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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

Not Rated.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
BEER AVG
3.71/5
Based on:
59 Beers
325 Reviews
Place Score: 94
Reviews: 109
Visits: 173
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: n/a
Taps: 12
Bottles: --
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

123 E. Doty St.
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703
United States
phone: (608) 284-0000

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @greatdanepub

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Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Reviews: 109 | Visits: 173
Photo of Gatordaddy
3.09/5  rDev -27.1%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 2.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

We visited 14 breweries/brewpubs/taprooms during a recent Midwest trip, and all four of us thought this was by far the worst. Actually, it was the only one that wasn't good. None of the Great Dane beers was exceptional, and one was terrible. I expected much more from such a renowned place. Quite a letdown. (307 characters)

Photo of guityler83
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

After seeing Duncan Trussell at the Majestic Theatre me and two friends stopped into Great Dane for some food and a few pints. Not my first time being at this location and I'm sure it won't be my last. The place was busy with people but we were able to get seated right away since it was well past the dinner crowd time frame.

The place has a traditional brew pub look and feel, hardwood bar, beer and brewing items on the wall with a view of the brewing system through a glass wall. There were 8 beers from Great Dane on draft and a few guest beers. Mostly german and english centric (pilsners, hefe, ESB) but with a few unique offerings available and two casks.

The waitress grabbed our drink order fairly quickly but didn't have much information cretique on the beers available - I inquired about the Oat Ale that was on cask and she gave a generic "its good" response. Despite that I ordered it anyway. It was creamy pale ale with english and american hops - very clean.

Food came in good sized portions, maybe slightly bigger then I prefer, but no complaints. Fish was breaded and had a nice crispiness. The next beer I opted for was the German Pils. Clean, crisp with a nice hoppy bite. maybe not as dry as I prefer but I think that would be the Czech that I'm comparing it too.

Overall, the food and beer came quickly with good quality. Nice atmosphere with out being overly crowded or loud. Recommended if you're in the area! (1,440 characters)

Photo of TheBungyo
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Great food, decent service, atrocious beer! I absolutely adored the burger I had. It was perfectly cooked and certainly tasted as if it were cooked over an open flame. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

But the beer, oh man, Freddy Kruger couldn't inspire worse nightmares. I ordered the bitter on cask and while it was served at the proper cask temp and all ... it was obviously infected. Next up was the mild ale and boom full of diacetyl. A little butter is OK in some English styles, but this was swimming in movie theater sludge. At that point, I decided to quit while I was only slightly behind.

I've been waiting about ten years to get back to Madison so I could try the offerings at The Great Dane and this was a massive let down. (747 characters)

Photo of KellyScottMad
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

I love this place! There beers are very good, the atmosphere is awesome, and the food is great! Usually they have a good selection of specialty beers aside t=from their normal dozen or so. They have beers to match all different kinds of tastebuds. Stouts and porters, to pilsners and wheats. The place have been open for well over 10 years, and the beers have always been consistent. The food at every Great Dane taste the same, which is amazing. And you would think that it would be cheap bar food, but it is not. An actual full fledged menu to go with that great beer. Good times at the Great Dane - Downtown Madison. (619 characters)

Photo of tyleeis
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

I really like the decor but the downtown location is always so crowded. If I can I grab the couches across from the pool table and I'm set! Always a good time, good food, good beers-havent found a favorite yet tho. Overall a decent place, glad to see their growing. (265 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

On our way home from vacation we stopped at the GDB in downtown Madison for lunch. The place is in a neat older building with alot of character. The atmosphere inside during lunch was good...I could only imagine during happy hour when everyone comes in to tie one on after work. The quality of food and beer were awesome. The service was good, but a bit bored....maybe because it was during the lunch time. The selection of food and beer was also great. The taste of the food was really good....we had the thai chicken and webster street salad. With three kids meals and drinks, a six sampler, two adult lunch entres came to $50....I thought was pretty good. (658 characters)

Photo of bbrossi1974
4.45/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

The Dane is my favorite place to go for great hand crafted beer and the best atmosphere I have ever visited. There is nothing better than enjoying a great beer on the patio in the summer time. However, the food is not as good as it used to be. I don't know how else to describe it but to say that it has less flavor. I used to always get the apple wood smoked bacon cheese burger. This is no longer an option on the menu, but there is a bacon cheese burger that just doesn't taste as good as the old one. One menu item that is still available and is still delicious is the cheese and artichoke dip appetizer. I love this so much, I have ordered it as my meal. My value rating is subjective. I rated it a bit pricey because the food quality has reduced and the prices have increased. Its about $10 for a burger. Its not necessarily expensive, its just too much for what you get. Had the quality of food stayed the same, I would have rated it as reasonable. That said, it is still my favorite place to hang out in downtown Madison. (1,029 characters)

Photo of Offa
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

We had an outstanding experience when visiting this place.

The atmosphere and place itself are excellent, in a great old building in the core of downtown near the capitol. Overall decor is old pub-type, i.e. old building with brick walls but traditional decor with lower ceilings, etc., rather than modern or redone industrial building, and nicely appointed. There is a nice bar area with a raised larger dining area somewhat separated from the bar area with nice booths and tables.

Beer quality we had was excellent.

Service was friendly and efficient, laid-back but never slow.

Selection was outstanding , with a great selection of German/Czech-style lager-types, alt, British ales, American, and more. They had several cask choices, a big plus.

Food was outstanding, far above the usual pub fare. Salads were huge, made with fresh, good-quality ingredients, and one was with excellent steak beautifully cooked rare-medium rare, tender and juicy. They were particularly impressive given the rather moderate price. Kids' choices includes happy-face fries, which are not only fun and unusual, but were cooked really perfectly. (1,132 characters)

Photo of LeRose
4.45/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Good selection of food that is more or less pub grub and comfort food. Partial to the Mad City meatloaf, personally. Usually a good selection of beers on tap, but my go to is Stone of Scone. Food not expensive, beer a bit pricey. Service has always been top shelf IMHO. This is a must stop when I am in Madison, and I have taken business associates here on several occasions. Nice pub area, excellent pool hall area, clean. Crowd is usually lively but somewhat more restrained, shall we say, than bars closer to UW. Fun place, usually packed. (542 characters)

Photo of csiewert
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Spent a week in Madison and made it here every night... If you want to check out one of the Great Dane's, this is definitely the one to go to. The selection is awesome, with rotating casks regularly. The place is full of pool tables, shuffleboard, TVs to keep you entertained... and even has one of those new self-serving tables that you can rent out. The food is amazing for bar food... highly recommend the grilled cheese, but you have to add bacon. Service was good and prices are fair, especially if you're there fore happy hour when you can get a pint (real pint) of anything for $3.50. The beers are all quality... nothing seems hurried or mass produced... even the light lager is fully enjoyable. This is by far my go-to spot in Madison. (744 characters)

Photo of GeezLynn
4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

Finally had a chance to check out this place and was very pleased. The atmosphere was okay - a typical, dimly lit pub-style establishment. Plenty of energy in the place, especially with the Packers game on TV. The service was fine, not particularly noteworthy in any regard.

What really impressed me was the quality of their beer and food. The menu was fairly large with plenty of options, both typical bar fare and some unique WI themed choices. The burger I had was done exactly how I like it, down to the brittle crisp of the Applewood bacon. Both beers I had were also exceptional - the Scottish was very good and the engine pulled porter was one of the better beers I'd had in months. It's always nice to see a brewer take a "standard" type beer and do it so well that it catches you by surprise.

Will definitely go out of my way to visit again. (852 characters)

Photo of Florida9
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

As has been mentioned numerous times previously, Great Dane is a brewpub conveniently located in downtown Madison. It sits on a corner and is actually fairly large on the inside. There is a bar area and a section with tables and booths.
The beer offerings tend to lean toward the English spectrum with about 8 or so standard year round offering and 4 or so season or rotating taps. Over the course of many visits of Madison, I've managed to have about a half a dozen beers from GD, but I've never been blown away by any of them. While they're almost always technically solid, they also tend to be cautious, "user friendly" beers. Enjoyable, but I'd rather get my kicks somewhere else.
The food at GD is much like the beer. Burgers and sandwiches dominate the menu, but there is a lot choice, including some vegetarian options as well as the option to choose locally sourced meats and cheeses. However, much like the beer, the food plays it safe: It's good, better than average even, but it's not great and I couldn't see coming here for the food alone.
Overall, a decent brewpub, but with The Old Fashioned and Cooper's Tavern within walking distance, I'd rather be somewhere else.

*Kid friendly. Child menu available. (1,223 characters)

Photo of crossovert
3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This place is a decent-sized place on the corner of a few streets near the center of Madison.

Me and my friend sat at a bar type place near the front door. They were offering a glut of beers so we ordered a sampler. Some of the beers (Prageur lager) were pretty good. Others were simple brewpub fare.

We didn't eat so can't comment on that, but the service, especially the bartenders was extremely good despite the place being totally packed to the brims.

Overall it is a solid and worthy stop on a Madison downtown pub crawl. (529 characters)

Photo of Yetiman420
4.45/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Stop # 225 on my brewery tour of the world.

This was my second visit to the downtown Great Dane over the course of about five years and I realized I did not submit an initial review. Consider this an updated/initial review.

Visited Thursday in early August around 1:00 in the afternoon. Not much of a crowd and I sat at the bar.

Ordered samples of...
Tri pepper pilsner (three spicy peppers - nice)
Hop jack pale
German pils
Czech pils - nice
Red lager
Beer engine IPA
Firkin scotch ale
Porter

I had the seared ahi tuna which was ok for bar standards.

Young female bartender was nice and we chatted a bit about her new interest in sour beers.

As far as brewpubs in historic buildings goes, this one is among the finest I've been to. Very well run with quality beer. (776 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I love coming to madison, and this place is the reason why! I have eaten here many times and tried all the beers that they have to offer. I finally got around to reviewing it.

Atmosphere: Nice little spot in downtown madison. Cool bar that also features a alot of things to do with great food and eaqualy great beer.

Quality: Better than average. The beers here are brewed in house and this place allways smells like homebrew. Gotta love that!

Service: Service was a bit slower than usual. We were at the restaurant for about an hour and a half eating lunch. It should have taken about an hour at the most.

Selection: Many offersing on the menu and there is a beer here for about everyone.

Food: Everything that I have ordered here has been great eating. Soups are great, salads are fresh, meat is always cooked to order, sandwich are fantastic.

Value: for 2 people to eat lunch it was under 40 dollars with the tip included. We ate both ate a main course with the GF drinking a rootbeer(thats brewed by Great Dane and is really awesome rootbeer). I had a pint of the porter with lunch. We both had a dessert. I had to be rolled out the door I was soo full! Lots of food, and I thought that they left something off the bill on accident, but they did not. If you have never been to this place you must go! (1,310 characters)

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I visited the Great Dane while visiting Madison during for a wedding. This place is located in downtown Madison. Huge warehouse-like brewpub - dark wood, large mirrors, lots of room (there is a rathskellar downstairs and a beer garden outside). I sat at the bar area and had a pleasant experience with the bartender who was really nice and attentive. Reminded me of an old English pub in the midwest. There were tons of beers on tap including New Glarus raspberry tart. Of all the beers I tried, I liked the Crop Circle (hefe), IPA, and the Black Earth Porter the best. The rest were a little flattish, watered down, reminded me of Rockbottom brews.

Overall, I was impressed by the selection of beers, the quality of the food on the menu. There was a nice selection of pizza, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees on the menu. I had the beer battered cheese curds. A Wisconsin must-do. The bbq burger and fries I had were just okay. Very reasonably priced here. (966 characters)

Photo of HopHeadHurls
3.95/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

The Dane certainly has some great food; I've gotten a pork shoulder with mango salso, a Mac & Cheese Pizza, their Mac & Cheese (best dish that I've had there) and the lagered sausage platter (only decent). My fiancee has raved about their meatloaf and has gotten a few other things that escape my mind right now. The beers are pretty solid, nothing spectacular. I like the Crop Circle Wheat (standard hefe, decent), the Texas Speedbump IPA (pretty good), but am not a big fan of the Potter's Run IPA (I wouldn't recommend it; may have been the one time, but it was very flat). I also would steer clear of the Tri-Pepper Pilsner unless you like the taste of a higher quality Miller Lite brewed with peppers soaking in it. The service has always been stellar in my experience, though they do get quite busy. The cheese curds are pretty good, but not as good as some other options (Dotty's or Old Fashioned). (905 characters)

Photo of cwcolby74
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Overall I liked this place. Cool atmosphere - it's big, and dark, there's a lot of seating, and it's usually full of customers, with a good mix of young and old, college kids and townies, etc.

The beer is just so-so for me. It's pretty good but there doesn't seem to be a lot of choices. On the other hand, they brew their own, so it's always fresh and presented well.

The bartender we had was really cool, very pretty and honestly pretty patient with us, as me and my buddy tend to engage in excessive beer snobbery and otherwise boorish behavior when we go out together.

This is a downtown bar with no parking to speak of nearby, so that's always a minus for me. Not the fault of the bar, of course. That's just part of it. But I dislike getting my drink on somewhere and then having to stumble 6 blocks to my car (no, I wasn't driving, my friend was).

Anyway, this place is sort of part of the legend and lore of Madison, so it's mandatory for anyone staying more than a night or two. I think you'll enjoy yourself. (1,022 characters)

Photo of richkrull
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I stopped in here with some friends before hitting up the Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest. We got there right when they opened and sat at the bar. Very friendly bartender served us a couple of good beers. We had lunch as well which was very good. Food prices were decent but I was surprised that beers were $5. Not terrible, but kind of high for Wisconsin. Good beer though and a great building. They had 2 separate bars and a bunch of pool tables in addition to the dining area. It's a good spot if you're in the area. (514 characters)

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Stopped here on a Saturday night. Prime location in Madison, near the capital and not too far from State Street. A large facility that might have needed an extra bartender or two, as it was still relatively packed. The beers were solid, and the had a relatively extensive and broad list of beers. This is probably the prime brewpub "event" in Wisconsin, the blend of quality beer, nightlife, and good food. I ate an Indian entre' that I can't recall, but enjoyed it and it gets even more points for its boldness. Will I come back here? Absolutely. Also I find it to be a great place to take a significant other. (611 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Stopped in here during the night before my interview at Epic. Following my brief sojourn at the Brickhouse, I knew I had to sample the Dane (thanks for the rec, VDubb!). The place is part brewpub, part poolhall bar, with a Rathskeller below. Right on. As per usual I headed to the bar to grab some brews. they had a pretty good selection ranging from a couple pilsners to an Irish stout. The owner was there, and we shared a nice, brief conversation during which I extolled his brews. (Side note: He even asked me if I wanted to watch anything when he changed the channel of the TV near me. Nice.) Unfortunately, the cask-conditioned New Peculier was not available, having kicked shortly before my arrival (curse my timing this night!). I didn't try the food, so I can't comment on that. The music from the poolhall, though kinda loud, wasn't overly intrusive and consisted of some pretty sweet tunes. Overall, I would love to make this place my usual haunt if I get the job. A very strong brewpub, indeed. (1,006 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.63/5  rDev -14.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

On our way to Darkness Day we stopped in Madison for a quick lunch. Smack in the middle of downtown Madison, a quaint little spot. The bar itself is the typical look of a brewpub, nothing special, however its huge so shouldn't have any trouble getting a table. The pub has 9 regulars which is really solid and 7 seasonal's available which is awesome. The regulars are way to light beer have with 2 pilsners and a couple lagers, you can tell they are catering to the college crowd. Our server was moderately helpful. Seemed to busy for his, took awhile to get him to even get us water. I asked him for a four beer sampler, his choices and he brought be a pretty solid lineup. The quality of the beers was a bit lacking, nothing really stood out as a great beer, so in that sense I was disappointed because it wasn't anymore than the typical beers you get at a local place.

Worth stopping at if your in Madison but not a destination. A great stepping stone pub for non-craft beer drinkers to put them down that path, perfect location in a big college town. (1,055 characters)

Photo of Czap
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I really don't have a lot to say about Great Dane. The menu is very extensive and the food is great. The service is fantastic. Their beer ranks from decent to good. Nothing bad, but nothing that will knock you off your feet. The place is huge. It seems every corner you turn leads to another dining area. My wife and I chose to dine in the outside patio. It is very beautiful and we enjoyed it (except when a bird pooped in my wife's hair...minor setback).

However, it feels like a chain to me. A very good chain that I would actually dine in at that, but a chain nonetheless. Chain brewpubs are fine, I have no problem with them. I like that it is out there trying to spread the good beer word to the masses. But Madison is loaded with great, hip beer bars with ecletic and interesting food menus.

That being said, sometimes you are with a crowd that needs something a little more mainstream, and at those moments Great Dane is perfect. So I do like this place, just wouldn't be my first choice, or even my tenth, when in Madison. (1,033 characters)

Photo of Vdubb86
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Was brought here by some locals while be toured around the capital prior to a job interview the next day. The fact that we went to a brew pub was a dangerous choice for me. Though I did manage to behave myself I must admit I rather enjoyed this place. It had the nice feel of an old brick brew house. Hell we got to watch them make beer while we ate, which as far as the brew pubs I've gone to, I've almost never seen that. The quality of the place in general was outstanding, it was the middle of the week and the place was packed. The service was pretty good, the waitress knew enough about beer to be able to assist some in the party with the choices, but as far as overall beer knowledge she didn't tell me anything about the beers that I couldn't have guessed from the style. No knock on her, but sometimes you like to know the insight. The selection was as far as I was paying attention just their brews, but they seemed to have at least 10 or more on tap which is pretty damn good for a brew pub. I ate a rather unhealthy bratwurst burger (c'mon, I'm almost never in Wisconsin) that was absolutely amazing, I don't know how the others' food was but it was pretty damn good to me. They even had a vegan menu...surprising for Wisconsin I know. I would definitely stop here again if i was in the area. (1,305 characters)

Photo of Birchgrove77
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Second visit on 08/21/10, figured I should review this place for future reference.

Atmosphere: Stopped in on Saturday afternoon around 2 pm and was surprised how full the restaurant was. Beautiful woodwork, excellent lighting, and was able to carry a conversation without raising voice. Beer garden was open, but not crowded due to heat/humidity.

Quality: Beer was excellent. Started with and ESB, moved to the Belgian Pale, and finished with the Tri-Pepper Pilsner. Loved the Pils! Couldn't find anything off with the beer, the Belgian Pale seemed a little malty for a pale ale, but was highly drinkable. ESB was cask and was easily drinkable. Friend ordered the Hefe, but seemed more American Wheat then a Hefe.

Service: Server was attentive, but seemed distracted and acted as if we were a bother to something more important. Was knowledgeable about the peppers used in the pils, but overall was slightly disappointing.

Selection: Don't remember the exact number of beers on tap, but there were plenty to choose from. Plenty of styles to suit novice and beer geeks alike. Only one keg had kicked that we asked for.

Food: Excellent menu. Plenty of different types of sandwiches, entrees, and burgers. Ordered the Brewer's Grilled Cheese and enjoyed the sandwich immensely. Bacon was cooked well, and came with a good portion of fries. The falafel was actually really good and filling with a lot of character. If you're there for a late lunch pay the surcharge and split a burger.

Overall: The second visit reinforces that this is a great place to stop when in Madison for food, beer or both. Prices were quite reasonable, and the beers could be purchased in varying sizes if you wanted to try a number of different beers in your drinking session. Plenty of reasonable parking in the area. Only gripe I had was about the service and it might have just been a busy post-lunch day. (1,886 characters)

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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
94 out of 100 based on 109 ratings.