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The Midwest is a powerhouse for world-class beer production, and Wisconsin makes a strong case for creating the best beers in the USA. The mega-breweries might well be long gone, but that doesn’t make Wisconsin any less of a beer haven. These are the best breweries in Wisconsin to visit.
In place of industry giants, homebrewers have stepped up to the plate. They have turned their hobbies into big businesses to delight consumers tired of tasteless, corporate suds. From small, backwater taprooms to larger independent companies, craft brewers have put Wisconsin firmly on the global beer map.
Wisconsin’s homebrewers have developed some of the world’s most highly appreciated beers; by combining tried and tested European brewing methods with local ingredients. Brewpubs have become hugely popular, marrying craft beer creation with dining and entertainment. There’s nothing like supping on a cold IPA while throwing “bags” in a brewery or beer hall.
Milwaukee is undoubtedly the brewpub hub. “Brew City” is home to over 70 craft breweries, and guided brewery tours are one of the best things to do in Wisconsin. Most breweries offer tours and tastings, which has turned beer making and brewery hopping into a tourist attraction in its own right.
So, start your beer-tasting journey here, and join us as we explore the best breweries in Wisconsin. Just remember that ViaTravelers encourages responsible drinking!
- Best Breweries in Wisconsin to Visit
- 1. 3 Sheeps Brewing Company
- 2. Central Waters Brewing Company
- 3. Capital Brewery
- 4. Lakefront Brewery
- 5. New Glarus Brewing Company
- 6. Badger State Brewing Company
- 7. Lazy Monk Brewing LLC
- 8. MobCraft Brewery and Taproom
- 9. Grumpy Troll Brew Pub
- 10. Sand Creek Brewing Company
- 11. Tyranena Brewing Company
- 12. One Barrel Brewing Company
- 13. Door County Brewing Company
- 14. Wisconsin Brewing Company
- What kinds of beer are Wisconsin breweries known for?
- How can I go on a brewery tour in Wisconsin?
- Are there any seasonal or limited-edition beers from Wisconsin breweries?
Best Breweries in Wisconsin to Visit
1. 3 Sheeps Brewing Company
Address: 1837 North Ave, Sheboygan, WI 53083
3 Sheeps Brewing began as a hobby for Grant Pauly, and what started with a home brew kit eventually grew into one of the best breweries in Wisconsin. One day Grant decided he had put off his dream long enough, and he left the family concrete business to follow his passion.
In 2017 the company moved to its current location, and it’s one of my favorite of all Wisconsin breweries. You’ll find a 10,000 sqft taproom featuring 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 production facility that produces all of their beer; and their hard seltzer brand, Cloudless.
This Wisconsin brewery is among the most hard-working and eclectic in the state. Their wide range of creative beers includes the delicious herbal Waterslides IPA and Chaos Pattern Hazy IPA. But my favorite is their Rebel Kent Amber Ale, which, being from the UK, reminds me of beers I used to drink back home.
I have a case in the fridge as we speak, and I might crack one open when I’ve finished writing. For a place to stay close by, this beautiful family home is pet friendly and in a great central location.
See Related: Minnesota vs Wisconsin: What’s the Difference?
2. Central Waters Brewing Company
Address: 351 Allen St, Amherst, WI 54406
Based in Amherst, Wisconsin, Central Waters Brewing Company is a craft brewery determined to make the world greener. The brewery, which opened in 1996, heats water for brewing using solar power, uses local ingredients, and employs recyclable materials for packaging.
They opened a taproom in Milwaukee, but as their name implies, Central Waters is in the heart of the state. Their Amherst location offers a full bar, free brewery tours, outdoor fire rings, and a shop where you can purchase your souvenir pint glass. I visited while on a kayak trip, and it was well and truly hopping. Pun intended.
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. They also offer seasonal beers and pilots, so you can try out the craft beers of tomorrow close to the Tomorrow River!
When I visited, I was kayak camping at Hartman Creek State Park, but this pet-friendly rental is conveniently located just outside of Amherst. If you are visiting the Milwaukee branch, the Brewhouse Inn is the perfect place to stay, and brewery tours depart from this former Pabst brewery.
3. Capital Brewery
Address: 7734 Terrace Ave, Middleton, WI 53562
Local business people who sought to bring German-style beer to the Madison area 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. Three decades worth of honors and accolades later, Capital still makes those two beers in the original kettles.
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. And the location of destination brewery itself is hugely popular, with a seasonal Bier Garten that can cater to over 1500 guests.
And speaking of it, 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. But it’s their regular Capital Amber that takes the top spot as their most popular brew.
Capital Brewery is close to a stretch of well-known hotels off the Beltline. If you stay at Staybridge Suites, you won’t need anyone to drive you home.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Madison
4. Lakefront Brewery
Address: 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212
On December 2, 1987, brothers Russ and Jim Klisch founded Lakefront Brewery. This was thanks to a friendly competition to see which could make the better beer.
It was here they offered their first product: Riverwest Stein Amber Lager, to a local Milwaukee watering hole. Today, their products are sold in over 30 states, as well as Ukraine, Canada, South Korea, China, and Lithuania.
A global brand, several of the brewery’s creations have won international awards. Rendezvous, Bridge Burner, Riverwest Stein, and Fixed Gear have won honors at the Australian International Beer Awards. In contrast, IBA won a Gold Medal for best Dark Ale in the 2013 Brussels Beer Challenge.
While not quite on Lake Michigan, Lakefront Brewery sits on the Milwaukee River and boasts an impressive outdoor seating area right on the water. An award-winning restaurant serves delicious eats, and visitors can enjoy samples before, during, and after learning about the Lakefront brewing history. Don’t miss this Milwaukee Brewery Tour which includes a stop at this Wisconsin institution.
For a place to crash, try the Fairfield Inn & Suites on the waterfront. You can enjoy Milwaukee’s famous Riverwalk on your journey to Lakefront Brewery.
5. New Glarus Brewing Company
Address: 2400 WI-69, New Glarus, WI 53574
Husband and wife team Deborah and Dan Carey launched the New Glarus Brewing Company in 1993. In doing so, Deborah became the first woman in the US to found and run a brewery, while Dan became a Diploma Master Brewer from the Institute of Brewing in London. At age 23, he was one of the USA’s youngest brewers, partnered with an entrepreneurial Wisconsinite pulling the strings.
The brewery’s hallmark drink is a cask-conditioned farmhouse ale called Spotted Cow. The best-selling beer in Wisconsin, I’ve loved the ‘Cow since first setting foot on these shores.
A great beer for any occasion, it’s only available in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites no longer living in the state will love you forever if you remember to bring them a six-pack when you next visit.
The New Glarus Brewing Company is located in the picturesque area of New Glarus, which is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The brewery is set in an attractive location and offers self-guided tours and reservation-only hardhat tours.
For a place to stay, this comfortable apartment has a pool and is located right behind the brewery.
6. Badger State Brewing Company
Address: 990 Tony Canadeo Run, Green Bay, WI 54304
Like other Wisconsin breweries that started as a homebrew operation, Badger State Brewing started small but swiftly expanded into a tap room, event and music hall, and beer garden. Located in the stadium district of Green Bay, it has the enviable location of being a stone’s throw from Lambeau Field.
On-site, Badger State Brewing Company bottles 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 food.
Aside from supporting local businesses, the company emphasized building a close-knit community. Their huge premises is an impressive event space, meeting point, and city hub. Brewery tours and party rentals are available, and a wedding venue is on-site. And if the Packers are playing down the road, expect things to get lively!
Run by Marriot, the Springhill Suites are located just over the road from the brewery, and a 10-minute walk to Lambeau Field. Go Pack Go!
7. Lazy Monk Brewing LLC
Address: 97 W Madison St, Eau Claire, WI 54702
Lazy Monk Brewing is a traditional European craft brewery located in Eau Claire, which is one of the best small towns to visit in Wisconsin. They specialize in classic Bohemian and German-style beers but still offer a nice selection of IPAs, stouts, and ales.
Each of their beers is handcrafted and features only top-quality imported hops and grains, as well as local ingredients. Regulars delight in the two signature beers of Lazy Monk: the Bohemian Dark Lager and the Bohemian Pilsner. They offer 12 rotating seasonal taps and welcome customers to sample them alongside their trademark beers in their popular bier hall and garden.
And being a European-style brewery, Lazy Monk is famous for bringing Octoberfest to the Eau Claire region of Wisconsin. Every year they brew their ‘Oktoberfest Lager’ for consumption during the festival celebrations. They even bring a German Christmas Market to town in December, so this is a must-visit Wisconsin brewing company if you’re from the other side of the pond.
The brewery is located close to the Chippewa River and downtown Eau Claire. Try the nearby Oxbow Hotel for a traditional welcome with a funky, modern twist.
8. MobCraft Brewery and Taproom
Address: 505 S 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204
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. They also have a ‘Sour & Wild’ program that promotes the creation of these lesser-brewed concoctions.
Beer enthusiasts from around the country submit suggestions ranging from a handful of flavors to popular homebrew recipes. The suggestions will then be voted on the Mobcraft Brewery website.
To vote, you pre-order the beer that you would like 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. That’s a genius business model right there!
Mobcraft has taprooms in Waterford and Woodstock, as well as their flagship location in Milwaukee. You’ll find an expansive taproom with views of the company’s brewhouse, foosball tables, live music, ping pong, and an outdoor area. Be sure to try one of their famous pizzas while you’re here.
For a place to stay, the Iron Horse is an iconic Milwaukee hotel, housed in a 100-year-old warehouse. And it’s a mere traffic circle away from the Mobcraft brewery.
9. Grumpy Troll Brew Pub
Address: 105 S 2nd St, Mt Horeb, WI 53572
The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub is a family-friendly brewery, restaurant, and pizza place located in a small village just over 30 minutes from Madison. Initially named the Mount Horeb Pub and Brewery, it was renamed The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub in 2000. That might have something to do with Mount Horeb being the “Troll Capital of the World.”
Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the bold and inventive award-winning beers and lagers made on-site. With 12 ales and lagers on tap, the Grumpy Troll urges customers to taste their sample tray first to determine which of their award-winning microbrews they like. And the brewpub offers an annual program of events, including comedy nights, drag shows, bingo, and live music.
You will find yourself 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. And don’t miss a visit to Mount Horeb’s “Trollway,” which is difficult to miss as you drive along the main street. Thanks to its Norwegian heritage, this is one of the more unusual places to visit in Wisconsin.
The highly-rated Grandstay Hotel is the ideal place to hang your hat, which is much better than sleeping under a bridge.
10. Sand Creek Brewing Company
Address: 320 Pierce St, Black River Falls, WI 54615
The history of the Sand Creek Brewing Company is as storied as the brews they offer today. With beginnings dating back to the mid-1800s, it involves no less than three breweries, which have seen their fair share of tragic accidents, gold medal world beer cup wins, and more.
Sand Creek Brewery began life in 1999, formed by Brewmaster Cory Schroeder and Jim Wiesender. After years of homebrewing on his dairy farm, Cory chose to set up his very own brewery business using scrounged equipment. Their ales were exceptional, and they quickly gained popularity among Wisconsin’s numerous brew festivals, outgrowing their small operation.
As luck would have it, Todd Krueger, the Brewmaster of Pioneer Brewing Company, thereafter announced the sale of his premises, and the two breweries agreed to join forces. The new Sand Creek Brewing Company opened in March 2004 at Pioneer’s former address in Black River Falls.
The taproom is open Thursday through Saturday, with free tours offered on Fridays. This stylish mid-century modern apartment is a two-minute drive away and is located right on the river.
11. Tyranena Brewing Company
Address: 1025 Owen St, Lake Mills, WI 53551
The name Tyranena Brewing Company is said to be derived from a lake where American Indians built stone burial mounds. It began life on November 16, 1998, by Rob Larson, its founder and head brewer. Located in the small town of Lake Mills between Madison and Milwaukee, the brewery celebrates local history, folklore, and legends with its well-loved year-round beers.
It makes six brews in total, as well as seasonal beers and unique varieties. Each beer made at Tyranena Brewing Company has a distinct name that is either related to the locality’s history and mythology or something uniquely “Wisconsin.” These iconic labels are part of Tyranena beers’ special appeal.
They have two locations in Lake Mills. The Farmacy Public House is downtown, while the original brewery and Tasting Room sit on the outskirts.
The Tasting Room seats 35 people, and live music is performed every Friday and Saturday evening in the beer garden throughout the summer. Puzzles and board games are also available, and food trucks serve tasty grub at the weekends. This Lake Mills retreat is perfectly located to enjoy all the town has to offer, and is only a few minutes away from one of the best craft breweries in Wisconsin.
12. One Barrel Brewing Company
Address: 2001 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704
In 2012, Peter Gentry established One Barrel Brewing Co by, as its name suggests, brewing his beer one barrel at a time. His creations were so successful that he created a second store, and in 2019, One Barrel Brewing Company was established as the state’s 13th-largest craft brewery.
Although their brewing process has changed, they still produce 12 brews in small batches. They are crafted at their renovated Madison location, boasting some delicious food and bakehouse snacks. Try favorites like the seasonal Banjo Cat black porter, the regular Ninjadust IPA, and the Commuter Kolsch.
Aside from their flagships and regular beers, 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. A second taproom venue was opened in Egg Harbor, in Door County.
Don’t forget to visit if you’re in the Wisconsin panhandle. Or “thumb,” as it’s also known.
My house isn’t too far from One Barrel, but I’m afraid I can’t host. You’ll have better luck at the Hotel Indigo just down the road. And you won’t have a little yappy dog trying to bark you to deaf.
13. Door County Brewing Company
Address: Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
“Keep Wisconsin Beer’d” is the slogan that greets you on the Door Country Brewing website. I couldn’t agree more. Located on the Door County peninsular, the brewery opened in 2012, creating unique craft beer concoctions with a community spirit.
Head to Baily’s Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan to find the best brewery around, tap room, and music hall. They offer a great selection of year-round and seasonal beers, including the popular Vacationland IPA, and their League Night larger. Expect live tunes every Saturday afternoon until well into the evening.
They also have a sister brewery in Milwaukee if you’re not venturing up that far. The Hacienda Beer Company is located in an East Side neighborhood and serves Texicana-style eats to be washed down with experimental brews.
But for those heading up to the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” there are plenty of places to stay. Try the Beachfront Inn, which is just four minute’s walk away from the brewery. Where I come from, we’d call that “dangerous.”
See Related: Best Restaurants in Door County, Wisconsin
14. Wisconsin Brewing Company
Address: 1079 American Way, Verona, WI 53593
Not only does the Wisconsin Brewing Company serve 12 to 14 of their brews daily, but they also have their own pond. Situated in a suburb of Verona; the brewery, taproom, and beer garden is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the state capital of Madison.
The Wisconsin Brewing Company is now home to Lake Louie Brewing, which began in 1999. Brewmaster Tom Porter was looking for a new challenge after giving over 20 years to the engineering field and trying to profit from a brewing company was certainly it!
As these home brewhouse stories go, it wasn’t long before Tom had made a name for himself and expanded Lake Louie Brewing in both premises and beer portfolio. Married with the Wisconsin Brewing Company in 2023, today they produce some seriously delicious beers, including a personal favorite, the ‘Warped Speed Scotch Ale.’
A visit to the taproom and beer garden is a must if you’re anywhere close to this part of the world. Live music with a background sunset over the pond is a special experience. Afterward, you can bed at Hyatt Place, just up the road.
What kinds of beer are Wisconsin breweries known for?
Just about anything you can think of! The best breweries in Wisconsin don’t limit themselves to one type of beer. You can find IPAs, sour beers, barrel-aged brews, German-style pilsners, stouts, hard ciders, brown ales, amber ales, porters…Wisconsin beer options are as varied as the cheese curd flavors. (And that’s a lot.)
How can I go on a brewery tour in Wisconsin?
The best way to go on a brewery tour is to contact the brewery directly – especially if they’re likely to be busy. But I’ve managed to go on tours just by turning up and booking the next one available. Alternatively, you can do a guided brewery tour that takes you around a few breweries, although that one is currently only available in Milwaukee.
Are there any seasonal or limited-edition beers from Wisconsin breweries?
Yes, of course! Most of Wisconsin’s best craft breweries will produce seasonal and limited-edition products annually. Some of them return year after year, others will never return. The best way to find out about a brewery’s beer calendar is to contact them directly.
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- About the Author
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Joshua Lagandaon is a writer from the Philippines. He has been writing professionally for more than a decade after taking a Creative Writing degree at the Philippines’ prestigious Ateneo de Manila University. He writes for local travel, fashion, and lifestyle magazines while dabbling in theater and the arts.