Vintage Ale | Capital Brewery

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Vintage AleVintage Ale
Very Good
56 Ratings
Vintage AleVintage Ale

Brewed by:
Capital Brewery
Wisconsin, United States

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jj21 on 11-17-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 56 |  Reviews: 55
Reviews by Winter:
Photo of Winter
3.63/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazed copper with an off-white thick head. Aroma of malt, apricot, passion fruit and alcohol. Alluring soft, full-bodied mouthfeel. Malt flavor upfront is followed by an ale fruitiness. Classic for an English strong ale. Some hop bitterness appears toward the back just before the finish. Some alcohol is noticed toward the back also and provides some warmth. This went down amazingly smooth for its 8.5% abv. Enjoyable winter offering.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a deep apricot colored dense body with a sea of micro bubbles floating around in it. There is a thick creamy off-white head of foam that last and sticks to the glass after each sip.

S- This beer has a caramel toasted malt aroma with fresh dark malt notes in the background.

T- This beer has a rich caramel malt flavor with a hint of alcohol, toffee and a white sugar fruitiness. There is a soft yeasty note that leads into a nice bitter hint at the finish.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a crisp finish due to the alcohol heat which comes through when it warms.

D- This beer has a rich sweet malt flavor that is not real complex but tasty. The hops was a nice balance to the sweet malty flavors but alcohol was pretty mellow until it warmed up a bit.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.86/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sort of a light tea color in the glass...crystal clear...with a nice off white two finger head that melts to thick lacing.
Aromas are very British malts...a little toasty...with a little bit of fruit character from the hops.
Taste is sort of like a baby barleywine. Very sweet malt, a little sweet fruit in the middle, some breadiness, and then a boozy finish with a bit of chalky drying on the end.
Very interesting style and one that might be a pleasant change from Barleywines are when you want something big, but not as big as a Bigfoot.

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Photo of cokes
3.32/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Muddied deep pumpkin hued with a meager dirty white edging.
Grainy nose with backing apple peels, butterscotch, mineral water, and sizable booze flares a la vodka tonics. Caramelized bananas come out as it warms.
A bristly grain come across first in the mouth, but it is dosed swiftly with gobs of butterscotch. Pear step forward, then linger for a good long while, all stewed and glazed in honey. It steps toward banana as it hits room temperature. A mineral-rich sense of hard water precedes then joins with the tinny, metallic hopping and closes distinctly coppery, and not unlike stuffing one's mouth full of pennies. Still, though, that sweetened notion of pears rides long into the after-swallow. Alcohol adds parched heat on the inhale, but little flavor-wise.
Full bodied. Rich and thickly textured, and appropriately low in carbonation.
The malt load is somewhat reminiscent of their Blonde Dopplebock, and with it's rough looks, stray esters, and unrefined results, it comes across as a homebrewed stab at that beer.
It's not horrid, just raw and amateur.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Capital's Vintage Ale delivers a slightly hazy copper-orange body beneath a frothy head of white that holds well and leaves some nice lace at the outset of the glass. Rich caramelish malt infused with leafy and grassy hops greets you in the nose, accented by floral notes and a bit of alcohol. In the mouth it's creamy and smooth with a full body and median carbonation. The flavor is quite wide and lush with a richly caramelish but not particularly sweet malt that's peppered throughout with leafy and grassy hops. Some mild fruitiness (apricot, apple, papaya, lime) appears, and a mild floral character. It's not complex, and offers the same flavor profile from tip of tongue to swallow, but it is rich. It lingers in the finish, malty, leafy and gently bitter. The alcohol is never overly apparent, even down to the last swigs; although the strength will make itself known! A superb strong ale in the British tradition!

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Photo of dirtylou
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz single, Riley's

appearance: poured into wine glass...light copper body with a shiny glow to it...beige film with some light lacing

smell: metallic, boozy, lots of sweetness, light bitterness

taste: This beer didnt really surprise me...boozy and sweet and lightly metallic in a very nature specific to Capital. interesting complexities and dangerously boozy. interesting enough for a try

mouthfeel: thick and sweet, smooth

drinkability: aight

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Photo of BeerCheese
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one out of the fridge for about an hour before pouring it into my favorite glass. Clear and copper colored with an off white head. Poured with a 2 finger head, which dissipated moderately fast. Not really much of an aroma. Mouthfeel - lightly carbonated; medium body. Malty sweet flavor with some hop bitterness on the finish. No real taste of alcohol, though I could feel the warmth as it went down. Very drinkable beer, especially for an 8.5% ABV.

Tasted like more!

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Photo of shbobdb
2.87/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Remember my comment about Capital being a 'baker' brewery in my review of the Eisphyre? Well, the same holds true here except that they are now also a fish out of water! You know how some breweries make killer ales and then try their hand at a lager -- well, this is the reverse.

But onto the beer itself, not my philosophy behind the philosophy of the beer.

It pours somewhere between a pilsner and a pale ale, it is either a pinch too dark for a pilsner or a pinch too straw coloured for a true 'pale ale' shade. The carbonation is minimal and creates a head that fades into a nice compact hat which lingers a few minutes before leaving completely.

It smells, kinda like extract burn in a homebrew. Booze mingling lightly with faint malt and some english ale yeast esters bouncing around that gives and overall impression of rocket fuel, or perhaps the finest of malt liquors.

The taste is, eh, mediocre. Very faint hints of apricots and delicate nutty munich are present, but minerals from very hard water, and the alcohol manage to dominate. A tripel without unusual yeast esters to compliment the alcohol. Instead it tries to use sweetness as a balancer, but that only manages to remind me of Olde English.

The mouthfeel is pleasant. The malt manages to fill out the dryness created by the alcohol. The hard water also adds a nice roundness to it. Sadly, there is a cloying nature to it that wasn't unpleasant, but isn't welcome either.

Drinkability? Well, it puts me in an awkward place really. Capital usually kicks out a killer brew so I was going to send this as trade schwag. But I don't really don't know if I should? Maybe they will enjoy it more than I did?

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Photo of emerge077
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This bottle is almost 4 years old, so take that for what it's worth.
Time hasn't treated this bottle so well, but it's not terrible.

Crystalline amber, a skim forms quickly and fades, leaving an almost still beverage. It looks more like an old ale, or barleywine. A few lazy bubbles escape to the surface.

Smells like an old English ale, musty and stale. Lightly sweet and bready, hints of what used to be toffee and fruit, now faded.

Dried fruit flavors, sweet maltiness, a bit of weird candle wax oxidation. Alcohol is felt but muted somewhat. The feel is rich and syrupy, and it's sippable. In conclusion, this seems to be heading downhill, but from other reviews there may be better preserved samples out there. This was stored 3+ years in a cool dark cellar.

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Photo of Flyer
3.27/5  rDev -13%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer more than I should have, given that the adjectives I'm about to use aren't normally positives in my book: it was not very complex, nor particularly distinctive, and fairly drinkable. And yet -- the aroma is a nice, crisp apricot and orange peel. The initial taste is moderately malty, not much more, but it has a great mouthfeel -- smooth and rounded, yet with just enough tartness to bring it alive on your tongue. I suspect what really makes it work for me is the alcohol -- it's the source of the mouthfeel and the gently warming sensation that helps finish off each sip. I'm not going to rush out and buy this again, but it was very pleasant.

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Photo of aschbren
4.15/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Capital Brewery (Middleton, WI) made some waves this year by releasing a beer that's just begging to be aged. As an experiment, I want to drink my "Capital Square" four-pack over the next year and trace its development. To achieve a baseline, however, I needed to open one now. Tentatively, I'm going to label the remainder of my bottles as follows:
Bottle 2: open first day of spring 2007
Bottle 3: open first day of autumn 2007
Bottle 4: open January 1, 2008

It's true that most beers do not develop with age beyond a certain point, but then again most wines don't either. What makes strong ales so well suited to aging is their above-average alcohol content. Weighing in at 8.5% alcohol, this beer is definitely within style norms for this high gravity ale.

The twist-off bottle opened with a hiss bursting with Kent goldings and cascade hops, nuanced by some yeasty and mineral notes. When poured vigorously into a glass, the nose demonstrated extreme restraint. Only a faint hops and decided yeast aroma was detectable.

The ale had a rich, warm copper color that was perfectly clear. Many small bubbles rose to the surface, but the carbonation was understated as is appropriate for the style. This lead to a small head of about 2 mm that disappeared almost instantly. The color was unexpectedly light, given the style, but this fact made the beer more surprising and interesting given the stiff hopping and malty backbone.

The flavors are dominated by a progression of complex malt flavors that progress across the mouth like a parade. The first taste is bready like childhood memories of grandma's house. This flavor morphs into a more biscuity maltiness before fading into a warm, generic malt flavor. The hopping is up-front, but not dominating, resulting in a beer that is quite bitter with little hop flavor or aroma. There are hints of vanilla, orange juice, and the tart quality of grapefruit as the beer warmed in the glass. The flavor experience is intense as the beer is slighly viscous and the flavor seems to concentrate on the back of the tongue and on the roof of the mouth, possessing a tannic quality I would normally associate with a red wine. There is also a fair amount of residual sugar in the flavor that gives me high hopes for the continued development of this ale. The beer is almost immediately warming, and is strong enough to demand sipping. This more rewarding than it sounds, however, as the taste persists in the mouth for several minutes.

I don't want to make this beer sound like a brute that would knife you in a dark alley or steal your wallet. It's not that. The flavor is demonstrates an admirable level of restraint, which makes the flavor experience very precise and controlled despite the strength. The beer has a great ale-ish character, a certain wildness to the flavor that isn't too clean, that wasn't reined in by the brewer to make it more polite and docile. Even the carbonation attested to that, as more carbonation would certainly have made it more bitter and astringent on the pallate. It would have been easy to push this beer too far and wound up with a barley wine. The very fact that the Capital Brewery instead got Vintage Ale is a remarkable feat of craftsmanship.

With any luck, this craftsmanship with shine for some time to come.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got this one as an extra in a trade recently and did not really know much about it and to be honest had not even heard of it or the brewery, but those are my favorite kinds of beers! The 12oz bottle was served slightly colder then cellar temperature and poured into a nonic pint glass. A nice, warm, orange tinted amber color emerged from the bottle. A good bit of cloudiness and haze mixed in, not enought to detract or obscure but enough to get you to take notice. A large two inch head of white foam then emerged over the top and settled down very quickly leaving behind nothing but a thin crown around the sides and a naked top, now noticeable side glass lace, but it still looked rather nice.

The aroma was very sweet. Loads of caramel and honey were the doninant notes, and it ws clear right away that this was going to be a malty beast. Some light, frui aromas coming through as it warmed. The feel hand an almost syrup like consistency and an almost candy like sweetness. Loads of candy apple and caramel flavors, with a touch of a citrus punch toward the finish. Long lasting sweet flavor that I could still taste that nice candy like tone long after it was gone. For over 8% there was not a chance you could pick that up, though I could feel it after it was done.

Overall this was a very nice beer. A good english style barleywine that really snuck up on me as I was not expecting it to be as good as it ws. Too bad it was a one off as I could see myself having this one again some day.

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Photo of blackie
3.7/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

appearance: Pours an average sized white head that soon falls back. The beer is a copper-amber in color.

smell: A blend of caramel grain and buttery bananas upfront with metallic hops and a slight ethanol twinge just behind. A hint of coconut. Rich and subtle at once...I like it.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is a low medium, and smooth. The body is on the full side of the medium range.

taste: On the tongue, I find grainy caramel, metallic hops, and an abundance of buttery fruits. Some interesting stuff going on, but it seems a little boring at times. Moderate bitterness in the finish.

drinkability: somewhat limited by the buttery/sweet character

single 12 oz. bootlegged southward from Madison in a suitcase

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Photo of granger10
2.18/5  rDev -42%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Very bright coppery color, lighter than I expected this beer to be. Smallish white head reduces to a small film atop the liquid. Spots of lacing. Smell is strong on alcholic fusels. Some sweeter honey smells. Strong banana liquer with a touch of floral esters. It's not too strong in smell but not too good either. Taste falls along the same lines of the aroma. Sweet without much body behind it. Strong alcohol fusels all the way through. Very hot. Some yeasty esters at the top. Rubbing alcohol in the back. More of that banana liquer. Finish is medicinal, aspirin like. Maybe age could help but right now this is a trainwreck. Just my two cents.

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Photo of hopdog
3.95/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle.

Poured a medium and hazy orange color wtih an average sized off white head. Aromas of melon rinds, fruity, grains, caramel, and spicy. Tastes of caramel, sweet malts, fruity, and citrus. Light alcohol in the finish.

Notes from: 11/21/07

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Photo of KeefD
4.2/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one in a variety sixer from Amy's Cheese and wine in Stanley Wisconsin. It was one of 6 Wisconsin beers I've never had, sampled over the weekend. Review is from notes I took Friday and Saturday May 9th and 10th.

Poured a dark hazy amber color with a very small head and light lacing.

Smell was malty and slightly hoppy. Taste was much the same. It was malty sweet but was very nicely balanced by the bitter hops. Alcohol taste was barely noticeable for its strength.

This beer reminded me of a good English ESB only slightly sweeter.l Excellent brew and would love to have to have again. I hope this one doesnt stay retired.!

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Photo of brandoman63
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of Imstillthegman
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an amber color with an off-white head. Slight chill haze to it. Jagged rings of lacing.

Aroma is nice and strong. Caramel malts mixed with leafy, floral hops. Smells good.

The taste is really good. Just as the style denotes, it's a nice strong English ale. The floral hops and caramel fight it out to see gets the attention, but neither one beats out the other. Balanced rather nicely between the two. There's some fruitiness and alcohol lurking in there, too.

Good mouthfeel with just a bite of bitterness that doesn't linger. Leafy, earthy aftertaste. I like it. I received this bottle in a trade (but I forget from who! BigErn, maybe?) but I would definitely buy this one if it was available in my area.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.69/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

procured at woodman's west in the greater mad city area.

peachy orange color, quite cloudy and sparsely covered. this beer really leaves no lacing save a few slow-moving bubbles which separate and slide leisurely down the glass. upon first whiff, my intrigue turns to homespun comfort. well, this smells nice and biscuity... and there's traces of honey, almond paste, and fresh-baked whole wheat bread in the nose. yeah, when i taste it.. well, it's no old ale. it fits in with the flavor profile of their big lagers (eisphyre, autumnal fire). sweet without lingering abrasiveness. a bit drier in the finish, and very drinkable. light toffee with bready notes, apricot skins and a bit of pepper. i usually like more complexity when i feel like drinking an old ale, but then again, i dislike most old ales. drinking this beer is like overcoming a fear by facing it and realizing it was alot easier than you thought.

i am somewhat glad that this was not an in-your-face, rotten fruit, port and charred wood flavored old ale. this beer is closer to southampton 10th than, say, north coast in its sweet/smooth personality.


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Photo of DefenCorps
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle received from beerbeagle as an extra in a trade. Thanks, Randy!

A: In my 22oz snifter,the Capital Vintage Ale sits a rather gorgeous shade of orange-red with some orange highlights. There's a thin off-white head that recedes to a ring rather quickly. Quite appealing in this glass

S: Rich, malty and sweet, this beer is pretty swell. Figs, honey, candy and an almost apricot-like sweetness. While the aromas are present, I wish they were a little richer. As it warms up, there's an aroma of leafy hops that comes up - rather intriguing

T: Pretty impressive! There's a ton of malt complexity with a lot of fruitiness - figs, apricots - some honey, floral sweetness. Mid-palate, some hop character becomes apparent but does not get in the way of the malt flavors. Finishes mildly hoppy with a pleasing sweetness

M: The mouthfeel is pretty awesome. medium-to-full in body with a soft and gentle carbonation and a pleasing finish

D: It's sad that they ain't brewing this anymore 'cos this one's a winner!

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Somewhat muddled in the characters that define the beer; mixed with good and bad attributes, but combined in such a way that made the experieance rather pleasurable. Looks muddy with copper, oragne, and rust colors falling over a hazy weizen appearance. Aromas of ripe fruit (peaches and appricots) jump out right before a big malty scent overtakes the beer. Light alcohols, sulfer, and oxidation are also evident in the nose. Tastes big on maltiness, but with some additional heavy sweetness (raw honey) that does not rest well. Decorated with peaches, pears, appricots, and apples make a juicy sensation. Papery oxidation comes through in the finish with a moderate bittering hoppiness. Feels heavy because of sweetness, but still light for a Strong Ale. Lacks depth, character, and togetherness to rival top spots for the style. Though problematic, it's still a pretty good beer.

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Photo of terrabyte
4.5/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear, wonderful, deep caramel brown color, with a large cream-colored head. It looks thick & dense.

Aroma has a strong caramel smell laced with a strong alcoholic bite that comes across as sweet cotton candy. Fumes barely burn the nose hairs.

Flavor: Caramel Incarnate! One of the best embodiments of caramel flavors I've come across. It's not too sweet, and leans towards a deep rich & warm buttery caramel. The mild alcoholic bite lends itself well to enhance the caramel and add some burnt sugar for sweetness. Very well balanced. Not too strong, but the flavors are strong enough to savor well after swallowing.

Mouthful is a heavy medium, smooth and creamy, and still refreshing.

Drinkability is slightly slower than average due to thickness, flavors and alcohol - but awesome. Great balance of flavors toned back just enough. Although Autumnal Fire is still my favorite brew from Capital Brewery, I still feel like this one was better crafted. It's a semi-pricey 4-pack, but one I purchased quite a few times over the winter.

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Photo of mcallister
3.6/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very nice shade of amber. Orange hues throughout. Head is white small thin and fades quickly leaving trace lacing behind.

Nose of alcohol and dried tropical fruits. Dried pineapple, with a apple ring aroma as well. Hints of lemon and starfruit. A bit of malt shows through and is semi sweet.

This is a decent drinkable beer. Good balance with decent complexity. Mouth is nearly identical to the nose. Much more toffee flavored in the malt. Mouthfeel is has some RS and is medium with a light yet effective carbonation. A solid brew and easy to drink.

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Photo of
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle

Poured a slightly hazy, orange gold color. Topped with a medium sized, creamy, off-white head.

Malty and sweet hit the nose. Fruity -grapes. Caramel. Slight medicinal/herbal scent.

Sweet, but decent bittering to offset. Raisiny. Honeyed wheat bread. Herbal notes. Grassy bitterness at finish.

Medium + body. Medium carbonation. Refreshing.

A nice strong ale. Enjoyable sipper. Good dessert.

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Photo of number1bum
3.55/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to BeerTruth for this one.

Pours a cloudy, somewhat hazed orangeish amber color. About one finger of off-white head which is quite creamy. Keeps a thin lace but doesn't leave much stick.

Smells of caramel malt with some vague fruitiness. Pretty sweet nose with a hint of alcohol.

Taste starts off boozy and then has some caramel sweetness and a butterscotch like flavor. Also some toffee flavor. Some bitter hops provide a little balance through the finish, although beyond a light and indistinct fruity flavor bitterness is all the hops seem to provide.

Quite a thick, chewy mouthfeel, oily and smooth.

Pretty decent beer. Worth a shot.

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Vintage Ale from Capital Brewery
Beer rating: 3.76 out of 5 with 56 ratings