The Unofficial Guide to Madison’s Best Breweries

Thank God for the Germans, right? Because when they immigrated to southern Wisconsin centuries ago, they brought with them big aspects of what makes Wisconsin’s culture today: bratwurst and beer. For being a mid-sized city, Madison is home to a remarkable number of breweries. The passion for hops has preserved strongly in the state’s capital since the days of our ancestors. But, do you know where to go to find the best beer? And how do you know which brewery’s aesthetic and atmosphere is right for you? Here are some of my favorites from the city; each one is unique, tasty and definitely worth the visit. It seems with each passing season a new brewery pops up somewhere in Madison, so there’s always more to explore and sip! 


One Barrel Brewing Company


Location: Atwood Avenue, Madison (East Side)

What I recommend: Banjo Cat IBA and The Commuter

One Barrel definitely has the aesthetic of a typical, homey Wisconsin bar; you definitely get the neighborhood feel. It’s small and rustic with a large wooden bar and wooden barstools. Their beers never fail to impress, and I have yet to taste one that disappointed me. A huge bonus to this brewery is you can bring your dogs in with you! Can you think of a better bar buddy?


Ale Asylum 

Location: Pankratz Street, Madison (East Side)

What I recommend: Hopalicious IPA 

Thanks to Hopalicious, Ale Asylum is one of the better known Madison breweries. It has quality and size in its favor, and you’ll be amazed at how big this facility is (especially compared to One Barrel Brewing). Along with a list of great beer options, Ale Asylum also offers a great dinner menu, so it’s a good place for date night. 


Giant Jones Brewing Company

Location: East Main Street, Madison (Downtown) What I recommend: Double IPA or Extra Stout

Giant Jones is one of the most unique breweries in Madison. The inside consists of high warehouse ceilings and large garage doors that can open up to the street on a nice day. While the brewery doesn’t have a constant menu, you are encouraged to bring along or order food while you hang out in the taproom. Jessica and Erika Jones are owners and brewmasters at Giant Jones, and the brewery is a welcoming environment for all people -  especially inclusive to LGBTQ communities. 


Working Draft Beer CompanyLocation: East Wilson St, Madison (East Side) What I recommend: Dad Bod and Pulp Culture 

Working Draft is FUN. I have never been to this brewery without it being packed with people, and while that makes finding a seat and getting comfortable difficult, it does say a lot about how good their beer is. I’ve liked every beer I’ve tried from Working Draft. If you’re able to score a table, you can play a bunch of fun board games with your friends that Working Draft keeps in their taproom. 


Karben4 Brewing

Location: Kinsman Blvd, Madison (East Side) What I recommend: Camerlot and Fantasy Factory 

Karben4 has some incredible beers, and it’s got a nice location. The bar inside is large, and there is also an outdoor patio. Karben4 likes to host fun events in their taproom, and the day I was there they had puppies up for adoption on the patio! You can follow their Facebook page to stay up to date on what’s coming up there. 



Location: East Washington, Madison (Downtown)

What I recommend: Eponymous IPA and Late to the Party

Tangent is the latest concept from Vintage Brewing Company. Tangent is very modern and comes off more bougie, upscale styled inside the taproom than most Madison locations. The food menu blends a lot of unique flavors. Tangent is a really great place for a first date or a night out with your girls!


Alt Brew

Location: Wright Street, Madison (East Side)

What I recommend: Rustic Badger and Hollywood Nights

Alt Brew is the only gluten-free brewery option in Madison, which is a great option for those who are limited by gluten intolerance. The actual building is fun and has a bunch of old arcade games in the back that you can spend a long time playing and having a good time with.  

Next Door Brewing Co.

Location: Atwood Avenue, Madison (East Side)

What I recommend: Bubbler 

Next Door is a great family-friendly location for some good beers and good food. Next Door appears like any regular restaurant, but it also boasts a large selection of beer options. I definitely recommend going for dinner and getting the grilled cheese! 


Rockhound Brewing

Location: South Park Street, Madison (Campus) What I recommend: Sandstone and Lost Ridge

Rockhound, while a small location, has the advantage of being very near to UW-Madison campus, within walking or bussing distance! Rockhound is definitely a fun atmosphere, especially before an event at the Kohl Center or something happening downtown. You can snack on some apps or order an entree while you taste test their beer options. 


Funk Factory

Location: Gilson Street, Madison (South Side)

What I recommend: Cabernet Cervino and Cherry Meertz

If you’re a fan of sours, you should try Funk Factory. Funk Factory is one of the only breweries in the U.S. making a beer called meertz. The beer is quite sour and fruity. Funk Factory also makes a lot of cervinos, which is a mix of wine and beer. I am usually a big fan of cervinos and sours, but these beers were still a little too sour for me. However, it’s probably the most unique flavors in a beer you will find in all of Madison. 


Have fun visiting these local breweries and expanding your profile when it comes to drinking beers! Remember to always drink responsibly and never drive after drinking.