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Young Blood Beer Company

Madison, WI


Crusin’ Rating: A-

Booze Rating: A-

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Alcohol Blogger- Young Blood Beer Company- Outside

Just a block away from the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin sits Young Blood Beer Company, a spot that opened in the summer of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. One of our initial forays into the brewery came amidst that same pandemic and, at the time, we opted to post a brief preview about this space, but were initially turned off from doing a review due to the fact that they did not offer flights. While we enjoyed the beer, we weren’t quite comfortable dropping thirty dollars to do a review. Deciding to wait a little while longer, our next attempt at a review (rather next few attempts) were halted by the fact that the space is usually packed to the brim.

So, on the whim of Hannah, who was craving a sour beer after a day at work on a Saturday and Mr. Tin Fox’s baby shower, we decided to try our luck on a beautiful evening without much hope of getting in. It was going to be an expensive bullet to bite as Mr. Tin Fox confirmed they still didn’t have flights available. Parking near the Capitol is a pain 98% of the time but we got lucky on a spot just off the square. Things were looking up! Turning the corner on to King St. you’re met with a swath of streateries– outdoor, fenced-in seating areas located on sidewalks and streets that are a carry-over from COVID– with varying colored tables, strands of lighting, and abuzz with activity. We took our chances and checked inside Young Blood, despite it’s outdoor seating being filled to the brim. Our luck continued as the inside was as empty as we had ever seen it!

The inside of Young Blood Beer Company is unique in that it always gives us the feeling that we are in a crowded bar in Havana. Plant vines hang from the ceiling and adorn shadowy corners surrounded by dark wood. Two guys in Cuban short sleeved button ups with cabbie caps sit outside sipping beer. A mural adorns a wall next to the bar. Really, the only thing that’s missing is an open air facade and cigar smoke wafting through wooden shutters. Havana nights aside, Young Blood is dominated by an area that is open to the basement floor that shows production tanks poking through and is engulfed in hanging plants and a thin drinking counter with additional seating. This centerpiece is unique from what we have seen, although it does severely limit seating space. If Young Blood has a weakness, lack of seating is definitely it. With a mere 50-some seating available you are often hard-pressed to even find a spot to enjoy their beer in winter.

The streatery just about doubles the seating capacity in the warm months, but still. For a spot serving up constantly rotating brews and so close to the square, the small size does not meet the demand for the area. Coupled with the vibe of club music dully thumping and a newish addition of some elevated drunk eats, Young Blood definitely invites patrons to hang out which in this case exacerbates the seating problem since no one enjoying their beers is ever hurried out the door. As we sat and rated out beers it was easy to watch people come and go, chat, and take our notes and an hour easily slipped away and I couldn’t help but feel just slightly guilty that maybe we were taking up seating for other groups that wanted to imbibe.

As stated before, Young Blood’s other perceptible weakness is its lack of flights. While they continuously push out new beers, and rarely recreate the same beer twice, it’s understandable from that perspective that flights might cause some consternation when you can’t go back in a month and get the same beer you tasted. I think though, that’s weak reasoning because we see nano breweries limited to a barrel or so of a particular beer at a time serve flights. So the lack of flights seems to be an odd choice, especially for a downtown hangout spot that I know make a point of pushing sales of four packs within the brewery itself. So, if you’re going for beer, know that the beers we review today may not be available but the principles and quality will most likely remain the same. You can expect to pay anywhere from $6-8 per beer in our experience, so prep your wallet accordingly!

Friend Machine (7.2% ABV) - This Tropical Sour was the brown-orange of the skin of a blood orange and smelled of that slightly sickly sweet guava with a little bit of stone fruit and a creamy raspberry finish, almost like a raspberry cream cheese frosting. We both picked up notes of guava and raspberry but missed out on the described peach when tasting. What seemed to be a sour made from the addition of bacteria (possibly from fresh fruit skin), this sour tasted natural, rather than forced as can happen often in recent sours we’ve tried. I found the sourness to be pretty consistent throughout rather than something that’s there simply because a sour fruit (such as lemon) was used and the sourness caused a dry, almost tannic finish to this beer. Hannah approves!

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Alcohol Blogger- Young Blood Beer Company- Marconi Plays the Mamba Beer

Marconi Plays the Mamba (6.0% ABV) - You know, little did I know that was the line in the 80’s song, “We Built This City” by Starship. I always knew it was —something something plays the mamba, listen to the radio but it wasn’t until I had this beer that it all made sense. Always nice to see mildly obscure 80’s pop music references in our beer, but we can save the trip down memory lane for later. This tropical sour, oddly, smelled of freshly made but yet unspiced apple sauce rather than any sort of tropical fruit. This beer was a dullish cranberry-orange, similar in shade to Friend Machine. I thought this beer, unlike the previous sour, built up over time as I drank it and culminated in a burst of sourness that left your face scrunched up. I picked up notes of some blackberry but the description promised rose petal which is, in my opinion, far too delicate a flavor to be picked up in the majority of beers, including this one. Hannah also did not pick up on that flavor either and she’s our resident expert! There was, however, a little bit of plum richness as promised. I thought this was the more sour of the two sours we tried but Hannah vehemently disagreed so I will defer to her.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Alcohol Blogger- Young Blood Beer Company- Smells Like Art Class Beer

Smells Like Art Class (4.8% ABV) - I was never a huge fan of art class, and honestly, I think my art classroom usually smelled like paint and pottery clay in high school. Never fear, for this beer is not, thankfully, accurate in its aroma description. This Witbier had notes of raw ginger without the zest and definitely some lemon and a tiny bit of banana. To us, this smelled a lot like tea which evokes a quiet used bookstore more than art class. It poured a cloudy-golden and that raw ginger without the zest but Hannah and I both agreed this beer would have benefited from that little bit of spice just to set it apart. After that initial hit of ginger, the beer mellowed out (like pickled ginger) and there were notes of lemon and the typical breadiness. It sort of just ended on an unexciting note, which is not what we have come to expect from this brewery.

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Alcohol Blogger- Young Blood Beer Company- Sweep the Leg Johnny Beer

Sweep the Leg Johnny (5.3% ABV) - This Hazy Pale Ale (not to be confused with an IPA or Indian Pale Ale) was the color of the sun setting on yellow hay. Packed with Summit and Simcoe Hops this beer was a pretty singular note of full on resinous pine tree. Upon tasting, there was a little bit of orange in there. Sort of a citrus that you poured a heaping pile of pine needles into. Hannah said this would be what an orange would taste like if it grew on pine trees and really there was not much else to be said! A solidly weird beer.

Young Blood is a very trendy little spot downtown and when they make sours, they really make them well. While we didn't love everything we tired, as the case with any food or beverage, they are always brewing up something new and we will continue to come back. It’s a spendy place, just like everything else a block off of the Capitol is, so be prepared for that. There are plenty of places to eat within walking distance if you’re not in the mood for elevated drunk food, even though the menu did look enticing. Right across the street is the Settle Down Tavern that sports excellent smash burgers and ghost pepper fries which are an excellent amount of heat if you’re into spicy sides like I am. Next door to the brewery is, perhaps the best ramen place in the city, Morris Ramen, and just around the block is the award-winning L’Etoile and Graze restaurants (very pricey) and last but not least a mere two blocks is what is very well my second-favorite supper club in the state, Tornado Steakhouse.

Madison is a fantastic city with tons of imbibement sites to offer. If you are solely looking for beer I can easily say that Madison is well worth the hour drive, perhaps even longer. If you’re doing a booze cruise through the capital city of our great state then Young Blood is a must stop when you’re here next.

Until then, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

To learn more about Young Blood Beer Company please visit their website at: or on Facebook: @YoungBloodBeerCompany or on Instagram: @YoungBloodBeerCo

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