Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
Active Beers: 58
Beer Ratings: 695
Beer Avg: 3.65
Taps: 12 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 140 | Reviews: 106 | Display Reviews Only:
4.45/5 rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
One of Madison's gems, the downtown Dane offers great beer, great food, and for the most part a great atmosphere. Decked out in the wooden trim that's become typical for many brewpubs, the Great Dane manages to create atmosphere with this rather than appearing cliched.
The downtown Dane is a sprawling place, with a beer garden, a downstairs bar, a dining room upstairs and a more casual bar area. This last area features pool and lounges for watching one of several TVs. All areas are spacious and comfortable, and conversation remains possible even on a busy night.
There are normally around fifteen different beers available on tap, with six regular beers (pilsner, porter, scotch ale, stout, an APA and a light) and an ever-changing array of seasonals and limited releases. There is also very little the brewers won't try, and for the most part there is always something to appeal to nearly everyone. My only criticism is that during the summer (and at the time of writing this) nearly all there seasonal capacity is taken up with Mallards Ale, which they produce for the local baseball team. While this isn't an awful beer, it certainly isn't good enough to bump seasonals for as long as it does. The weekday happy hour special is $2.75 imperial pints, which is as lethal an offer as it is good.
The menu is also a winner, with good offerings in nearly every category - try the Southwest Tortellini, any of their sausage offerings, or their pot pie. The appetizers are also really good, and aren't badly priced ($6-$9). Service is good for the most part, with a fairly knowledgeable waitstaff. This doesn't always flow over to the bar staff, but for the most part they're pretty good too. While staff don't always know all the beers (hard with the constant changes), they are nearly always friendly and fast to the table.
If you're in Madison, be sure to check this place out - arguably one of the best brewpubs in the Midwest.
07-25-2006 03:26:55 | More by expatsteve
United Kingdom (England)
4.3/5 rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $
If there's one thing that makes me want to live in Madison, it's the Great Dane. Good beer (and plenty of it) at good prices with good food in a cool place. The first time I went, I didn't try any of their beers because I was sick, but this time, I tried the Watermelon Wheat, the Black Earth Porter, the cask-conditioned Extra Pale Ale, and the Scotch ale, all of which were delicious, especially the porter and the Extra Pale. Our waiter was a little slow at times but very friendly, and the food was a notch above standard pub food - I had the Great Dane burger with artichoke dip and also tried the fried walleye and the hummus plate, all of which were quite good. The atmosphere is pleasant, smoke-free, a little boisterous but still family-friendly, with a cool cellar area. Overall, a very enjoyable beer servery with fresh brews that were noticeably more gutsy and robust than what you'd normally get at a brewpub. Highly recommended.
07-22-2006 15:12:08 | More by soulgrowl
4.68/5 rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Madison is one lucky city to have such a wonderful brewpub. This place is very well thought out. Not sure where to start. Atmosphere is good, I can see this place getting pretty busy and wonder what it would be like then. Both my stops were for lunch which is a totally different crowd and feel then what I think the night crowd would probably be. The music being played within the walls is alternative mostly so it plays more for the college crowd I think more then anything.
The place is huge, an area bar with a large spread with 6 pool tables, an area for darts, and a leather seating lounge is impressive. And thats just one area. There's the main bar area in the center entrance which is average in size with bar seating, a few tables, and a wall section divided by tall booth seating. And to the right of that is a main dining area with room for many. The bar is itself, when seated, is very cool. Spacey from front to back. Nicely varnished dark wood in a browned mahogany tone. Taps with dog heads on them, and in the other bar area where the billiard tables are, the taps there have the various billiard balls on them. Nice touch. I could go on and on in some detail, but it could take awhile as this place has it all. Including some damn good beer.
Something like 15 beers always ready for the imbibing. They have 5 or 6 rotational offerings; seasonals and the like. And a brigade of standards including a Scotch ale, 2 pils (1 German styled), a Hefe, a Red, a Pale, a Porter, and a couple others. The names for escape me at the time as I didn't right them all down during my visits. Many, many, freshly made brews can be had here thats for sure. I got myself some growlers of course. But had a few pints during each visit and everything I has was damn solid. My favorite was the Mallard ale, named for the minor league baseball team in Madison. It was a perfectly tasty treat for the heat. I wanted to get to the Scotch and the porter but it just didn't seem fitting. I stayed with more of the standards and lighter beers this trip. The servers let me try a sample of em, and they were promising; so next time those will make the bill.
And speaking of servers, their service here was solid, very knowledgable of the beers they were serving and more then happy to let have a quick sample of something if you weren't sure what you wanted. The food came quickly too. Not long after ordering the food was at the bar.
Food was good. A good menu, lots of choices, solid grub for sure, sandwiches hot or cold, salads, and some entrees in about 8 to 10 other choices including soups. However, the portions of a few items that the group shared should've been bigger for the price. Which is the only downfall for the place. Prices. Food on the menu is a little high, especailly for what ya get. Burgers hovered around $7.50 and up and they weren't much of a burger for that price. Plus, the beer is $4.00 a pint, not what I'm used to with $2.50, $3.50, depending where and when (Great Waters and Town Hall), perhaps they run special prices on beer here and just missed em due to the whole lunch time thing? Other then that, no complaints.
One very nice brewpub! I'll be coming back.
07-17-2006 00:02:32 | More by tavernjef
4.43/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
The Great Dane in downtown Madison is Heaven on Earth for me. They always have some new beers available and they never seem to go for average...they go for the gusto. Every beer there has been a love it or hate it experience and even the ones I hated I could tell were quality beers, just not to my palate's taste. The food at Great Dane can nearly match the beers, as well. Great food, great beers, and just a fun place. What more can a guy want? The ESB and Crop Circle Wheat are always great, very drinkable beers and if you want, they'll have something ready to knock you on your can, too. If you're anywhere near Madtown, don't miss it!
07-08-2006 20:16:26 | More by bedwyr
4.58/5 rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
On my 23rd birthday as my fiance and I traveled the long and winding road, which we chose to make long and winding, from Oregon to Ohio, we stopped in Madison to see the Great Dane, eat dinner, and for me to have a beer or two.
Inside the building the place is large. Packed and loud with conversations of the customers. The walls were decorated with plenty of pictures of old historic Madison, and in the main pub room, the brewing tanks were visible behind glass windows. There was a large room with pool tables, another large dining room, and multiple porches or patios that we saw. The tap selection proved to be a choice of 17 beers available along with multiple cask conditioned ales (a changing choice of IPA's on cask). Highlights from the beers were an American style wheat, which I sampled and was impressed by, a dark mild, a porter, and a dry Irish Stout. I had the Scotch Ale. The large, newspaper style laid out menus featured much of the expected pub fair favorites and plenty of vegetarian selections (exciting for a carnivore who occasionally plays with the concept of being a vegetarian). That being said, I ordered a grilled sausage platter with a selection of mustards and garlic mashed potatoes. The food was of good quality. My fiance loved her choice, and with the sheer number of selections there you could return again and again and not eat the same thing multiple times. The female server knew her brews very, very well (she distinguished between a glass and porter and stout by the nose of the beers) and was very friendly. The prices seemed pretty reasonable.
The Great Dane proved to be a real blast and would be a place, because of their selection of beers, good quality food, and sheer size of the place I would be more than willing to return to.
06-28-2006 18:34:30 | More by edmundfitzoil
4.4/5 rDev +4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
After spending several hours buying a carload of beer at some of Madison's finest beer stores, I headed to what is unquestionably Madison's finest brewpub. The area around the Great Dane was crazybusy at noon on a beautiful spring Saturday and there was no hope of finding parking on the street. I pulled into a nearby parking garage and headed in what I thought was the right direction. Imagine my surprise when I exited a door and found myself within 20 feet of the Dane's front door.
I was seated right away, but by the time I left the place was full-to-bursting and all newcomers were being given those flashing coaster thingamabobs. Or are they whatchamacallits? I won't go into details about the interior since others have done an excellent job of describing the furnishings and the general atmosphere.
GD has an impressive selection of beer, the listing of which was handily located on a chalkboard that was right above my table. The menu was in the form of a small newpaper and, in addition to the food, included descriptions of the standard offerings, but not of the two cask beers or of the seasonals. I don't know that I've ever been in a brewpub with such a large and varied selection.
As far as beer quality goes, I'm not sure that it's fair to make a sweeping judgement after two pints. I started off with a disappointing Stone of Scone Scotch (ahem... Scottish) Ale and finished with a very good Texas Speedbump IPA. I trust the regulars who say the beer is of (almost) uniformly high quality. I thought about taking home a growler, but didn't feel like dropping another $11-12 after spending so much earlier in the day.
It's also not fair to judge a restaurant's food after one meal. My reuben was good, but the 'Kohl slaw' lacked zip. Again, I leave it to those who've sampled most of the menu to provide the lowdown on Great Dane comestibles. My waitress was very nice and my food and drink arrived in record time. Both were the perfect temperature for eating and drinking respectively.
It's a shame that I live so far away from the Great Dane and that I had to do a hit-and-run on what I'm sure is an outstanding establishment. If I lived in Madison, there's no doubt that I'd be a regular. A definite 'must stop'.
05-29-2006 12:27:38 | More by BuckeyeNation
4.5/5 rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I stayed at the hotel on the capital and this was a 5-minute walk. It is a great old building with very clean old factory feeling inside. The pool tables, leather couches and great big bar were nice and the made you feel right at home when you walked in. The chalkboard had over 12 beers with 2 on cask that night. There was a beer garden outback with hop vines growing over the window but the rain kept me close to the bar.
All the beers were great and they had a sampler, which was a huge wooden dog bone with holes for all the beers. I have never seen a brewpub with so many beers on tap at one time. The menu was a newspaper with almost all of the current beers including descriptions.
The food was a nice mix of pub grub with a gourmet twist and some nice ethnic dishes. I couldn't decide between the West African peanut stew and the Belgian Dubbel or the fish and chips with the stout (or porter). I went on the recommendation of 3 of the locals and had the Chicken pot pie with Texas speed bump AIPA. It was a good choice but I sampled a friend fish and chips and it was great aswell.
It was a rainy Tuesday night when I went in but it was pretty busy and everyone I talked to was friendly and had a beer recommendation. I think every neighborhood needs a place like Great Dane on the corner and the world would be a better place. If you are ever close to Madison it is a good place to stop in for at least a pint and a bite to eat.
05-18-2006 00:00:02 | More by rhoadsrage
4.78/5 rDev +13%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Visited with fellow BA's kmpitz2, orbitalr0x and goodbyeohio this past Sunday...
Conveniently located right next to the parking garage is The Great Dane...walk in to a very attractive interior. Very clean and well lit with a large number of chairs around the bar.
A large side room with another sizeable bar and numerous pool tables. Nice flat screen TV's in all of the right places.
Very friendly staff, from the helpful hostess to the bartender wheeling free soup because he wouldn't recommend it personally.
Over a dozen offerings with a cask on constant rotation.
The IPA and Uber APA were both fresh and super tasty...the brewer seems to like his hops. I was sadly disappointed in the Scotch on cask, as it tasted more like grape juice...that's ok, it was not on the bill after our tender noticed it was not for me.
Imperial pints used for all of the beers we ordered...I like that.
Enjoyed the Cajun chicken sandwich and the cole slaw was outstanding.
The hostess was kind enough to help me find a shirt for my wife and daughter with at least one trip downstairs to find the sizes I needed.
This is a must stop if you find yourself in the area...I look forward to my next visit...hopefully sooner rather than later.
05-04-2006 00:01:22 | More by warriorsoul
4.4/5 rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
this is my favorite brewpub, located in one of my favorite places in the world.
First off, the beer is top quality and the selection is large, often several kinds of a particular style are available at once. there are always fun new creations to try and great cask ales are always present.
the atmosphere is great, there is a really cool outdoor patio area surrounded by ivied buildings. located in downtown Madison, which is a cool atmosphere to begin with.
the food is above average but nothing exceptional, certainly a good accompaniment to the beer.
please try this place out if you have the chance, it is a fun time.
05-03-2006 20:35:40 | More by evanackerman
4.63/5 rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
thanks to orbitalr0x for driving, hit this place on a lazy sunday afternoon with a few ba's for lunch and beers.
my first impression of the place recalled great lakes in cleveland.. bar to the left as you walk in.. slathered in dark wood with antique accents. old-fashioned cask mounting system complete with brass bowls to catch drippings and a pulley contraption rigged to the ceiling. lots of dining space as well as bar space. separate smoking room and a stone-walled pub downstairs.. a dark medieval looking area buried in the basement. the only negative is the bathroom, which can only be accessed via stairs followed by a trip through a series of underground passageways (seriously). we bellied up at the bar and had no problem figuring out what beers were on tap- there were chalkboards and hanging placards on almost every wall with the pertinent info we needed.
the selection of beers was extensive, accented by some nice seasonal belgians. i believe (from memory) that the roster went something like this: ipa, hoppy pale ale, red lager, wheat, porter, cask scotch, abbey dubbel, belgian summer, lager and maibock. it is my understanding that there are usually two casks, perhaps an off-day. i tried the apa, the maibock, and the dubbel- all were outstanding. i sipped other people's beers, and the only one below my standards was the cask scotch- very watery and too fruity with little-to-no malt presence.
had lunch, and the food was spectacular. this comes close to the best brewpub food i've ever had. circumventing the typical brewpub fare, i opted for a west african peanut & squash stew over a bed of chili-seasoned rice. huge portion for $7 and very satisfying. kmpitz2's steak sandwich looked like pure heaven as well with its perfectly cooked pinkish cuts smothered in caramelized onions and red wine sauce. their menu does include the more homey comfort items like burgers, brats, and soft pretzels. extensive to say the least with a nice touch of class sans arrogance. i would feel safe bringing parents etc. here which is always good. probably happens alot as this is a college town.
service? another home run. our server doled out many small samples of beers we considered drinking (he gave big samples to other customers considering growler fills). he also brought us a cup of soup for free when we asked about it.. he said it was iffy and let us try before ordering. never had that happen anywhere before. also, he was very friendly, silly, and that whole dynamic is what you're after from a bartender.
the waitresses were super sexy too. this did not go unnoticed by our humble group of ba's. however, i chose the one bar seat facing away from the service area and was really disappointed about my choice.
overall, the highlight of my day in madison. highly recommended.
05-02-2006 14:00:03 | More by goodbyeohio
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
94 out of 100 based on 140 ratings.