The mega-breweries that put Wisconsin on the map may have long gone, but this didn’t make the state any less of a beer haven!
In place of industry giants, homebrewers have hogged the limelight. They’ve turned their hobbies into big businesses to the delight of consumers who have grown bored of corporate suds. If you’re looking for the best breweries in Wisconsin, you won’t find any shortage.
Wisconsin’s homebrewers have developed some of the world’s most highly appreciated beers, as well as exciting tourist attractions. By combining tried and tested European brewing processes with a host of local ingredients.
Most of Wisconsin’s brewpubs and craft breweries host tours to book and tastings, and top food for travelers searching for a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure. Brewery hopping is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin, so start your beer-tasting journey here!
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History of Beer Brewing in Wisconsin
The love for brewing has been instilled in Wisconsin culture since the Territorial era, dating back to the 1830s and the state’s first breweries. The growing population of German, Czech, and Polish immigrants in Wisconsin is the most common theory for the expansion of breweries in the state.
With brewing knowledge, a love for European beer, the need to cement their cultural identity, and to get a decent drink, immigrants started setting up shops to brew beers from their homelands.
The number of Wisconsin breweries increased significantly during the mid-and late-19th Century. An amazing 160 breweries operated before the Civil War and grew to the 300s by the 1890s.
The twentieth century brought with it Prohibition, bootlegging, and a decline in brewing. Following the end of Prohibition, large-scale industrial beer manufacturing changed Wisconsin’s brewing landscape. Big breweries made a big comeback, but it wasn’t to last.
Nowadays there is only one super-sized brewery in Wisconsin, but the love for beer is as strong as ever. Wisconsin is now one of the top states in the country for micro and craft breweries.
If you’re looking for the best brewery Wisconsin has to offer, read below!
Best Breweries in Wisconsin to Visit
1. 3 Sheeps Brewing Company
Location: 1837 North Ave, Sheboygan
3 Sheep Brewing based in Sheboygan began as a home brewing hobby for Grant Pauly. Grant was into concrete, but his real passion was brewing. One day Grant decided he had put off his dream long enough. He left his family’s concrete business to follow his passion for brewing and opened 3 Sheeps in the basement of someone else’s bar!
The company ultimately opened its doors a few months later. The next year, they received RateBeer’s Award for Best New Brewery in Wisconsin, a state brimming with great beer. At this point, Grant knew that his beer was big news.
3 Sheeps’ Taproom and Brewery are now located north of its prior location. The new location has a 10,000 sqft taproom that features event spaces, live music, a golf simulator, and a merch store where you can buy beer-to-go and souvenirs. Across the parking lot, they have a separate 30,000 sqft production facility that produces all of their beer, as well as their hard seltzer brand, Cloudless.
This Wisconsin brewery offers creative beers that include the delicious herbal ‘Waterslides IPA,’ and ‘Chaos Pattern Hazy IPA’. Other offerings include their ‘Fresh Coast Juicy Pale Ale’, ‘Rebel Kent Amber Ale’, ‘3 Sheeps Pils’, ‘Offshore IPA’, and their superb 15-2 Stout.
3 Sheeps also has a limited range of beers they release throughout the year. Favorites include the ‘Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout’, and The Wolf, which comes out in time for the summer.
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2. Central Waters Brewing Company
Location: 351 Allen St, Amherst
Central Waters Brewing Company, based in Amherst, Wisconsin, is a craft brewery determined to make the world a greener place. The brewery, which opened in 1996, heats water for brewing using solar power, makes use of local ingredients, and employs recyclable materials for packaging.
After the brewing process is finished, the brewery collaborates with local farmers to recycle grain as livestock feed or compost. The brewery has also significantly decreased its consumption of natural gas as well as its carbon footprint by staying true to its policies.
Central Waters’ environmental goals were acknowledged when it became the first brewery to be approved for Wisconsin’s Green Tier program for companies.
And it is the first brewery to be a member of the state’s Green Masters program, which is designated for only the most ecologically concerned enterprises.
Central Waters’ commitment to detail is evident in its delectable brews, such as its delicious Mudpuppy Porter, one of its main beers, and its Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale, a strong, fruity beer included in its Brewers Reserve Series that snagged a gold medal at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival!
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3. Capital Brewery
Location: 7734 Terrace Ave, Middleton
If you’re looking for the best brewery in Wisconsin, make sure to stop by Capital Brewery.
Local business people who sought to bring German-style beer to Middleton formed Capital Brewery in the old Mazo Egg Factory in 1984. It has been a neighborhood institution since 1986 when it debuted its first beers: Munich Dark and Special Pilsner.
Capital was voted the number-one United States brewery in 1998 and the world’s seventh-best by the Beverage Testing Institute in 2013. No small feat!
Three decades and 240 honors and accolades later, Capital is still making those two beers with a slew of other delicious creations, making them one of the best Wisconsin breweries to visit.
The brewery manufactures its cans and bottles in Stevens Point, allowing the Middleton plant to focus only on its new seven-barrel system and delicious draft beer. This allows the company to brew a wide range of beers, with some available exclusively at the brewery.
Capital brewery‘s seasonal beers are similarly remarkable. Their Capital Oktoberfest, a Märzen-Oktoberfest-style beer with undertones of toffee and spice, was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Beer Championship.
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4. Lakefront Brewery
Location: 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee
On December 2, 1987, brothers Russ and Jim Klisch founded Lakefront Brewery. Here, they offered their first product: Riverwest Stein amber lager, to a Milwaukee watering hole.
In 2017, Lakefront Brewery brewed 46,848 beer barrels and won honors at nearly every prominent beer competition. Their products are currently sold in over 30 states, as well as Ukraine, Canada, South Korea, China, and Lithuania.
Lakefront Brewery was America’s first certified organic brewery, the first to make gluten-free beer government-approved, and the first indigenous beverage made entirely of local ingredients.
Several of the brewery’s creations have won international awards. Rendezvous, Bridge Burner, Riverwest Stein, and Fixed Gear won honors at the Australian International Beer Awards, while IBA won a Gold Medal for best Dark Ale in the 2013 Brussels Beer Challenge.
Lakefront Brewery presently creates more than thirty seasonal and year-round beers, including its one-of-a-kind My Turn Series, which allows every one of its full-time staff to select a style they’ve never brewed before.
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5. New Glarus Brewing Company
Location: 2400 WI-69, New Glarus
Deborah Carey, the first woman in the US to own and run a brewery, and her husband, Dan Carey, launched the New Glarus Brewing Company in 1993. Dan Carey was a Diploma master brewer before founding the New Glarus Brewing Company, and at the age of twenty-three, he was one of America’s youngest brewers, successfully establishing his own brewery in Helena, Montana.
In October of the same year, the New Glarus Brewing Company made its first beer and began selling it in December. Today, the Wisconsin brewing company makes a variety of beers, with their Spotted Cow label being the most popular.
New Glarus has consistently been awarded one of the World’s Ten Best Breweries in the World Brewery Championship on many occasions, and, since 2007, has been one of Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing enterprises in the country.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the brewery’s hallmark drink, a cask-conditioned farmhouse ale called Spotted Cow, has been one of the state’s best-selling beers for several years despite never being marketed. You can find it just about anywhere in Wisconsin!
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6. Badger State Brewing Company
Location: 990 Tony Canadeo Run, Green Bay
Just like other Wisconsin brewing companies that started out as homebrew operations, Badger State Brewing swiftly expanded into a Tap Room, industrial Event Hall, destination brewery, and Beer Garden located in the Stadium District of Green Bay.
The company now maintains a beer-focused Tap Room with almost two dozen locally brewed tap beers. They have also expanded their product line to include Hard Seltzer and their own hard cider. A range of canned and bottled selections continue to feature Wisconsin manufacturers when possible.
On-site, Badger State Brewing Company bottles, and cans a range of beers. they produce a diverse range of sophisticated and excellent beers, with new kinds being tapped regularly as part of its “Pilot Series.”
All beers are handcrafted using the finest ingredients from local vendors, and while it does not have a kitchen, visitors are welcome to bring their own meals from local eateries!
7. Lazy Monk Brewing LLC
Location: 97 W Madison St, Eau Claire
Lazy Monk Brewing, a European craft brewery, specializes in classic Bohemian and German-style beers. Each of their beers is handcrafted and features only top-quality imported hops and grains. Regulars delight in the two signature beers of Lazy Monk Brewing LLC: the Bohemian Dark Lager and the Bohemian Pilsner.
But just because they specialize in German and Bohemian beers doesn’t mean the others beers they make are subpar. Lazy Monk also performs an excellent job brewing IPAs and ales.
The Lazy Monk Brewing LLC pub presently offers 12 rotating seasonal taps and welcomes customers to sample them alongside their trademark beers in their Bier Hall and Garden.
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8. MobCraft Brewery and Taproom
Location: 505 S 5th St, Milwaukee
In 2011, MobCraft co-founders Andrew Gierczak and Henry Schwartz thought up the concept of a crowdsourced brewery where the public decides what is made. Throughout the year, the brewery uses the voting power of an audience to develop ideas for new craft brews. A great place to stop when you book a tour in Wisconsin and drink delicious beers.
Beer enthusiasts from all around the country submit suggestions ranging from a handful of flavors to popular homebrew recipes. The suggestions will then be put up for voting on our website. To vote, one must pre-order the beer that he wants to see produced. At the end of the voting event, the beer that racks up the most pre-orders wins and is made, bottled, and ready for collection at the brewery.
Visit the MobCraft taproom in Milwaukee where the brewery serves its flagships, beers from its Wild & Sour Program, crowdsourced brews, and a variety of taproom-only creations (and delicious craft pizzas).
The expansive taproom has views of the company’s brewhouse, the wild and sour area, as well as foosball, live music, ping pong, and an outdoor area, among others.
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9. Grumpy Troll Brew Pub
Location: 105 S 2nd St, Mt Horeb
The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub is a family-friendly brewery, restaurant, and pizza place located on the corner of South Second and Front Streets. Initially named Mount Horeb Pub and Brewery, the brewery was renamed The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub in 2000. Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the bold and inventive award-winning beers and lagers made on-site.
Mark “The Captain” Duchow, the pub’s brewmaster, joined The Mount Horeb Pub and Brewery in 1998 until 2001. A lifelong home and commercial brewer with a passion for experimenting and a certificate from the Siebel Institute of Technology, Mark leads the brewery with a creative philosophy on beer making.
With 12 ales and lagers on tap, the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub urges customers to taste their sample tray first to determine which of their brews they like.
When at the brewpub, strangers find themselves brushing shoulders with fellow beer lovers and selecting from a menu of creative offerings, including the Trollfest lager, an Under the Bridge Reuben sandwich, or the bar’s specialty pizza.
10. Sand Creek Brewing Company
Location: 320 Pierce St, Black River Falls
Sand Creek Brewing Company was formed in 1999 in Downin by Brewmaster Cory Schroeder and Jim.
Cory chose to build his own Wisconsin brewing company after years of homebrewing on his dairy farm. Their ales were exceptional, and they quickly gained popularity among Wisconsin’s numerous brew festivals.
Soon thereafter, Todd Krueger, the Brewmaster of Pioneer Brewing Company, announced the sale of the brewery. The two breweries agreed to join forces, and the new Sand Creek Brewing Company opened in March 2004 in Pioneer’s current address in Black River Falls.
Today, Todd Krueger is the Sand Creek Brewing Company’s new Brewmaster, and he’s thrown in a few of his own concoctions into the brewery’s repertoire of creative beers. On Fridays, brewery tours are free of charge.
Tours lead visitors around the old brewery structure before arriving at the taproom for a sampling of their many superb options. Don’t forget to try the Bugler Brown Ale and Badger Porter before leaving!
11. Tyranena Brewing Company
Location: 1025 Owen St, Lake Mills
Tyranena Brewing Company was founded on November 16, 1998, by Rob Larson, its founder, and head brewer.
The name Tyranena Brewing Company is said to be derived from a lake where American Indians built stone burial mounds.
The Wisconsin brewery company, located near Lake Mills, pays respect to this story with its well-loved year-round beers. It makes six year-round beers in total, as well as seasonal brews and several unique varieties.
Each beer made at Tyranena Brewing Company has a distinct name that is either related to the history and mythology of the locality or relates to something uniquely “Wisconsin.” These iconic labels are what makes this institution so popular, and it is part of Tyranena beers’ special appeal.
The Tasting Room is able to accommodate 35 people and is smoke-free. You may put your skills to the test by playing puzzles or board games, or you can join your pals and play cribbage.
Every Saturday evening, live music is performed in the Tasting Room during the winter and the summer, and parties are held in the Beer Garden with live music concerts on Friday evenings!
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12. One Barrel Brewing Company
Location: 2001 Atwood Ave, Madison
His creations were so successful that he considered creating a second store someplace in Wisconsin. In 2019, One Barrel Brewing Company was established as the state’s 13th-biggest craft brewery, producing 5,100 barrels of cider and beer in 2018.
Every part of the beer-making process is clearly shown at this brewery, allowing visitors to have better knowledge and appreciation of the effort expended in making just a single pint of your most loved beer.
Aside from their flagships and regular beers, which are all proudly displayed in the brewery’s taproom, the company also provides a modest but well-curated range of canned beer, wines, gluten-free beers, and canned cider.