Eliot Butler, President of the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, founded the business in 1994. Before being “sidetracked” into the brewpub industry Eliot had planned to use his training in education and psychology to work with children in a clinical setting. Some might agree that his education and background was perfectly matched to overseeing a brewpub with a combined staff of over 500 individuals.
The Great Dane was an instant success beyond Mr. Butler’s expectations, but he struggled with the feeling that his work lacked the meaning and import of a career in assisting children with developmental challenges. During a trek to Machu Picchu, the Incan site in the Peruvian Andes, Eliot met some non-profit workers from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who helped him understand that despite the fact that his business produced and sold alcohol, The Great Dane had the potential to do amazing things in the Madison community.
Returning to Wisconsin Eliot realized that even if he was not going to work directly with children, he and The Great Dane could positively impact the lives of hundreds of young people. Over the next twenty years the company has grown to five locations and won many local and national awards, but the most meaningful part of Eliot’s work is the time and money given to youth related non-profit organizations in the Madison area.
The Great Dane was founded by Eliot Butler and Rob LoBreglio, who met while attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Rob was a talented home brewer and Eliot suggested they look into the nascent craft beer industry after graduation. Mr. Lobreglio apprenticed at Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley, California, attended the Siebel Institute of Brewing Sciences and has ventured as far away as Siberia to find inspiration and “beer enlightenment”.
Along the way there have been numerous recognitions for the Great Dane’s beers and its food. LoBreglio’s first medal from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), with many to follow, was awarded in 1996 for Peck’s Pilsner, a beer named for Rosaline Peck, who opened Madison’s first public house in 1837, just fifty feet from where the flagship Great Dane stands.
By 2000, the downtown Great Dane was not only Wisconsin’s largest brewpub by volume, but its then-3,200 barrel per annum production pushed it into third place among the largest brewpubs in the country. In 2012, the Great Dane and LoBreglio were named Brewpub Group and Brewer of the year by the Brewers Association, and its Doppelbock won a gold medal at the GABF, edging out other bigger players like Samuel Adams in the same category.
“We’ve had success, and it’s been a great ride,” says LoBreglio. The brewpub has enjoyed steady growth across its two decades in business. When the Great Dane opened, its first full year of brewing, it produced around 1,300 barrels of beer. In 2016, the combined amount from all five Great Danes could top 7,500 barrels.
Ted Peterson, Director of Operations for the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. has been a major force in the company’s evolution since their opening in 1994. The Stoughton Wisconsin native is the “official” spokesperson for the Great Dane.
Ted has a natural ability for engendering high levels of trust and the ability to motivate employees to reach their greatest potential. He effortlessly achieves the perfect balance between authoritarian and confidant.
The 2015 recipient of the annual Joyce Erdman Youth service award, Ted has been instrumental in the development of company wide policies providing jobs for young people with disabilities. Ted’s altruistic nature fits perfectly with the company’s values and commitment to the community.
We’re thrilled to have Matt Pace join the Great Dane team! Chef Pace, who first cut his teeth training at well-known Madison restaurants such as Harvest, L’Etoile and Restaurant Muramoto, has joined The Dane after most recently working as Culinary Director for Food Fight Restaurant Group.
Tradition, evolved – The Great Dane’s menu hasn’t undergone a major overhaul since our inception 24 years ago. Matt has spent the last six months carefully considering all of our menu items, and we are so proud of the great concepts and suggestions that he has brought to the table, which include updates to classic Dane favorites and fun, flavorful new additions. He has embraced our culinary ethos of local and global pub fare crafted and served with care with an innovative, on-trend spin to speak to the tastes and preferences of today.
We look forward to more creative and unique concepts that Chef Pace will be bringing to our seasonal menus in the coming months - keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for some of his fantastic specials in the meantime.