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Essen Haus

Not Rated.
Essen HausEssen Haus
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

35 Ratings
Ratings: 35
Reviews: 27
rAvg: 4
pDev: 12%
Taps: 0
Bottles: 0
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

514 E Wilson St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703
United States
phone: (608) 255-4674

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @essenmadison

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: brakspear)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 35 | Reviews: 27 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of badbeer
4.06/5  rDev +1.5%

Nice place, sits right across from the lake. Inside is about as German as you're going to find in America. There are similar places, and they may be more German, but this is pretty damn good, I'd say. Quality of the beer was fresh. It was nice to have a fresh Helles again, they're hard to come by in America. Service was pretty good, they did their best despite being so busy. The effort is what counts. Selection wasn't huge for on-tap selections, but there was enough to keep the palate happy, and with limited offerings they're able to keep fresher things available. I didn't try any food, but it appeared to be authentic German cuisine, perhaps I'll give it a try next time. Prices were a little on the high side for the area, but it's a place I enjoy visiting when I'm in town.

badbeer, Mar 29, 2007
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%

I walked in with the expecatations of a Munich beer hall and I saw a lot of heavy drinking and young college kids drink a lot of boots. The beer selection was a little small in my opinion, good, but kinda small. The atmosphere was good, not Germany good, but good. You could talk with friends, some you may have just met, some you've known. They have a small "Beer Garden". It's indoors, the ceiling seems a bit low, and it's next to the bathrooms. The giant ceiling they have is over the food/beer tables next to the tiny stage where not so bad music is played. It got crowded a bit after some time, so about 8:30pm we left for another bar. Overall I would go back just to try the fresher German beer and use the authentic glassware...it's a bit of fun using them.

Erdinger2003, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of 4thoseabout2bock
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%

The festive atmosphere to the Essen Haus is infectious.

I was very happy at the Come Back Inn next door, with their excellent selection of beer. When I heard there were TWO dopplebocks (both Salvator and Optimator) on tap on the other side of that magical swinging door, where hootin and hollerin and cheering were coming from, I was lured in to the promise of dark sweet German beer and satisfying German food.

I got the beer. It was great.

So was the atmosphere. Very festive, reminiscent of the beer halls of Munich (when they are filled with drunken American tourists). But, more importantly, all ages were represented here and everyone was having a great time.

The food, however, was horrible. The roulades were supposed to be thin steak and bacon wrapped around sausage meat and pickle. Bacon around sausage. How can you do wrong? Well, they found a way. They came out looking like two little turds and someone forgot to cover them in sauce. The spaetzle was dry and flavorless. The French Onion soup was dirty dish water with onions.

On the bright side the Prime Rib was ok, and so was the liver dumpling soup. Even though the waitress did not bring the au jus with the prime rib (or maybe they don't serve it that way) we kept the livery broth to dip it in and that gave it some nice flavor (if you like liver, which I do).

So listen to DaPeculier Dane. Don't eat here. I was suckered in my the German ambience (under the influence of two doppelbocks :)

But of you love German beer and atmosphere, do DRINK here. And next store. A great stop in a Madison beer tour.

4thoseabout2bock, Oct 15, 2006
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

The Essenhaus is a top beer bar and a must for anyone traveling to Madison. This place is second on my list (after the Memorial Union Terrace) of places to take friends from out of town. The Essenhaus features just about any German beer you could think of…on tap! The specials are great. Half liters are only something like $2.50 during happy hour and boots (normally $16) are only ten bucks on Thursdays. Polka bands play there regularly. The waitstaff are great and wear traditional Bavarian garb. It’s kitchy, dirty, and very Wisconsin. Their bottle selection is great too, plenty of good American crafts and the whole Lindeman’s line from Belgium. Better yet, the Essenhaus has a door to the Up North Bar on its SE wall and a door to the impressive Come Back Inn on its NW wall. If you don’t care for German beer and can’t find the craft you like at Essenhaus, just walk over to the Comeback, grab a pint, and carry it back over to the Essenhaus.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not rating the food because I don’t want to bring down this bar’s score. For me this is a beer bar and I just ignore the whole restaurant part. Now this is very important…don’t eat here. Don’t ask why. You do not want to know. Just, what ever you do, don’t eat here. Don’t even think about it. Avoid the Come Back’s food too. Seriously!

DaPeculierDane, Apr 03, 2006
Photo of shbobdb
4.6/5  rDev +15%

Wir gehen zum Essenhaus! Was a common battlecry for thursday nights, when a boot (2L) of beer was available for a mere $10, and 1/2L's were on sale for three (note: this has changed recently. Most likely after the looting that occured during the weekend graduation for the class of '05). The waitstaff is ever quick to please and the polka band blares away singing "I don't wan-her, you can have her, she's too fat for me, oh, she's to fat for me." Truly a pleasant germanic atmosphere. Kitchy as hell, but surprisingly authentic within that. Good beers, good times, good friends, what more could you want?
Oh, yeah, food. Avoid it at all costs. Overpriced and it tastes like poison.
Avoid the bathrooms too, if possible. Late in the night they get rather, uhhh, messy.

shbobdb, Mar 05, 2006
Photo of barrelman
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%

Live Polka, waitstaff in lederhosen, multiple German brews. Wisconsin's German tradition runs deep in this place. On any given night the clientele runs from 21 yrs. old to old german faces that are practically dead. Most tables are overflowing with patrons and at least one 2-liter glass boot going around (Hint: Two 1-liter boots go around much faster). As tradition goes, the person after the one who finishes the boot has to buy the next one. A good game to play if you are a broke college kid and have your drinking pants on.

If a 2-liter boot seems a little on the sissy side for you, they also offer a 5-liter ceramic stein (courtesy of Spaten) to test your arm strength. Only my friend Big Joe can lift this thing without two hands and physical/moral support. I have never been to a place that is more condusive to Polka-ing(?) and partying at the same time. The truth is, I can only remember leaving this place twice in six years.

A can't miss for anyone with a shirt and shoes.

barrelman, Jul 22, 2005
Photo of circuitmonkey
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%

Best selections of tap German beer in Madison (and no St Pauly girl). The ceiling is lined with over 2000 mugs from customers who joined their mug club (I gather that you get your own mug, but it stays there for display). The walls are lined with steins and other brewania I went there on a Friday night where there was a German band playing, which was neat, but a little loud and made it almost impossible to hold a conversation if you were on that end of the building. Fortunately this place is a bit of a walk from state street so I have never seen it become extremely crowded to a point that it is annoying (which is a common occurrence at other bars).

circuitmonkey, Jul 17, 2005
Photo of Sixpoint
3.88/5  rDev -3%

Tourist bar? College bar? German beer bar? Yes, it's all here. There's no place quite like the Essen Haus... a gigantic beer-guzzling rathskellar in Madison. Because it's right off the highway and near the state capital, this place draws a lot of businesspersons for after-work conventions. Yet on any weeknight, expect to see a group of college revelers passing "pitchers," which are actually just glass boots. Also, you'll just see a lot of visitors to Madison go there because of its reputation.

Unfortunately, I've known a lot of friends who have worked here and told me horror stories. I don't believe in trashing someone's reputation, but virtually all of my friends who have worked here told me NOT TO EAT there. That's pretty disturbing... apparently they have some cleanliness and health inspection issues.

That being said, this place definitely has some redeeming qualities. Take, for instance, the beer selection. You'll have a superb selection of German imports here year-round, and in the spring, look for the dopplebocks. In the fall, look for the Oktoberfests.

The atmosphere is awesome. It's basically a gigantic beer hall. On any given night, look for live oompah music. It's pretty insane, they play classics like "roll out the barrel" while everyone guzzles down beer in glass boots.

Basically, just go there and don't eat the food.

Sixpoint, Nov 18, 2004
Photo of longarm
4.55/5  rDev +13.8%

For a truly great selection of fine German beers on tap, there can't be too many places in the U.S. that can top the Essen Haus. Combine that with their attempts to replicate an old German beer hall through the selection of food and the staff's attire, and this is a must stop on any to-do list if you're in the area. When the polka band gets warmed-up and after the crowd has had a few boots of Spaten's Optimator, it's hard to imagine the tents of Munich being any more fun. The first year or so that I lived in Madison, I thought it was quaint and an interesting place, but I could take it or leave it. As time passes, however, each year I appreciate this place a little more and will miss it greatly when I have to move in the near future. From the Franziskaner wheat, to Dab, to the Spaten beers, it's always a delight to get a taste of great German brews.

Food is OK and occasionally excellent, but I wouldn't recommend it purely on the aspects of its German cuisine. The staff is friendly, but don't always seem to know as much as you would expect or hope about the beers on tap.

longarm, Sep 26, 2004
Photo of GIVEMEBACKMYSON
4/5  rDev 0%

You gotta love the ever changing selection of tap beers here. And the Comeback Inn (which you can go to from the side door in the Essen Haus) has still more options.
It is all served in very interesting glassware. Don't get any ideas...
The Boot Game is a good experience, but you may not be able to drive for days after playing. And if you're going to play, play it right.
note: If you are under 35, bring your ID, credit cards, social security card, birth certificate, library card, visa, passport, and a note from your mother. Otherwise, you may not get in.

GIVEMEBACKMYSON, Mar 30, 2004
Essen Haus in Madison, WI
90 out of 100 based on 35 ratings.