At the heart of Wisconsin, in Madison and the surrounding areas, there is a dynamic hub of people who take a lot of pride in their beers and the breweries that make them. In Madison, “brewery” doesn’t just mean a place where cool people make delicious beer, it means an atmosphere full of like-minded, beer-loving people. With a full roster of breweries that run the gamut from classically beloved to new and spunky, you might be wondering just where to start. The five Madison-area breweries below will help you explore and sip some new brews.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. – Downtown
Take a step into the past when you walk through the doors of Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co’s Capitol Square location. The Victorian building the Great Dane has called home since 1994 is a true hidden treasure of a beer garden that you would never guess hides in the heart of the city. Savor one of their popular Crop Circle Wheat brews while enjoying a game with your buds in the original pool hall. In the summer, especially if you’re a Madison Mallards fan (Go Ducks!), you might be able to get your hands on the Wild Pitch Wit that’s brewed in-house and makes you feel like you’re cheering at the Duck Pond. Just like their namesake, the Great Dane Pub & Brewing team is sociable, attentive and a true gentle giant in the Madison brewery world. Be it the 14+ in-house brews, the historic ambiance or the incredible staff – this is a classic you won’t want to skip.
Young Blood Beer Co.
Only a year old, Young Blood Beer Co. has quickly become a shaker, mover and innovator in the downtown Madison brewery scene. Regardless of your preferred type of beer, be it IPAs, lagers, ales or stouts, you’re guaranteed to get a laugh out of their clever beer names, such as Thursday is Email Day, NASA’s 7th Best Scientist or Hi, My Name is Sauron. Elevate your experience by pairing one of these fantastic brews with a savory snack or street food. The story of the three founders’ friendship and humor is woven into the culture at Young Blood Beer and comes alive in the taproom. An invitation to escape, the taproom has a community atmosphere where you can lounge amongst the tropical greenery with friends or make new ones while admiring their ever-changing tap list. Either way, this is the perfect place to escape into great-tasting craft beer. Celebrate the ordinary and the strange with Young Blood Beer Co. – just don’t forget to send a punny post to your Instagram feed before you leave.
Funk Factory Geuzeria
Are you looking to add to your beer knowledge? Just like Bruno Mars you can be stylin’, wildin’ and livin’ it up in the city, because Madison’s downtown Funk Factory Geuzeria will definitely bring the class. Founder Levi Funk started his journey with a passion for lambics; a traditional Belgian beer that is generally aged for about three years, this style of beer has a little something extra, making each bottle a unique experience. You can rest assured you’ll get a full beer education at the Funk Factory – from what type of hops or rye are best used to what kind of music matches your preferred flavor, this niche brewery has a wealth of familiarity about all kinds of beer (and even some sangrias) that they enjoy sharing with their patrons. Their beer speaks for itself, as it includes some of the fastest-selling online releases in the industry. Their taproom hosts multiple styles of beers and is a center for creative beers in the area. Bring a pen, paper and, most importantly, your palate as you explore and learn all about the funky experiments the Funk Factory has to offer.
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus Brewing Company, famously known as the brewery that doesn’t sell its beer outside of Wisconsin, is the pinnacle of every beer nut’s brewery list. New Glarus is one of the most popular breweries in the state, and it’s easy to see why. Nestled on a hill in a canopy of trees, just outside the greater Madison area, New Glarus Brewery undeniably takes pride in their town, Swiss heritage and over 15 brews, 6 of which are staples throughout the state year-round. Stop by to taste their award-winning Spotted Cow – a fun, fruity, satisfying ale that is the perfect taste of Wisconsin. Try a self-guided, free tour of the facility or learn more with their guided tours through the brewery. Fall in love with the taste of Wisconsin on this scenic hillside – and don’t forget to stop by their lovely gift shop!
Starting from humble, home-brewed beginnings, One Barrel Brewery wants you to feel like part of the family – you can even bring your four-legged friends! They are rooted in historic brewing lore and making their namesake proud – microbrewing your favorite beers, one barrel at a time. One Barrel has something for everyone. Are you wanting to hang out and make yourself comfortable all day? Kick back and relax with One Barrel’s beloved Penguin Pale Ale. Visiting in the fall? Watch your favorite sports team on a big screen with a seasonal favorite in hand – Varsity Amber. One Barrel has every aspect of their brewing process on display to showcase the simplicity and love that goes into each beer. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to try your hand at home brewing or just searching for a new favorite beer, One Barrel is the place to be.
On the hunt for even more local breweries to add to your list? Here’s the ultimate brewery road trip guide to Wisconsin.