Finalist No. 8 : State Street Brats (Madison, WI)

State Street Brats

603 State Street

Madison, WI 53703

Nominated by: William Lowry

William's submission : If you were to break down a great sports bar into three key ingredients, what would they be? The answer is simple: beer, atmosphere, and of course, fan base…

Beer: The best beer in the country is found in Wisconsin. It is the home of beer in America with a long legacy of brew masters who have perfected the craft in the 70+ breweries across the state. Don't forget, the MLB team in Wisconsin is named the Brewers. You can cross off every great sports bar whose address doesn't end in WI. When it comes to beer, the others don't cut it. Period.

Atmosphere: Of the tens of thousands of bars in America, the best are found on the campuses of the nation's best college towns. Only there can you guarantee a young, hip crowd looking to have a good time all the time. And the best of the bunch isn't hard to find. Sitting between two gorgeous lakes in the capital of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Madison boasts one of the best social scenes around. Between the fraternity parties, the flowing beer at the Memorial Union Terrace, and the hundreds of bars and restaurants lining State Street, it's easy to see why UW-Madison frequently finds its way near or at the top of every party school list. And there's no need to wait for the weekend to go out— The best bars in Madison are rockin' Monday through Sunday.

Fan Base: Good luck finding a place that cares more about their sports teams than Wisconsin Badger fans. They call it Madtown for a reason. CBS Sports recently named Wisconsin #4 in its "Flourishing Five" schools of top football/basketball programs, and with great success comes great fan bases. But with all do respect to #3 Ohio State, #2 Texas, and #1 Florida, they are football schools. The Grateful Red is as passionate about their basketball team as they are about their football team. No other fan base can claim that. And let's not forget the Crease Creatures that follow the Wisconsin hockey team, who may be the most diehard bunch of them all. Scott Van Pelt dubbed Madison "America's Best College Sports Town" a few years back, and nothing has changed. And let's not forget about the Bucks, Brewers and GREEN BAY PACKERS, which aren't too shabby of a pro sports trio, either.

So when you add these three elements together, there is only one sports bar in America that stands out beyond the rest— State Street Brats in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. If you stop by before the game, after the game, or just stay and watch from the beer garden, you are sure to find a packed house of red-clad Badger fanatics anytime Wisconsin is on TV. But don't think Brats shuts down when it's not game day in Madison. Whether it's a Monday (Beer Stock Exchange; beer prices go up and down depending on how often they are bought), Tuesday (Flip Night; 75% off if you win the coin toss), Wednesday (Team Night; one person in group wears a Brats shirt, everyone gets 50% off), Friday After Class (Half Time Pitchers; pitchers cost $1.50 at 3PM, $2 at 4PM, etc.) or just a regular -10 degree weekend night in late January, Brats is everything you could want from a great sports bar and more.

After 4 years in Madison, 400 trips to Brats, and 4 million stories, there will always be one that sticks out to me. Following another crazy football Saturday morning at Brats—and of course another Badger victory— a few buddies and I spotted a wedding party headed to a reception, and decided to join. We threw on our best suits, crashed the wedding, and were a couple drinks and crab cakes down before we realized our group was half the size of the entire reception— and worse, the bride's father were staring us down, looking to kill. Needless to say we bailed on the wedding, but our party was only beginning. We headed to Brats as a bachelor party, with our baby-faced and youngest friend as the "man of the hour." Before we knew it, we were the life of the bar, having rejuvenated the post-game crowd entering the late-afternoon lull. We had people of all ages buying us drinks and shots to celebrate, and eventually settled in with a group of women in their mid-40s who kept the pitchers coming for hours. Keep in mind, we were all still in school. The entire day was one of the longest and craziest of my college career, and I don't think I'll ever forget a second of it. Well at least not the highlight, when after God knows how many shots, our groom-to-be made out with one of the more haggard 40-somethings, aptly named "Fish." You can't make this stuff up.

So if for whatever reason you guys at ESPN don't choose State Street Brats, it won't change the fast that it is and always will be one of the best sports bars in America. Your own Scott Van Pelt knows it. If you don't pick us, you just don't get it.