Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Vintage Ale

Capital Brewery
Middleton, WI

Style: English Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Sigh. I must begin with an apology to my fellow Beer Dorks, which is not easy for my conceited English ass. Yours truly, Nigel Aloysious Tanner, has been very selfish when it comes to reviews lately. Not only have I re-reviewed two of Eddie's previous reviews, I've had so many new ones in the past few weeks that hardly anyone else gets their well-deserved moment in the sun as the top review. I'm sorry- I promise to slow down (yeah, right).

So, why has Nigel been so busy recently writing useless drivel and passing it off as informative beer reviews? Well, for one, I had a backstock of brews that I had been meaning to review for quite awhile, and I've finally caught up. But that's the boring, logical answer. The real reason is that... drumroll, please... Nigel is single again. (I will pause here as my producer inserts the appropriate crickets chirping soundbite). I know all of our lady Beer Dorks will be inundating Nigel's inbox with inquiries, phone numbers, and sexy pictures, but please, give me some time to grieve. THANK GOD ITS OVER!!! NO MORE MILLER LITE IN NIGEL'S FRIDGE!!!

Ok, I think I've successfully completed the grieving process. So anyways, onward and upward here in Nigeland, and here's hoping Nigel can find a new Sugar Mama who appreciates his love of craft beer, golf, English literature, European history, and gay porn... uh... I mean, NON-gay porn. I'd list my cell number here, but, alas, my phone doesn't work... again. Thus, Nigel's patented rant-o'-the-day is against the cell phone companies, and I will simply say this: how the hell do you live with yourselves? Nigel's phone, which is a whole nine months old, has just suffered the same problem for the second time in two months (my display screens, inside and out, have gone completely blank). Nigel is quite talented, but still has a hard time using a phone when completely blind. So, here's an anti-shout out to the worst cell phone company in the world, Cingular/AT&T, and Sony Ericsson, who makes the worst phones in the world: go f--- yourselves, you useless pricks. Ah, that felt good!

On to the topic at hand, Capital's Vintage Ale, an English-style Strong Ale that was introduced in limited release this past fall. Capital Brewery is one of the finest (if not THE finest) German-style breweries in the Midwest, so crafting an English-style ale is a bit atypical of them, although it's not their first foray into the non-German world. Capital's strength is brewing a variety of fantastic Bocks, and an English Strong Ale is somewhat similar to a powerful Bock. The main difference? English Ales tend to emphasize hops more than German Ales, thus making an English Strong Ale a hoppier version of a Dopplebock or Maibock. English Strong Ales and English Bitters taste very similar, with the main difference being that, well... English Strong Ales are stronger than English Bitter Ales (duh). Both English Strong and Bitter Ales are not nearly as hoppy as the IPA family, are far maltier and richer than any Pale Ale, and far hoppier than an English Brown Ale. Thus, they get their own special categories. Yay for them. The best way to compare an English Strong Ale and Bitter Ale would be to drink a Goose Island Honker's Ale and a Capital Vintage Ale back-to-back. While both have many similar characteristics, the Vintage Ale is far more complex and flavorful than a Honker's Ale, which is an average English Bitter.

Vintage Ale pours nicely, with just under a quarter inch of bubbly head that quickly dissipates to a slight creamy trace at the top of the glass. A bit more carbonated than a Bock, Vintage Ale has a nice cloudy dark golden-brown color that is very similar to a Maibock in the glass. The smell is good for the style. Sweet caramel malt dominates, with hops noticeable. The thing about an English Strong Ale that many find objectionable is that alcohol is usually detectable, both in the aroma and the flavor. Vintage Ale is a good example of this, as the sweet maltiness and bitter hop smell is at times muted by that not-so-pleasant sting of alcohol. The taste is solid. Large amounts of sweet caramel, toffee, and molasses dominate, along with a toasted malt flavor, with a significant amount of spicy hop bitterness, and a nice fruity undertone. Again, there is a noticeable presence of alcohol on the tongue, but the overpowering sweetness of the malt makes it tolerable. Nice and smooth, with a medium to heavy body, this is a good beer that has the potential to be great. Substitute the alcoholic sting with a hoppy bite, and you've got a world-class brew on your hands.

All in all, much recommended by yours truly, Sir Nigel (4,226,485th in line for the English throne), but don't expect to be blown away, as it could be better. Now I will rush to check my e-mail and sort through all zero messages my female fans have left me.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 14, 2007.
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