The Great Taste festivities kicked off for me last week on Thursday when the friendly folks from Vintage
showed up at Dexter's to put a face on their tap takeover. Brewmaster Scott Manning arrived with his minion, Clint, in tow a little after three o'clock.
Truth be told, I started the evening with a Rogue Farms Dirtoir Black Lager
because I love dunkels and just couldn't resist. The bartender thought my choice was odd as I was wearing a Vintage t-shirt. It was a fine brew, full of that roasted grain flavor that I crave. After finishing it off I made the switch to Vintage. I started with Scott's Grodziskie, a.k.a. - Grätzer Ale because 1) I asked that he brew it, 2) it's incredibly tasty, and 3) my significant other began her evening with, if memory serves, a Honeycrisp Brandy Dedication which is an abbey dubbel aged in an apple brandy barrel that weighs in at 10.8% ABV and immediately pronounced that I was the designated driver. (That stuff was good too.)
I next tried the Hibiscus Saison-Barrel Aged w/Brett. (It's actually a blend of mostly hibiscus saison with some wee heavy.) Beers laced with brettanomyces are something I am still trying to figure out. I've had a couple on different occasions and, while I finished each bottle, I saw no reason to open another. However, I found that the Vintage saison was incredibly tasty. I enjoy the untainted version of this beer and discovered that this one had a pronounced strawberry flavor which went perfectly with the floral aspect. Clint was kind enough to explain that they used a strain of brettanomyces - bruxellensis - that was light on the popular horse blanket flavor. No doubt sitting in old apple brandy barrels added to the deliciousness. It was light, fruity, and floral with a hint of sour/mustiness - just perfect summer beer.
I am surprised I'd never met Clint before. Scott must have mercy on him as the guy is always gone when I'm at the Vintage instead of slaving away. I hope he didn't get too mad at me when I told him that Tippy Toboggan
was one of my favorite brews and that I'm looking forward to the next batch. (I think I used the word "fuckin'" in my description.) He got that look on his face that reminded me of the flower pot of petunias in Hitchhiker's
. You see rye coagulates during the brewing process which makes for a lot of work - presumably for him - to keep from having a vat full of an oatmeal-like substance. Sorry, Clint.
A few more highlights of the night: My friend James had Petrus Aged Red which is a Flanders Oud Bruin. Fantastic stuff. Loved the sour cherry flavor. Dexter's pretzel twist was great. The menu states that it comes with a choice of "Stone-Ground, Dusseldorf[sic], Peppadew, Habanero Mustards, and/or Nacho Cheese". Luckily they had horseradish and it cleared out my sinuses. Fine stuff. What kind of philistine puts nacho cheese on soft pretzels?
Coming soon at Vintage is a Baltic porter (begged & pleaded for by yours truly). I am hoping Scott keeps the name he's been using – Uthbert. It will feature smoked wheat left over from the Grätzer Ale. Robin Shepard
's taste buds with thank me (and Scott and Clint) while Scott and Clint will thank me when Shepard declares Uthbert beer of the year giving Vintage the honor two years in a row.
On Friday we headed to 608 as Capital was taking over the taps and there was the promise of brewmaster Brian Destree in attendance. On tap were Capital Dark infused with coffee, mint, and vanilla; Appleanche, a doppelbock with apple; and Capsized given the hop rocket treatment.
I started with the Dark infusion. It was a good...malt beverage. The mint was very prominent followed by the coffee with the vanilla bringing up the rear. I liked it as a mint julep malt beverage but I love the dunkles and all of that roasted grain goodness got drowned out by the other flavors. I guess I should note that the infusion was done via hop rocket.
The Dulcinea loved the stuff and I enjoyed it as well but methinks my tongue was tainted by mint. I tasted fresh apple cider first with it giving way to a bit of malt and some hops at the end. It was good but I suspect the beer aspect will be more apparent when my tongue is fresh. There was more hop flavor than malt. The stuff comes out in bottles soon so I'll be able to try it again and render a final judgment. There was also Capsized IIPA with a Citra hop rocket but I didn't try it.
I chatted with Brian Destree for a bit and found out that Pumpkinataur Wrex
will be returning this autumn and that he has a brown ale aged in rum barrels in the pipeline. That is due in January/February. He also mentioned that this year's Eternal Flame was going to be revamped. Instead of a vertical doppelbock, it's going to be an imperial stout with chili. He remarked something akin to, "It'll be different but it will still be hot." I hope I got all that right. For whatever reason, I neglected to ask about the fate of the whole vertical beer project.
I have to admit a certain disappointment at hearing that the Eternal Flame project seems to be dead in the water. On the other hand, it is quite obvious after only a few words that Destree is enthusiastic about his trade. He commented on the Capsized hop rocket with paternal pride and, overall, just seemed excited about the new brews that will be appearing in the coming months and the opportunity he has to, at least in part, remake Capital in his own image. More power to him.
Oh, and 608 did not have horseradish. Soft pretzel and no horseradish? Forsooth!
We ended Friday evening with a brief venture to the Capital Tap Haus where they had some Mutiny IPA infused with pineapple and grapefruit. I shit thee not: I drank a whole pint of an IPA. The fruit flavors were rather muted to my taste but I liked the combination.
Labels: Beer, Great Taste of the Midwest, Madison