The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company is the oldest brewpub in the Madison area. Started in 1996 by Eliot Butler and brewmaster Rob LoBreglio, the first Great Dane brew pub was opened in the former Fess Hotel and Restaurant property on Doty St. a block away from the Wisconsin State Capitol (see map).
The Great Dane Pub downtown is a typical brew pub - the tanks are lined up behind glass to show patrons the brewing process. It has a nice little beer garden in back that is surrounded by trees, and the food is typical brew pub fare - sandwiches, appetizers and a few entrees.
Their beers are very good for a brew pub. I especially like their Old Glory American Pale Ale, a very hoppy pale ale that is supported with an underlying malt flavor to smooth out the taste. It's one of the better pale ale's I've had at a brew pub.
They also make a German pilsner - the Verruckte Stadt German Pils - that uses German hops and pilsner malt to give it a very Germanic taste.
Their John Stoner's Oatmeal Stout is named after the original settler of the Madison suburb of Fitchburg, where the second Great Dane Pub and Brewery opened about four years ago. I'm not big on their oatmeal stout, but it does have a nice roasted taste to it.
Other beers include their Landmark Lite Lager, the Crop Circle Wheat and the Sugar River Extra Special Bitter. They also have a British cask ale that is drawn from authentic "Firken" casks.
They have a Scotch Ale at their Madison location that they, unfortunately, don't have at their Fitchburg pub. Actually, a couple of the beers they have in Madison, they don't have in Fitchburg (and vice-versa).
I recently took a dealer and some of his guys to the one in Fitchburg (see map). It was a great night, so we sat out in their expansive beer garden. There were many more people seated outside than inside (the one in Fitchburg is a lot bigger - both inside dining and beer garden - than the one downtown).
I ordered a pale ale, a couple of the guys ordered the wheat, one of the guys ordered the oatmeal stout and one of them ordered a bloody mary. I kind of looked at him funny and he said, "Oh, these are the best bloody mary's in Madison. It's a family tradition on Christmas Eve to meet my parents and brothers and sisters for lunch at the Great Dane downtown and we always have bloody mary's."
The waitress brought out his bloody mary after she'd gotten us our beers. It looked great - olives, pickle, lime and lemon wedge. I told the waitress, "I've got to try one of those."
She brought me one out a little later and it was very good. One of the best bloody mary's I've had a in long time. It was smooth, rich and really flavorful. The waitress said, "We make a pretty good bloody mary here. A lot of people don't know about it."
For dinner, I had the peppercorn mushroom sirloin steak with a side of garlic smashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. The guy who got the bloody mary originally, Paul, got the chicken pot pie. Once again, I sort of gave him a look when he ordered the chicken pot pie and he said, "It's the best chicken pot pie you'll ever have."
The other guys got the spaghetti and meatball special or burgers. My steak was a little overcooked, but the peppercorn sauce and mushrooms over the top of it were a great complement. And the garlic smashed potatoes were great with it, as well.
Paul was literally in ecstacy eating his chicken pot pie. It did look good. It was in a small pot with the dough just rising and spreading out over the top. He said, "You're going to have to get one of these the next time you eat here."
The guy who got the spaghetti said it was very good. The bolognese sauce had a little spicy bite to it and the meatballs were very good. In fact, he talked one lady who was seated at a table next to us to get it for dinner. She liked it, too.
Dinner for five with tip came to $140.00. Of course, our bar tab was about $60 bucks, so the price of the food was very reasonable.
The times I've eaten at the Great Dane Pub, the food has always been good. The beer is good, it's a good place to go when you're in Madison. I highly recommend it.