Sojourned again to Madison, July ’05, having fun at all three Madison-based pubs with Chi-town friend, Doug Van Dell. The original GREAT DANE, a rustic Victorian-style brewpub established in ’94, had been a hotel built in 1859. Its inceptive old tavern wood furnishings still haunt the bar (with a few names carved in).

While Great Dane’s brews were all over the map quality-wise, this heart of the city pub definitely has the best college party atmosphere. There’s a stonewalled dungeon-like basement leading to the spacious beer garden, a right side billiards room, secondary upstairs bar, and hearty burgers and sandwiches for dining pleasure.

My favorite brew was dazzling perfumed tutti-frutti American Pale Ale, followed by soft-hopped lemony mandarin orange-grapefruit-tinged Parkers Publican Pale Ale, and delicate mocha-malted chestnut-glinted vanilla-accented Black Watch Scotch Ale.

Less thrilling were pink lemonade-glowed melon-slighted Watermelon Wheat, dry lemony raw-honeyed wheat-husked Honey Blonde, watery walnut/black coffee/burnt coal-tinged Emerald Isle Stout, inconsequential prickly-hopped corn-husked acridity Landmark Light, soapy popcorn-like German Pils, and indifferent aspirin-chalked Peck’s Pilsner.

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