Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

Your Rating: None
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
956 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

No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

BA Score:
View: Beers | Place Reviews
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 180 |  Reviews: 112
Photo of emerge077
3.95/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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...

 775 characters

Photo of slander
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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".

 2,866 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.94/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Downtown Madison, old school kinda place...not far from the college campus....large place with a large selections were decent but don't expect anything overly exciting or was better then decent and they were able to bring out all the food for our large group in a timely and orderly fashion..making this a good place to go to with a spot for a meal and some decent beer options

 420 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 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.

 1,060 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

 1,355 characters

Photo of Redrover
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
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!

 616 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

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
German pils
Czech pils - nice
Red lager
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.

 776 characters

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.

 756 characters

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.

 1,475 characters

Photo of MilwaukeeCrusher
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

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.

 611 characters

Photo of yemenmocha
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of Canada_Dan
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Photo of zeff80
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Ventured into the Great Dane for lunch on 12/30. I love the atmosphere. Beautiful bar in the main room. Behind that is the pool hall and another great bar. Downstairs the atmosphere is even better, a U-shaped bar with exposed brick and stone walls. The service was good. I talked to the bartenders in the pool hall half, and they were great. I asked if they'd fill a foreign growler and they said they would because "a glass container is a glass container." The selection is pretty large, 8 or so regular beers and 4 or 5 seasonals. The beers that I had were quite good. The Barrister's Brown was on cask and delicious. The Texas Speedbump IPA was even better. The food was great, too. Fried cheese curds for an appetizer and a Baja Burger were both amazing. This is a really great place to visit. A must see in Madison.

 820 characters

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.38/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Nothing major to change except for the atmosphere has much improved since smoking moved outside in MadTown. I love this place!

From 11-28-03
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.

 959 characters

Photo of Jason
2/5  rDev -52%

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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...

 733 characters

Photo of mynie
3.83/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

 1,237 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of BarrelAgedG
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of TX-Badger
5/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of 22Blue
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of spointon
4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I visited this place on 11/28/2008.

My wife and I went to Madison on an overnight beer trip to Madison and decided to try this for dinner on Friday night.

The atmosphere is way cool, as this place is located in an old bank building with lots of exposed brick, wood, and some great tilework and chandeliers. Being an old re-used building, there are lots of different rooms and spaces in this bar. Upon entering you have the choice of going left into the main bar room, right into a large dining room or down the stairs to the rathskellar where there is another bar, the breweries serving tanks, and the restrooms.

As I mentioned we visited on a Friday night, but were still seated within 10 minutes or so. The service throughout the evening was decently good but not great. No major complaints though.

The food was pretty solid and fairly priced. I got the fish and chips (excellent) and my wife got the Thai pizza (ok but nothing to brag on). I will say, the portions were huge though!

The beer selection was outstanding. They had 15 or so beers on tap (all brewed in-house). Between the wife and I, we tried five different beers over the course of a couple hours and three were good and two were exceptional.

I will surely be going back to Madison soon and I will surely visit the Great Dane again (and again).

 1,318 characters

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I've been a weekly patron at the Dane for more than three years and I've yet to grow tired of its food, beers, or atmosphere.

Atmosphere: By far the best beer garden in Madison. In the summer, be sure to have your hostess take you down in to the cellar and out onto the patio. The high ivied walls, iron tables, and flower beds create an ideal drinking atmosphere in the heart of downtown.

The interior is divided into various rooms. The cellar has a rathskeller type of room with large carved in wooden tables and a couple dart boards. The upstairs boasts a large eatery area with numerous comfortable booths. It has its own bar area, which was nonsmoking before long before the communist city council decided to throw property rights out the window. Now the entire bar, which was once sort of a cigar bar too, is non-smoking.

The “bar” area is a large, high ceiling spacious room containing six quality pool tables in one corner, a small stage with couches on it in another and several tables closer to the physical bar.

The entire place is located within the confines of the a historically significant and beautifully restored hotel. They’ve done a wonderful job maintaining the classic almost gilded feel of the hotel while blending it with all the great brewery stuff.

The quality of most of their beers is very high. I particularly enjoy their porter, stout, barley wine, scotch ale, and wheat. The Dane also provides a steady stream of new seasonal or onetime brews to try as well and usually has at least three cask conditioned ales available. Their one time offering of the “Black Moravian” remains in my memory as one of the best beers I’ve ever had and I wish desperately that they would bring it back. The Dane’s specialty scotch ales over the years, including one which they brewed for charity last year all beat any other scotch ales that I’ve tried including Lake Louie’s.

The Dane also offers a full bar including several great scotches, however, these come at a price. Mixed drinks are small and expensive at the Dane, possibly to encourage consumption of the beer. I personally would never dream of ordering anything but a brew but if someone in your party objects to malt and hops they will have an alternative.

I’ve never found the service to be particularly good. Most of the waiters/waitresses are ditzy college types with very little knowledge about beer or service. Service is often slow and at lunch, when I usually order iced tea or coffee rather than beer, they NEVER REFILL IT. This is a huge pet peeve of mine as I consider drink refilling to be the basis of good service.

The bartenders are better but there are too few of them and they always seemed rushed and stressed out. It’s hard to get a question answered if you have one.

The food is great. Best salads near the capital. Very good, large burgers. Decent wings. Awesome ahi appetizer. Crazy lemonpepper chicken fingers. Average fish. Absolutely wonderful fusion SW chicken black bean pasta, quesadillas, and enchiladas. Good beer bread too. By far my favorite lunch spot near the capital and a good place for groups to go for a fun dinner.

 3,168 characters

Photo of crossovert
3.94/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This place is a decent-sized place on the corner of a few streets near the center of Madison.

Me and my friend sat at a bar type place near the front door. They were offering a glut of beers so we ordered a sampler. Some of the beers (Prageur lager) were pretty good. Others were simple brewpub fare.

We didn't eat so can't comment on that, but the service, especially the bartenders was extremely good despite the place being totally packed to the brims.

Overall it is a solid and worthy stop on a Madison downtown pub crawl.

 529 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -4.1%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown) in Madison, WI
Brewery rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 956 ratings