillwater, and Dark Horse beers. This place is a little disorganized, but still you found the good stuff if you look long and hard enough. Friendly service but didn't come to you while looking at the beers. Just am glad I was able to buy a bunch of New Glarus and 3Fs here due to the extremely limited distribution!

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Photo of Grinder
4.3/5  rDev +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 terrabyte
4.3/5  rDev +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 crossovert
4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

This is a great shop in Madison, right net to Brickhouse BBQ.

The craft is split up into singles which is great, too bad I was broke when I went in and just got 1 can of 8 Bit Pale ale.

A lot of shelton beers are represented including 14.99 bottles of Mikkeller weasel and those expensive as all fuck Italian beers.

Most of the beer was in the coolers except the big high abv brews and some seasonals. I didn't even get to the 6 pack area. This place probably has everything distributed to Madison giving it a pretty wide selection.

The service is pretty good too. A great store.

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Photo of richkrull
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

Being so close to the Wisconsin campus, Riley's caters to a lot of students. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at the vast selection of great beer they have. Lots of brews from throughout Wisconsin as well as the country. At least 10 doors of 6-packs as well as a walk in cooler. There were also 4-5 doors of singles and bombers available. This place had a ton of good stuff I wanted to try. I was able to slip out of there with 3 mixed 6-packs but I'll definitely be back for more very soon!

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Photo of cwcolby74
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I enjoy visiting this liquor store whenever I visit Madison. It keeps an outstanding selection of Wisconsin brews, with enough numbers that you can often find some of the seasonal releases a few months after they're over because the store stocked so many.

They also keep a separate cooler of singles that is a great mix of Wisconsin and out-of-state choices.

The staff is generally helpful and will look for whatever special requests you need.

The prices are a tad higher than at Woodman's, but given Riley's central location right down on State Street, and that it has its own parking, it's worth a visit.

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

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 Birchgrove77
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

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 +4.5%

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 BoitSansSoif
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

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 BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

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.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%

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!)

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Photo of nchrist13
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

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Photo of shivtim
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%

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.

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Photo of ShareANevada
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%

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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Riley's Wines of the World in Madison, WI
4.02 out of 5 based on 87 ratings.
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