Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
Ratings: 148 | Reviews: 106 | Display Reviews Only:
4.45/5 rDev +5.2%
So, we skip out on Angelic, head back up the hill, across the Capital building lawn, and down the hill on the other side. Maybe Great Dane will hold something a little better. We hadn't eaten, yes, we were due, and those 2 growlers from Lake Louie (a killer scotch ale and porter) were starting to take hold...
Great Dane has some good size to it. Entering through the bar side, you're in a room with a straight wood bar along one wall seating upwards of a dozen with just as many bar tables lying adjacent, and the rest of the room is made up of an area with a 1/2 dozen pool tables with small green lamps over them, some cushy couches, Phil's golf game, electronic darts and an elevated stage area for band set ups. Large wood units behind the bar holding glassware and booze, and beer bongs on the counter. Light green wall uppers, wood slat lowers, drop lighting overhead, strung Xmas lights, TV's here and there, stained glass windows, a cigar showcase, and the tap selections shown on a large blackboard.
There's (like) 15 beers on tap (Lite, 2 Pilsners, Wheat, Red Lager, APA, Irish Stout, Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Marzen, English Brown Ale, IPA, Barleywine, Belgian Tripel, and a cask gravity pour Dark Mild). An absolute great range of beers are made here and the ones I had were real damn nice. What's that? Yea, that sell growlers to go, sure.
Hey, that guy kind of looks like Brian (BeverageCaptain), but no, what would he be doing here? Either he's stalking me or he's relocated his life from NJ to Madison, WI (it's the latter).
We were waiting on our table for 4 in the main dining room and it quickly came up. About 2 dozen tables and booths in the big room, dark wood trim, brick walls, ceiling fans, and "hop, malt & beer" prints. The dining room is somewhat attached to the bar area housing a 1/2 dozen booths and bar tables adjacent to main bar, "L" shaped, seating about a dozen. Pillars, fans, TV's, a room with fermenters and mashers, and GABF metals displayed here.
The beer and food menu is done up like a little newspaper called "The Dane Dispatch", seemingly updated seasonally, with such articles as "About our beers", food headers, and "Beer to go". I had a bowl of some really good gumbo, spicy and nice, and a beef burrito, also very good.
Shhh!!!! Craig, don't wake the baby. Oh, wait, that's not the baby. That's (Evil) Davo passed out at the table, with fork in hand. What? No, I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you ate his snausages. He ain't gonna finish them.
Ventured downstairs to find a small basement bar there. Shaped like a backwards question mark seating about half a dozen, plus a dozen booths and tables. Not a lot of room down there but they do well with the space and they're pouring all the taps. Not too shabby.
Great Dane more than made up for that fiasco on the other side of the hill. Quite smply, "The goods".
05-14-2005 16:07:29 | More by slander
3.95/5 rDev -6.6%
Recently stopped here during the GTOM pre-ticket sale pub crawl.
There are 2 separate bars, this time I was at the one "downstairs" in the area with the pool tables. Service was good at the bar, they had several house beers available on cask. I tried a mild IPA "Texas Speedbump" (guessing Amarillo, rhymes with armadillo?) and a cask bitter. Neither were especially exciting, but served at proper temp in an imperial pint. The far & away winner was the Black Earth Porter.
Atmosphere was ok, i've been several times before, and it's usually crowded. There seemed to be a wedding or prom party there at the same time. Suits and children around. It was a big enough place that we all stayed out of each others way. I'll go back to eat here again, and to get more porter...
05-05-2008 14:38:06 | More by emerge077
4.44/5 rDev +5%
A note on the Selection category - they had between 15 and 18 beers on at any given time, all good, no clinkers, and it took me several visits to try everything. Yow!
This B. C. was established in 1994 in the former Fess Hotel, which is now listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is a very expansive place, being that it is situated on the corner of E. Doty and Webster Sts, giving them plenty of room to operate. They have a game room with pool tables and a bar; another bar inside of the main entrance with seating and a third dining area; a downstairs equivalent of a brickskeller, called "The Rathskeller"; and an outdoor biergarten. The woodwork and exposed brick throughout the building are stunning. The brewhouse is fully visible to the rear of the main bar and in the basement, on the way to the head, the same visibility can be said of the grian mill and the storage/serving tanks. In fact, there are three rooms of fermenters. Getting back to the game room, there are six pool tables, along with two stained glass windows, one depicting the mash tun, the other the harvest of hops (!). There is a block and tackle mounted behind the main bar and I waas told that it is for non-paying customers, of which I was not one. Finally, I am compelled to remark on the tap handles, which have the shape of dogs' heads on top of them. Very inspired.
08-21-2004 12:06:58 | More by woodychandler
4.33/5 rDev +2.4%
What can be said about the Great Dane that hasn't already been said? Not much. It's clearly the best brewpub in Madison. Now, I haven't been to the Fitchburg location (I'll get there next time!), but I have been to Hilldale, and the downtown location just has so much more charm and character in its looks and feel that there's really no comparison. I love the big booths! Anyway, I also love the food. They have several vegetarian choices, which I appreciate, and they're clearly marked on the easy to read menu. Massive choice of beers!!! Of course you'll want to try them all. And, they're all good. Very well-made, balanced beers - without question some of the best brewpub beer I've ever had; and better than many micros... these guys do a really good job. AND, they serve some of it cask-conditioned :) The service can be hit or miss (college students...), but for the most part it's just slightly above what has become the average. It's a perfect place for a first date, a night out with the guys, or even a place to bring mom & dad. Highly recommended.
03-26-2007 23:46:00 | More by NeroFiddled
4.65/5 rDev +9.9%
This place has been heavily reviewed I see. I live down the hill, to the west of this madison institution, a 15-20 minute walk.
located right of the capital, in certainly the more upscale business-class section of the isthmus, which isn't bad i guess because it's a nice change of pace from state street. atmosphere is sophisticated, mostly business-class with hippies mixed in(it's madison ya know). very relaxed but still "hip"
the layout is pretty nice...INCREDIBLE beer garden in the warmer months, 3 levels really in a gradual sense...plenty of seating, some pool tables, tv's, etc.
the food is pretty good. this place does a ton of business during the lunch hour and I have walked over here quite a few times from work just to grab a bite. The dane burger is good (artichoke heart dip on the burg!) and i like the mayan chicken wrap too.
the beer is exceptional for a brewpub. There is always quite a selection, always double digit taps, 15-20 usually i would say. Lots of year round standards that include a phenomenal porter, a great APA, and much more. Always some cask conditioned ales as well which is quite the treat. Throw in numerous "specialty" brews and you have quite the lineup. The texas speedbump ipa was sensational. Definately the best local brewpub ive had access too, hands down.
prices are perhaps on the high end of normal, if that makes any sense. Its right on the square so parking can be an issue too. Price is certainly deterrent.
11-10-2005 03:25:29 | More by dirtylou
4.45/5 rDev +5.2%
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
Czech pils - nice
Beer engine IPA
Firkin scotch ale
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.
08-09-2011 15:29:44 | More by Yetiman420
4.38/5 rDev +3.5%
Nothing major to change except for the atmosphere has much improved since smoking moved outside in MadTown. I love this place!
overall: 4.28 atmosphere: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
The Great Dane is one of my favorite Madtown places. The bar side can get smoky, but you should travel over there to see what is on hand pull, and it is generally easier to get a draft or a stool on that side. The dining side can get noisy, and it can be difficult at times to get a table or to get a beer from that bar. At night my experience has been you will have to wait to be seated.
The quality of the beers is always well done, the service is generally good even when they are packed. The selection is outstanding for a brewpub. They had 13 beers at my last visit, and at times have more.
The food I have had at Great Dane has always been very good. A friend ordered the lamb on my last visit and it was very tough.
08-17-2005 18:56:12 | More by GCBrewingCo
4.5/5 rDev +6.4%
This is a great brewpub in a great pretty little town (it's all about the lake and the lovely capital building). The atmosphere here is very collegey. Smoky with a pool hall/bar on one side and a 'restaurant' on the other side. The quality of my beers was very good (cask ipa and 7 c's, hey I was in a hopped-up mood). Anyways, service was friendly and the tender acted as if I had been there before. The locals made for some great conversations as well, and they helped me find a place to catch some live music as well. Selection was very good as well with about 10-12 of their own brews on draught and one or two guests as well. Definately a place to check out in Madison. My advice, skip Milwaukee and head straight for Madison...
07-08-2005 00:15:48 | More by francisweizen
4.28/5 rDev +1.2%
I go to this place with my family and everyone sings its praises. The building is very nice with a good nonsmoking section and a nice garden in back. The crowd is nice and slightly more 'mature' for a major college town. They seem to draw a lot of professionals from the State Government.
The service is always friendly and knowledgeable if not always quick. The food is very good. I really like the walleye and the burgers.
The beer selection is huge and most are very good. I like the pale ale, the hefe-wiezen and the porter. I've never had a bad beer here. I wish I lived closer so I could go more often!
02-04-2003 10:55:12 | More by Redrover
4.35/5 rDev +2.8%
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.
01-13-2011 01:40:30 | More by MilwaukeeCrusher
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
94 out of 100 based on 148 ratings.