The Top 3 Breweries in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has many breweries that produce a wide range of quality microbrewed beer. While each brewery has its own featured beers, unique history, and loyal clientele, there are some breweries that surpass the others in terms of their popularity, awards, corporate outlook, and distribution. Here is a list of the top 3 microbreweries in the state of Wisconsin:

New Glarus Brewing Company. Established in 1993 by Dan and Deb Carey, the New Glarus Brewing Company produces several well-known beers year-round: Spotted Cow (farmhouse ale), Fat Squirrel (nut brown ale), Raspberry Tart (Wisconsin framboise ale), Stone Soup (Belgian-style ale) and Moon Man (pale ale). There are also seasonal beers offered, including Road Slush Oatmeal Stout, Dancing Man Wheat (Bavarian Hefeweizen), Totally Naked (lager) and Staghorn Octoberfest. While one can purchase beer at the brewery’s gift shop, most of the beers are bottled and distributed throughout the state of Wisconsin. Two beers in particular, namely Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel, are served at almost every bar in Wisconsin, or available in the bottle.

New Glarus Brewing Company, as its name indicates, is situated in the quaint little town of New Glarus, Wisconsin. New Glarus was founded by Swiss settlers and strives to maintain its heritage in its buildings and yearly festivals. The New Glarus brewery is composed of two in-town brewing locations: the (older) Riverside and the (newer) Hilltop sites. Both of these locations can be easily spotted from Highway 69 as one approaches town.

Ale Asylum Brewery. Founded in 2006, Ale Asylum is one of the youngest breweries in the state of Wisconsin. This combination brewery, brewpub, and bottling facility is located on Madison’s East Side and currently produces over 5,500 barrels of beer per year. Some of Ale Asylum’s offerings include regular brews like the Ambergeddon Amber Ale, Hopalicious, Contorter Porter, and Madtown Nutbrown Ale. Seasonal beers might include Gold Digger (blonde ale), Big Slick Stout (oatmeal stout), Happy Ending (Belgian-style abbey), Tripel Nova (Belgian-style tripel), and Satisfaction Jacksin (pale ale).

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Ale Asylum upholds the motto “Brewed and bottled in Madison. Fermented in Sanity,” as a way of explaining its stance on making unfiltered and all natural beer that contains no additives or preservatives. Many of the brewery’s beers are available only at its brewpub taps; however, one can purchase several of the year-round beers at local grocery stores and area bars. Each Ale Asylum beer is known for having a distinct and unique taste; the Hopalicious, for example, carries the flowery aroma of hops coupled with a delicate bitterness, while the Tripel Nova is a 10% alcohol by volume Belgian-style beer with a noticeable citrus smell.

The Ale Asylum brewpub is quite popular with Madison locals as well as out-of-town visitors. On weekends, the place is can become crowded with patrons sitting either at the bar, at tables scattered around the bar, or at the outside beer garden.

Lakefront Brewery. Lakefront Brewery, started in 1987 by brothers Russ and Jim Klisch, offers a number of quality microbrewed beers, including Lakefront Cherry Lager beer (made with real Door County cherries), Lakefront Organic E.S.B. (extra special bitter), Riverwest Stein Beer, and even a gluten-free beer called New Grist (made with sorghum, hops, rice, water, and a gluten-free yeast that is grown in molasses). Lakefront strives to use locally produced ingredients when making its beers. In fact, one of the beers offered by Lakefront is the Local Acre Lager, a beer made with all Wisconsin-produced ingredients.

Lakefront bottles and distributes its beers all over the state of Wisconsin; however, one can also purchase beer at the brewery itself. Alternately, one can sign up for the “infamous” brewery tour, which allots several pit stops for beer tastings and refills. Another highlight of the tour is seeing the “Moe, Larry, and Curly” fermenters, which are called by these names because they are painted with the actual portraits of the Three Stooges. The tour concludes with even more beer tasting and critiquing at the brewery’s bar.