Log in or Sign up
Extreme Beer Fest
returns to Boston on March 21 & 22, 2014.
Tickets are on sale now
BeerAdvocate mobile beta: Testers Wanted
. Give it a try and let us know what you think.
Android or Google Chrome user? Get a
14 day free trial to BeerAdvocate magazine on Google Play Newsstand
today! (AU, CA, UK, US only).
Extreme Beer Fest
Google Play Newsstand
No picture uploaded.
Upload it now
Taps: 10 / Bottles: 30
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1980 Atwood Ave
phone: (608) 204-7644
(Place added by: dirtylou on 01-11-2009)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 8 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
It pained me to see Wonder's go. I was long a regular at the venerable Eastside establishment. Heck, I was a devotee. Although Alchemy brings much to the table, as does Dexter's, which opened shortly after Wonder's shut its doors, and although I can still get a beer served to me by the great bartender Sid, formerly of Wonder's currently of the Malt House and Dexter's, I still can't help but miss Wonder's. Well...enough with the run-on sentences and on to a review of Alchemy.
When the hippie/hipster kids that opened Alchemy took over the place they didn't change much esthetically, aside from making a few very much-needed improvements. The walls were painted, the floors refinished, and some god-awful 1970s velvet black light art was hung on the walls. Thankfully, that art has now made way for hangings from local artists. Amen.
The bar is still long, wooden, and raised a couple steps up from the main floor. It features seating for 10-12. Areas in the front windows and rear corner opposite the kitchen are also raised and provide snug corners for groups to assemble and chat. The vibe is hip yet still neighborhoody.
One will find live music featured almost every night of the week at Alchemy. Bluegrass, long a neighborhood favorite, is frequently featured but blues, rock, and DJs playing a great variety of music also find their place. I've often enjoyed some quality brews with Reggae bumping in the background.
Food is pretty solid at Alchemy. I'm basically addicted to their homemade salad dressings and seasoned potatoes and usually go with the deep fried tomato and cheese sandwich or whatever special is on that day. Their steak sandwiches are usually good too. On Friday's be prepared to wait and wait because Alchemy churns out one of the most popular and affordable fish frys in the neighborhood. Basically, you can expect to find typical bar food tweaked with a lot of creativity and use of local/organic products. Very vegetarian friendly but not without a giant buffalo burger on the menu for carnivores like me.
The beer list is very limited but always above par. Bottle selection is slim to non existent but the ten or so tap lines feature an ever rotating selection of local crafts like New Glarus, Capital, or Lake Louie, and top selections from national craft brewers. Often featured are beers from Dogfishhead, Avery, Three Floyds, New Holland, Smuttynose, Stone, and Breckenridge, but frankly you never know what you're going to find from one week to the next.
In the end, I still miss Wonder's but I'm glad to have another pro-beer joint take its place in my neighborhood. If you're coming to Madison and spending time on the Eastside, include this in any pub crawl along with Ale Asylum, Dexter's, and the Malt House.
Oh, and service is always very good.
12-07-2009 16:31:31 |
More by DaPeculierDane
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Transcribed from notes dated Su, 09 Aug 2009.
Located at an odd intersection of Winnebago and Atwood Streets, I had been past it a few times but never visited until a 2008 Pre-GTMW bar crawl.
One important point to note is that they are cash only, no cards. I dislike carrying cash, but I made the concession here. It was a wide space with windows flanking either side of the twin door entryway. Once inside, on both a buttonhook-right and a buttonhook-left were a couple of seating areas up a couple of steps. Standard restaurant tables and chairs ran along the right wall with a pew-like bench in front of another elevated seating area separated by railings. First, three steps led up to two tables on the right, then two more steps led up to three more tables. The bar area was along the left wall, also up three steps. I did not understand the need for all of the elevation. I felt as though I were inside an Escher print. The "J"-shaped dark wood bar was fairly long with the taps at the left-facing end of the back bar. The back bar was an antique mirror and carved wood affair with shelves for liquor and glassware. To the right of the back bar was the kitchen. The lavs were all of the way aft, through a doorway on the right. A skylight was right in the center of the building. The ambiance was low-key with jazz playing and the lights dimmed, but not stygian. An H-D flat screen TV was hung above the entryway to the kitchen, but it was pretty unobtrusive.
Beers: Ten rotating taps with a highly Midwestern influence - Great Lakes, Bell's, two Two Brothers, Founders, Ale Asylum, Pearl Street and Viking, plus a Rogue and an Oskar Blues. Nineteen bottles, most fairly common.
Mom Test: Sure. This is a good, low-key joint with good food and good beer. I saw lots of families having dinner while I hung out at the bar.
06-27-2010 20:58:29 |
More by woodychandler
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25 | $$
I went here to taste pseudo sue for Madison craft week. It is a nice little cafe with some outdoor seating. They had a selection of about 7 or 8 good craft beers capable of making a decision of what to order a little tough.
They seem to care about the food and our waitress took the time to explain what must be a very delicious dish of gourmet Mac and cheese but I just got some sweet potato fries.
The biggest disappointment was that our waitress did not have a calculator in her brain, something I think should be included in all waitresses.
05-10-2013 14:30:53 |
More by leedorham
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $
Stopped in here for a few during my recent trip to mad town.
Seating for diners on the right and an elevated stage like bar on the left. I took a seat at the bar. First thing I noticed was how wobbly my stool was it felt like it fall apart at any second. Once I figured out it was how all their stools are I rolled with it.
About ten taps to choose from which isn't a huge number but all were solid choices. I ordered a beer and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was happy hour. Score one for me. The bartender was very friendly and promt. He did manage to fill all my pints so full I had to do the no hand slurp with every glass. I appreciate that it's 16oz of beer but come on man. I like to enjoy the head too.
Overall a nice chill place to grab a beer in Madison.
10-10-2010 19:17:50 |
More by beerwolf77
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $
This was my second visit to Alchemy, the first time being the Surly/TBS pre-party for Great Taste of the Midwest last year.
I really like the feel of the place, a laid back airy cafe kind of vibe with low key music playing in the afternoon. The bar is elevated, towards the back left end of the room. Tables in the front windows, and another elevated seating area in the back. Wood floors and railings, plenty of sunlight in the day, local art on the walls, and a small patio area out front too.
Taps were largely local, a few exclusives like Capital Hop Bock and Bells 3rd Coast Old Ale (keg had just blown though), New Holland Existential, and local standbys like Ale Asylum Hopalicious. They had maybe 20-25 bottles of various stuff listed on the menu, nothing too wild but a decent variety. Also some creative mixed drinks, one used Rogue Spruce gin.
Didn't try the food, but our table ordered a few appetizers and they were a cut above typical bar food. There seemed to be a good amount of organic stuff on the menu. Alchemy is a great neighborhood place and i'd return anytime when visiting Madison.
05-04-2009 14:57:28 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
first stop right off the plane on my latest Madison adventure
the place was pretty dead at 3 pm on a Wednesday afternoon - it was packed at the Two Brothers GT pre-party, but memories of that night aren't exactly clear, walked to the bar inside and ordered a Great Lakes Independence while my compadre went with a Founders Cerise (cute), cool old-school wooden interior would make a fine place to hole up for a couple hours in the winter months, but summertime it is...
after taking our seats on the sidewalk patio it was only a short wait for my stuffed grilled cheese to arrive, loved the sandwich and the wedge fries were on point, the subsequent Friday night fish-fry was quite easily the best I've had
the selection was all quality but there really weren't any "wow" beers - though I'm told it's typically better, the Independence was better than expected - not to say that I don't expect quality from Great Lakes, but red ales are often pretty tame
the bartendress was very friendly and kept making the trip outside to check on us
good start to the trip and definitely worth repeat visits
08-21-2009 22:38:17 |
More by blackie
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I live 2 blocks away and, until recently, had not discovered Alchemy. Now I am kicking myself for not getting there sooner. The food my fiancee and I have had there has been amazing (Tarragon Ham and the Bison burger with bacon and onions for me and a BLT and fish tacos for her). Also, if they have their handbreaded wings as a special GET them; you won't regret it. The beer selection is great, with about 10 nice craft beers on tap. I am sad they took out Gumballhead between my first and second visit, but they made up for it with Bedlam! from Ale Asylum, and Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale. The service is the only complain in that it's somewhat slow. Also, IMPORTANT - THEY ONLY ACCEPT CASH OR CHECK. However, they do have an ATM in the place, so it alleviates this issue somewhat. The prices are pretty normal, $4.25-4.75 for a nice pint of craft beer and typically 8 bucks for a sandwich. My fiancee loves the sweet potato fries as well. There are some entrees that are 13-15 bucks but if you want to eat cheaper here and get good food, you definitely can.
Also, Sunday night we went in and took part in a very fun, yet difficult, trivia night. Tons of fun - would totally recommend this to anyone!
06-08-2011 21:22:38 |
More by HopHeadHurls
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Alchemy - inhabits the building formerly known as Wonders Pub.
When i first visited Alchemy a while back, shortly after it opened, there were some nice taps and lunch was pretty decent. Boy has this place come a long way since - i now stop through here weekly, and i'll tell you why
Alchemy really seems to be the new Weary on the near-east side. The vibe is great, the food is outstanding, and the beer is even better.
the old wooden interior and small elevated bar are full of character - the room hosts live music on the weekend and is quite cozy any night of the week.
i dont believe there is any bottled beer but the taps rotate quickly and feature things you might not see elsewhere. in the past few weeks i've enjoyed stone double bastard, stone arrogant bastard, smuttynose barleywine, dfh world wide stout, avery czar, and new holland dragons milk (wonderful on tap). Out of the 10 taps on hand, the least attractive on my most recent visit was new holland kolsch, which isnt a bad standby. There is no domestic schwill anywhere in sight. I also noted 3F alpha king, capital winter skal, and various other local/regionals. I get the impression that if you go to this place every week or two, you will consistently be surprised. This is precisely what you want in a neighborhood beer joint.
The menu, much like the Weary's, is small but impressive. There are a number of nice appetizers (veggies, hummus etc) and some great salads - the maize salad is full of garbanzo beans and a nice dressing. The portabella sandwich with leeks is also nice and the beer brined chicken breast with a spicy corn/garbanzo bean salad was quite good. The fish fry looked fantastic but i was trying to limit my caloric intake.
The near-east side of Madison literally went from a beer wasteland to the most fertile part of town with Alchemy, the Malt House, Dexter's, and Ale Asylum taking over.
Alchemy rocks, go check it out.
01-11-2009 18:25:37 |
More by dirtylou
Alchemy in Madison, WI
Your name or email address:
Do you already have an account?
No, create an account now.
Yes, my password is:
Forgot your password?
Stay logged in
Top 250 Beers
Change of Address