Good morning. If you had “Wednesday morning” as your bet in the “when do the wheels fall off the “wisconsin content” train, please step up and claim your prize (it’s a warm can of PBR).
As such we will be continuing on with our tradition of “things to do in various Midwestern/Big Ten cities,” only it will not be written by the team-specific writer. Instead, you’ve got me. We assume this is Speth’s way of calling in
sick hung the fuck over:
What are my qualifications, you ask?
- Frequent visitor to madison (only because my fiance got a graduate degree there)
- Also frequent visitor to madison (many of my dissertation sources are housed in the wisconsin Historical Society)
- Infrequent visitor to madison (sporting events, 1-2 career record: 0-1 Growing Up Gopher—shock—1-1 Vastly Superior Northwestern Fan)
- Have Good Opinions about beer
As such, you’re stuck with me. Suckers.
Do: Visit one of the lovely 356 days out of the year.
With three wonderful lakes (actual, proper lakes, not wisconsin lakes which are just puddles with an inferiority complex), madison offers wonderful recreational opportunities. Take your sweetheart out for a hike to Picnic Point, bike the trails which crisscross the city, or sit out on the Terrace. You can’t go wrong. Is it winter? Go ice fishing or for a walk if the ice is save. You get wonderful, sweeping views of a downtown inhabited by objectively terrible people.if the ice is save. You get wonderful, sweeping views of a downtown inhabited by objectively terrible people.
How terrible, you ask? Well, While campaigning for governor in 1978, uw-stevens point chancellor Lee Dreyfus correctly judged madison to be “thirty square miles surrounded by reality.” While Mayor-for-Life Paul Soglin has tried to re-purpose that to the tourism benefit of madison, it still adequately sums up madison’s self-delusional obsession with itself, from thinking [/no politics] to actually believing that Corey Clement wasn’t that good of a running back.
He was, it’s just that he also liked pretending people jumped him when actually he was a drunk idiot and threw the first punch.
Don’t: Visit on one of the other 9 days of the year.
Are you a non-wisconsinite? Would you like to visitVisit during a wisconsin football game, Freakfest, or “Mifflin”*? Do not. Just take our word on this.
Do: Make a trip to any one of the myriad microbreweries.
Locations I Recommend(TM)—and have visited—include:
- Vintage: They have some excellent high-gravity stuff, my favorites being the Dedication Abbey Dubbel and Maximillian (Max) Stout. The gal recommends the Weiss Nix Bavarian Weissbier and the Jinja Ninja Spiced Double Wit, though as a ginger she is biased. Also the Hibiscus Saison. This is a nice downtown spot for some decent food, great craft beer, and a little darts or foosball if you’re in to that sort of thing. We use it as an alternative to the downtown spaces.
- Ale Asylum: One of the best breweries in wisconsin, if not the Upper Midwest, Ale Asylum enjoys hopping the shit out of some things (like their Ambergeddon and brown ale), and it actually works really nicely, even for this guy who’s burnt out on hops. Their brewing palace is just a bit outside downtown, easily Uber-able and a must-see.brown ale), and it actually works really nicely, even for this guy who’s burnt out on hops. Their brewing palace is just a bit outside downtown, easily Uber-able and a must-see.
- Capital: The brewery that started it all. It’s a little hike over to Middleton, but the beer garden, complete with giant Adirondack chairs, a stage, and limited-release brews, is a must-visit. I’m partial to the Fishin’ in the Dark Imperial Schwarzbier or the Eternal Flame Imperial Stout (cocoa nibs and habanero), and while I’m not wild on their standard fare, Island Wheat is an easy-drinking summer beer.
- Karben4: It has a kind of office-parkish feel to it, but the dim and cozy interior is a nice place to sip on some of their potent potables. We’ll do a me-fiance thing, since we have nearly-differing tastes. Tokyo Sauna Pale Ale was her choice, Lady Luck Imperial Red and Night Call Smoked Porter were mine.
- One Barrel: I’m a huge sucker for penguins, so the Penguin Pale Ale was a must-try...and it lived up to the reputation. It’s got a wheatier malt than your standard pale and actually comes in a little darker, but it’s a delicious and drinkable beer. If you can get your hands on their Breakfast Beer Imperial Coffee Stout, it’s a great way to start some serious day-drinking.
- Next Door: Also up on the East Side (worth a visit), this little hole-in-the-wall is special to me, as it’s where I watched Jack Mitchell sink Penn State in 2015 [your reminder that James Franklin has never beaten Pat Fitzgerald. What a coach]! Nextdoortoberfest was very good, as was their more standard Bubbler Blonde Ale. Listed also, only because I’m a sucker for sours, was their red defector sour ale, brewed with cherries. It was very good, though the name does not apply to me. Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself up that way.
- Great Dane: I’m only adding this on the brewery list because it’s a good downtown option, with lots of pool and darts. If you happen to find yourself downtown and want both recreation and good, on-site beer, stop by and have the Stone of Scone Scotch Ale.h recreation and good, on-site beer,
- Wisconsin Brewing Company: Also added for its proximity to downtown, on State Street just southwest of the Capitol. Their Chocolate Lab Porter is a winner, and if you can’t leave downtown to head to their home base in Verona, definitely swing by here for a beer.
Don’t: Go to student bars.
Unless you’re a student and that’s your thing. Places like Wondo’s, the KK, the Nitty Gritty...just avoid them. Same goes for Red Rock. YOU HEAR THAT, SOON-TO-BE-MRS. MNW?! IT WAS A BAD IDEA. Same goes for Regent Street, especially on gameday, unless you’d like dozens of uw-waukesha’s finest to hurl obscenities at you.
If you do decide to visit a few bars, I personally recommend Blue Moon, a little ways down Campus Drive toward Hilldale Mall,
Do: Visit the Farmer’s Market
If crowds aren’t your thing, this may not be for you, but the entirety of Capitol Square is blocked off and surrounded by stands selling delicious-ass cheesy bread (seriously. go just for this.) and other delightfully Midwestern staples of warm, filling, and not-good-for-you. It’s held Saturdays between early April and mid-November from 6am to 2pm, give or take.
Also do: Go to the Essen Haus.
Drink three boots and you get a wonderful Bavarian hat. Also definitely get up and try to polka. I swear, it’s fun, and everyone’s more impressed that you tried than they are laughing at your clumsiness.
Don’t: Visit with out-of-state license plates
Or, y’know, save up about $150 before you drive in. You’ll need it, because the good ol’ state patrol really needs those snowbanks plowed up nice and high to protect and serve. Not at all to hide behind and raise money for a flagging state economy. No siree, definitely not that.
But wait, there’s more!
Our own WhiteSpeedReceiver offered some help. Here are his madison recommendations:
Do: Visit during the summer when students are away cleaning highways on work-release.
That’s just good sense.
Don't: Visit during a sporting event period, other than baseball.
Can’t really think of other things to do in madison, tbh. Mostly just drink to forget you’re in wisconsin. Let us know what we missed in the comments.