Madison, Wi Recommendations

Discussion in 'Great Lakes' started by Adventure44, Dec 22, 2019.

  1. Adventure44

    Adventure44 Initiate (0) Jun 9, 2018 Illinois

    We are spending the night in Madison and are looking for some new breweries to try. Karben4 and Ale Asylum were our favorites last time. What are some of the best restaurants where we can try local beer too? Thanks!
  2. thebigredone

    thebigredone Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2011 Wisconsin

    Funk Factory and Working Draft are the best breweries in town.
    AndyChambers and Evanlwiggins like this.
  3. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    Best beer restaurants include Brasserie V (casual to slightly upscale Belgian/American bistro), Tipsy Cow (American pub), Dexter's (American pub), Longtable (continental European/American pub), Lucille (Detroit- and wood fired-style pizza), Mint Mark (eclectic small plates and a small but well-curated tap list), and The Old Fashioned (an apeshit Wisconsin-centric honey-trap for tourists, suburban parents, and returning grads that nonetheless has an extensive tap list of Wisconsin beers, but please don't judge all cheese curds on the merits of the Old Fashioned curds alone).

    Also I strongly recommend searching in this forum because this is probably the fourth Madison thread active this year.
  4. VinHalen54

    VinHalen54 Initiate (138) Jun 4, 2014 Illinois

    Just north of Madison is Octopi Brewing, where all Untitled Art is also brewed (half owned by Octopi and Funk Factory Geuzeria. They have a new cooler with LOTS of great stuff like a nice pils in cans, to some great barrel aged bombers that are $15 compared to overpricing at stores.
    Mr. Brews on the East side had some Bourbon County on draft 2 weeks ago.
  5. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    Octopi also has a new restaurant space with a full menu that probably merits some attention.
    VinHalen54 likes this.
  6. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,485) Jan 18, 2003 Wisconsin

    I like Next Door Brewing. Good food and beer and usually not super crowded.
    Slamminson likes this.
  7. AndyChambers

    AndyChambers Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2017 Wisconsin

    Just to echo the BigRedOne if you like sours, funk factory. For everything else, but especially some nice ipas, Working Draft is a great place to visit.
  8. ktr5010

    ktr5010 Aspirant (218) Dec 12, 2014 Illinois

    Are there any recommendations for liquor stores that have a good selection of Wisconsin beers or general good selection? I'm driving through Madison Wednesday and was wondering if there was anything worthwhile to stop by.
  9. Beerbadger55

    Beerbadger55 Initiate (102) Aug 29, 2017 Wisconsin

    For liquor stores, Woodmans is hands down the best in town for selection and price. They have stores on the east and west side of town as well as in Sun Prairie.
    pudgym29, emerge077 and ktr5010 like this.
  10. VinHalen54

    VinHalen54 Initiate (138) Jun 4, 2014 Illinois

    West side: #1 for me is Total Wine for best craft, with Woodman's close behind, and Steve's Liquor is out there too
    Central: Steve's on University
    East side: Woodman's...there is also one northeast of Madison in Sun Prairie
    ktr5010 likes this.
  11. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    Plenty. If I might self-promote a little:
    pudgym29, emerge077 and ChicagoJ like this.
  12. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,262) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    I did a search of the forums for places in Sun Prairie. Longtable looks like the best place, but not sure we will have time to make it that far and back (there for a hockey tournament). Longtable has an excellent tap list and prices are reasonable, at least in terms of how beer is priced in Chicago.

    Right Bauer Brewing has minimal reviews here (beer and place), place reviews were favorable. Full Mile Brewery is the other listed in Sun Prairie, one review (didn't state anything about beer, only food - Food Advocate?).

    I found two good articles discussing both places. Any first hand replies would be appreciated. I will reply later with my experiences upon my return next week (will likely try both if I can, unless feedback states I should focus on one or the other).

    emerge077 likes this.
  13. emerge077

    emerge077 Poo-Bah (11,928) Apr 16, 2005 Illinois
    Society Trader

    BarleyPop is a good one, not big, but a high quality selection with a taproom also. For a one-stop shop, i'd recommend Steve's for specialty stuff, and Woodman's for New Glarus cases and more common seasonals.
    Ponzu4u likes this.
  14. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    Just to clarify, Longtable is not in Sun Prairie. Like, the total opposite side of the metro. Longtable has a small but well-curated taplist, and a solid to-go retail case, plus food. But there are more diverse options for both.
  15. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,262) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    I wasn't able to report back on Longtable, due to the weather and fact we didn't make it to Madison, but I was able to hit the two breweries in Sun Prairie.

    Right Bauer Brewing had several drafts on tap, and I had three in a flight of four (Dosvidanya by DESTIHL being the fourth). Dozvidanya (4.5) was an excellent pour. Double or Nothing, Right Bauer's 7.1% ABV Belgian Dubbel, was the best pour from the brewery (rated 4.0). Their Peanut Butter Porter was the one recommended by the bartender, it was good (3.5) but basically a one note pour (all peanut butter (taste, aroma). Their imperial stout was OK (3.0), thin, light taste, wouldn't have ordered it again. My brother also tried three of four RB pours, the Double or Nothing also his favorite.

    The space was very nice, lots of room and games. Food looked good (others ordered, we ate before arriving). The prices were very good ($10 for 4 5 oz flight pours, individual servings ranged from $5-$7). I would return if back in the area, but wouldn't make a special trip out of the way to visit.

    Full Mile Beer Company was the other brewery we visited. This was a much bigger space (large restaurant and separate sit down bar area. Only had time for a single pour here. With that in mind, I selected Collusion V 2.0, their imperial BA stout. This pour (4.25) was a very good imperial stout, nice varied aroma and taste (smooth bourbon, toffee and coconut) with a medium creamy body. They had a dozen offerings ad a full whiskey / other hard liquor bar. The place was crowded and if I return to Sun Prairie, I would return here for a meal and a few more pours, priced $1-$2 higher than Right Bauer's (there were no flight options here).

    Also hit the Woodman's and picked up New Glarus Raspberry Tart and was pleased to find. I rated this beer slightly higher (4.25 vs. 4.0) to the other four packed picked up, Founder's KBS Espresso. We also hit a bar/restaurant Nitty Gritty, which had good bar food / burgers and an OK tap list of local and regional pours, and had a local Madison pour (purchased at Woodman's Karben4), a fresh NEIPA pour which was OK (3.5) for the style.

    Watched some of the Packers getting smoked, and also Kane's 1,000th NHL Point, before returning today from another successful Wisconsin beer run.

  16. islay

    islay Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    I'm guessing that @Adventure44 has long come and gone, and my advice is out-of-season, but there are few better places I've ever encountered to enjoy a craft beer than Memorial Union Terrace on a nice spring, summer, or fall day or night. It's part of the University of Wisconsin campus but open to and widely used by the general public. The craft beer selection is decent -- nothing special -- and has a local emphasis (Capital, New Glarus, Karben4, etc.), but the setting is hard to beat. Food is available from several Memorial Union vendors. It's a big part of what makes Madison and the UW campus special and a must-stop in town, weather permitting.
  17. joloje

    joloje Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2009 California

    As a tourist from San Diego visiting Madison, I enjoyed Brasserie V (liked the food and tap list, has a sophisticated vibe). Also liked Dexter's Pub (neighborhood-family friendly-ish, with food)and The Malt House (has a working-class feel and outdoor patio, no food). If you're looking for a dive bar type spot (think Friday night fish-fry) Slices is my son's go-to place. He's a student at UW.
  18. Quilentro

    Quilentro Disciple (321) May 12, 2017 Illinois

    Not to be one to sit aside and let the opportunity to stoke class warfare pass me by, I’ll say I’m amused by the “working-class” comment, and I anticipate a faithful UW accusation of being a “coastie” to follow.

    I jest, I jest! @joloje - it’s not beer-related, but if you like sushi and haven’t been, head to Kokoro in Serra Mesa.
  19. cl3

    cl3 Disciple (328) Aug 16, 2013 Wisconsin

    Headed south to Madison tonight, for work tomorrow. I'm thinking ramen for dinner and a few beers, before calling it an early night. Is Umami and Working Draft a good combo? I'm staying out by the airport and really don't want to go downtown, even though there are more ramen options there.
  20. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    Hard to beat Williamson St. for a casually awesome Madison experience. You should be in good shape with those two stops.
    henrikb, Thrillhouse82 and cl3 like this.
  21. nuplastikk

    nuplastikk Initiate (87) Aug 28, 2008 Wisconsin

    Working Draft is probably the best brewery in the state at this point. Nailing it on lots of levels.
    Slamminson likes this.
  22. AndyChambers

    AndyChambers Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2017 Wisconsin

    I certainly agree, as do the "experts"

    "Paste: The easiest way for me to understand where you’re coming from as a beer consumer is simply to ask: What are your favorite beer styles?

    McCulla: It’s hard for me to play favorites, but I will say that I enjoy beer as a seasonal and regional product. But to give one example, in the summertime one of my very favorite places is the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s famous for the colorful chairs, and you can sit out on the shores of Lake Mendota and enjoy some ice cream made by students, or beers from Ale Asylum or Karben4 in Madison. Those are some of my favorites, and a good example of great beer in a specific time and place."
    pudgym29 and islay like this.
  23. Dtrain22

    Dtrain22 Initiate (0) Nov 2, 2017 North Carolina

    One of my best friends just moved to Madison last week. Aside from the Wisconsin/Madison area brews, are there any other big regional brews he could be on the lookout for for when he puts together a box to send me back in NC? I know Toppling Goliath shows up around there. And Half Acre. Any Hop Butcher? Lingering BCBS variants on the shelves? IPAs, barelywines, etc? What should I be aware of so that I can give him the heads up? Definitely looking forward to having some funk factory, New Glarus, etc! Always an adventure expanding the beer knowledge to a whole completely new region that I've barely even researched. Thanks so much!
  24. monstershu

    monstershu Initiate (12) Jun 10, 2020 Illinois

    Most Thumbprint Series (red cap) New Glarus brews are decent, especially if you can find Scream IIPA or Serendipity. No Hop Butcher, that’s only in IL. If you look hard enough, you may find some BCBS. Lots of Central Waters beers are better than good. If he makes it to Milwaukee, Eagle Park is fantastic.
    Dtrain22, Redrover and ChicagoJ like this.
  25. Beerbadger55

    Beerbadger55 Initiate (102) Aug 29, 2017 Wisconsin

    Surly, Bent Paddle, Fulton, etc are all MN beers that are widely available in Madison, Surly Abrasive is a solid IPA if that is your game. Lots of Chicagoland area beers are available too, Revolution Brewing, Hop Butcher, Half Acre all come to mind.
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  26. monstershu

    monstershu Initiate (12) Jun 10, 2020 Illinois


    Hop Butcher? In Wisconsin? I think the closest place to Madison they distribute is Crystal Lake/McHenry Binnys.
    Dtrain22 likes this.
  27. Dactrius

    Dactrius Poo-Bah (1,606) Apr 23, 2012 Wisconsin
    Society Trader

    Finding even regular BCBS in Madison the day after the release is nearly impossible, much less now. I wait in line hours before open and haven't been able to snag all the variants in years. Down in Chicago it might be possible to still find some regular and maybe wheatwine.

    I've also never seen Hop Butcher in Madison.

    Other stuff we get that people seem to go crazy for is Drekker (I don't understand it) and Equilibrium (haven't had much and you should be closer to them but distribution is weird). Madison recently started getting Eagle Park so may not need to go to Milwaukee for that one.

    I have no idea if 3 Floyds distributes to NC but we get plenty of them.
    Stevedore, Dtrain22 and ChicagoJ like this.
  28. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    The fact that Madison hasn't been allocated all non-region-locked variants in a few years is more to blame for that than anything else. If you know where to shop, you can easily rake in basic black and even most variants for days afterward.

    The first answer on Hop Butcher was correct; there is no WI distribution.

    I haven't dipped too much into it, but Humble Forager is the new Forager Brewing spinoff produced at Octopi in Waunakee (just outside Madison), and people seem to dig it.
    Dtrain22 likes this.
  29. Dactrius

    Dactrius Poo-Bah (1,606) Apr 23, 2012 Wisconsin
    Society Trader

    I definitely don't know where to shop. I wait at Woodmans on Black Friday and it just gets worse ever year. I'm still pissed about the line jumper who got reported to the staff and said she wouldn't buy any variants if they let her keep her spot, but of course she bought a full allotment and caused the people in front of us to miss out on Rye. I would've missed out regardless but people suck.

    My favorite store to normally shop at (Steve's Junction) didn't get any BCBS last year, not even regular (or was that 2018? I think it was last year). Other stores I've tried typically won't sell any to people they don't know as regulars or you need to be in line well before open.

    I guess the relevant point is still that you're not finding it around Madison anymore. I've even found the "shelf turd" status reported in Chicago to be a bit overstated. Yes it can be found but it's usually not as easy as locals claim it is to find.
    Dtrain22 and ChicagoJ like this.
  30. kylenabilcy

    kylenabilcy Initiate (102) Aug 10, 2010 Wisconsin

    My advice for you is to try the places that don't feel like Craft Beer Headquarters, but DO typically service a lot of Chicago-native college students buying 312. Your Miller's Liquor, your Fresh Market. RIP Party Port.
    Dtrain22 likes this.
  31. Dactrius

    Dactrius Poo-Bah (1,606) Apr 23, 2012 Wisconsin
    Society Trader

    Party Port is no loss to me on that front since they were ones who told me they wouldn't sell BCBS to anyone they didn't recognize. Don't get me wrong, I understand taking care of regulars, but when the place I'm a regular at doesn't get any, well it's not like I'm a truck chaser.
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  32. Dtrain22

    Dtrain22 Initiate (0) Nov 2, 2017 North Carolina

    Great info! We have an abundance of regular bcbs around here in Raleigh nc, still probably even some 2018 in some places mixed in with the 2019. We only ever get one or two variants a year, such as mon cheri and cafe de olla this past year. They disappear within a week. We don't see equilibrium unfortunately, I would have to drive about 3 hours to get to where they stop their southern distro at bottle shops in Virginia, so that's good to know. I'm down for the local stuff, I'll tell him about eagle park for sure. We see Surly here in NC now, but not frequent drops and usually only Furious and Axe Man. I'm absolutely excited for 3 Floyd's. We get none of that and have never had any.

    Again, thanks so much for all the info!!
  33. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (5,941) Nov 16, 2012 Oregon
    Society Trader

    Drekker is a big one that people really seem to lose their minds over. I managed to track down a Chonk and while I refuse to consider it a beer, it is very tasty. So if that kind of thing is your thing, have your friend immediately go to the store when Drekker drops.

    TG is a regular staple here, which is nice, sometimes you just want some Pompeii or King Sue and it's usually around and relatively fresh. No complaints on that end.

    You aren't going to find any BCBS variants around town. I don't take the time to chase BCBS locally anymore, but I know that all the stores get cleaned out pretty fast- with some grocery stores still having regular up to a week after Black Friday, but otherwise you just aren't going to find them right now. That being said, Chicago stores still had plenty of regular and vertical BCBS up to 2 weeks after Black Friday, plus a few of the less desirable variants. I've heard smaller suburb mom & pop liquor stores will still have the more desirable variants, e.g. Prop 19 for a few weeks after Black Friday, but it'll cost you a pretty penny.
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  34. Dtrain22

    Dtrain22 Initiate (0) Nov 2, 2017 North Carolina

    Oh yeah! Definitely interested in whatever TG he can get his hands on and get to me. He's already been throwing down some Pompeii's and pizza. And I'll look into Drekker and give him the heads up.

    thanks again!!
  35. Benish

    Benish Meyvn (1,171) Mar 13, 2013 Wisconsin

    I don't believe any have mentioned it but I recommend the Brewing Projekt. It comes from Eau Claire but distributes all over WI. Their Resist series are their better beers IMO but they make lots of good stuff.
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  36. cl3

    cl3 Disciple (328) Aug 16, 2013 Wisconsin

    I would also recommend Brewing Projekt. But I gotta disagree with the Resist part. They are easily my least favorite BP IPA's. All of their straight-up (re: un-lactosed/un-vanilla'd/un-fruited) IPA's are great though.
    Dtrain22 likes this.
  37. Stevedore

    Stevedore Poo-Bah (5,941) Nov 16, 2012 Oregon
    Society Trader

    Re; TPB- Dare Mighty Things and its variants are pretty solid. In my opinion, these cans are relatively pricey to what you get though- not far from what Tree House and Trillium charge, so by that standard, I think they're overpriced. That being said, their Puff Tarts and other fruited milkshake kettle sours do a pretty decent job of standing in for Drekker in a pinch if that is your thing.
    Dtrain22 likes this.
  38. mjpolzin

    mjpolzin Champion (836) Mar 13, 2011 Wisconsin

    IMO, the Drekker IPAs are the best ones we get in Madison. The Chonk series isn't really my thing but their IPAs just seem to be a bit more flavorful and refined than others we get
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  39. nuplastikk

    nuplastikk Initiate (87) Aug 28, 2008 Wisconsin

    Throwing in my vote for Brewing Projekt. Their recent NZ hopped beers have been amazing, maybe my favorite IPAs that I know of at this point. I like Drekker, but haven't had anything quite bombing it with NZ hops on the same level. Both breweries pastry or even (shudder) smoothie sours are more readily available than the fresh IPAs, but I don't find them appealing whatsoever.