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
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 cdkrenz
3.33/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Orange-brown cloudy body with minimal head. The pour is very thick.

S - The scent has a nice combination of malt and hops. There's a hint of pumpkin but not spiced.

T - The flavor, unlike the aroma, has a certain spice to it. It starts out with malt and moves to a hoppy finish. The spice is prevalent throughout.

M - The feel is very important to this brew. It brings out the spice, malt and hop flavors. There is an obvious and potent alcohol texture present.

~ I've only consumed about an eighth of this beer so far and I can already feel the 'HEAD'. It's a dizzy and firm buzz, which I must admit, is quite intriguing. I don't know if I could drink more than one or two in a sitting.

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Photo of botham
4.47/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. pours a reddish amber with a single finger of off white head that is reduced to a soapy rim within a minute.

aroma is very malty, with a distinct caramel and bready character, rather sharp in the nose. a light fruity character forms a base, with notes of apple and grape. almost resembles a boozy belgian dubbel with a considerable amount of malt.

taste is heavy on the malts as well, with the same caramel character, much smoother on the palate, and a similar fruity base of apple and grape. there is a notable difference between the aroma and taste, with the latter much more mellow and smooth.

mouthfeel is full bodied with a creamy texture and a smooth finish. exceptional.

drinkabliity is good. though this brew comes with a mildly high alcoholic tag (8.5% APV), one would never know it while sipping it. wonderfully crafted brew. it is a shame they will not be brewing it again. cheers!

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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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Photo of kirok1999
3.58/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Ruddy gold in color, slight head and just a little lacing. Smells mostly of spicy fruit.
Taste is much like the smell with tropical fruits, spices, and sweet malts. Apple, pineapple and some raisins in the finish.
Finely carbonated and lush mouthfeel.
Easy to drink, really nice as a dessert beer.

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

Poured from the 'fridge a little too cold and set it aside to warm for a minute or two.

While it warmed, the two-fingered medium-tan head fell rather rapidly, leaving behind a good bit of lacing around the edge of the glass, and just a thin layer of head atop the tawny golden-amber beverage inside. While still cold, the nose on this one was fairly assertive, and although whatever hops were used are no doubt softer now there was a faint rush of floral hops to complement the pungent yeast, rich darker malts, and even wheat malts (?) that emanated from the drinking vessel. This is a lot sturdier than I was expecting, and as such I expect it's survived the two years (?*) since it was bottled.

Hazey in the best possible way, and lightly boozy.

On the first taste I'm tasting a sweet, sharp, pungent brew
that still has legs left in it. Definitely fruity, there are pineapple, plum, pear, and marzipan notes here, and the alcohol is gently-warmimg.

As it warms a little more and mellows in the glas, I'm getting just the sliughtest hint of bitterness, alkong with notes of cherry and raspberry, accompanied by just a hint of fusel alcohol in the aromatics. Sweet, cloyingly-treacly-sweet even, but I can't find myself putting this down to, it's very drinkable.

As noted, the spice of the hops didn't quite survive the last year, and no doubt the American palate crave hops (especially high-alpha hops) in a way that the English palate does not, but this is giving me all the impression of an imported British strong / Old ale. Some might find this one to be one-dimensional and "simple", but even with a year on it I'd say this is a more than worthwhile tipple. I'm sorry that my review isn't more elaborate here, but sometimes it's time to put aside the easy criticism and just enjoy the ride.

Hardly a wasted effort on the part of Kirby and his crew.

* date code on my single is partially worn-off.

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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 ATLbeerDog
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours orange/red in color with a small tan head. Average lacing and average carbonation. Smells of fruity hops dominate. Taste is very hoppy with a ton of citrus. The high 9.5% ABV is very well hidden. Very tasty beer is fairly good and worth a try!!!

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Photo of uwmgdman
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This limited release pours a brilliant deep golden/light copper into my mug. A thin white head developed that quickly diminished with barely a trace remaining. The color is very nice, extremely clear. The nose of the beer has a caramel and dark fruit sweetness, along with a little spicyness and a bit of an alcohol note. Not much in the way of hop aroma. The taste of the beer is initially rather sweet, moderate-high on the sweetness. The sweetness is not overwhelming and enough hop bitterness is present to create some balance, no hop flavors detected. At the swallow and lasting afterwards is a slight alcohol warmth, but still pleasant. The beer is rather full-bodied with low carbonation. The smoothness of the beer is very impressive, exceptional smoothness in what has to be a rather potent brew. Overall I found this beer to be fantastic. The aroma is pleasant, the color is striking, taste is great, and smoothness— wow. This is definitely a beer to sip on and enjoy. Its ashamed beers like this are limited releases, but I guess that makes them even more enjoyable.

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Photo of wheatyweiss
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this at Viking Village in Baraboo in the sampler section.

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into an imperial.

Pours a honey color with an impressive murkiness that hints at bottle conditioning, even though I decanted the bottle expecting that. No floaties but a thick cloud. Head is small and sticks well after it settles.

Aroma is of malty booze. Like a mixed vodka drink boozey. Smells of estery phenolic alcohol, very strong. the aroma almost scares me to take a sip. Bourbon is what I smell.

Flavor starts with butterscotch. Straight up butterscotch candy with plenty of sweet candy sugar. Middle is slightly bitter like there are hops there that are scared to show themselves because the booze will beat them up. there is cream on the middle ina explosive characer. Toffee and vanilla ice cream. Finishes extremely alcoholic and slightly bitter.

Mouthfeel is middle of the road. Quite enough carbonation to handle the sweet malt and tame the alcohol.

According to the style guide I have to give props to this one. A lot of beers of this style are over hopped in my opinion, but this one strikes the balance. Not refreshing, but warming and substantial.

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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 Atron67
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- poured a cloudy orangy amber with a heavy offwhite head that stayed pretty well and settled down to thin film

S- maltiness, crystal malt scents and a light hoppiness in the back. Pretty solid.

T- has a solid heavy malt start with a balanced hop finish, not particuarly bitter but well balanced to the heavy malt. Not quite a barleywine flavor too light and pale maltybase but reminiscent.

M- heavy body, thick body that rolls over the tongue and is good. medium tight carbonation.

D- pretty solid ale

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

Thanx to Flyingbison for this treat!

Body is a fiery hue of orange. Decent finger's width of head that vanishes like Houdini. It doesn't even leave a trail of lace.

I can smell rich caramel ... fleshy plums ....maybe a little sweet toffee and brown sugar ... and maple syrup.

Caramel rides up front in this vehicle of taste ... toffee rides shotgun with sweet syrup in the back seat and the slightest hint of cinnamon in the trunk. Nicely done.

I enjoyed the hell out of this beer.

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Photo of trevorwideman
3.82/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Thanks so much to demcorhip for this one.

Pours with a 3/4 inch head capping a light coppery-gold coloured murky brew. It almost looks a bit grey, strange colour and totally unexpected. Fairly high carbonation keeps some lace going on. Aroma is definitely on the bready malty side, some yeasty notes with a buttery caramel sweetness off the top, then some juicy fruit notes, like pears in syrup. Almost a tropical fruit note in the background, likely from the hops. Spicy too, a bit peppery with alcohol evident. Very nice nose.

Taste is big and extremely bready and malty. This is a pretty sweet brew to be sure. Butterscotch, raisins, plum, apricot, pear. Nice mix of the fruit and caramel-like flavours. Spicy alcohol, pepper, and a subtle hint of some meatier savoury herbs in the background. Mouthfeel is extremely thick with hefty carbonation, but almost feels thin as it goes down....odd. The flavour is pleasant but would benefit from a *slight* sour note in my opinion, it's really quite sweet and borders on cloying at times, but it is big and intense so it gets a good taste rating. All in all a nice autumny sipper, but not more than one for me please.

Cellar Update March 30th, 2008:

At about a year and a half I opened my other bottle. The appearance is about the same, with a little less carbonation and lacing, even after a fairly vigorous pour. The aroma is still very sweet and bready, doppelbock like. Hints of vanilla and wood have begun to appear. Very rich and sweet aroma. The flavour is still sweet but there's a bit more bitterness than I remembered from the first tasting. Hints of roasted malts and lemony sourness compliment a nutty, rich, fruity and caramel-like sweetness. It's really developed some liqueur like flavours. All that said, I don't think this beer would last any longer than two years, but I haven't got anymore bottles to find out.

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Photo of dfried
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Off orange in color, 1cm merengue head. The aroma is of lightly toasted grains, sweet and malty with a few fruity notes of apple peel, pears, and cherries, even a little plum. The taste up front is malty, brown sugar and caramel, but kind of a lighter sugar, not like thick rich molasses. The alcohol is noticeable but not offensive. Fruity notes revealed in the aftertaste, much like the aroma apple peels, cherries, some slight berry notes. Light herbal hop flavor that has a bit of citrusy orange and lemon. A touch of a tinny/yeasty flavor too that was a little wierd. Medium to full bodied.

Overall: this beer was like what I think an imperial amber would be like, lightly hopped with toasted grains upfront with some fruity notes in the aftertaste. Pretty good but I wasn't wow-ed.

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Photo of Sephiroth
3.8/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to shdbob for the unsolicited bottle. Pours clear and copper. Malty, alcoholic aroma.

This is nice, the malt is driving the car, but the hops are riding shotgun. No sweetness here, just a bunch of caramel malt backed by leafy hops. Mouthfeel is okay, I enjoyed this beer, but I do not know if I would buy it again.

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Photo of nsmartell
3.31/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer from the comfort of my own living room while enjoying some lime-grilled chicken. Poured from the bottle to a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Cloudy-amber in color with very little head at all.

Smell: Not much going on here. Not sure if there was something wrong with my snout or not, but I only detected a slight hint of fruitiness.

Taste: Malty, bread notes and a little too sweet for my liking.

Mouthfeel: full-bodied

Drinkability: This was given to me as a gift, so I'm not really sure how long it was sitting around. It was too sweet for my liking. I would give it a shot again though, and based on the other reviews, let it warm up longer than I did this time around.

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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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2.09/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured a golden/straw tweener color with an average to below average head.
The smell did not exactly say "ale". How can i put it? Marzenesque? That might be it.
I was still on board until i got to tasting it. Man, i took the first sip, and I just completely separated. My body was in my kitchen, but my mind was brought back through the years to a very different time and a very different place. Suddenly i was a boy in the bathroom with a bad headache. As I recall, i tried to alleviate this by taking two aspirin, which ought to have done the trick. Alas, one of these was caught up in that area where tongue becomes throat, and it began to dissolve. As I tried to swallow it down, the acrid pilly badness of salivated aspirin came up into my mouth. And that, friends, was quite a taste. Mmmm hmmmm. pill spit.
I like bitter, i like sour. But the bitter here is something that I don't abide. I've got 3 more and i'll give them a try. Why the fuck not? But i'd better see some changes.
In all fairness, looks weren't bad, and the feel was actually pretty good. So there is some redemption. I'd prefer great taste dressed poorly. Afterall, Rosie O'Donnell in a hot dress is still just that.

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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 jj21
4.32/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap in the Horse in Plow Kohler, WI
Pours clear amber-orange with very little carbonation. Light head that quickly disappears into a haze across the top. Aromas of Caramel, vanilla and dark fruit mask the alcohol very well. Malty structure with a mild hop finish highlighted by caramel and vanilla. Hints of Bourbon appear as it warms. Spicy smooth mouthfeel. Not too much alcohol burn, just right. Very warming. This is a room temp or slightly cooler beer for sure. So much is masked when it is cold.

Great cold weather beer. Alcohol can really creep up and kick you in the ass with this one. Another fantastic offering from Capital Brewery.

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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 BitterLover
4.08/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at a friend's house today. He brought it back from a trip to Wisconsin. Poured from a 12 oz bottle.

Appearance: Surprisingly vivid burnt orange color, noticeable haziness, very little head that died down quickly, leaving only a little lacing.

Smell: Very sweet, with honey notes and butterscotch. No noticeable hop aroma.

Taste: As with the smell, sweetness ruled with the taste. Lots of caramel flavor with very little bitterness to balance it, though there was a hint of carmelized ginger present. I didn't realize that the ABV was as high as it was.

Mouthfeel: Thick, almost syrupy.

Drinkability: This was a surprisingly good beer from a brewery that I had never even heard of before. I would have been happy to have another.

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Photo of jdoherty
2.85/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz from Riley's

A: A shiny coppery amber which was lighter than expected considering it was supposed to be an English Strong Ale.

S: Smells strong and metallic, that booze smell wafts up in a light enough fashion that it isnt offputting.

T: Unfortunately the taste pretty much is the same as the smell, particularly the metallic taste, almost as if it came from a can.

M: I'm not going to lie, it reminds me of Icehouse quite a bit, medium body and smooth but leaving a sour aftertaste that isnt that pleasant.

D: Considering its limited release stature, I was expecting a little more. You could pound this until you pass out, but you won't be thrilled.

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