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Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.

Not Rated.
Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

29 Ratings
Ratings: 29
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 7.47%
Taps: 22
Bottles: 8
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

800 Langdon St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53706-1419
United States
phone: (608) 265-3000

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @wisconsinunion

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: DaPeculierDane on 10-19-2005)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 29 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Nick-K
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Nick-K, Apr 10, 2014
Photo of gwash411
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

gwash411, Jan 20, 2014
Photo of emerge077
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%

Sat on the terrace today to unwind post-GTMW '11. Had a pitcher of Gray's Rathskeller Amber, and watched the sailboats go by. The Rathskeller didn't open up until 3pm on Sunday, but there were a few decent craft options outside (House Amber/Oberon/SNPA). Didn't need a student ID outside to buy beer, though one friend was a WI Union member. Not sure about inside, as they were closed when we were there, but you could wander through the space.

Inside the list was: Hopalicious, Madtown Nutbrown, Oberon, Two Hearted, Capital Wheat, Franziskaner, Optimator, Stella, Alpha King, and Gumballhead.

The interior mimics an old German bierhalle, while serving as a functional cafeteria type space. Weathered dark walls with murals, wide arches and wooden beams, scattered with heavy wooden tables, scratched deep with decades-old graffito.

In warm weather, the terrace can't be beat. Patio tables, lake view, lots of people, students, families, older folks... everybody.

emerge077, Aug 15, 2011
Photo of htomsirveaux
3.79/5  rDev -8.7%

Second time here on 8 Jul 2011, late afternoon. Very nice weather on the patio, probably room for 400 people outside. Split a couple of pitchers of Bells (Two Hearted and Oberon) with ratatat. Mostly all micros on tap, Bells, Capitol, New Glarus, Ale Asylum. There is a Rathskeller specially brewed for them. Good atmosphere. Band took forever to set up. Saw a dude with an A&M shirt but realized he wasn't from Texas when I saw him sweating in the shade when it was 82 degrees out. Ratatat reminds everyone you must have a membership card to buy beer here.

htomsirveaux, Jul 08, 2011
Photo of anell213
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%

Atmosphere: Sitting outside on the lake enjoying a pitcher (or several) or beer...what could be better? Live music all the time in the summer. Not to mention all of the "scenery"...

Quality/Selection: Pretty good selection for a college union. You'll always find a couple Ale Asylum, New Glarus, Capital on tap, along with some imports. They also always have Bell's Two Hearted and Oberon (in Summer).

Service: Just fair. When busy, you'll wait in line a while to grab a pitcher. The workers are college kids, so, while friendly, they don't mostly have much beer knowledge if you don't know what you want.

Value: Reasonable. I'll take a pitcher of Oberon for $12 when most of the time a pint will run you around $5.

anell213, May 05, 2011
Photo of cwcolby74
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%

This is my go-to place whenever I visit Madison. During summer, it's one of my ultimate pleasures to sit on the Terrace behind the Union building and split a pitcher (or two) with my buddy. The lake is right in front of you, they have live music on weekends, and I'm not gonna lie, there's no shortage of UW cuties hanging out and walking by.

The Rathskeller is inside the Union, and as a person who went to college at a university with a dry campus, I almost can't believe UW has something like this. It's a full-fledged beer bar with about a dozen different beers on tap. Good beers, not crappy ones. And the prices are pretty awesome for what you're getting.

There's a cafeteria connected to the seating area for the Rathskeller, so there's food nearby, but I didn't try any.

I look forward to coming to this place every year.

cwcolby74, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of woodychandler
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%

Transcribed from notes dated Su, 09 Aug 2009.

The Rathskeller was very reminiscent of Pitt's Cathedral of Learning with the vaulted medieval arches and all of the German slogans in Olde English typeface on the walls. Lots of wood everywhere - tables, chairs, picnic benches. Wow! There were eighteen taps, many rotating, most with the same Midwestern/Great Lakes focus that I had noted at other places around town. I think that the draw here was the atmosphere and view over selection. Speaking of the view, I headed outside to contemplate Lake Mendota at sunset. A day prior, I had been gazing at Lake Monona. Ah, to be a sailor again ...

woodychandler, Jun 28, 2010
Photo of AmberMan22
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%

The terrace is the spot to be whenever it's a nice day out. Can be relaxing in the afternoons, or buzzing at night when bands come to play.
The Rathskellar is incredible too. Looks great, feels authentic... I love it.

As for beer, there are always a number of good Wisconsin micros(Capitol, Ale Asylum, Leinies, among others), and a couple of staple macros too (PBR, Miller). Generally a few german beers on tap as well, for authenticity, and this selection really makes the place feel homely. Plenty of German heritage around here (myself included), and it really is, simply put, enjoyable.

AmberMan22, Apr 13, 2010
Photo of klikger
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%

There's no better place in Madison to have a beer w/ friends on a sunny spring/summer/fall day. The Terrace is a Madison tradition - it has the best waterfront location in the city, features free concerts for most of the year (inside Der Rathskellar, as well) trademark multi-colored tables and chairs (made in nearby Oregon, WI), and a solid selection of beer.

I haven't been there in a few months, but they generally have a few New Glarus and Capital beers on tap, as well as Hopalicious, several Germans, Two-Hearted Ale, Oberon, and the normal swill. I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff (Lake Louie or Ale Asylum's Ambergeddon?).

klikger, Apr 05, 2010
Photo of blackie
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%

two visits to the terrace, each time leaving both fully satisfied and completely jealous that there's nothing that even approaches this in my locale, once just to chill and once for a pretty rowdy Deerhunter-No Age-Dan Deacon round-robin type deal

the terrace is a sprawling split-level patio overlooking the sizable but generally placid Lake Mendota, dotted with sailboats and the opposite shore distant on the horizon, it makes for a gorgeous place to relax and enjoy either one or a dozen pitchers, and is prime people-watching territory in the warmer season, the Rathskeller seems pretty chill - musty, the kind of place that's seen some things, but I've only passed through either to pick up a beer at the bar or on my way to the restroom, the only catch is the necessity of a student ID buy beer - but this shouldn't be a dealbreaker

selection is pretty standard for the area - enough locals to keep anyone reasonably happy, Two-Hearted is a favorite and is supposedly pretty consistently on, other selections have included Goose Island IPA and Lakefront IPA, I've seen service in both paper or plastic cups and plastic pitchers, but that's to be expected given the serving arrangement and concrete footing

blackie, Aug 27, 2009
Photo of brdc
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%

This is a very peculiar place. It is the student's union, but it has the best location in town. Right on the water, with a lake view, and partial capitol view depending where you are. A nice stage, in this particular night a blues band, multiple setas, most outside, some inside.
Small but decent selection, very good prices. I did not try the food, so cannot comment. Overall, a great vibe, great view, decent beer despite the small selection.
It is limited by the fact you need student ID to buy beer, so unfortunately it is not for everyone.

brdc, Aug 11, 2009
Photo of DarbyOGill
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%

This place is awesome. Easily the best union I've ever been too. The beer selection is damn good and pretty cheap, it usually consists of sconnie micros.

There's two parts of the Union; the Terrace and the Rathskeller.

The terrace is a beautiful spot behind the union right on Lake Mendota. The colorful seats and tables add a nice touch to the Terrace. Live music is played frequently, for free, and on a sunny day I can't think of a better way to enjoy a good beer.

http://pmo.umext.maine.edu/ct/2005%20C&T%20Website/ipcm.wisc.edu/workshop2005/images/Union_Terrace_Balcony%20View.JPG *copy paste for picture*

The Rathskeller is the German inspired bar in the Union. The dimly light establishment is covered from wall to wall in colorful animated characters. Music is also played here, also for free, and it is the next best thing on a rainy/snowy day when the terrace isn't opened.

Overall this place is awesome and my favorite place in Madison to grab a beer. The only bad thing about the Memorial Union is it closes relatively early.

DarbyOGill, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of abents
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%

My favorite place to see live music in Madison in the summer. And it's always FREE!!! Stage is set up in front of the lake and they have good music all summer, and inside during the other season(it's Wisconsin). The Rathskeller(inside) is made to look like a German beer hall and has been there forever. The beer selection is pretty impressive for a public university union. Always has Edmund Fitzgerald, Capital Seasonal, Ale Asylum, New Glarus, Sprecher, and some various Wisco lagers. Usually only one of each brewery on tap, definitly not a beer bar on par with Malt House/brassV, but for live music and good beer you can't beat this place. Always one of my favorite places to go in Madison.

abents, Feb 05, 2009
Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%

I'm rating this place with great anticipation of spending some quality time here this spring after a rough winter. I've spent many hours here, just killing time or taking a pause at the start or end of a bike ride with visiting friends. The selection is decent, but I usually go with the Bell's, and the service is good. I confess I've also drunk my share of PBR here. The atmosphere, both inside and out, is excellent. You can't beat the view of the lake and all the passers-by on a hot day, and this is truly the place to be. Since the Union has everything from brats to fajitas to ice cream, there's something for everyone, but I usually stick to my pitcher.

BoitSansSoif, Mar 30, 2008
Photo of nohead02
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%

Oh the memories. God how I loved this place. You can sit indoors in a unique faux-German den or just grab a beer from a window and sit on the "Terrace" on the shore of Lake Mendota (not recommended in winter, however, though I have done it). Beer drinking and good times have a long tradition in Madison, and who knows how far back this place goes? Good beers now that small breweries have come back to Wisconsin. In the summer you can buy some brats - the real Wisconsin experience.

If you are a reader of Beer Advocate you are damn near certain to love this place. One warning: the pub owners of Madison pressured the university to allow only registered students, faculty and staff to buy here. So make sure you meet up with someone with a registration card.

nohead02, Aug 31, 2006
Photo of dirtylou
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

atmosphere: a perfect 5...The most enjoyable place to drink a beer that I have ever been to. fantastic lakeside setting with tons of outdoor tables, live music, a boat launch and always a lot of activity in the summer. its an absolute must-experience in my opinion. UW students could not possibly understand how well they have it. I went to two universities; ncst's student union is just a piece of crap building in the middle of everything else...ND has a pretty nice old building which is a cool place to hang out but neither serve beer and neither are lakeside

quality: Good people, good beer, great setting...yeah its quality. -.5 points for paper cups, but hey nothings perfect

service: its pretty much self service...theres and outside bar with a few taps and an indoor one with about 20

selection: for what it is, the selection is more than adequate. This is not a beer bar, its a meeting place and a prime social spot. That being said, this is wisconsin, so of course it has great beer. Last time I was there I noted... Bells 2 hearted (which tasted immaculate), Bells Oberon, Capital Oktoberfest, Sprecher Amber, Great Lakes Burning River, a couple New Glarus, some german brews, and a few domestics

food: I've never eaten indoors at the Rathskeller but I had a dynamite brat outside one afternoon

value: pitchers are pretty cheap, 16oz draft for $4 works for me

dirtylou, Aug 26, 2006
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%

The Memorial Union has undergone a bit of a facelift inside in the past few years. However the Rathskeller and the Terrace seem pretty much the same as always. The Rath is kinda dark and you have to be a Union member in order to get a pitcher. Many times someone will be a sport and assist you with that however.

The Terrace is an awesome place for a summer evening of lounging and when a concert is taking place it can be quite lively and at times difficult to find a place to sit.

I'm gonna put food at N/A although the cafeteria that took the place of the old one in the Rath was fantastic, especially for a Sunday Brunch. It was also extremely inexpensive. The drafts at the Rath and Terrace generally contain beers like Gray's and things like Optimator or Salvator.

An awesome place, how could one go wrong?

GCBrewingCo, Jun 08, 2006
Photo of nchrist13
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%

it's hard to convey the terrace in words, but i'll do my best. there is a large patio outside with a couple levels (a higher level closer to where the beers are served, and a lower level which is right next to the largest lake in madison, lake mendota). they have tons of chairs and tables, and bands or open mic on the weekend. they serve beers. lots of beers. some pretty good beers, in fact. here is a tap list that i jotted down earlier this week.

strongbow cider
great lakes brewing co burning river pale ale
newcastle brown ale
spater lager
spater optimator
bell's oberon
franziskaner hefe
pils urquell
bass ale
capital oktoberfest
gray's oatmeal stout
gray's taverbach
gray's rathskeller amber
gray's hausmann pale
a couple leinies that i didn't write down

beer is reasonably priced ($9.75 a pitcher for the good beers, $6.50 if miller lite is more your thing). the staff doesn't know shit about beer, so don't bother asking them what's good. one caveat: you can only buy beer if you have a student ID or wisconsin union membership. but don't let that stop you. if you approached any student and asked them to buy you a pitcher i'm sure they'd be more than willing. once you got the pitcher you're all day (or just offer someone about to leave $1 for their pitcher, cuz they make you put down a $1 deposit for it that you will get back once you return it).

but the real reason you come here is for the atmosphere. it is a beautiful view right on the lake, and probably the best place to relax in madison when the weather permits (or do like a real wisconsinite and down beers on the terrace when it's below freezing). basically this is undoubted the best place to waste an afternoon drinking beer, then later that night go to the bars and brewpubs for the dankies that you so desperately need. if you are a prospective student at UW this can't be missed (tho if you're underage i would advise not to drink there during student orientation days, as they are more vigilant. otherwise underage drinking is pretty much ignored during the day, altho if you look young and are hanging around at night you will have a decent chance of being approached by union staff and they will jot down your student id number in their "naughty book," altho they most likely wont call the cops. sounds like i'm spreaking from experience, eh?).

nchrist13, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%

The best place to drink beer in Madison, period.

One of the best places to drink beer in the state.

The Rathskeller is early 20th century, mock german fun with a great juke box and a a fabulous selection of taps.

The terrace is...well...a huge terrace, just outside the Rathskeller on Lake Mendota on the UW campus.

Someday I'll elaborate on this review but for now I'll leave it to a couple brief annecdotes that offer a good idea of what drinking at the terrace can be like:

Last year I watched the Violent Femmes for free from my chair on the water with a 22 oz cup of Leinie's creamy dark in my hand.

Two year ago I got wasted on Z-Optimator at a free Buzzcocks show and jumped in the lake with several lovely young ladies.

Three years ago I danced like a baffoon with a cheap pitcher of the Franz while Arrested Development played Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

Six summers ago I drank from a 44 oz cup of Rolling Rock that cost me something like 4 bucks while listening to…well, I can’t remember what I was listening to, I was drinking 44 oz Rolling Rocks for 4 bucks, what can I say.

At any rate, the Terrace is the best place in Madison for beer and it just simply rocks.

DaPeculierDane, Nov 02, 2005
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Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace. in Madison, WI
90 out of 100 based on 29 ratings.