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Working Draft Brewing Company

Madison, WI


Crusin’ Grade: B-

Boozin’ Grade: B-

brewery- Madison, WI- Travel Blog- Working Draft Brewery

Working Draft Beer Company, by many beer nerds, is considered the best brewery in Madison, WI. With a wide variety of offerings, Hannah, The Prankster, and I, decided to go and test this place out. I had been there other times in social situations and was even one of the spots we stopped at on the trip that started the blog, but this trip was the first trip we really sat down to evaluate everything as a whole.

Working Draft is on the near east side of Madison and usually abuzz with activity. In the summer, good luck finding parking (even on the street) or seating. We got lucky on a rainy fall afternoon at an odd time (2:00 PM) and had no issue with either. While open year round, I can definitely tell that the foot traffic changes with the season. There is a small makeshift outdoor space featuring some canopy tents, seating, and outdoor heaters. The inside features the warehouse aesthetic, almost as if it was a brewery first, and then the tasting space was an afterthought. That means it’s pretty spacious, smells of fermented beer, and has a little pot belly fireplace for those colder days. Pre-COVID they had a seating area that featured couches and a table which was quite cozy but since then it’s been replaced with a high top table or two. The walls are cinder block and the tables are made of old bowling alley flooring which is a nice touch.

As you all know we dislike brewpubs BUT there is something to be said about true breweries. Yes, I love them, but you find yourself, after sitting there for an hour, thinking, that you want some sort of snack whether that be a soft pretzel, popcorn, or little appetizers. I know it seems like we are a little Goldilocks with those standards but there is a sweet spot and it’s usually a brewery with some snacky stuff, or a pizza joint connected to it, or somewhere that can at least deliver. I guess the option of food is the sweet spot rather than the focus on food like a brewpub.

Wisconsin Travel Blog- Madison, WI- Working Draft Brewing
Wall Mural inside of the Tasting Room

Since there were three of us, we tried something new with the beer. Each of us got a flight, tasted beer from each, and then we gave a cumulative grade on all three flights at the end of the afternoon which gave a unique twist to our usual discussion that happens between Hannah and me.

Flights cost $11.00 for four samples, which is a tad high (remember our average is $10.00 per flight).

Wisconsin Travel Blog- Madison, WI- Working Draft Brewing

Bold Fonts (6.5% ABV) - This Hazy IPA smelled of citrus, melon, and mango with a cloudy straw color. There were some sweet melon notes to the hops used upon tasting, high carbonation, and the hop presence was strong, but this one ended in a smooth finish. I was neither here nor there on this beer with neither Hannah nor The Prankster enjoying it.

Goose Suit (6.5% ABV) - This Strawberry Kettle Sour smelled of grapefruit and guava (The Prankster’s favorite fruit). Unfortunately, none of us were in love with with this cantaloupe-colored beer that featured high carbonation with strong notes of citrus and some Guava on the tongue that ended in some definite wheat notes. It seems as though this one was sour only to be sour when according to Hannah. None of us could find any strawberry whatsoever in this beer.

Ten Snack (3.8% ABV) - This Czech Pale Lager had the aroma of dirty hay and sweet syrup with high clarity, high carbonation, with a decent amount of bitterness, I’d say this beer is bright, as it should be and ends on hop notes I detected no fruit esters which is characteristic of this style but I also didn’t find a lot of rich breadiness which there should be. A fine beer, but not a standout.

A Pils is a Pils is a Pils is a Pils (4.7% ABV) - Outside of the mouthful and slightly obnoxious name, there isn’t much wrong with this beer. This Pils is a slow pour which has come back into style out of Colorado and adopted by Working Draft. Order this beer ahead of time because it takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes for this beer to be ready to go down. The slow pour method is unique in that it lets the carbonation come down quite a bit as well as the temperature of this pilsner. This was news to me because I enjoy a cold beer. While this Pilsner is still cold, it’s not ice cold and I found that it really works. Pilsner, of course, being a style of malt that originated from what is now the Czech Republic and this beer being an American Pilsner. This Pilsner tastes features slight maltiness with characteristic corn sweetness that gives it a really rounded flavor profile that gets complimented by the hop bitterness. Ends dry and I would argue crisp. This is a fantastic looking and fantastic tasting beer and is getting my stamp of approval for being the best Pilsner we have come across.

The Usual (5.2% ABV) - My Second favorite beer here, this Blonde Ale features Vanilla & Coffee. This beer smells of slight sweetness with fresh-brewed coffee, if you hold this beer in your mouth you experience the full effect of flavor, starting with slight sweetness, transitioning into coffee and then a little vanilla with the distinct flavor of chocolate-covered cherries in the aftertaste. This beer had low carbonation and was cloudy golden straw in color. This was another great beer that I went back for a pint of. I can tell you, both the Pils and this beer will be my “usual” when I go back.

Pulp Culture (6.1% ABV) - This Hazy IPA was definitely hazy and pale yellow, barely letting any light through it’s fall-straw colored body. This beer featured Denali and Amarillo hops which I have had in other IPAs and I am fast becoming a fan of. This beer was fruity with melon on the nose a featured flavors of sugared grapefruit and cooked pineapple. I found this to be a very approachable IPA that while the hop character was quite strong, I didn’t think it lingered on the tongue too much. Another solid beer for me, but Hannah solidly passed, and The Pankster was unimpressed.

Year-Round Tan (7.0% ABV) - This Dry-Hopped Belgian Gold with Cherries was the color of the dregs of a brandy old-fashioned sweet, that orangey red we all know and love. Featuring strong hop character up front which gives way to strawberry syrup. This cloudy Belgian moves from bitter to tart to sweet all in one sip and had a slight maraschino cherry scent. Although I didn’t love this beer, it may have just been because I was dying for an old fashioned when looking at it and was disappointed when I didn’t taste one.

Luna Llena (4.3% ABV) - This Mexican Style Amber Lager left a lot to be desired. Made with corn mash, this beer smelled like someone slapped you in the face with a corn husk at an October bonfire. It featured the distinctive taste of corn tortillas with a slight hop finish. It was almost whiskey brown in color with medium-high clarity but none of us were fans of this one.

Smell Ya Later (7.0% ABV) - This Hazy IPA with Nelson Hops (a first for me) was highly hazy and cloudy autumn straw in color and smelled of citrus and toasted pistachios, it tasted of slightly over-baked pumpkin seeds with a hint of citrus which isn’t very pleasant, despite the season. We all agreed that this is a skip.

Pumpkin Spice Amber Ale (5.0% ABV) - We had to, of course. This ale was brewed with Cinnamon, Ginger, Allspice, and Nutmeg which leads to a distinct smell of Starbucks in Fall, and although the color of dead leaves with medium clarity indicates it will be warming, it tasted fakey as canned pumpkin pie filling. We don’t love the basic white girl in fall flavored beers, but this one was extra forgettable.

In all, the interior isn’t super exciting and we wish they had snacks. I think it’s a functional space and the staff were extremely chill and polite. We were happy that the tables were large enough to hold multiple flights and give everyone space to spread out a little (we’ve taken notes at some pretty small cocktail tables). There is some incredible artwork on the walls that Hannah loved and the Prankster found his chair comfy enough to doze off briefly after perhaps one too many samples.

Wisconsin Travel Blog- Madison, WI- Working Draft Brewing
One of the Gallery Walls Featuring the Artist in Residence

Now, while I loved the beer here we broke down the grades between the three of us. Hannah was not super impressed with any of the beers here and the Prankster found the beers to be slightly average or a little below. While I didn’t love each and every beer I thought there were some definite stars in this show. Putting all of our grades together we ended at a “B-”.

Do I think you should absolutely try their beer? Yes, and to be honest, I think both Hannah and the Prankster would agree that the Pilsner is a revelation and, even if you don’t love the taste, it’s worth it to see the unique pour method and the awesome glass it’s served in. Everyone should try this Pilsner, got it? Everyone.

I think, if you’re in Madison, this place is worth the stop if only for the uniqueness of one beer, if you don’t want to stay, they are located in a spot with plenty of spots to get your foodie on or even within distance of other watering holes.

Until next time, don’t stop Crusin’, keep on Boozin’.

To learn more about Working Draft Brewing Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @WorkingDraftBeer or on Instagram: @WorkingDraftBeer

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