On Madison outskirts, J.T. WHITNEY’S PUB & BREWERY, established in ’95, proved hit or miss, July ‘05, and closed down ’09. Located in a mall, the freestanding wood-shingled sports bar featured a centralized bar with tables and booths spread to the side with far left brew tanks near big screen TV. A decent beer bottle collection near left side fireplace was worth noting. Burgers, salads, and appetizers fill out the menu.
Incredible Mad Badger Barleywine, an absolutely delicious dessert beer, spread maraschino cherry and bruised orange across syrupy liqueur flow to sweet Cognac finish. Sharp red-fruited Bass Ale alternative India Pale Ale and dry-bodied toffee-ensconced chestnut-almond-hinted Black Diamond Porter also scored points.
Serviceable fare included blah lemony butterscotch-candied Crystal Weizen and mildly hopped stone-fruited light-bodied Goldenshine Ale. Less intriguing were neutral blackened hop-embittered malt-serene Alt, ersatz honey-roasted Badger Red Ale, hazy fruit-embittered ESB, and shallow coffee bean-soaped nut-barren Irish Stout.
Opened around ’95, maroon stucco ANGELIC BREWING featured outdoor deck (near parking lot), interior booths and tables, widescreen TV, and two sets of brew tanks to the right and rear, July ‘05. But alas, it closed down during economic woes of ’08.
Sandwiches, pizza, salads, and appetizers adorned light menu. Brewer Dean Coffey showed off a wide variety of beers, using the deep-fruited nature of evergreen Purgatory Ale, a persuasive perfume-hopped pineapple-mango-accented orange-peeled winner, to serenade malleable floral hop-embittered Arch Amber (an acidic alcohol-endorsed ale with unripe peach and marmalade illusions).
Scant nuttiness imbued soft-fruited raw-honeyed wheat-biscuit-y Shakedown Nut Brown and creamy coffee-dried maple-sapped chocolate-roasted Sinners Stout. Pilsner-styled Avalon Blonde Golden Ale gained raw wheat backbone to enhance spry lemony grapefruit souring and currant bittering.
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.