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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

Not Rated.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
Based on:
55 Beers
750 Ratings
Place Score: 93
Ratings: 164
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.2
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 

Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 164 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jason
2/5  rDev -52.4%

Photo of Niniimaa
2.5/5  rDev -40.5%
vibe: 2 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Coming in to the downtown Great Dane, the indifference of the hostesses(3) was matched by the lack of a service person who showed about 5 minutes after seated.

The location of GD was good on the corner of the block with great wooden floors and expansive bar and seating (tables and booths). Was there when only about 25% full and was still deafeningly loud inside.

House beer selections did include a couple of cask conditioned which get points from me. However I found the cask conditioned English ale was lacking in both malt and hop flavours; would give ice tea a run for its money however. Also tried the award-winning Peck’s Pilsner which was far superior to the german pilsner (which had no flavour) but was still a re-branded High Life, lacking any apparent hops.

The menu significantly lacked cheese choices for a Wisconsin establishment. Avoid the pretzels that look correct but are similar to hotdog buns in the inside. The Brats&Mash brought GD up to an acceptable only; brats being on par to a good breakfast sausage, and the mash potatoes being actual potatoes (not whipped). Salads were large but flavourless; maybe seasonality an issue on freshness.

This is not a destination pub. Trying visiting if in Madison for a few weeks.

Photo of TheBungyo
3/5  rDev -28.6%

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.

Photo of Wobbly
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Canada_Dan
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of Tbone
3.54/5  rDev -15.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

This is my first review of the Dane, even though I have gone their about 8 times over the past 10 years. I used to be impressed with the Dane. In fact, the wife and I took a weekend trip up to Madison in part because of my past respect for the Dane. However, I tried 8 of their 14 beers on tap and was not inspired to order a pint of any of them.
The first dissapointment was seeing that out of 14 beers, they had nothing bigger than a rather modest Scotch Ale. The suppossedly german hefeweizen was thin, overly citrusy and lacked much bannana-clove. If they would have called it a Wit I would have been more impressed. The Belgian pale was way over hopped for the style and lacked any notable belgian qualities. The Octoberfest was only average and lacking the big malt profile. The Speedbump IPA and Potters Run IPA were largely indistinguishable and more like a good pale than American IPAs. The Devils Lake Red Lager had a very pleasing creamy moutfeel but not much going on tastewise other than a more than expected hoppiness. The Cascade Porter was a good solid porter with notable hop qualities. The Stone of Scone scotch was also pretty good but not a wee-heavy by any means. Both the porter and scotch were worthy of full pints, but with Come-back-Inn and Maduro still before us, I was hoping to (and did) find beers more worthy.

The atmosphere and service were good, and I have enjoyed their food in the past. I will still hit the Dane when I'm in town and hopefully they will have something more interesting. But I won't consider them a destination worthy of a road trip as I have in the past.

Photo of twb0392
3.54/5  rDev -15.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.5

Outdoor beer garden is really nice; beer is hit and miss.

Photo of jrallen34
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

Photo of Deuane
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I never like it when I have been to some place once and have a negative experience and then review it. But this is my circumstance with the downtown location of Great Dane. Most things went well, beers (most) were good, food was good, place is nice, but our service in a nutshell sucked. Our waitress was VERY inattentive and quite short with us...she was just plain bad...should have caught her name but didnt.

Great Dane Brewing Company is located in an old corner hotel building, and has retained much of the historical charm on both the interior and exterior. It is just one block down from the capitol building, which sat up on the hill, well lit and rising above all other buildings.

We ordered four beers from the selection of 15 (two of which were on cask and having cask is ALWAYS a BIG plus) along with dinner. C was highly interested in the IPA, which on the printed menu, stated that the style varies from time to time - sometimes an English IPA, sometimes an American IPA. So as instructed, C asked the server. She was terribly confused by the question and couldn't really help answer, so she just ordered it. We assumed something called Texas Speedbump IPA would probably be American, and it was. In fact, it was a very solid IPA - extremely hop forward with a strong citrus nose and powerful hop flavor.

The other beer C had was Black Watch Scottish Ale on cask, and this was a deep copper color with an incredibly smoky finish. The smoke flavor was too much for her, and she gave this one up to me.

C's trade was for his Black Earth Porter, which also had a smokiness to it - a sort of burnt malt quality, but found it to be more smooth and drinkable than the Scottish.

My other choice was the English Special Ale on cask, which disappointed quite a bit. It was a dull choice, and the beer delivered on that note. There was very little suggestion of hop flavor, which was balanced with the lack of malt body.

The menu looked good and although our waitress never filled us in on the specials, I feel we made good choices.

C had a nice salad with fresh mozzarella and asparagus and I had the Brats & Mashers, which were a pair of beer-and-onion-marinated bratwurst over Scotch Ale sauerkraut with smashed red potatoes and hot apple "sauce" (which was really super-cooked apple chunks with cinnamon...)

Great Dane is certainly a place we'd like to try again - maybe with a different waitress or at one of the other two locations we will have an improved experience. As I said, it wasn't awful, but the experience didn't give me the warm fuzzies!

Photo of wardough
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I've visited the local Madison Great Dane on multiple occasions. Saturday night is definitely the night that is packed! Friday can also get very busy.

What I love about this place are the 3 different "bars" within this place. 2 upstairs and 1 downstairs. It's a great place to get a beer and some good food. Their burgers are very good. If you are visiting town, definitely try the cheese curds or the Nachos. The Nachos rock.

The quality and selection are near unsurpassable. The beer that is served is served in the proper glass.

The downside is the service. I've had horrible service. In the past 2 weeks, I've had more than a few beers that have not been filled (seems to be a current trend). I've sent them back. The waitresses are usually decent at knowing the beers, but their attitude is generally pretty horrible.

All in all, I still love this place, but try to go when it's not so busy.

Photo of KAF
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of BeerDazed
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of bpfrush
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of HereforBeer
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of enelson
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of cervezango
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of egrace84
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of Knoxrb12
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I visited the Great Dane while visiting Madison during the day with the family, and I was impressed by the selection of beers, the quality of the food on the menu, and the quality of the beers was also good.

The restaurant was very crowded, due in part to a Mary Kay convention in town (those ladies were sucking down some beers!). It took awhile for us to get seated, but in the meantime I was impressed by the dark-wood ambience of the place as I enjoyed a beer at the bar.

Eventually we were seated in a booth. Everyone ordered, and was quite happy with their food. There was a nice selection of pizza, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees on the menu. Everyone in my party (we met some friends at the Great Dane, so altogether there were 6 of us) was quite happy with their lunch. Service was not all that attentive, but was OK.

This is the best brewpub I've yet been to in Wisconsin (Onopa/Stonefly, Milwaukee Ale House, Rock Bottom are the others I've been to in WI).

Photo of Birchgrove77
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

Photo of Florida9
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

Photo of mynie
3.83/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Nice location, very pretty building. The pink neon BREW PUB sign is pure class.

The layout is nice but the atmosphere is like just about every other newly modeled brewpub you come across in the midwest, made to cater to the FM-radio crowd of twentysomethings who have mediocre taste in everything but beer. Big sportsbar TVs, soulessly lacquered bars and tabletops, intolerable classic rokck getting blasted at all volumes, and bunch of drunken fratboys.

The staff were superfriendly, though. Quite competent to boot. The beer selection was *massive*, although they were nothing but house beers, no guest taps. The four beers I sampled ranged from Solidly Good to Top Notch.

As reasonably priced and delicious as was the beer, the food really wasn't nothing to write home about. Standard pub fare, cooked and served with little flare or panache. Granted, I don't expect very much out of a hamburger, but it just wasn't that great. I dunno--maybe the beef wasn't that high of a grade or something. Still, it wasn't bad. Just not great.

Wonderfully priced. Most beers come in full 20-oz imperial pints for only 3.50. Growlers were 13 including a 4 dolllar bottle fee. Might be a bit nicer in the afternoons, when it's not so packed.

Photo of elkinbrown
3.84/5  rDev -8.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3.75

Photo of Czap
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Photo of Atron67
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A- there is a very relaxed atmosphere at the great dane which makes it very nice. at night it gets very busy though so i usually dont stick around.

Q- pretty solid all around for quality, the beers are all solid. the food is all solid.

S- the workers are usually very helpful and quick, etc.. nothing special but definitely good.

S- their selection is good, my favorite is the porter shake that they sell. delicious. good round base of year round beers. solid food.

V- decent prices, its not expensive, nor cheap.

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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
93 out of 100 based on 164 ratings.