Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

123 E. Doty St.
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703
United States

(608) 284-0000 | map

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Reviews: 112 | Ratings: 180
Photo of bnuttz
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

What a wonderful brewpub. Went there last weekend with my buddy from pittsburgh, we enjoyed a great meal. I had the chicken with portabella mushrooms, spinach, and gorgonzolla mashed potatoes. The meal was delicious. The beers are also something amazing. The standout of the night was the 2004 barley wine most definitely, a wonderful english creation. The texas speedbump ipa on cask was great as well as the scotch ale and oatmeal stout. The irish red was mediocre, and the New Peculiar was not for me. But the good beers definitely more than make up for the average beers. Our service was kind of slow, but not horrible. The atmoshphere in this place is cool, we stuck to the restaurant side of the bar after dinner because it was less busy, but next time I think I will have to hit up the cave like downstairs bar. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of danburgess67
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

This is nothing short of an incredible brewpub. They offer 10+ beers on draft, as well as a cask-conditioned selection, and on both of my visits in the past four years, all products have been exceptional.

On this stop, my first was a seasonal Belgian golden ale which was a great example of the style. That was followed by the doppelbock, which warmed up my innards on the cool February night. The all-too-brief visit was capped by the "7 C's" APA on draft, making for three consecutive winners.

On this Saturday night, the larger room with the billiard tables began to overflow after 9pm, and it became too crowded for comfort. This place is very popular among the 20-something college set and became more raucous with each passing minute. I was wishing my business travels took me to Madison, as I would much prefer stopping in for dinner on a quiet Tuesday evening.

Our server, Claire, was a delight, and while we didn't use the billiard tables, they looked first-rate. The ventilation system kept the air feeling mostly free of noxious carcinogens. For true beer enthusiasts, any visit to Madison must include a stop at Great Dane.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Definitely one of the most beautiful bars in Wisconsin. It has a superb location, right at the base of the capitol on the square. Also, it is housed in a former hotel, and the facade is gorgeous. The bar is enormous, and it is a wrap-around style with a false door seperating the bars in adjacent rooms.

At any given time, there are at least a dozen beers on tap. Most of the time, there are 15 or more. Now they also have cask ales, and they often have a bitter or ESB cask above the bar.

There are always cute little college girls to deliver you a fresh pint or take your order. On the weekends, hundreds come in to listen to live music or shoot pool. The food is not that spectacular, but the beer is fresh, and I have fun every time I go there.

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Photo of Skidz
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This is one of my favorite places to have a pint here in Madison. Doesn't look like much from the outside, but once you get in, it really opens up. Nice dining area where the selection of food is sure to please. I have yet to have anything I haven't liked. Pair it off with a pint of fresh beer, and you have yourself a wholesome meal. A large room, for casual gathering, boasts some of the nicest pool tables in town, and has live music on most every night. Seating is sometimes hard to find when it's busy, but its usually not bad at all. If big open areas isn't your thing, you can head downstairs towards the beer garden and you find yourself surrounded by cold, hard stone walls. A more personal and intimate place to sit down and enjoy yourself. Lighting is very peaceful and the music isn't as loud.

How about the beer? The beers offered by the Great Dane are often very tasty. Cask beers are always available and usually quite tasty. The front-line of beers offered is solid. IPA, Porter and Scotch Ale are all top notch and easily become the favorites. However, much can also be said about their constantly rotating selection of special and seasonal brews. Everything from Watermelon Wheat to Behemoth Barley Port, the styles are wide in range and usually of high quality. If you can't find something on the list that doesn't get your mouth watering, then you have other problems.

Staff is caring and attentive. Glassware is usually in pint form, but the snifters also come out at times. Everything here just reeks of class, and beer is presented as it should be.

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Photo of longarm
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

First of all, I should qualify this to be a review of the Madison branch of the Great Dane. They also have a pub in Fitchburg, a town adjacent to Madison. That being said, the Great Dane has everything you hope to find in a brewpub. The location is excellent and centrally located, and it has a nice variety of outdoor seating, a dungeon-like basement with seating as well as the main floor bar, pool tables and eating tables. Located in an old building, it has a lot of brick and wood, which gives it a sense of age and history that other pubs often lack. The upside is that it usually has a sizaeable crowd, especially in the evenings, which of course is also the sign of a successful brewing establishment. The downside is that this crowd can get extremely loud. I almost always go home with a hoarse voice from having to shout at people standing right next to me. The staff doesn't help this noise, since music inevitably gets turned-up a notch about every half-hour. Maybe I'm getting old and cranky, but I prefer to not have to yell at other people with whom I'm trying to talk.

Also on the plus side of the Great Dane is its great selection of brews. If you want a cask conditioned brew in Madison, this is the place to try. The cask selection is usually hit or miss, but at least they're trying. The standard beers that always win me over are the Crop Circle Wheat, Devil's Lake Red and Old Glory APA. Pecks Pilsner is also a fine example of the style that even non beer snobs will like and appreciate.

But the best reason for patronizing this establishment is the combination of their fine beers with the kitchen's "Brats and Mash". Especially for non-Wisconsinites, if you don't have the luxury of fine brats in the same abundance that we have here, then you should drop by the Great Dane to enjoy beer and brats the way they were meant to be enjoyed...together. Other food is decent to good and there's a nice variety, but the "Brats and Mash" steal the show.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 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.

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Photo of daledeee
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Located downtown near the capital. We struggled finding this place due to all the one way streets and angled streets. A few trips around the block and Walah! we found the building which is a beautiful old-time building. The place was packed but we got seated right away. My wife and kids and I like German food so we ordered as such. The menu is authentic. The bratwurst and saurkraut was great. I tried a Dubbel which I thought was adequate.Some of the other beers sounded interesting but I stuck with my first choice. I liked the place but my wife didn't.

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Photo of Reneejane
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Best damn pretzels in the Western Hemisphere. I've been trying everywhere I go, as I am a pretzel fiend, and these are the closest I've ever found in the United States that resemble the fine German Pretzels!!! You Must Try The Pretzels.

On from that though: the beers are pretty average tasting, but the ones that stood out for me are Barrister's Brown and Stone of Scone Scotch Ale. Those two are imo the best they have.

The foods are very diverse, really you've gotta try the pretzels, again, best pretzels in the western hemisphere.

The best time to go would be lunch on a lazy Friday at 11:30AM in summer or late spring and sit outside in the gorgeous beer garten. The blooming trees overhead and the walls surround you for a wonderful meal.

Also, if you've got kids, the cream soda is quite wonderful!

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Swung in here on the way to Milwaukee for a Twins & Brewers game. It has plenty of room for dining and a decent size bar. It is all done up in dark hardwoods. From the the bar you can look through the windows and see the brew kettles. They had an awesome selection of good beers. They had cask, seasonal, and there regular line-ups. The food was your typical pub-grub. I had the fish & chips, which was excellent. The staff was very friendly and knowledgable. I wish I could have stayed to try their entire line-up, but I did grab a growler to go.

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Photo of bditty187
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

We visited Great Dane for lunch on a Friday. We arrived around 11:30 and only beat the crowd by five minutes; we were seated immediately. The beer selection is rather large and I was very pleased to see they had cask-conditioned ales (they earn extra stars for that). The lunch menu had a good selection, plus the prices were reasonable. There was a nice mix of “specialized” pub-grub and more atypical food (there was also a good number of vegetarian dishes). I really enjoyed the BBQ pork sandwich; while my girlfriend enjoyed some fish-n-chips… we both thought the potato wedges were surprisingly tasty. While the waiter we had was sub-par, we did get our drinks quickly… once he bothered coming to our table.

The atmosphere seemed typical but pleasant… warm and inviting. There was a nice mix of people. The building is spacious enough to accommodate a good number of people without a lot of elbow rubbing.

I must say that Great Dane is a ‘must try’ brewpub if you are ever in Madison. A major plus: there is a parking garage, literally, next door.

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Photo of Redrover
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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!

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Photo of cokes
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Impressive to excellent all around. Great Dane seems to have made big strides as of late.
Cozy, but spacious interior with plenty of activities. Several pool tables are featured, but there is plenty of room for conversation. Far enough away from the immediate campus area to stay somewhat relaxed. Weekends are quite busy, but the crowd is usually top notch.
Immaculate billiards area.
Waitstaff and bartenders are knowledgeable and efficent. Friendliness varies, as with anywhere, but all are willing to answer questions and get any requested information.

The sheer number of brews makes this a must stop in the Madison area. Anywhere from 12-15 on tap (1-3 on cask). Hugely diverse in selection, just about every imaginable style is on tap at some point during the year. Belgians, British style cask ales, Germans, Americans...they are all here. The rotating brews are usually the best. A few year-round selections are geared to the macro crowd, but the rest are quite nice, and more than a few are excellent. The beer seems to be improved over the past year or so. Winter and Spring tend to bring out most of the prime stuff.
Food is soild with lots of jazzed-up pub grub, and a few other more creative dishes. Interesting ethnic-infused creations and veggie dishes. Lots to try.
A favorite local haunt, especially as of late. I am blessed to have this a mere 5 minute walk (10 minute stagger) from my place.

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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
3.69 out of 5 based on 926 ratings.
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