Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.

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Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.
37 Ratings
Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace.

Type: Bar, Eatery

800 Langdon St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53706-1419
United States

(608) 265-3000 | map

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Added by DaPeculierDane on 10-19-2005

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Ratings: 37 |  Reviews: 18
Photo of TX-Badger
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of tcbro023
5/5  rDev +20.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of twb0392
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

what other college campus can you get 20+ taps of great beer right at the union?

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Photo of gwash411
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of DarbyOGill
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This place is awesome. Easily the best union I've ever been too. The beer selection is damn good and pretty cheap, it usually consists of sconnie micros.

There's two parts of the Union; the Terrace and the Rathskeller.

The terrace is a beautiful spot behind the union right on Lake Mendota. The colorful seats and tables add a nice touch to the Terrace. Live music is played frequently, for free, and on a sunny day I can't think of a better way to enjoy a good beer. *copy paste for picture*

The Rathskeller is the German inspired bar in the Union. The dimly light establishment is covered from wall to wall in colorful animated characters. Music is also played here, also for free, and it is the next best thing on a rainy/snowy day when the terrace isn't opened.

Overall this place is awesome and my favorite place in Madison to grab a beer. The only bad thing about the Memorial Union is it closes relatively early.

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Photo of Wobbly
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

The best place to drink beer in Madison, period.

One of the best places to drink beer in the state.

The Rathskeller is early 20th century, mock german fun with a great juke box and a a fabulous selection of taps.

The terrace is...well...a huge terrace, just outside the Rathskeller on Lake Mendota on the UW campus.

Someday I'll elaborate on this review but for now I'll leave it to a couple brief annecdotes that offer a good idea of what drinking at the terrace can be like:

Last year I watched the Violent Femmes for free from my chair on the water with a 22 oz cup of Leinie's creamy dark in my hand.

Two year ago I got wasted on Z-Optimator at a free Buzzcocks show and jumped in the lake with several lovely young ladies.

Three years ago I danced like a baffoon with a cheap pitcher of the Franz while Arrested Development played Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

Six summers ago I drank from a 44 oz cup of Rolling Rock that cost me something like 4 bucks while listening to…well, I can’t remember what I was listening to, I was drinking 44 oz Rolling Rocks for 4 bucks, what can I say.

At any rate, the Terrace is the best place in Madison for beer and it just simply rocks.

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Photo of nchrist13
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

it's hard to convey the terrace in words, but i'll do my best. there is a large patio outside with a couple levels (a higher level closer to where the beers are served, and a lower level which is right next to the largest lake in madison, lake mendota). they have tons of chairs and tables, and bands or open mic on the weekend. they serve beers. lots of beers. some pretty good beers, in fact. here is a tap list that i jotted down earlier this week.

strongbow cider
great lakes brewing co burning river pale ale
newcastle brown ale
spater lager
spater optimator
bell's oberon
franziskaner hefe
pils urquell
bass ale
capital oktoberfest
gray's oatmeal stout
gray's taverbach
gray's rathskeller amber
gray's hausmann pale
a couple leinies that i didn't write down

beer is reasonably priced ($9.75 a pitcher for the good beers, $6.50 if miller lite is more your thing). the staff doesn't know shit about beer, so don't bother asking them what's good. one caveat: you can only buy beer if you have a student ID or wisconsin union membership. but don't let that stop you. if you approached any student and asked them to buy you a pitcher i'm sure they'd be more than willing. once you got the pitcher you're all day (or just offer someone about to leave $1 for their pitcher, cuz they make you put down a $1 deposit for it that you will get back once you return it).

but the real reason you come here is for the atmosphere. it is a beautiful view right on the lake, and probably the best place to relax in madison when the weather permits (or do like a real wisconsinite and down beers on the terrace when it's below freezing). basically this is undoubted the best place to waste an afternoon drinking beer, then later that night go to the bars and brewpubs for the dankies that you so desperately need. if you are a prospective student at UW this can't be missed (tho if you're underage i would advise not to drink there during student orientation days, as they are more vigilant. otherwise underage drinking is pretty much ignored during the day, altho if you look young and are hanging around at night you will have a decent chance of being approached by union staff and they will jot down your student id number in their "naughty book," altho they most likely wont call the cops. sounds like i'm spreaking from experience, eh?).

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Photo of Diaper-Daniels
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3

Photo of nohead02
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Oh the memories. God how I loved this place. You can sit indoors in a unique faux-German den or just grab a beer from a window and sit on the "Terrace" on the shore of Lake Mendota (not recommended in winter, however, though I have done it). Beer drinking and good times have a long tradition in Madison, and who knows how far back this place goes? Good beers now that small breweries have come back to Wisconsin. In the summer you can buy some brats - the real Wisconsin experience.

If you are a reader of Beer Advocate you are damn near certain to love this place. One warning: the pub owners of Madison pressured the university to allow only registered students, faculty and staff to buy here. So make sure you meet up with someone with a registration card.

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Photo of AmberMan22
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

The terrace is the spot to be whenever it's a nice day out. Can be relaxing in the afternoons, or buzzing at night when bands come to play.
The Rathskellar is incredible too. Looks great, feels authentic... I love it.

As for beer, there are always a number of good Wisconsin micros(Capitol, Ale Asylum, Leinies, among others), and a couple of staple macros too (PBR, Miller). Generally a few german beers on tap as well, for authenticity, and this selection really makes the place feel homely. Plenty of German heritage around here (myself included), and it really is, simply put, enjoyable.

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Photo of klikger
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

There's no better place in Madison to have a beer w/ friends on a sunny spring/summer/fall day. The Terrace is a Madison tradition - it has the best waterfront location in the city, features free concerts for most of the year (inside Der Rathskellar, as well) trademark multi-colored tables and chairs (made in nearby Oregon, WI), and a solid selection of beer.

I haven't been there in a few months, but they generally have a few New Glarus and Capital beers on tap, as well as Hopalicious, several Germans, Two-Hearted Ale, Oberon, and the normal swill. I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff (Lake Louie or Ale Asylum's Ambergeddon?).

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Photo of dirtylou
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

atmosphere: a perfect 5...The most enjoyable place to drink a beer that I have ever been to. fantastic lakeside setting with tons of outdoor tables, live music, a boat launch and always a lot of activity in the summer. its an absolute must-experience in my opinion. UW students could not possibly understand how well they have it. I went to two universities; ncst's student union is just a piece of crap building in the middle of everything else...ND has a pretty nice old building which is a cool place to hang out but neither serve beer and neither are lakeside

quality: Good people, good beer, great setting...yeah its quality. -.5 points for paper cups, but hey nothings perfect

service: its pretty much self service...theres and outside bar with a few taps and an indoor one with about 20

selection: for what it is, the selection is more than adequate. This is not a beer bar, its a meeting place and a prime social spot. That being said, this is wisconsin, so of course it has great beer. Last time I was there I noted... Bells 2 hearted (which tasted immaculate), Bells Oberon, Capital Oktoberfest, Sprecher Amber, Great Lakes Burning River, a couple New Glarus, some german brews, and a few domestics

food: I've never eaten indoors at the Rathskeller but I had a dynamite brat outside one afternoon

value: pitchers are pretty cheap, 16oz draft for $4 works for me

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Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of hoosier222002
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Nick-K
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of jwenzel019
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Any visit to Madison should include a stop at the terrace for a pitcher (or several). Fantastic collegiate atmosphere with regular musical performances both inside and out, all overlooking Lake Mendota. Decent selection of beer, but generally more expensive than other local venues. However, the atmosphere makes it worthwhile.

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I'm rating this place with great anticipation of spending some quality time here this spring after a rough winter. I've spent many hours here, just killing time or taking a pause at the start or end of a bike ride with visiting friends. The selection is decent, but I usually go with the Bell's, and the service is good. I confess I've also drunk my share of PBR here. The atmosphere, both inside and out, is excellent. You can't beat the view of the lake and all the passers-by on a hot day, and this is truly the place to be. Since the Union has everything from brats to fajitas to ice cream, there's something for everyone, but I usually stick to my pitcher.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

The Memorial Union has undergone a bit of a facelift inside in the past few years. However the Rathskeller and the Terrace seem pretty much the same as always. The Rath is kinda dark and you have to be a Union member in order to get a pitcher. Many times someone will be a sport and assist you with that however.

The Terrace is an awesome place for a summer evening of lounging and when a concert is taking place it can be quite lively and at times difficult to find a place to sit.

I'm gonna put food at N/A although the cafeteria that took the place of the old one in the Rath was fantastic, especially for a Sunday Brunch. It was also extremely inexpensive. The drafts at the Rath and Terrace generally contain beers like Gray's and things like Optimator or Salvator.

An awesome place, how could one go wrong?

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Photo of Rilesmiles
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of RobinLee
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of cwcolby74
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

This is my go-to place whenever I visit Madison. During summer, it's one of my ultimate pleasures to sit on the Terrace behind the Union building and split a pitcher (or two) with my buddy. The lake is right in front of you, they have live music on weekends, and I'm not gonna lie, there's no shortage of UW cuties hanging out and walking by.

The Rathskeller is inside the Union, and as a person who went to college at a university with a dry campus, I almost can't believe UW has something like this. It's a full-fledged beer bar with about a dozen different beers on tap. Good beers, not crappy ones. And the prices are pretty awesome for what you're getting.

There's a cafeteria connected to the seating area for the Rathskeller, so there's food nearby, but I didn't try any.

I look forward to coming to this place every year.

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Photo of bigred89
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of BeerDazed
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Canada_Dan
4/5  rDev -3.6%

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Der Rathskeller / The Memorial Union Terrace. in Madison, WI
Place rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 37 ratings