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     Brew Pub Reviews

Brew Pub Details

Production: 2600 bbl/year
Tours: Upon Request
Restaurant: Yes
Smoking: Yes, Cigar Friendly
Games: Billiards & Darts

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company

123 East Doty Street
Madison, Wisconsin  3703
(608) 284-0000

Reviewed by: Blask
Saturday, February 3rd, 2001

The Arrival

Busy. We arrived during the noon hour to a full restaurant. Luckily, we quickly found two seats at the bar. It was a little difficult to get service initially, and the fact that a kite-flying activity on nearby Lake Monona doubled the usual crowd didnít help matters. Great Dane had the feel of a sports bar, almost. Well lit, plenty of space, and a billiards area. Dave, a University Ridge golf pro was our bartender this day. As the crowd thinned, we were able to talk with Dave quite a bit, and he was very helpful and nice. We even learned the story behind his unusual nickname, 'S.B.' (You'll have to ask him what that stands for if you get a chance to stop in.)"

The Beer

Talk about a sampler platter! Great Dane has at least 12 beers on tap. Of course, we had to try them all. We commend whoever wrote the description for each beer that appears on the sampler sheet; they were very accurate in their descriptions. I ran the standard course of light to dark beer. Roger has a peculiar stomach that only allows him to start dark. Keep in mind that as you read this review, it may sound as though we were ambivalent to the beer on tap. This is definitely not true. If we were to say everything was perfect, it wouldnít help much, would it? Definitely read the "Meeting the Brewery Manager" and "Summary" sections for insight into what you might expect from Great Dane. The real key is to get there and try these yourself; these are just some tasting notes.

Landmark Gold - I refuse to review the Landmark Gold. "For those of you looking for fewer calories and less alcoholÖ" Well, that sure isnít us.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Pecks Pilsner - I always believe that the Pilsner is the flagship of a brewery. If it isnít good, the day could be long. Fortunately, it was very smooth, no aftertaste. In fact, the taste almost leaves too soon. It would be a very good "pitcher quantity" beer as opposed to one that might be a little much after one pint.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Crop Circle Wheat - This one really grew on me. At first sample, it had the classic dishwasher soap aftertaste that so many microbrews have. It had an average amount of wheat taste to it, and it was somewhat spicy. But for a "pint quantity" beer, it was great. I almost wanted to try it with pumpkin pie.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Old Glory Pale Ale - Iím not much of a pale ale fan, but this was pretty good, smooth, definitely pitcher quantity.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Devils Lake Red Lager - I was slightly disappointed with the Devils Lake Red Lager. I was seeking a more robust flavor, but this was very drinkable. Itís probably a crowd favorite.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Stone of Scone Scotch Ale - This is a good, moderate beer for those unsure or unwilling to try dark beer. While not leaving a lasting impact, it is a fine choice.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Emerald Isle Stout - Like a less creamy Guinness, as the taste hints of coffee and chocolate.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Black Earth Porter - A very smooth blend, again with coffee and chocolate flavors. A good Porter, and perhaps Rogerís favorite of the lot.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Velvet Hammer Bock - Lots of spice flavor to this one. Recommended for those who enjoy that type of flavor, but for me, it was a bit much in any significant quantity. Probably my least favorite.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Bank Shot Nut Brown Ale - A standard brown ale.
Reviewer's Rating: n/a

Discussion with Brewmaster

Pat Keller, the Brewery Manager, took time out of his busy schedule to come speak with us at length as we played pool on their excellent tables. He was very informative, as he discussed some of the brewing procedures. I asked him about the beer and mentioned that though I thought every one was of fine quality, most tasted like the standard fare for its particular type. The Pilsner tasted like most pilsners, the Porter tasted like most porters, etc. He assured us that this is by design. It is their every intention to follow brewing and taste guidelines that govern each type of beer. With this in mind, I feel Great Dane has hit the mark exactly. After all, it is a business, and you must cater to your customers and make most all your selections very drinkable. He then disappeared and returned with the one selection we had not tried, Wooden Ships ESB. This purposely under-carbonated cask brew was an immediate favorite. Something with body, but easy enough to drink in quantity or with a meal.

Image Gallery

The Atmosphere

After the initial rush of customers died down, we made friends with Charlie, a reporter from the Boscobel Dial. Check out the picture of the three of us on this page. I also discussed beer (and poetry) with three friendly patrons to my right at the bar. They were very knowledgeable, and maybe weíll hear from them with their own review in the near future. While playing pool and drinking our ESBs, we ordered chicken wings and fries from LauraLee (also pictured). Nice greasy and mildly hot wings; these were good. Fries were great. I wouldíve liked to try an entrťe from the restaurant, but didnít get the chance. Anyone out there eaten at Great Dane? We also spoke with the effervescent Genevieve, who playfully refers to herself as "the best employee in this place."

Afterthoughts

Keeping in mind that the beer is made for drinkability, we would give Great Dane high marks for its quality, variety, and atmosphere. The more we sampled, the more we were won over. Itís hard to choose favorites, so go with what you like. If you know you like a certain variety of beer, you will be pleased with the according Great Dane offering. The Black Earth Porter was a hit with Roger, while the Crop Circle Wheat and Old Glory Pale Ale really grew on me. But Pat saved the best for last, surprising us with understated, yet flavorful and highly drinkable ESB.

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