If you’re planning a trip to the Badger State, make sure you stop at the best breweries in Wisconsin. There are over 200 active breweries here, from major names to small craft breweries. In fact, if you recently entered a liquor store, you probably saw at least one or two Wisconsin beers in stock.
Each brewery in Wisconsin offers its own take on a long history of brewing in this state. You can sip their brews in both traditional and trendy spaces. Many Wisconsin breweries offer tours or brew their beer within view of the bar. Even more, breweries offer free tastings, a beer garden, and that classic Midwestern hospitality. Check out our list of the best breweries in Wisconsin for your next trip.
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A Pint-Sized History of Wisconsin Beer
The tradition of breweries in Wisconsin began with the arrival of German immigrants in the 1830s. Milwaukee soon became the center of Wisconsin brewing, with famous names like Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, Gettelman, and Miller setting the stage.
Pabst was the first major Milwaukee brewing dynasty, founded in 1844 by the beer baron Jacob Best. In the late 90s, Pabst was purchased and moved operations to San Antonio. Today, the Pabst factory grounds is a thriving neighborhood. See for yourself on this tour and visit Best Place, a brewpub built into the old chapel that was available onsite for the brewery workers.
To this day, the tradition of good beer is strong in Wisconsin. It’s hard to find a town here without its own brewery or pub. If you’d like a taste of the history of Wisconsin beer, stop at Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe- the oldest brewery in the Midwest.
Best Breweries in Milwaukee
Lakefront Brewery has a massive beer hall, delicious food, and the most fun brewery tours in the city. Part informational, part comedy routine, this $12-$13 tour is perfect to lighten the mood. Two full 16 oz. pours and a souvenir glass are included in this price
What beers should you try at Lakefront? Taste Riverwest Stein, their flagship Amber Lager has won 17 awards since 1991. Fixed Gear is another crowd favorite, an American Red IPA. New Grist is their gluten-free beer, which reminds us of a light, apple champagne. It has won 11 awards.
Hop Houses at Lakefront are available in the winter by reservation, and will be used in the summer months to grow ingredients for their kitchen.
Also during the summer, visitors can bike or kayak right up to Lakefront. Please note that Lakefront is not actually on the lake; rather, it’s on the river. Summer is also a great time to take this tour of Milwaukee, which stops at Lakefront.
If you’re lucky enough to visit in the autumn, Lakefront’s Oktoberfest should be on draft. Be sure to have a pint (or two). Lakefront’s Oktoberfest has won 4 awards since 2003, the most recent being the Gold Medal for Marzen in 2021 at the Can Can Awards.
Black Husky Brewing
Black Husky Brewing began in the northwoods of Wisconsin, in a small town named Pembine. Now, it operates out of the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee. Each of their beers are named for one of the owners’ dogs. For example, Deck Dog is a German pilsner, named after Rinky. Vain, a pale ale with Citra hops, is named for Shad, the owner’s sled dog who raced in the Iditarod.
It follows that Black Husky Brewing allows dogs into the taproom and patio area, as long as they are leashed and exhibit good behavior. Don’t be surprised if you see Smokey around the taproom- she is listed on Black Huskey’s website as the Vice President in Charge of Canine Compliance.
Black Husky is a part of Milwaukee, even down to its beers. In 2021, they collaborated with the city to brew their 9.9% Double IPA with the spruce tips from the city Christmas tree. The proceeds from the City of Milwaukee Christmas Tree Sproose Beer went to the Milwaukee Urban Forestry Fund, which helps develop the city’s green spaces.
Hacienda Beer Co.
Hacienda Beer Co. has a taproom in MIlwaukee’s Eastside, but brews its beers in Door County. At the Milwaukee location, which sits in a cool, restored brick building, they serve 12 beers on draft that pair with delicious food. Beers at Hacienda are modern and experimental, with unique names, flavors, and artwork on the label. In 2019, Hacienda Beer Co. won the silver medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer. To try the award-winning beers, ask for L’hiver Blend 2 or There Is No Other Way.
Good City Brewing
Good City Brewing won silver and bronze medals at the 2018 LA International Beer Competition for their Lord Lyon Scotch Ale and the Film Fest Lager. Their Film Fest Lager also brought home the bronze from the World Beer Cup that same year.
Good City Brewing has three locations throughout Milwaukee- one on the East Side, another in Wauwatosa, and the last in the Deer District. The Deer District is next to Fiserv Forum, the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks. Visit before or after a game to become a part of the enthusiastic crowd. Plus, you can enjoy food cooked fresh in their stone hearth oven.
The East Side location has a rooftop deck. The Wauwatosa location has brunch on the weekends. All three locations have dog-friendly patio seating.
Note: The Deer District also houses Drink Wisconsibly Pub. They have seven Wisconsin beers on draft, from City Lights to New Glarus. They also have 18 Wisconsin beers available in Tall Boys, sourced from Potosi, Cedarburg, Stevens Point, and more.
Eagle Park Brewing Company
Eagle Park Brewing Company also has multiple locations. It’s Milwaukee East Side Location is in a 1920 brick building that was once used as a tannery. It’s massive skylight and huge patio open up its urban setting. It’s other location, in Muskego, is also a distillery and has an event space. In 2019, readers of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel voted Eagle Park the second-best brewery in the United States.
Here’s what we love about Eagle Park Brewing Company. First, the service makes you feel right at home, with knowledgeable bartenders that welcome you as friends. Second, every one of their beers is unique, from a House Berliner Weisse and Pilsner to double hopped IPAs and sour farmhouse ales. Our favorite beer at Eagle Park is the Tropical Slush, an absolutely mind-blowing milkshake sour, overfruited with mango, passionfruit, and pineapple.
Broken Bat Brewing Company
Broken Bat Brewing Company is another dog-friendly brewery, sitting in the Walkers Point neighborhood. Everything about Broken Bat is themed around baseball, from the beer labels to the decor. They even have an indoor wiffleball field for patrons to enjoy. Also, if you choose to join their Broken Bat Mug Club, you will receive a wooden baseball bat mug to take home.
When you visit, make sure to try the Ump Show, a blueberry kettle sour, and their Straight Chedd Apricot Pale Ale. Broken Bat also makes their own hard seltzers, made with real guava, passion fruit, lime, blackberries, and mango.
Extend your baseball-themed adventure by visiting the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, only a half-mile away.
Mobcraft Beer (Milwaukee)
What is different about MobCraft Beer? It’s crowdsourced. You can submit ideas for their next recipe, and pre-order the winning recipes online. Winners are chosen by vote. This means that whatever flavors you want to try-YOU can make happen. Past winners include a double chocolate Doppelbock, which arrives in 2023. Blue Stone Crush is another winner, made with blueberry, mango, vanilla, and lactose. Learn more by taking a tour at MobCraft for $15. The 45-minute tour includes complimentary beverages.
MobCraft has won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for Low pHunk, an American-style sour. They have also won the gold at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers for its Sour Golden Ale
Third Space Brewing is in a very unique venue, which changes with the seasons. Throughout the year, guests enter the taproom, where they can see the massive kettles actively brewing beer. In cold months, the brewery adds warming igloos to their outdoor space. In the summer, there is a large beer garden patio area. Dogs are allowed here, and you are welcome to bring your own food.
Brewery tours are currently unavailable here due to Covid-19. But, you can sign up for Beer School with the Third Space Brewmaster. Beer School teaches you how to taste beer the right way, as well as the right descriptive terms to use in conversation. Along with this education, you receive a welcome beer, snacks, and 6 tasters.
We’re always on the lookout for year-round drafts of Oktoberfest beer, and we found it at Third Space. We also enjoy their staple Unite the Clans, as well as their German Chocolate Cake.
City Lights Brewing Company operates out of a beautifully restored red brick building that was once a part of the Milwaukee Gas Light Co, built in 1902. Their tasting room looks into the brewery, with tables that fit the theme of an old factory break room. There is even an old time punch station. A massive patio area against the river adds a beautiful and fun atmosphere in the summer months. Tours will be available at City Lights in the future.
City Lights Brewing has won every medal from bronze to gold and beyond, hitting a platinum medal for brewing excellence. When you visit, try their Amber Ale, Mexican Lager, and award-winning Hazy IPA.
Note: Both City Lights and Third Space are near the Mitchell Park Domes, a horticultural conservatory that feigns a dry desert climate, a humid rainforest climate, and a themed seasonal garden.
1840 Brewing Company
1840 Brewing Company was named the second best brewery in the United States by USA Today’s 10 Best competition. It’s name comes from the year the first brewery opened in Milwaukee. But, even with deep roots in the Bay view neighborhood, 1840 also has deep rural roots. Just consider their Burngarten experience, located on the farmland of Homestead Hollow in Germantown, WI. This winter experience includes 2-hour bonfire pit rentals with fire-side beer service and a bundle of wood. Further wood sales go to a good cause- the Washington County Park system.
If you’d rather keep your experience in Milwaukee, enjoy the 1840 taproom. Try their Lead Vocal, a farmhouse ale Saison. Or, sip Vincent Mango’s Seltzery Night hard seltzer. They also hold Beer Dinners, often with 4 courses and beer pairings in the taproom.
Enlightened Brewing Company
Enlightened Brewing Company is also in the Bay View neighborhood. Their taproom is full of natural light. When you visit, make sure to try Cream City Brix, a cream ale with a nod back to one of the very first breweries in Milwaukee. It’s light, and makes for a perfect, lighter sipping beer. If you prefer something a little darker, try the Prototypical Porter, the original beer released to the public by Enlightened.
Tours are available at Enlightened Brewing for $15. Tour participants receive 2 tappers in addition to the tour, as well as a souvenir pint glass.
Raised Grain Brewing Company
Head out of Milwaukee’s bigger neighborhoods to the suburb of Waukesha. Here, you’ll find
Raised Grain Brewing Company, with many beer selections, food, and live music every Wednesday. A large patio in the front of their property welcomes well-behaved dogs. Beers include:
- Paradocs Red, an Imperial Red India Pale Ale
- Black Walnut, a Belgian Imperial Stout
- Naked Threesom, an IPA
- Summer Vice, a Hefeweizen
- Guitar City Gold, a lager
- Boxcar, an English Amber, and more.
Touring Raised Grain gets you a take-home pint glass, samples, and a pint of any beer following the tour.
Fox Valley Region Breweries
3 Sheeps Brewing Company
You don’t need to stay near Milwaukee to get some of the best Wisconsin beer. Head north to the Fox Valley region to visit 3 Sheeps Brewing Company in Sheboygan. The year that 3 Sheeps opened, it won the award for best New Brewery in Wisconsin.
Their large tap room is dog-friendly and includes a small arcade area. They always have 17 beers on tap for guests to try. Some of these are specialty beers found in their taproom only. Taproom only beers include some sours, IPAs, and Armchair Quarterback- an amber lager.
Live music is a common occurrence in their space, as well as other events like Yoga and Beer the first Tuesday of every month.
Stone Arch Brewpub
In Appleton, Stone Arch Brewpub is what remains of one of the original breweries from the 1800s. It’s gone through many different hands throughout the years, until 2004, when Stone Cellar Brewpub opened. Stone Arch became its new name in 2012.
Today, the beef and chicken served here are grass-fed, free-range, and all-natural. They even have a locally-sourced organic salad bar. They also brew all of their beers on-site. These brews harken back to the old days of the original brewery, rather than leaning towards the trendier side of the best craft breweries.
Beers here include the Houdini Honey Wheat, the Marquette Pilsner, an English Six Grain Ale, the Stone Arch Stout, and more. There are seasonal beers too, like a Doppelbock in spring and a Raspberry Porter in summer.
If you’re interested in more breweries north of the Fox Valley region, check out our list of the best breweries in Door County.
Madison Area Breweries
Madison is known for its exciting college party scene, so of course, breweries fit right in. Karben4 Brewing is a small brewery with a yummy selection of locally made snacks, like Batch Bakehouse hot pretzels and Salvatore’s personal pizzas. When you visit, enjoy your snacks and brews in an igloo or around a firepit.
Make sure to try the popular Fantasy Factory American IPA, the Dragon Flute American Pale Ale, and Downton Appley Apple ale.
Octopi Brewing is one of the best breweries in the Madison area. It’s just outside the city, in Waunakee, WI. This brewery doesn’t just brew it’s own beers. Clients come to them for co-packaging, consulting, recipes, design, and more. United Art Beers are also made here, as well as a variety of beers that you can find at a local Aldi.
If you choose to visit Octopi Brewing, make sure to go when the kitchen is open. Hours are Wednesday-Thursday 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Try the Brisket Sandwich, which has house-smoked pork belly and brisket on Texas toast. Sample their extremely well-priced Crispy Boy Lite ($6 for 22 ounces) or the unique Astronaut Peanut Butter Chocolate Imperial Porter.
Young Blood Beer Company
Young Blood Beer Company is just one block away from Wisconsin’s capitol building. In their taproom, they offer both food and beer. The food menu is inspired by street food dishes that the owners sample from around the world. The New York Dog and poutine are especially tasty. Their best beers include Bathtub Bier, Ka$ha Saturdays pale ale, and Iced Out stout. Their wildest beers include the Blueberries and Cream Silshake and the Pineapple Demogorgen In the Upside Down, a fruited sour.
Young Blood Beer Company was nominated for Best Brewery in USA Today’s 10 Best travel awards.
One Barrel Brewing Company
One Barrel Brewing Company has locations in Madison and in Egg Harbor, which is in Door County. But, the Madison taproom has a special addition- a Boutique BBQ. Choices of smoked chicken wings, sandwiches, and BBQ platters are available Tuesday through Saturday until 8:00 p.m. or until they run out.
You won’t have to worry about running out of beer, though. One Barrels’ specialty beers are on tap, as well as their lighter options like the Up North Wisconsin Lager. They also have more hoppy or malty flavors, hard ciders, and non-alcoholic options on draft.
Wisconsin Brewing Company
When you visit Wisconsin Brewing Company, you will be able to visit both a taproom and a backyard bar- if the weather cooperates. Since 2019, Wisconsin Brewing Company has worked alongside Lake Louie Brewing, and both brands are available on draft. Make sure you try the Badger Club Beer from WBC, and Warped Speed Scotch Ale from Lake Louie. Their Lake City Seltzer has won gold medals, so be sure to add that to a flight.
Come for live music on Friday nights, Euchre tournaments, and quiz nights. They even host a classic Wisconsin meat raffle. Reserve your own experience by booking a fire pit in the autumn. No food is served here, but you can order in from a local restaurant.
The last of our Madison area breweries is Capital Brewery. They’ve won dozens of awards since 1998, including Reader’s Choice Awards for Favorite Local Beer, Best Microbrew in Madison, and gold medals for their beers:
- Autumnal Fire
- Capital Oktoberfest
- Capital Dark
- Capital Pilsner
- Wisconsin Amber
- Supper Club
- Lake House Lager
Capital Brewery has a popular beer garden that often hosts 1500 people on a Friday. The beer garden is open April through October. Their indoor tasting rooms, the Bier Stube and Grain Room, open from November to April.
Central Wisconsin Breweries
Central Waters Brewing began in Amherst, WI and now has a taproom in Milwaukee. In Amherst, you can sip your brews inside or outside on the patio. Food trucks are often here, during the warm months. When food trucks are not nearby, Sliced Pizza Co. delivers. Free tours are held every Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
The experimental brews at Central Waters Brewing are sustainably sourced. Their operations are powered by solar heat. They also use water conservation techniques to do their part for the environment. In fact, this was the first brewery to be granted entrance to Wisconsin’s Green Tier program.
When at Central Waters, you must try their Honey Blonde Ale. This blonde is made with real Wisconsin honey. It pairs well with another Wisconsin staple- a good brat.
O’so Brewing Company
O’so Brewing Company is in Plover, WI. It also has a second location, called the O’so Madhouse, right between Madison’s Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.
In Plover, don’t be surprised when you pull up- O’so’s Taphouse is located in a strip mall. But, it’s location doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great beer. After all, it has won a gold medal for it’s signature beer, the Big O. At the Taphouse, you can enjoy live music and comedy club events, in addition to 40 beers on tap.
Stevens Point Brewery
Stevens Point Brewery shares its name with its hometown. Tours are available here, but make sure you have a mask and closed-toe shoes. Weekday tours are at 1:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Cost is $5 for an adult, and includes four 7-ounce samples and a souvenir pint glass. The tour is loud, as the brewery will be operating while you walk through. Also, there are stairs you will have to climb.
While you wait for your tour, enjoy award-winning beers on the Point Patio, a fenced-in beer garden open in the summer. Try their Point Amber Classic, which has won three silver medals and 3 gold.
Red Eye Brewing Company
In Wausau, Red Eye Brewing Company has artisan food to match their craft beer. They even have woodfired pizzas that add variety to the traditional snack. Try their Mac Attack pizza, which is covered in Wisconsin Cheddar Cream Sauce.
The two brewers here have won many awards throughout their experience, many of which came from the Great American Beer Festival. Together, they have made Red Eye’s Prickly Haze IPA, the King of Rhapsody Bohemian Pilsner, and many more.
District 1 Brewing Company
Back in Stevens Point, a newer brewery has opened up. District 1 Brewing Company is focused on the community. Often, they hold events or fundraisers that benefit important causes. It has a number of delightful offerings, from Wonderful Water Hard Seltzer, to delicious sours, and lighter choices like the Stellen Light. On Wednesdays, if you bring in food from a local restaurant to enjoy with their beer, you receive $1 off of tappers.
Plover, WI has another great place to try: Backcountry Brewing. This venue is hopping with local events, like competitive and social cornhole tournaments, trivia nights, and live music. Beers on tap include those from across the state, from Miller Lite to Blu Bobber, from Fox River Brewing Company. They don’t have their own brews yet, but these new tastes are in the works.
Driftless Area & Western Wisconsin Breweries
The Driftless Area is full of beauty and wonderful sights, and Potosi is no different. Head to the farthest southwest corner of Wisconsin to find Potosi Brewery, founded in 1852. This brewery has a restaurant, beer garden, gift shop, and brewpub. It is also connected with the Great RIver Road Interpretive Center. The ABA National Brewery Museum is here, too. Between the two museums and excellent brewery tours, you can really dive into the history of this gorgeous area.
New Glarus Brewing Company
If there’s one beer you try when you visit Wisconsin, make sure it’s a Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing Company. Why? Wisconsin is the only place where you can buy Spotted Cow. In fact, people have tried to sell it in Manhattan, and the beers were confiscated. This light ale is the best craft brew in the entire state.
When you visit the brewery, you’ll get to experience America’s Little Switzerland. The brewery fits right into the alpine look of many of the historical buildings here. Tours within the brewery are self-guided and run Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
608 Brewing Company
Head a little north to LaCrosse to visit 608 Brewing Company. This veteran-owned business is focused on bringing fun and friends together. Tasting events, release parties, and more are the norm here. They even collaborated with a local cupcake artist to host a cupcake and beer pairing event.
This newer brewery makes a traditional Vienna Lager, a delicious Maple Mocha oatmeal stout, and a delightful Czech Pilsner that you have to try.
The Brewing Projekt
The Brewing Projekt is in Eau Claire, and is one of the most unique breweries in Wisconsin. They make great beers, like IPA and milkshake IPA variants. They also make sours and puff tarts, which is a sour ale with fruit and vanilla.
The most unique thing about the Brewing Projekt is that when you visit the taproom, you are visiting the brewery. If they are brewing when you visit, it will be hot, noisy, and will smell like hops. You might even be able to watch the forklift while you drink.
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
True beer lovers will enjoy Leinenkugel’s . Leinie’s is a famous Wisconsin brewery with deep roots. Located in Chippewa Falls, WI, you might be able to connect this to a trip to the Brewing Projekt for a more traditional experience. Leinie’s tasting room is part gift shop, part museum. Tours leave from the small beer garden area and walk you through 150 years of brewing history.
Leinie’s most popular brew is Summer Shandy. Berry Weiss is also loved. Be sure to try mixed beers to make unique flavors, like Black Bear or Honey Bear. The concoction instructions are on the wall.
Swinging Bridge Brewing Company
Swinging Bridge Brewing Company is a small brewery in River Falls, WI, located a short walk from the historic Swinging Bridge at Glen Park. It’s exposed brick atmosphere and ever-rotating flavors keep locals coming back. They also have a pay it forward board, where you can purchase beer for certain community organizations and individuals.
Swinging Bridge is always experimenting with new things, like a hoppy margarita beer in the summertime, or the sweet-but-light North Shore Jacket in the cooler months. If beer isn’t your thing, they carry Forestville Vines wine, sourced from a local winery that operates out of a historical schoolhouse.
Rush River Brewing Company
Rush River Brewing Company is another brewery in River Falls. They host countless local events, like car shows, farmer’s markets, and more on their spacious grounds. Bring your pup along with you, or ride your bike. There is a mountain bike trail in the bluff behind the brewery, making it the perfect place to stop after a ride. Try Rush River’s Unforgiven Amber and Scenic Pale to refresh.
The Garage Bikes + Brews
We love The Garage Bikes + Brews because it is so much more than a brewery. Yes, they brew their own local beers. Our favorite Garage brew is the Garage Golden Light. But they also have an ever-changing collection of other local Wisconsin craft brews.On top of that, they are also a bike repair and sales shop.
If you’re here for a beer, bring your friends and your pups. The outdoor bunkers are the perfect place to hang, no matter the weather. Grab a board game, sit by the bonfires, and check out the new murals on the walls. If you’re here for a bike, you can ride away in style.
Our Other Wisconsin Blog Posts
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- 27 Best Waterfalls in Wisconsin + Local Hidden Gems