Best Brews

A beer enthusiast drinks in readers’ favorites

Capital Brewery's Supper Club

Capital Brewery's Supper Club

Madisonians live in a city with so many great brewpubs and craft breweries that choosing the best of Madison beer is a difficult task. Is it simply the one with the best-tasting beer, or do food and ambiance play a role in the decision? Luckily for me the readers of Madison Magazine have spoken, naming their choices for the best of Madison beer and letting me take a look at what drinkers and diners in the city are enjoying. I've also included some honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut but are worth checking out.

Best Brewpub

Gold: Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company
The Great Dane has long been a Madison favorite and last year extended its reach with a fourth pub in Wausau in addition to their downtown Madison, Hilldale and Fitchburg locations. The downtown pub, with its historic architecture and great outdoor patio, is my favorite location. Try: The Black Earth Porter with the Lagered Sausage Platter.

Silver: Ale Asylum
Since opening in 2006, Ale Asylum has quickly established itself as a mainstay of the Madison beer scene. The bar attached to the brewery pairs sandwiches and pizza with a wide variety of beers, ranging from hop-forward Ambergeddon and Ballistic IPA to a rotating lineup of four Belgian Abbey-style beers. Try: A Hopalicious Pale Ale with the bratwurst pizza.

Bronze: Capital Brewery
While not technically a brewpub, this Middleton brewery does have a Bier Stube and Bier Garten serving its lineup of award-winning beers. The Bier Garten is a great place to meet up with friends on a summer evening and even features live music on Fridays.

Honorable Mention: The Grumpy Troll in Mount Horeb consistently puts out a great lineup of beers, and the new Vintage Brewing Company on Madison’s west side is proving to be another nice addition to the city’s brewing scene.

Best Local Craft Brew

Gold: New Glarus Spotted Cow
I consider this to be the unofficial beer of Madison. It is virtually a requirement that every Madison bar and restaurant have Spotted Cow on tap or in bottles. This easy-drinking yet distinctive ale is the biggest reason New Glarus Brewing Company has become one of the most successful craft breweries in the country without sending any beer beyond Wisconsin’s borders.

Silver: Ale Asylum Hopalicious
Even though it’s on the aggressive side for the style, this American Pale Ale has become a Madison favorite, finding its way onto tap handles across the city. The citrus
character of cascade hops blends with a substantial malt backbone to make Hopalicious a flavorful and balanced beer.

Bronze: Capital Island Wheat
Another popular, easy-drinking brew. Capital Brewery uses wheat from Door County’s Washington Island to make this interpretation of an American Wheat Ale.

Honorable Mention: If you want some more drinkable-yet-flavorful beers, try out New Glarus’s Dancing Man Wheat or Furthermore Beer’s Proper.

Matt Lange hosts “Beer Talk Today” on 91.7 WSUM along with the companion blog: beertalktoday.blogspot.com.

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