Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brewery Review: Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. - Madison Wisconsin

First off, I apologize for my feeble attempts at brewery reviews, as it has been well over 2 months since my last one. Much of the issue arises with my lack of mobility (I only have a bicycle, and it can only get me so far). Anyway, this was the first of a couple Wisconsin breweries that we visited on our way up to Bayfield, Wisconsin to take the ferry out to Madeline Island. We were simply planning on sticking around Madison for a quick lunch, but time got the best of us and we ended up staying around for the night to also check out the night scene. The decision was between Ale Asylum or Great Dane, but Ale Asylum ended up being a bit too far of a walk from where we stayed, near the down town. Anyway, I made it here around 4:00 on a Friday afternoon (7/1/11) just before the evening rush, luckily giving me enough time to talk scope around and talk to Eric, the Head Brewer in which he clarified many of my wonders and questions. Nevertheless, these are the beers I tried:

Verruckte Stadt German Pils - Light straw color. Very clear with a foamy film across the top. Corn and light hop zest. Spiced and peppery. Strong back taste sweetness. Bubbly and crisp. Accentuation of lemon wheat citrus.
Old Glory American Pale Ale - Very similar looking to the red, though with more of a minimalist head. Light and citrusy. The taste incorporates a basic malt flavor with elements of tropical and grapefruit. High carbonation. Some strange flavor in the finish...a bit buttery (maybe keg lines hadn't been cleaned?) Gets a bit of an orange aroma when warm.
Devils Lake Red Lager - Bright white foam head, creamy looking with an entire lacing. The beer maintains a dark clear amber. Very carameled with a peat malt characteristic to both aroma and taste. Spicy (cinnamon?). A bit woody and pronounced hallertau.
Emerald Isle Stout - Black and Still. Dense beige/tan foam frothed head. Hardy lacing. Smell is roasty. Very mild flavor with limited malt sweetness. Slightly burnt but with an ever-so-subtle bittersweet chocolate at the end. Nevertheless, very drinkable.
Texas Speed Bump IPA - Bright amber with a minimal head, and no action within. Sweet and zesty with notes of orange peel in the finish. Hardly any carbonation. However very zesty and dry reminiscent of orange pith bitterness. Caramel and...Piney.
Wooden Ships ESB - Reddish amber with a darkened hue. No head and hardly any carbonation. Candied aroma. spicy with a bittering clover-like finish. Very dry.
Crop Circle Wheat - Clouded yellow exhibiting a strong foamy white head. Good lacing. Huge banana and clove presence in the smell. Bready taste and sweetness. Speckled lacing on the side of the glass. Quite palatable and citrusy sweet. Low carbonation.

Stone of Scone Scotch Ale - Clear brown with a bubbly white roam ring and wet lacing. Well filtered. Caramel malt bill and slightly earthy with a wood/lignan undertone. Sweet caramel and toasted barley on the lips and remain on through to the finish. Great finishing bitterness.
Mr. Natural's Organic Nut Brown Ale (Really is organic) - Ambered bronzed. Foam film ring and wet lacing. Very clear. No activity. Fruit in the aroma. Earthy. Light and toasty. I draw a bit of a brown sugar sweetness both in the foretaste and minutely in the finish. Minimalist on the carbonation.
Peck's Pilsner - almost clear (chill haze?) with a yellowed hue. Corny and crisp, but....[didn't finish]

The Great Dane is located on the corner of West Doty and Webster street, literally only a couple blocks from the capital building. On a sunny day if you enter the location, there seems to be somewhat of a cellared mystique about it, yet once the eyes become accustomed, one would notice it is so much more.Well lit with the daylight, but perhaps mellows as the evening sets in. Enormously accommodating with a different room for each type of person, for your diners, drinkers, sessioners, as well as tourist and simple cafe folk. Even a downstairs pub for the old guys who reminisce of what old British pubs of yesterday. The space is huge with a modern wooded look. The room I was in was staged to the left complete with a spacey bar, pool tables and games, though un-occupied being as it was only four in the afternoon. This space also had booths, high tables, stain glass art lining the perimeter as well as flat screen TVs, though luckily not in access. Interestingly, the bathrooms in the lower level were really humid...with condensation layering every facet. I guess I would accredit this to the cooler being right next to it, perhaps bumping heat and water vapor through the ventilation system. The beer however was my biggest concern, and with the selection they had, I was very excited. With a great labeled beer boards They have a happy hour at four ($3.50 pints, $9.00 pitchers) as well as a usual rotating pumped cask (a +!) an a big bar space to spread out the tasting flight and write reviews, as I did. Much appreciation to the bartenders as well as Eric, the brewer, who explained and answered many of my questions, as well as providing several samples in which I could review. Currently, they are on track to producing 2,000-3,200 bbls this year with their 3 x 30 bbl fermenters and 4 x 60 bbl fermenters. In the cooler (which very efficiently utilizes the space...perhaps to an extreme) they have 8 x 650 gallon bright tanks that feed right into the taps upstairs. Overall, all their beer was on the lower end of the carbonation spectrum (2.0-2.2 range) which may have been the goal in the first place to emphasize the texture of a cask ale.
Generally, this brewery really has it going on. With already 5 locations, they are really striving to define a local monopoly of good traditional beer.
Check them out at:

Brewery Review: 46/50

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