Ah, summer in Madison. Time for bike rides, long nights at the Terrace, and kayaking on Lake Mendota. And if your Madison apartment has a porch (there’s a filter for that!), it’s also time for a blissful afternoon in the shade, sitting on a deck chair with an ice chest full of cold beverages at your side. Living in Madison, you’ll have plenty of locally-brewed choices. Here are five of the best.
- New Glarus Bubbler
New Glarus is technically not within Madison city limits, but it’s the most popular craft brewery in the state and an easy day trip away, so it makes the cut. Bubbler is a summer seasonal hefeweizen. Combining European Pilsner malts with Wisconsin wheat and naturally carbonated, the beer is hazy, light, and refreshing — perfect for a hot afternoon watching the day go by.
- Karben 4 Idiot Farm
Karben 4 is known for its IPAs, which are typically aggressive and complex. If you’ve had a Fantasy Factory, you don’t soon forget it. Idiot Farm, the brewery’s seasonal imperial IPA, is basically Fantasy Factory times two: twice the ABV, twice the hops, and twice the complex, malty finish. Expect explosive pineapple and stonefruit flavors from the mosaic, citra, and simcoe hops. Also expect this beer to go fast — it’s only available in four-packs, and people snap them up almost instantly.
- One Barrel Commuter Kolsch
One Barrel is one of Madison’s youngest — and smallest — breweries, but that doesn’t stop the Atwood shop from producing some of the city’s best and most inventive beers. Their Commuter Kolsch is a summertime classic: crisp, clean, and light-bodied. It’s easy to drink one or two… or three.
- Lake Louie Pant Antler
Lake Louie is best known for its excellent scotch ale, but a scotch ale isn’t always the best thing for a hot day. Luckily, the folks at the Arena-based Lake Louie brew a fine Czech-style pilsener for the summer months. Crisp, complex, and very subtly hopped, Pant Antler is perfect for a scorching afternoon, but it’s also full-bodied enough to stand up to backyard barbeque fare.
- Ale Asylum Unshadowed
Ale Asylum’s hefeweizen is perfectly sessionable: refreshing, light-bodied, and low ABV. But its complex, malty backbone — with notes of banana, clove, and vanilla — elevate it above the ranks of your standard lawnmower beer. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)