An ornate three-story "compound" structure at a downtown Madison street corner gives the Great Dane Brewpub an eclectic outward appearance. Inside, it's all poolhall, beer bar and restaurant. The poolhall occupies the left third of the building. Six tables, a few videogames, and the all important bar are the main attractions. One big-screen and three other TVs provide for diversion. The merchandise corner offers great glassware and clothing designs at reasonable prices. The decor is basic all around, hardwood floors, high maroon ceiling, and green ducting. Of course the attraction is the long bar and its three hand-pumps. To determine what's on tap, just glance up at the large wooden sign. Usually the ten "regulars" are shown with their names in gold on wood slats. Toward the sign's bottom the seasonals and specials are illustrated in colored chalk. The next room houses the bar and lounge area where four black-jacketed firkins draw first attention. The long bar sports one beer engine and an eight-tap brass tower. Smoking is prevalent in both the bar and lounge area. Tall long tables with bar stools and dark wood padded booths are the creature comforts. A glass window at the rear offers a view into the 7-barrel Pub stainless steel brewhouse. The seven uni-tank fermenters stand visible in a nearby room. Beyond another wall lies the dining area and its booths and tables. The red brick and stained wood walls, together with the light and dark green high ceiling set a subdued tone. Stained glass sporting Great Dane designs add to the decor. An outdoor beer garden patio offers seclusion while the downstairs "Ratskeller" is a whole other world. Smoky, its cellar atmosphere provides another bar, more booths and seriously chilled air. The outdoor patio features green and blue metallic and plastic patio furniture in a quiet and secluded setting of vine-covered stone walls.
The Black Earth Porter offers a smooth mouthfeel with its deep, rich chocolate and black malt flavors, creamy full body, and very dry finish. The Emerald Isle Stout starts with a thick tan head, leading into a light body with a very creamy mouthfeel, smooth dry dark malt flavor and very slight roasted character in the finish. Overall, this one goes down very well. The Stone-of-Scone Scotch Ale appears a clear mahogany and is slightly carbonated with a big mouthfeel, bold, rich maltiness, mild hop bitterness, and a great lingering maltiness. The American Pale Ale is a hazy amber with a pronounced hoppy aroma matched to a medium body, smooth mouthfeel that finishes with a nice underlying maltiness. The IPA is a clear amber with a very smooth mouthfeel, big malty flavor and plenty of supporting hop bitterness. As is desired, this one brings a slight alcohol warming with its big hoppy finish. The Crop Circle Wheat is a hazy gold with a medium body and a slight clove character to its wheaty flavor. The Robiñeros Tri-Pepper Pils combines habeñeros jalapeño, and poblano chiles for its distinctive flavor. Clear gold in color, a thick white head rides atop the creamy, medium-bodied brew. A growing heat from the chiles top the pale malt flavor and lasts well into the finish. Nontraditional, but OKAY! The Lemon Grass Rye is gold with a creamy mouthfeel, light lemony aroma, mild malty flavor and short aftertaste. The Ultra Pils 1000 commemorates Great Dane's 1000th brew. A clear gold, its crisp hoppy flavor is matched with a big pale malt character. Together they combine to produce a clean, bitter lager. The Peck's Pilsner is a clear straw color with a very dry and crisp hoppy flavor. Clean and light. The Devil's Lake Red Lager, nitrogen-pushed, is a clear amber with a white creamy head, smooth mouthfeel, mice dry malty character and subtle hops. Other brews include the Landmark Lite and the Verückte Stadt Pilsner.
Since opening in 1994, the Great Dane has proven to be a solid supporter of the craft brewing community. During the Great Taste of the Midwest, shuttle busses are provided for patrons to get to the event and back. Awards on the walls tout the numerous Best of Madison People's Choice Awards received. Between the beer and food menus there seems something for everyone. I recommend the burgers and spicy home fries. From the brewery, sample glasses are $0.75, 10-ounce glasses $2.25, 20 ounce Imperial pints $3.50, liters $6, 60-ounce pitchers $8.50, 1/4 barrel kegs $55, and 1/2 barrel kegs $105. A great "to-go" size is the half-gallon growler for $10, $7 re-fill. The Great Dane serves up truly great beers.
|Ask for the Cask||Corner Brewpub||Make Your Selection|
|Great Lineup||Samples Away||Vision Blurred|
Photos by Tom Ciccateri
Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co.
123 East Doty St.
Madison, WI 53703-3321
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August 2000
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