Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

24 October, 2016

Fanfare for the Uncommon Beer: 30th Anniversary Dunkel by Capital Brewery



2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Capital Brewery, well, brewing. The company itself came into existence in 1984 but brewing didn't commence for a couple of years. To celebrate, the brewery whipped a few special biers: Munich Dark infused with coffee and vanilla, an imperial pilsner, a pear Kölsch, and, most recently, a spiced Oktoberfest.

Capital also released Madtown Mule, their Lakehouse Lager infused with ginger and lime juice, but I don't know if this was in honor of the 30th anniversary or not. Similarly, there have been various barrel aged offering but, again, I am unsure if they are anniversary one-offs or just part of their nascent barrel aging program.

What is striking to me is how little fanfare was made of the anniversary. Maybe the brewery really whooped it up on social media that I do not frequent – I am certainly willing to concede that. But I doubt it. None of the anniversary biers were bottled and I don't recall the brewery actually throwing an anniversary bash. Did I miss it? Go to the Capital website and try to find any mention of these celebratory biers. When Grateful Red, their red IPA, was released, Madison buses were wrapped in adverts for it. For special anniversary one-off lagers, it's good luck finding them on tap. Sad.

Growlers to Go-Go recently tapped a barrel of the Munich Dark infused with coffee and vanilla. Considering that the bier was released in the spring, this was probably not the freshest bier. But it's not about hops and was presumably stored nice and cool so, while perhaps not optimal, I saw no reason not to give it a try.

The bier was a dark copper color and quite clear. While there was a good amount of bubbles inside the glass, up top there was no head. This was likely due to my poor pouring ability and the fact that this was day two of the brew sitting in my growler.

Taking a whiff, I found that vanilla was up front with the coffee just behind it. And they smelled really nice and rich. Taking a sip, I found that the vanilla was still right up there but that the coffee had become a little stronger. And so, in addition to a great coffee taste, there was also some bitter chocolate to be had. The dunkel seeped through as well as I was able to taste some roasted grains. In addition to flavor, the coffee also added some bitterness which mingled with the hops that gave a grassy/spicy taste and moderate bitterness of their own.

The coffee and vanilla lingered pleasantly on the finish while the hops reached a spicy crescendo. But not too spicy. Just enough to give some bitterness and end on a mildly dry note. Schaumhaftvermoegen was nowhere to be found.

This bier was ausgezeichnet! The coffee and vanilla combination was just great. I suppose they go well together since they have complementary earthy flavors. But the vanilla adds a little sweetness while the coffee contributes bitterness. While these infusions are the stars of the show, I could still taste the roasted grain of the clean, crisp dunkel beneath.

This should have been bottled and given a wider release. Not only is it an extremely tasty brew but Capital, as the alpha of Madison area craft brewing, deserves to have their anniversary celebrated better.

Junk food pairing: Pair your 30th anniversary dunkel with something that complements the infusions like some Snyder's Dark Chocolate Pretzel Dips.

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|| Palmer, 5:31 AM

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