After determining that the brewmaster over at Vintage Brewing
is in fact the Scott Manning I know, I finally stopped in last week on a sunny afternoon. I got me a Sister Golden Ale and ordered some lunch before busting into Scott's office. It had been ages since we'd seen each other although we found that neither of us really knows how long it'd been.
Me: It's been a while. When was the last time we saw each other?
Scott: I don't know.
Me: Probably Lush's wedding.
Scott: When was that?
Me: I have no idea.
Scott: Me neither.
Obviously the intervening years have been good to us.
Scott looked well and pretty much the same as he did last time I saw him. He was still rail thin although I'm not sure if he's managed to keep all of his hair as he was wearing a baseball cap. I got the skinny on how he ended up coming back to Madison and becoming a partner in Vintage as well as the briefest of summaries of his life since we last met. Scott was enthusiastic about the new venture and was having a good time brewing whatever the hell he wanted to brew. The only downside was some paperwork that he'd been tackling when I stopped in but I guess that's part of being a brewmaster.
He showed me around his mash tuns and fermentation tanks. More importantly, he let me sample one of his brews in waiting, what he describes as "something like a Finnish sahti". It was nice and smooth and had more than a hint of the juniper berries which were still in the tank imparting their essence. Although tasty, it's probably not something you want to quaff all night long. I thought that it would go well with game or rabbit and am thinking that I'll get a growler when it goes on tap and try to pair it with some grilled venison steaks.
As for my Sister Golden Ale, I presume someone in the place was a fan of America. Regardless of taste in music, the beer was mighty fine. It's a Kölsch-style brew which means it's a light straw-colored beer that goes relatively easy on the hops. (Kölsch's are ales in that they are top-fermented but are lagered so the style is a hybrid of sorts.) It just what I needed on a hot day when temperatures were grasping for the 90s and me without air conditioning in my car.** I had ordered the roast turkey since I was to be grilling hamburgers that night and found the food to be good. It was especially pleasing to find that half of the giant heap of flesh I was given was tender dark meat. (Sorry Samara Kalk Derby
.) I enjoyed the corn bread dressing very much as well and was happy that the cranberry sauce had whole cranberries in it helping retain a nice bitterness. It is also worth mentioning that Vintage makes their own hot sauces. I went with the Island Hot Sauce which is a blend of papaya, banana, habenero, and spices. Although quite flavorful in a Carmen Miranda way, it needed more habenero. The stuff was pretty weak-tit for having been made with one of the hottest chilies on earth.
I shall definitely return to Vintage. The Dulcinea was in New York City when I went on this little venture so she is keen to check the place out for herself and make me buy her dinner.
Keep an eye out for Scotty on Beerpocalypse Now, a show on Madison's cable access channel WYOU. He was interviewed just a couple days before I stopped in.
**One thing I don’t need on a hot day is an imperial stout which I was surprised to find on tap at the WORT Block Party a couple weekends ago. It was bloody hot out with the sun was beating down on my alabaster skin. The Madison Homebrewers Guild was doing their usual "No Crap On Tap" routine which means that only area microbrews were featured. I approached the beer stand and looked at the menu to find porters, stouts, and pale ales available. (Admittedly, The Grumpy Troll's sour ale eventually went on tap while we were there.) I just had no interest in drinking something heavy or having my taste buds assaulted by hops. Or pretty much anything they had on offer. Capital Supper Club was the only beer listed that held any interest to me and it wouldn't be available for a while. There certainly was no crap on tap but nothing to my taste that day either. And so I was totally sober at a WORT Block Party for the first time.