You’re probably aware of Madison’s craft beer hotspots, but there are still some great hidden gems with surprising tap lists to discover out there. When I find one, I’ll let you know. And if you come across a best-kept craft beer secret, please let me know, too.
Somehow, 15 taps doesn’t even sound like all that many these days. But when you work them like they do at Glass Nickel Pizza’s eastside location on Atwood, you can go toe-to-toe with the 100+ tap line chains. You won’t find a macro line here, not even Spotted Cow.
General manager Quinn McConnell and bar manager Adam Zierten have the freedom to play with their offerings. By dedicating a “Magnificent Seven” of their lines to specific breweries (Surly, Founders, Ale Asylum, Karben4, Lagunitas, Lakefront and Avery), they get access to brews from those producers they might not otherwise. Since the moneymaker in the pizza game continues to be Glass Nickel’s delivery service, there is more leeway in the design of the dining room and bar.
“The dining room is a nice way to showcase our food and beer, but those sales are not critical to our overall success,” says McConnell, “so we have very few limits on what we can buy.”
You can usually count on at least one spectacular stout on tap at all times. In the last three months alone they’ve tapped: The Bruery’s So Happens It’s Tuesday (4.21 average rating on Untappd), Epic’s Big Bad Baptista (4.45), Lagunitas’s High West-ified (4.26), Avery’s Tweak (4.41), Revolution’s Deth’s Tar (4.32), and Perennial’s Sump (4.32). Any one of those is enough to get me there for just a pour, and I love having a spot that will serve the big stouts throughout summer when IPAs and sours tend to rule the land.
The Atwood neighborhood where Glass Nickel is located has become something of a craft beer destination with Barleypop Tap & Shop recently joining Next Door Brewing and One Barrel Brewing. McConnell and Zierten are happy to be a part of that community, benefiting from a centralized location for distributors while simultaneously battling for that extra special product. The so-called “craft beer community” can be a discerning, hard-to-keep-happy bunch, but Glass Nickel does it.
“We like the idea of a rising tide carrying all boats,” says McConnell. “The Atwood neighborhood is poised to be a great local destination for food and beer.” Something tells me Glass Nickel isn’t the only secret buried here…