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Delta Beer Lab

Madison, WI

 

Crusin Rating: C-

Boozin’ Rating: B-

 
Exterior of Delta Beer Lab, with parking lot outdoor seating

If you wanted to sort of wrap up many characteristics of what makes Madison, Madison, mix them all together and put them pour them into a brewery, Delta Beer Lab is what you would get.

Overarching science theme reflective of the research done every day at the University?

Check.

Owner who spent 146 days away from “real life” and just hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Check.

LGBTQ+ supportive and friendly?

Check.

Service Industry workers making a living wage and straying away from tip culture? Check. Beer?

Check.


It’s as if someone took a straight snapshot of Willy Street and created this place based off a picture. Hell, there are Breweries quite close in proximity to that neighborhood that aren’t as progressive as Delta Beer Lab and that’s saying something. Let’s talk about some of this a little. Hiking the Appalachian trail is killer and my own Mother, who is prepping for the Pacific Crest Trail, would be highly impressed. Paying your staff a living wage was refreshing, but at the same time made me feel guilty for not leaving a tip. It’s always nice to see a place being inclusive. Finally, the theme. Hannah loves the branding and I do have to agree that the branding used throughout is both entertaining and the most unique of anywhere we have been in Wisconsin.


Beer flight using beakers for glasses

For starters, the flights you get come in little wire racks and are served in beakers. How awesome is that? Definitely the most unique flight decor we’ve seen. The taps are styled as test tubes, jars and beakers and carafes of various colored-liquids decorate behind the bar. The bar itself is designed as a Delta, triangular, which is a shape of a bar I’ve only seen there. Lastly, the beers and theme of the branding is on point. It’s all themed around the periodic table as if to say the beers are basic elements of the human diet. Clever.


Unique beer taps

While the branding is magnificent, there are a few drawbacks. The food is served grocery style, which means you grab a frozen pizza and cook it yourself. I guess that’s a neat experience, but one better off experienced at home. Additionally, while the lab stuff is cool and neat, a sterile lab, which was leaned hard into, doesn’t exactly make a commercial space feel “homey.” After having been there a few times now, I never really feel like it’s a comforting space where I can hang out with friends and drink the night away. Points definitely for sticking to the theme, but it’s a them that doesn’t lend itself to a “regular haunt” vibe despite the numerous board games offered and the cleanliness of the space. More than once I’ve gotten flashbacks to Anatomy and Physiology and the smell of formaldehyde and yikes, that’s a memory best left locked away forever.



As for our thoughts on those nifty little beaker beers, a flight costs $9.00 which is a little below our average for four 2 oz. pours.


LAG .02 (5.6% ABV) - Caramel colored and light tasting for the style with high clarity, this Oktoberfest smelled of toasted oats and malt. The taste started with notes of oak and cooked malt and ended dry with notes of pan-toasted cheerios. I was hoping for a fuller mouthfeel. The feel here was closer to a lager than a Marzen, I wanted richness that was sorely lacking.


GLD .01 (5% ABV) - This Golden ale had almost no aroma to speak of, unless you get your nose so close to the sample that you accidentally dunk it (which I did). Golden straw in color with both high carbonation and clarity. It was very drinkable with low malt flavor and had a sharp hop finish reminiscent of the style. This was a decent beer but I felt bolder hops were needed.


BLG .03 (5.2% ABV) - This Belgian Witbier was the color of pale straw with medium-high clarity and tasted of clove and spiced bread. I found this flavor more reminiscent of a cold Autumn than the Oktoberfest. Although I would have liked to see that slight citrus or vanilla characteristic of the best of this style. The scent was faintly of sourdough, as if catching a whiff out of someone’s house as you pass by before a blustering wind whips it away. I would drink this again.


KSR .01 (4.4% ABV) - This Gose had a distinctly vinegary scent which is not as subtle as I would have liked to smell. However, with moderate sourness but lost out on any fruit flavor, however the doughyness was present and even a small little note of saltiness which is always nice in this style. This beer was the color of cloudy lemonade and I found the acidity to be forward all the way through the finish which leans toward a more historical sour style. There was high carbonation, again standard. Overall I think this was a solid Gose and if you’re into the unflavored style (no fruit) then I’d suggest grabbing this.


BLD .01 (5% ABV) - Another entry into the blueberry ale that hits you right in the face with blue-berry waffle sweetness on a Saturday morning complete with cartoons. However, that’s really where the pleasantness ends. This beer was rich golden in color with high clarity and tastes just like cooked blueberries, far too sweet and in your face for my taste. In hindsight though, if you’re going to go for a blueberry beer, this might be the one you want as, of the three we’ve had, this is the most tolerable.


BRN .01 (5.2% ABV) - Another flavored beer, this Brown Ale has been infused with coffee and again I found it to be heavy-handed. Walk into a Starbucks and you’ll know what this beer’s aroma is. It tasted far more coffee than beer with its dark cherry-brown coloring. I found notes of the beer hard to pick up because the taste of coffee was just so aggressive. There was a nice foamy head and medium clarity to this beer with high carbonation and a dry finish. I think even if you like coffee, you should skip this one.


PAL .05 (5.2% ABV) - This Sequoia Pale Ale, named after it’s hops, not the tree, had low clarity and was the color of rusty well water. The hops were present on the nose and it did have a little bite to it’s bark when tasting. I got notes of citrus zest that led into a dry, almost nutty finish. I wanted just a little malt to balance this beer out. I actually thought it fit the profile of an IPA, rather than what I think they were going for, a West Coast Pale Ale. While I did pick up some pine notes on review the grapefruit escaped me.


KSR .02 (4.4%) - As far as pineapple goes, Sandy Cheeks will always have my heart, which is a Pineapple Hefeweizen put out by Wisconsin Brewing Company. However, Hannah was all over this beer. This beer was a kettle sour with what was described as a light pineapple flavor but I thought it was very upfront in its pineapple but not too much so that it was overpowering. The nose was reminiscent of those foil-wrapped pineapple candies that Ma & Pa stores would put out in bowls. This beer was not overly sweet and didn’t taste like artificial flavor was added and while I didn’t detect and brine or saltiness I agree this beer was hazy and a very solid contender for the pineapple spot on our top beers list. I was surprised at the high carbonation making this beer have a light mouthfeel.


Inner workings of Delta Beer lab (the equipment)

Overall, if you live in Madison it’s worth stopping down. Otherwise, in the immediate area I can definitely recommend grabbing their Gose or their Pineapple Gose if you can find a four pack. If you end up there I’d even go so far as saying grab the Belgian Witbier if something like Blue Moon is your go-to. I can’t recommend traveling here from outside of Madison though as I think our pictures do the space justice and without that homey feel, it’s just not a very welcoming place to sit and hang out. Also who wants to cook their own frozen pizza? The branding is excellent and I give them credit for sticking with the theme throughout the brewery. With Hannah and I split over the best Pineapple beer we will have to consult with The Artist and The Prankster and take a vote which sounds to me like an excellent task for next summer.


Until next time, keep on cruisin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Delta Beer Lab please visit their website at: www.delta.beer or on Facebook: @DeltaBeerLab or on Instagram: @Delta.Beer





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