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Malt House

Malt HouseIn a word: Good for what ales you.

The specs: #0462 
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at MBR, Isthmus, Lectori Salutem!, Fearful Symmetries; unofficial fan site.

Latest Malt House news and reviews

Bryan drank the New Glarus Belgian Red.
JM ate the Doritos and drank a Sprecher root beer.
Kristine drank the Capital Brewery Wild Rice.
Kyle drank the New Glarus Belgian Red.
Nichole drank the Dark Horse raspberry ale and the extra pour of Belgian Red (thanks, Bryan!)
The bill was just $7, or $3.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Malt House a B+; Nichole gave Malt House an A (see our grading rubric).

Malt House bevvies and chipsNo, Malt House does not have food (unless you count the chips). Yes, they have quite possibly the best beer selection for a craft beer bar in Madison. The choices run several pages (we felt like beer in the headlights, rim shot) and are sorted by provenance and type. There's enough there to keep neophiles entertained for a long time, and/or regulars happily coming back. Even beer ignoramuses like Nichole are comfortable with the knowledgeable staff.

Between us all we sampled a few different tipples that tended towards the tame, but delicious. The Wild Rice is a summer specialty of reliable local Capital Brewery; the Dark Horse raspberry ale was likewise summery but not too fruity. Kyle and Bryan's New Glarus Belgian Reds were sweet and complex but drew from the peanut gallery the (probably undeserved) comparison to fruit roll ups. We were having enough fun to be lax on the notetaking, so we think there was also a Red Eye Scarlet 7 floating around, a Belgian dubbel brewed w/ caramelized Black Mission figs, but we're not sure. (Dang, guess we'll have to go back.) For the more adventuresome or bohemian, absinthe is also on the menu. What you won't find at Malt House is anything that reminds you of making love in a canoe.

By the time we left at about 6, the place was hopping with a diverse crowd. Malt House is definitely filling a niche.

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I will fully admit to being biased, Malt House being my favorite bar and all, but I'm genuinely curious as to where the B+ came from - having consumed a pre-bottled root beer and pre-packaged salty snacks, and nothing of what the establishment does best, what does JM feel would have earned Malt House an A?

Seven bucks for all those beers? Or did they also affect your formidable math skillz? :-)

Whoops! Just the root beer, raspberry ale and chips were $7.

but... how were the Doritos?

Any regrets about not going "Cool Ranch"?

Ooo, the Malt House is great. We love Belgian-style beers, so with their extensive selection we're always happy. The lack of food is a bit rough if you want to go in for the long haul, but at least there's a few restaurant options in the area. Be sure to get there early - the place is packed in the evenings, even on a weeknight.

Part of what makes a place is how welcoming it is to non-users of the core product. Coffee shops and bars are the most frequent violators (and I drink neither). If I'm going to a beer bar and there's nothing else to have but the occasional soda, it is hard to see that it is a place where designated drivers would want to tag along to. Now Malt House does its thing well, but it could stand to offer

1. A tap root beer
2. A few more snacky offerings (especially something novel, even if it is in a bag and pre-prepared)
3. Some sort of novel of presenting its beer list. The list in columns format is boring. How about map pages or a graph that rates darkness against some other quality.

Any one of these items would have pusherd this into the A- range for me and they wouldn't take any more prep time, (although the root beer would use a beer line).

Awesome answer - thanks!

Very good beer in one of the oldest public houses in the state.

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