Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

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

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

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

(608) 284-0000 | map

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Ratings: 182 |  Reviews: 112
Photo of TX-Badger
5/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of NewGlarusFan
4.89/5  rDev +17.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Came here (not this one, but the Great Dane Hilldale) for Bockfest 2015. It was a blast 15 bocks and all you can eat pretzel bar. Wings were great.

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Photo of Offa
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

We had an outstanding experience when visiting this place.

The atmosphere and place itself are excellent, in a great old building in the core of downtown near the capitol. Overall decor is old pub-type, i.e. old building with brick walls but traditional decor with lower ceilings, etc., rather than modern or redone industrial building, and nicely appointed. There is a nice bar area with a raised larger dining area somewhat separated from the bar area with nice booths and tables.

Beer quality we had was excellent.

Service was friendly and efficient, laid-back but never slow.

Selection was outstanding , with a great selection of German/Czech-style lager-types, alt, British ales, American, and more. They had several cask choices, a big plus.

Food was outstanding, far above the usual pub fare. Salads were huge, made with fresh, good-quality ingredients, and one was with excellent steak beautifully cooked rare-medium rare, tender and juicy. They were particularly impressive given the rather moderate price. Kids' choices includes happy-face fries, which are not only fun and unusual, but were cooked really perfectly.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.78/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

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Photo of willland
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of bizzy54
4.75/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of KellyScottMad
4.71/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

I love this place! There beers are very good, the atmosphere is awesome, and the food is great! Usually they have a good selection of specialty beers aside t=from their normal dozen or so. They have beers to match all different kinds of tastebuds. Stouts and porters, to pilsners and wheats. The place have been open for well over 10 years, and the beers have always been consistent. The food at every Great Dane taste the same, which is amazing. And you would think that it would be cheap bar food, but it is not. An actual full fledged menu to go with that great beer. Good times at the Great Dane - Downtown Madison.

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Photo of Zenboy99
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

One of my favorite breweries I’ve ever visited

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Photo of rugger
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

When I was in town I visited this place twice. The day my wife had all of her meetings I went here by myself for lunch. I got there right at 11:00 and was the first to sit down at the bar, and I ordered an IPA. I talked to the bartender for a while just shooting the bull and then I asked what he suggested for lunch and he suggested the meatloaf, which I ordered and it was very good. I was there for about two hours in which during the noon hour it got pretty full. I was glad that I got there when I did. I asked the bartender how consitent the beers were and he said very consistent, but he also knew that I was from way out of town.
The beers were awesome, I had the vintage, the IPA, and Black Earth Porter, which was/is one of the best porters I have had, however I think it is really a stout. Anyway if you are ever visiting I highly recommend this place.
It was so good that the next day I took my wife there for lunch as well. She liked it as well. Very good, A+ guys.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

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Photo of Rennpferd
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

My Girlfriend and I made a trip out to Madison and this was the only planned dinning and drinking destination.

They had a nice selection of beer. In my opinion you will find a beer on tap that you will enjoy. I mixed it up and enjoyed three beers and a good portion of my Girlfriends.

The food was good, but I felt a little over priced for being simple bar cuisine. That could have just been Madison pricing however. I am not to familiar with the city and the dining costs. However in Milwaukee or Racine I would not have payed that price for the food.

I really really enjoyed the fact that the Great Dane is smoke free. A few smokers were running their mouths about it. But I really enjoyed not eating or drinking in a gray haze of smelly smoke.

It seemed like the wait staff was a little under-manned. The service was good and my pint was never empty. However you could tell that the staff was really being pushed to the limits. If my Girlfriend and I would have been in a little bit of a hurry and not planning on just chilling and tasting beer; waiting for our meal would have been an issue.

Over-all I highly recommend the Great Dane. If you are going to be in Madison the Dane is by far the best bar in the city.

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Photo of leftmindedrighty
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

This was my last stop in my beer tour of Madison. A quick walk from Maduro, and I was sitting in a truly awesome brew pub. This place has a very nice English feel to it.

Four firkins sitting behind the bar, but only one was pouring that night. They also had three hand pumps. I ordered up a sampler of their beers, and for the first time ever, I actually had to limit how many of their house beers I ordered. They had 15 different beers on tap, so I chose 10 that appealed to me the most. All were quality beers. Old Glory APA, Esmerald, Ned's Red, New Peculior, Trip-pepper pils, Black Earth, etc.

I ordered up the house nachos, and man oh man were they good. They were served with home made salsa that was just out of this world. I can safely say they were the best nachos I have ever had. This place seemed like a very popular local hang out, and it's easy to see why.

Overall, God I loved this place. I'm pretty sure I could kill and entire afternoon and night here. If I lived next door to this place, I don't think I would ever leave. And I'll count down the days until I get to come back here.

The only negative thing I can say about the Dane is that the bathroom is downstairs. As I've said many times before, alcohol and steps don't mix. But at least it gets you up and walking I guess.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.65/5  rDev +11.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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.

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Photo of danburgess67
4.64/5  rDev +11.3%
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 gueuzegeek
4.63/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The first thing I want to start with is how incredible the bar tenders were. I went my first night in town and then again my last night. I was only in town for 5 nights and spent 4 of them at the various GDs!! I think the first bartender was named Debbie (sorry if I spelled it wrong) and she was terrific. She helped me pick my dinner too and it was great stuff!! Her beer knowledge was also right on! I liked it so much I had to go see the others and then finally made my way back again, at which time someone named Ryan (some people called him Nolan at first, which I learned was not his name, just the obvious Nolan Ryan thing) was doing an incredible job in spite of the fact that all patrons, other than the 150+ people who booked the pool-room bar for a party, were crammed into the front bar!! I think many bartenders could learn a thing or two from him about service and about keeping your cool even when the pace is making you sweat!!

These people are all knowledgeable and even the brewer came out for a bit as he was putting on a freshly filtered keg of the Devil's lake Red lager (NICE!!) I cannot begin to list all the different things I tried, but heck, I thought everything was damn fine!! The Old Glory APA was fab and I would have loved to have seen that on the hand pump!! The porter and stout I tried was great as well.

My food was fab too!! Love this place, and can't wait to get back!!

Now, just in case I don't get to review the others seperately, the service and both Fitchberg (Dennis) and Hilldale (Didn't get the names, but at least three people attended to me while I was there so I was NEVER without a beer or anything the whole time!!!) were great as well. Food also great and the beer at both was fab as well.

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Photo of shbobdb
4.63/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Oh man, this is the freakin' place for good beer. Good, good beer. Everytime I think about this place, I just freakin' smile. Not a bad beer on the menu, really. The food is mighty nice too. Top that off with a real feeling of gemuetlichkeit and there ya have it. Wonderful.
From the staples, they've got an amazing pils AND a pilsner, a red lager that's to die for, the best Weizen you'll find on this side of the Atlantic, an amazing porter and stout. Plus seaonable brews! Amazing.
Gotta fill up space to post, but why? This place must be experienced, not talked about. Go, now, enjoy!

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.63/5  rDev +11%
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.

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Photo of battlekow
4.6/5  rDev +10.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is really two places in one. Upstairs, it's a typical, lively bar/restaurant along the lines of Friday's. Downstairs, though, you feel like you've travelled back in time to the 16th Century, sitting in a dank basement on an uneven stone floor, drinking dark beer and grousing about the Lutherans. Upstairs gets a 3, downstairs gets a 5, so split it for a 4. Definitely hang out at the basement bar though. As for the beer here, it's diverse and excellent. Their porter is particularly outstanding, but the stout and scotch ale are also good. They have a wide variety of hoppy pale ales as well. There's a lineup of about ten regular beers, complemented with five rotating specials. They offer sample "platters" of beer that allow you to try many of the varieties in small four-ounce glasses. The bartenders will also hook you up with a free sample of a particular beer if you ask. The service is friendly and fast, the food is great, and the prices are what you'd expect. Great place.

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Photo of tyleeis
4.59/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

I really like the decor but the downtown location is always so crowded. If I can I grab the couches across from the pool table and I'm set! Always a good time, good food, good beers-havent found a favorite yet tho. Overall a decent place, glad to see their growing.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
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 BeerBuilder
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
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 egenerose
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Great selecton of cask ales and firkins. They had a cask conditioned IPA, very hoppy, nice refreshing ale, in addition they had a cask conditioned porter, it was good, but didn't compare to the IPA. They had an EPA in the firkin, again it was good, but didn't compare to the engine brews. I was in this place two nights in a row and they were brewing both nights at about 10pm, really cool. The place is very spacious, never had a problem getting a set at the bar. Bartender was very helpful, give you samples without an attitude. I only had the bread made with their stout and light lager, it is served with honey butter and is extremely delicious. They have at least 10 taps.

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Photo of edmundfitzoil
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Fellow BA's orbitalr0x and I met up with stonecrusher here over the weekend for some brews, good times, good conversation and a little beer trading when the afternoon was over. It is located just off the capitol in a building that butts up to a parking garage ($1 all day Saturday parking). There was really nothing about the place that grabbed my attention or made it stand out. Typical wooden bar, some high top tables around with other restaurant seating upstairs and downstairs. We sat at the bar. All the beers I had, minus the stout, were fantastic, well above average. The bar staff were very attentive to our beer needs. We were even able to get growler fills for their triple, which was not usually available to others. They made an exception since I was in from far away, which was absolutely awesome. There were probably 12 beers on tap, with multiple hand pumps in opteration as well, but I don't think they were all serving cask conditioned brews. I didn;t get any food, but I had eaten there before a few years ago. I remember it being good, but I will refrain from making a call on that since it was a while back. I didn't feel the prices were out of line. 4-6 bucks a beer for what we had. Our growler fills were 15, plus 3 bucks for the jug. All in all, a great experience for us. I will definately be back there in August for the great taste, so that is on the list of places to go.

I hear they have good coleslaw too.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

I enjoyed an awesome Saturday afternoon at the Dane with fellow BA's stonecrusher and kmpitz2. The interior is nice with lots of open space that makes it easy to get around, unlike some cramped establishments. There's a long bar with plenty of taps, as well as a good deal of seating. There must be some good ventilation as well because it wasn't very smoky even though there were quite a few people there. Also...there's a window into the brewery which was fun to watch.

The brew selection is impressive and extensive. Nearly every major style is accounted for, including 6-7 speciality ones they had on tap...including a delicious barleywine. Every beer I sampled was top notch and I look forward to going back again soon for more (if you go..the Black Earth Porter is a MUST.) The bartenders were extremely helpful, attentive and happy. They were more than happy to answer questions about the beers and never left us with an empty glass.

There's a city parking garage less than a block away...only cost us $1 for the day. If you're planning on being anywhere near downtown yourself a favor and stop by Great Dane for at least a pint or two. There is no possible way you'll be dissapointed.

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Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
Brewery rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 972 ratings