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The Malt House

Not Rated.
The Malt HouseThe Malt House
BA SCORE
97
world-class

45 Ratings
Ratings: 45
Reviews: 27
rAvg: 4.47
pDev: 5.15%
Taps: 18
Bottles: 150
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

2609 E Washington Ave
Madison, Wisconsin, 53704-5025
United States
phone: (608) 204-6258

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @malthousetavern

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: DaPeculierDane on 06-29-2008)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 45 | Reviews: 27 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SciFritz
4.44/5  rDev -0.7%

Atmosphere: This is a great place to chill and definitely knows what it wants to be: just a straight-forward public house. If the day is right one can just sit outside and chill watching the traffic on East Wash and enjoying a good day!

Quality: Can't no beat the quality of the beer and other malt beverages they have on the menu. I go there for the Belgium and Wisconsin taps.

Service: As far as I can tell, it is a one-man shop when I have been there. The service is prompt, friendly, and willing to talk if engaged.

Selection: One of my favorite selections in the midwest.

Food: Who need food.

Overall: you can spend 1-2 hours and have 3-4 quality beers for under $20...that is a good life!

SciFritz, Apr 17, 2012
Photo of slyke
4.74/5  rDev +6%

Hard to find a fault with this place. You walk in and find a old tavern/dive bar look, but I'm from this part of the country so that doesn't bother me. There are no TVs or games that make noise to distract you from the main attraction - a great beer and whiskey selection.

18 taps evenly split between Belgian and local beers. Service was friendly and efficient, not much more to ask for. All the beers were served in either logo glassware that matched your beer or the proper shape of glass for the style and the lone employee was serious about that telling one customer they'd have to wait for a certain beer because all of the proper glasses were being used.

There is no kitchen, but this place was awesome enough that when my wife asked about dinner, I thought about suggesting the bags of Doritos and Funions at the end of the bar. The bartender suggested a good Thai place nearby. This place is must-stop when visiting Madison.

slyke, Apr 15, 2012
Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +11.9%

The Malt House is Madison's best bar, and the best in the Midwest from the many I have ventured to so far. The bar is nothing but alcohol and good company, with no TV's, no food, and no music playing in the background (unless there's a live low-key band playing in the corner on the odd weekend night).

The bar has FIVE fridges full of multiple beers of any style you could crave. The bar also has a respectable number of rotating taps that range between microbrew domestics (e.g., Satisfaction Jackson), regional delights (e.g., Bells Two Hearted) and tasty foreign beers (e.g., St. Abt 12).

They also have a full whiskey bar.

If you want to go to a classy bar with great selection, Malt House is your place.

jegross2, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of MarcatGSB
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%

The Malt House was recommended to Emily and I by the friendly bartender at Brasserie V, Jon.

We are glad we made the stop. We have driven by the Malt House numerous times on our way out of Madison, as we travel on the 151 often. Never would have guessed that they would have such a great selection.

I had the Boon Kriek on tap and Emily the NG Cranbic, which I had never had before and thought was awesome! We ended up switching because she liked the Kriek better than the Cranbic, and vice versa.

The tap selection is extensive, and wide ranging. The bottle list is very nice, with a big profile of different styles and formats of beers. This will be a must stop for Emily and I in the future, and am glad to have had it recommended to us.

MarcatGSB, Aug 29, 2011
Photo of johnkale
4.46/5  rDev -0.2%

Went here last night for the first time hoping to get some NG Bourbon Barrel Kriek. Too late for that unfortunately. Still enjoyed myself immensely.

Very long bar, screen door that slams, incredibly loudly, echoey space that was pretty loud without any music. While too noisy due to basic acoustics the whole vibe managed to be incredibly unpretentious, simple decor, lots of small tables, fairly well lit (for a bar), and a nice amount of outdoor seating. There was an Irish band last night that was kind of obnoxious, but apparently they also have live bluegrass music which sounds more enjoyable.

Beer selection is excellent, glassware is varied and appropriately used, bartenders know how to pour. Tried a number of Belgians I was unfamiliar with, and there was a good selection of Wisconsin brews on tap. Other parts of the US seemed underrepresented on the taps but plenty of stuff in bottles and a wide variety of styles.

Service would have been better if there had been more bartenders working, the two people behind the bar were running around constantly and I had to wait quite a while for service for my first couple of brews. Pricing was pretty reasonable, though there were plenty of rarer bottles on the menu that were way out of my price range.

This is definitely one of Madison's best beer bars, and its refreshing to see a place like this away from the downtown area. Wish it was closer to my place, but with summer coming I'm more likely to walk/bike a distance to get a drink, will definitely be a repeat customer.

johnkale, May 03, 2011
Photo of adman08
4.53/5  rDev +1.3%

This might be the best place in Madison to have beers simply because of their selection. Sure, they have no food, no TV's, no jukebox, no bar games but I'm not sure any other place offers quite as many high quality beers. Since they have no food they keep a folder of menus from places in the neighborhood and they'll let you order food to be delivered to the bar. The place has tons of character. The actual bar itself is from the civil war era and the place was established back in the civil war days. It was called the Union House and was a place where union soldiers could go for drinks when they were in town training at Camp Randall. They have a very nice outdoor patio for the warmer days as well.

adman08, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of hawks10
4.14/5  rDev -7.4%

Stopped in here for a quick drink on a Saturday evening...

Place itself is pretty small, a few tables and a long bar that runs the length of the building with maybe 20 stools. Three separate tap towers of 6 taps each, one emphasizing Wisconsin locals, one Belgians, one misc. but pretty much leaned to Great Lakes craft...a pretty extensive bottle list as well as various whiskeys and scotch...

Dark and quiet. No tvs and music on low volume. Great place to pull up a stool and have a nice conversation, or to just hear the voices in your head. Patio out front with a good amount of seating. Nice big parking lot too...Only ordered one beer and was on my way, but I will definitely come back...

hawks10, Sep 26, 2010
Photo of woodychandler
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%

Transcribed from extensive notes dated F, 07 Aug 2009.

A post on this site mentioned that either the 4 or 5 bus lines would get me here and I was tiring of downtown so ... And there it was, at the corner of Washington and Milwaukee!

An outdoor patio/picnic area was in front of the building, along MKE. The entry was nearer to WAS and opened onto an angular entryway with the inverted "L"-shaped dark wood bar to the immediate left. Behind the bar, running from left to right, were a four-door cooler followed by an extensive carved wood and mirror back bar welcoming us to the Union House (est. 1858), followed by shelf after shelf of glassware. A pew-like bench sat in front of the windows along MKE, fronted by round tables and blonde-wood chairs that looked like they belonged in an old-time classroom. Another pew-like ench and more tables and chairs sat under a large painting/ photograph (?) of early railroading, followed by a second entryway. My server was busy, but personable. Well done!

Beer: A very Belgian and Belgian-style bent, especially in the cooler. Wisco and Michigan also had a strong presence in the cooler. I am turning more and more away from bottles and concentrating on CANs and drafts. Three Belgian polished-aluminum draft towers, each with a built-in glass rinser, sat atop the bar for a total of eighteen rotating drafts. I began with a New Glarus WI Belgian Red followed by a Tyranena Scurvy.

woodychandler, Jun 26, 2010
Photo of klikger
4.09/5  rDev -8.5%

I just made it to The Malt House for the first time...I'm not sure what took me so long. The setting is an unpretentious, decades-old building, with a long line of barstools at the actual bar, several tables indoors, and a patio outside. It's very comfortable, but nothing to write home about. The beer selection is one of Madison's best, and taps are continually being changed. Kudos to the staff for keeping its Facebook page regularly updated with current offerings.

My first experience was a bit of a let down due to the inexplicable snappiness of the server when somebody in my party requested a sample. We were quite rudely told that three total samples for a group of four was pushing the limits of acceptability, despite the fact that we each had already purchased a beer (two of which were $7+) , the samples weren't for unreasonably expensive beers, and we were sitting at the bar. That said, I haven't heard anyone else say anything particularly negative about the service here, so perhaps this was an isolated incident. The selection alone is reason to return.

klikger, Jun 21, 2010
Photo of Ek0nomik
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%

I stopped here a few times over the Summer to grab a drink with my girlfriend. I had heard that this place was all about beer, which sounded right up my alley. There's no music, no television and no games. Awesome. (Well, I wouldn't background music so long as it's quiet) This is my kinda place.

We browsed through their bottle and tap selection which was pretty extensive and made our choices. Good pour, good serving temperature and both good beers. I don't visit bars very much simply because it's too expensive, but this place is one that's worth visiting for sure.

If you're coming to Madison and need a place to grab a drink, check this place out.

Ek0nomik, Nov 03, 2009
Photo of blackie
4.44/5  rDev -0.7%

atmosphere was relaxed on both of my visits, one this past summer and one over the winter holidays last year, dimly lit, heavily wooden interior, plenty of seating inside with an outdoor patio available

selection has been pretty awesome in the past and from what I'm told rotates pretty frequently, nice tap list representing the midwest, some nationally distributed stuff, and Belgium with a fine array of bottles, any place with Belgian Red on tap is fine by me, beers served in appropriate glassware

service has been up to par with the beer, friendly and knowledgeable, and tolerant of drunken fools demanding food

no food, but they do have some fine potato chips

blackie, Sep 23, 2009
Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%

First things first...if you're coming from the west (E. Washington), you'll need to make a 3-point turn or turn left from the right lane whilst checking your blind spot to get into the parking lot. There is also a bike rack out front.

A-Very good atmosphere, dimly lit but you get some good sunlight through the windows sometimes. Tunes playing on the computer behind the bar, no TV, good conversation, diverse and interesting clientele.

Q&S-Top notch local and internat'l brews on tap and available in bottles. Always a quickly rotating batch of Belgians with a couple of regulars that seem to get re-ordered. I don't know how many of the bottles on the list are actually in-stock, but I've never had to find out because the tap selection is broad enough to keep me happy.

S-Probably the best bar service I've ever had in any establishment. They are quick to react, always get the right order, are very knowledgeable, polite, and pleasant.

V-Prices are comparable and probably slightly better than most other places of similar quality.

If you're in Madison, stop by here. It's just south off Hwy. 30, but a lot of people familiar w/the area don't even know it's here because it is rather new and unassuming.

BoitSansSoif, Sep 05, 2009
Photo of TPatuto
4.8/5  rDev +7.4%

Stopped in here last night. Been here before and will continue to go back.
Always a nice selection of Belgian beers on tap (St. Bernardus Prior, Blanche du Bruxelles, Piraat to name a few.) and in bottle (many more).
I believe there are a total of 18 taps in the place, always with different stuff available. The previous time I went in, I had Sierra's Bigfoot and Stone's Old Guardian Barleywines. This time I tried some more local stuff: Tyranenas Chipotle Porter, Ale Asylum's Ballistic IPA.

Do yourself a favor and check the chalkboard on the wall for the most updated list of stuff on tap. They do provide you with a hand held menu, but the wall will be far more up to date, since when they run out a keg, they change whats on tap.
The hand held menu does tell you all of the beers that they have in bottle, which becomes quite helpful.

The atmosphere for this beer bar is wonderful. There are NO tvs. It's all about the beer and conversation. The bartenders usually know their stuff about the beers that are on tap, and they always have the right glass.

They do have a small but good selection of single malt scotch and bourbon and a few wines for those who's significant others don't drink beer (what?!).
They don't do food here, only bags of chips, but you can order out and have it brought in.

The prices have always been reasonable, even for the rare stuff you don't normally see in a bar. I definitely recommend this place to other BA's who are looking for that quiet place to go.

TPatuto, Apr 01, 2009
Photo of Grinder
4.33/5  rDev -3.1%

Pretty darn nice place but a pitiful selection of Brown ales. Sems to have a Belgian thing going on and being a Brown Ale guy I was really hoping for more then like 4.

I love the fact that there is no TV and no smoking and they really do know how to treat their beer.

I am very glad I moved away from Madison s this place would be my down fall.

I did have a number of brews I have never tried and the bartender really knew what she was doing and what she was pouring. Beer was the perfect temperature and I appreciated being able to taste before spending $4 on a pint.

Grinder, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of nchrist13
4.88/5  rDev +9.2%

this is my local (for the next few months). great tap list, everything is fairly priced but of course there are some serious heavy hitters so that doesn't mean it's cheap. really this is the best bar in town for belgians, and there are other places that have as much american stuff that they do, but the entire beer list is just really well put together here. if you have a car and are in madison, there's no excuse to miss this place, and not having a car isn't a good excuse either. the madison in half a day tour would hit ale asylum, malt house, maduro and the memorial union. there's no food here, but you're free to order in.

not the most beautiful part of madison. that doesn't mean it's a bad neighborhood, it's not, but it ain't all that pretty. but there are a couple other places near to visit, and as you get towards the atwood neighborhood it's more frou-frou. plus there's a porno shop kitty corner that always seems to be on the news for getting robbed. NO TVS, which is a plus, just don't expect to be able to catch a game here. for that, go to dexter's.

nchrist13, Jan 10, 2009
Photo of groovy24
4.18/5  rDev -6.5%

Something Madison has been needing for quite sometime. The selection is pretty darn good with 18 taps with 6 being Belgians and a great bottle selection. The atmosphere is a little dull but could be due to how new the place is. Maybe the crashing door will be the start of the place. The chalk board is what every good beer bar does but is not placed very well in the old Union House proably because of the great bar that's been around for a while. If you or your friends are into liquor The Malt House has a pretty good slection but make sure to eat before you drink because The Malt House does not serve food.

groovy24, Dec 30, 2008
Photo of aggiearcher13
4.36/5  rDev -2.5%

I'm really starting to like this place. It doesn't look like somewhere you'd want to stop from the outside (And the porn shop across the way doesn't help with that vibe), but once you step inside it's all good. Good tap selection, good bottle selection. I had a Bell's Expedition Stout, can't say I've seen a bottle of there at any bar in Madison. Pretty empty when we stopped in, but I imagine they can get pretty busy. I really like the bar, it's a good place to sit and sip away the cold!

aggiearcher13, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of nghab
4.44/5  rDev -0.7%

I'm a big fan of the place. Good beers, good turnover in the selection (sometimes so quick that I miss beers I wanted to try!), not cheap but certainly reasonable prices for beers that may not be available on draught elsewhere in the area, and friendly bartenders. The absence of TV is a good thing.

The beer selection turns over often enough that I decided to blog the draught list at http://malthousefan.wordpress.com

(disclaimer: not an official website, no financial interest in the place, blahblahblah)

I don't promise to get every change posted or update it after every single time I visit, but I'll aim for updating it a few times a month, as feasible. Enjoy.

Now go have a beer!

nghab, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of LittleTimmy
4.64/5  rDev +3.8%

I don't think I really need to write much--the other posts have described this place quite nicely. I stopped in with some friends on a late Saturday afternoon to discover an amazing array of tap offerings (we didn't even try any bottles, although certainly there are plenty of options there, too. The Malt House is the very epitome of "laid back beer bar." No distractions, just good beer, good service and good conversation if you're willing to engage your fellow patrons (and isn't that usually better entertainment than the big game). I understand it can get pretty crowded later in the evening, although there were only about a dozen or so in the bar during our visit.

LittleTimmy, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of cokes
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%

Located in the old Union House. If you want porn, it's kiddie corner across E. Washington. This place looks like an awesome dive (and it used to be, depending what "awesome" means), but now the interior and windows are full of signs for beers that 99% of the populace have never heard of or even recognize as beer. I appreciate that.
Don't come here for the big game, or for bar games, or for pumping the juke full of dollars. No TVs, no pool table, darts, shuffleboard, or jukebox.
Come here simply for the beer.
I appreciate that even more.
It's a bit old school with a bar stretching basically the length of the place, and maybe fifteen tables in front of it.
Drink and converse. That's all there is to do here.
This might be a snoozer if the beer selection wasn't so phenomenal. The bottled list is 100 or so deep. Everything from local stuff to $30 bottles of rare Belgians (and when I say "rare", I mean that they are not found in any other establishment in Madison...bar, store, anywhere).
The tap list brings stuff from the States and Abroad. It'd be silly for me to enter what they got since it changes weekly. Just trust me when I say that there's plenty of stuff here that can't be found anywhere near here, and you will not be disappointed.
The tap prices range from $4 for most things brewed here (with a few higher ABV offerings going for $5), up to $7 for the bigger Belgians. Bottles vary from about $4 up to $30+ (as I've already mentioned). Some seem like deals, some are on the steep side. Overall, it's a hair more expensive than Maduro. But there is also more selection and rarity here.
No food to be had, so look elsewhere for that.

I've long griped about the lack of true beer bars in Madison. With this, Dexter's, Maduro, Brasserie V, and a few other upstarts (notably, Alchemy). That's no longer a valid complaint.

The East Washington corridor- from the exit off I 90/94 to the Capitol- is a wonderful beer trek with a couple short jaunts, starting at Ale Asylum, hitting Malt House, Dexter's, Alchemy, and ending at the downtown Great Dane. That's probably the best route for travelers to experience Madison's finest beer establishments.

And selection-wise, this is probably the best of them all.

Absolutely stop here when in Madison.

cokes, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of johanvond
4.36/5  rDev -2.5%

This is the type of bar i prefer to drink in. I don't need T.V. or obnoxious music. You deffinatly won't find that here. It's small with a historic dark wood Bar and new europian taps. The atmosphere evokes the old world. You can find some really rare beers here as well, hence the price, along with some local and old standbys. The best part is that there all serveed in the Proper Glass. The service staff is informative to say the least. Since the owner used to be the pres. of the MHTG, you'll find plenty of home brewers here too. The Lack of T.v's aide in the easy of conversation and apperation of what our holding in front of you. There is an Atm. It's kind of hidden in a dark corner near the Front door. The place is to small for food but you can order in.
This is the spot to come for a unique experiance with good beer, but hede my warning you can drink for value but if your seeking rarity (Cantillion Iris) it is a bit pricy. It is worth very cent.

johanvond, Nov 25, 2008
Photo of emerge077
4.58/5  rDev +2.5%

Ventured over here on foot after visiting Alchemy on Atwood. Located in a somewhat desolate area, across from a rather shady "adult emporium". Large Chimay sign outside was a clue to the quality beer to be had inside.

There were some exclusive taps here for the Great Taste weekend, such as Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam, O'so imperial Saison, and Grumpy Troll Maggie IPA. Other local craft options and Belgians too. Big chalkboard in back listed the taps. Vast bottle selection here, something for everyone. The interior was larger than I expected, low drop ceiling, wood paneling on the side walls. We only stopped in for a couple rounds, but I noticed plenty of beer decor, like De Dolle posters, and a few other scattered signs. Lots of tables and chairs, they also had some cheese plates out on the bar, that was a nice touch. Sid the bartender was really great, friendly and helpful even when it was busy.

I'd go back sometime to see what was new on tap.

2009 edit: Malt House is consistently solid, i'd recommend them over Brasserie V if you're looking for Belgians.

emerge077, Aug 11, 2008
Photo of dirtylou
4.18/5  rDev -6.5%

located at east washington and milwaukee street - not too far from the capitol square and just a few minutes from my lady-friend's house. It's not a beautiful area of the city, and is an odd choice for this type of bar in my opinion

atmosphere: a little awkward to arrive at with u-turns and obscure parking lots to deal with. the interior comes with an aroma of aged urine which i guess is what happens when you have a really old bar like this. there is some belgian beer swag on the inside but otherwise nothing really special to set it apart

quality: tons of great beer - thats for sure. my girlfriends st bernardus wit had some dust on it but it still tasted great. no crap beer on tap and minimal in the bottle. In my opinion, madison lacks on bars like this with huge bottle lists - nicely done

service: i think there is some overlap with this joint and the old wonders pub, based on eavesdropping. service was fine, but the place was pretty slow

selection: pretty strong. There were 14 taps i think - 7 belgians and 7 wisconsin beers. The wisconsin beers were a little weird to me (tyranena brown, ng naked, furthermore proper, and some others that didnt excite). the belgians were fairly standard (chimay tripel, duchess, and some others). While standard, its still a pretty nice stash. The bottle list is small print and double sided and really hits home on a lot of good stuff (stone ruination, stone oaked arrogant, all of the st bernardus rotation, goose island premiums, and TONS of other goodies). best bottle selection in town probably

food: i dont think there is any

value: some things seemed really fair (bells TCOA and sparkling ale for 4$) while other belgians were a bit steep. overall, it was pretty fair but 6$ for a bottle of ruination and 7$ for a st bernardus wit was pushing it

overall - a place to keep an eye on and a strong addition to the scene

dirtylou, Aug 05, 2008
Photo of blairb366
4.2/5  rDev -6%

I have visited the Malt House several times since it's opening earlier this summer. It is in the building that used to house the Union House Tavern (the sign is still up at this time). The selection of beers on tap is good, with 6 belgians and 9 micros, most from the area, on tap. There is also a cooler with a good variety of micros and imports. The atmosphere is similar to a local pub, with the emphasis on good beer and conversation. There are no televisions and little food available at this time. The bar and back bar were recently redone and look great. The church pew seating by the window is a nice touch too. Parking is a little tough, but enter from Milwaukee St and there are plenty of spots most nights. All in all a great addition to the beer scene on the east side of Madison.

blairb366, Jul 30, 2008
Photo of milwaukeeclassic
4.3/5  rDev -3.8%

I've been to the places a couple of times since it opened. I rather like it. No televisions and a really nice old bar. The selection is good as well with beers I haven't seen in Madison, like the De Dolle Bos Keun in bottles and the Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise on tap. The bottles are stored in a fridge at the proper drinking temperatures as well, which is a nice touch. A good addition to the Madison beer scene.

The exterior is a bit worn down and the parking lot is pretty jacked up. Also it is a little difficult to figure out where to pull in from east washington street. Overall, a very pleasant place to have a drink.

milwaukeeclassic, Jun 29, 2008
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The Malt House in Madison, WI
97 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.